First, to those for whom it is meaningful, l’shanah tovah.
Second, there’s an article in the New York Times, “Bar Mitzvahs Get New Look to Build Faith,” (warning: pay-wall) about the “B’nai Mitzvah Revolution” and other allied matters–basically, the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements have finally figured out that their Jewish education model (drill Hebrew, memorize a Torah portion, and do a volunteer project) was failing and are trying to do something about engagement. (BTW: the volunteer project thing is pretty new for most synagogues.)
I say finally because, well…what the heck took so long!? One suspects this is a story of institutional inertia more than anything else–I remember reading Alan Dershowitz’s “The Vanishing American Jew” in 1997, and one of the things that made the most profound impact on me then was his critique of Jewish education. And it’s not like Dershowitz was a leading-edge Jewish education researcher. There was plenty of predecessor work, stretching into the 1970s, about what was wrong with Jewish community growth and education.
There are days where I really do want to just hit my head against a desk to make some other part of my head hurt.
Hopefully, in time for Rosh Hashanah, this marks a turning point for Jewish communal life. But I’m not assuming that to be the case, and I won’t be passive in this, either.
In any case, again: l’shanah tovah.