Looking Toward the Future: Jewish Communal Organizations and How to Imagine Transformation

27 Sep, 2016

What are the institutions we will be asked to serve and how is volunteerism different in the 21st century? Being Jewish in America is often defined by a set of behaviors and identity claims.  One could argue that a better definition would be one that derives from Jewish as a web of relationships and a network of associations that provide significant benefits of social capital, personal meaning and tribal affiliation that are expressed in Jewish institutions, new and old and emerging. Here our concern moves beyond the historical to make claims about the ways Jews connect to each other and the roles that social capital derived from participation in voluntary associations play in fostering allegiance and organizational health.  As a reflection of the increasing numbers of identities which 21st century individuals carry, the “New Jew’s” commitment to the Jewish organized world is increasingly episodic, short-term and task oriented.   We will consider the following questions that address these shifts:


  1. Is the concept of community moving from a particular place in space and time to virtual associations no longer dependent on geography, affiliation and physical space?
  2. What implications do the ways we connect have for institutions we will serve as these institutions transform themselves to compete in the 21st century?
  3. How do we lead fluid communities that people freely opt in and out of? and that is increasingly episodic, task-oriented community commitments mean for the future of