Peoplehood, Shmeeplehood

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 March 2010 05:43 Written by bryfy Sunday, 21 March 2010 05:43

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the very stimulating and high level Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Leader’s Assembly. The opportunity to meet and mix with colleagues old and new is always welcomed. This networking is the most important piece of many of these Jewish gatherings – and perhaps the topic for another blog post.

On Tuesday morning I was fortunate to be part of a session dedicated to looking at Learner Outcomes at Jewish Summer Camps – specifically asking the question of what a camper will learn in terms of their attitudes, knowledge and behaviors (what will they feel, know and do) as a result of spending a summer (or summers) at your camp. It’s a great question and one that any educational institution should continually be asking themselves. (special shout out to Rebecca and Adam!)

Well as luck would have it – I got stuck with the Jewish value of Jewish Peoplehood. My problems with Peoplehood stem from the fact that it never comes up as a real world on spell check. So, my first task was to not only analyze with camp directors and assistant directors what the learner outcomes of this overly used concept is, but to explain what it means – and thus began our discussions….

Before starting I should say that some of my best friends (colleagues and people I admire) are Jewish Peoplehood experts. (Melissa Zalkin Stollman, Yossi Abramovitz, Ezra Kopelowitz, Jewish Peoplehood HUB et al) And with that caveat I now have permission to offend everyone….

I want to share with you some of my insights from the session and see where it might take us:

  1. The term Jewish Peoplehood is overused and misunderstood in the Jewish world today because not enough time and energy has been spent trying to understand it. Let me rephrase that, a lot of people have been discussing Jewish Peoplehood for many years, and few have been able to successfully translate their theoretical and philosophical understandings of the term into practical and implementable strategies.
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Size doesn’t matter, but image does…

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 March 2010 08:53 Written by bryfy Tuesday, 2 March 2010 07:46

There are some postings that should only go on a personal blog and not on a work-related site – this could be one of them. This video has been making its way around some Jewish circles – but take a look at this advertisement and tell me what you think….

YouTube Preview Image

But there is a bit of a history of commercials like these…

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I am not a Young Judaean – but it does raise questions

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 07:20 Written by bryfy Friday, 5 February 2010 02:09

I am not a Young Judaean – but I am a supporter of the great work YJ does and I think that the (long term) Israel experience is one of the most vital programs that the Jewish community should be investing in. That is why the news of the last week and months has been troubling for me – even as a relative outsider.

A quick summary:

  • Young Judaea, largely because of its strong connections to Hadassah, has been hit hard by the global economic recession and the Madoff scandal. These financial conditions have forced/prodded/allowed Young Judaea to look at how it can restructure itself moving forward.
  • In recent weeks and months there have been several high profile resignations from senior YJ staff, as well as several YJ staff having their jobs cut.
  • Early this week, Keith Berman, former head of YJ long term Israel programs, established his own long term Israel program – Aardvark Israel

Let me just say much of what has happened has not been pretty – as is evidenced by some of the articles, blog posts and comments that have appeared in recent days. Here is a small sampling:

Key staff resignations at Young Judaea and Hadassah

Former Young Judaea head launches rival year program

Young Judaea head blasts predecessor for launching program day after quitting

Aadvark Israel is launched: What does it mean? (comments are essential reading)

But I don’t want to get into these discussions – even though I do have may questions about what has taken place and how it all got to this stage.

I do want to use this opportunity to ask some more macro questions that I think this recent series of events has brought to our attention – and should be asked of many Jewish organizations and the Jewish community at large. It is my belief that if we don’t find ways to adequately answer these questions then the Jewish community will face even more challenges in the future.

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