Young Jews arrived on Sunday for a service at the Jewish Museum of Florida intended to keep them connected to their roots.
Then they looked up at the white screen behind the rabbi: Pray. Write. Text.
And text they did for nearly 90 minutes, sending out regrets, goals, musings and blissful thoughts, all anonymously for everyone to see.
“Let’s see some texting, guys,” Rabbi Amy L. Morrison told the group. “Take those phones out.” What do you need to let go of, she asked the congregants, in order to be “fully present”?
Hunched over their phones, they let loose their words and watched them scroll into view: Past mistakes. Shyness. Anger. Fear of failure. Self-pity. Ego. Doubt. Control.
At an offbeat service on Sunday night at the Jewish Museum of Florida, organizers were trying an innovation that few if any rabbis have embraced: using the language of the tech generation instead of the Torah to keep the crowd of 20- to 30-year-olds, mostly unmarried and transient, connected to their Jewish roots and to one another.
It is the age cluster least likely to attend synagogue. “For young Jews in America, we are a demographic different from our parents and our grandparents,” said Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman, the director of congregational engagement for Synagogue 3000, an organization that seeks to re-energize synagogue life and re-engage young professionals. “We’re more educated, we move many more times and live further away from our family of origin, and we are single much longer, for years after college, which was never the case before.”
Read the rest of the story from the New York Times – and comment here to let us know what you think about this creative approach to engagement.