The Call to Build

 

We aim to build a new sense of how to be “at home” in Jewish life.  It must centrally value experience to animate and personalize big ideas of Judaism (Torah, prayer, social justice, identity) in ways less loosely bound to history’s titles, names, structures and systems.  It must be pragmatic: it must ask what “works” to cultivate formative experiences and be unafraid to experiment, measure, change and try again.  It must empower both individual and community, harnessing accelerating demographic and technological trends, while also connecting the individual to a broader community of seekers.  It must honor the present system of denominations while working beyond it.

Our root metaphor is building.  We derive it from Talmud (Berakhot 64a):

“Students of the wise increase peace (or completeness) in the world, as it is said (Isaiah 54:13), ‘And all your children (banayich) will be taught of God.’  Don’t read it as ‘your children’ (banayich) but as ‘your builders’ (bonayich).”

We believe that all of us are builders, and that Judaism’s most vibrant future depends on empowering wise builders to make their own place in Jewish life and thereby feel more at home in their Judaism.  This building project must leverage both skillfulness and democratic inclusion.  As it is democratic and inclusive in origin, the building must insist on radical egalitarianism in all forms (e.g. age, gender, race, sexual identity, forms and levels of observance).  It must offer real tools for cultivating deep Jewish experience on all axes, cultivate real research and development about success on that metric, and courageously seek these outcomes both within and beyond tradition’s four corners.  It must be profoundly ethical in both word and deed.  It must have sufficient structure to nourish best practices, quality, Judaic values and ethical boundaries – but not so much structure as to stifle creativity or become their own self-replicating status quo.

Our root metaphor of building evokes a continuous trajectory to design and construct the next Jewish future; an inclusive cohort of active, skillful and empowered builders rather than a top-down board; a focus on results; a focus on key moments that matter and entrain passion and participation; strong and sturdy foundations; and scalability that invites a room for everyone – all streams, all ages and all stages of life.  This metaphor informs our whole approach, from naming to governance to goals.  A construction team needs architects, designers, builders, subcontractors and more: so too our vision of how together we all can joyfully build the next Judaism.