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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Why Be Jewish? Because Why the Hell Not.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 February 2010 08:20 Written by bryfy Tuesday, 2 February 2010 08:20

Teenagers today have been labeled many things – Generation Y, the Millennials, the iPod generation and Generation Me – to name but a few. Most of these labels infer something narcissistic about today’s youth – it’s all about them (unless of course they want to harass, or shoot someone else)

But here’s where we may have just got it wrong.  The Generation Me label fails to take into account the massive number of youth today involved in so many different causes, campaigns, social action projects, and repairing the world.

How do we make sense of this paradox?

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Why I love to hate (Jewish) lists?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2010 01:33 Written by bryfy Wednesday, 13 January 2010 01:33

It’s easy to love lists. They are compact and often logical. Often more importantly they are conversation starters. Mike Sheahan’s 50 top Aussie Rules footballers, for example,  is always a great source of controversy and debate. But (unfortunately) that is hardly a topic of conversation for this blog.

JESNA’s list of top ten achievements in Jewish education over the last decade provides such a level of debate and controversy, especially for those of us more immersed in Jewish education than the Collingwood Magpies.

And JESNA’s list is a great list. Who could argue with Birthright Israel or PJ Library as being major game changers in the Jewish communal landscape? But the point of such a list should not be only to congratulate the big names in Jewish education. The real point, in my opinion, should be to try and identify the trends that these listed organizations exemplify – so that this does not become merely a back-slapping exercise, but one where the community is able to identify what works, what needs further investigation, and what needs further communal attention and resources.

So, inspired by JESNA’s top 10 list I have created a top 5 list of: Bryfy’s Pick for the Top 5 Trends in Jewish Education in the Last Decade.

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