A Radical Way to Engage YP’s DURING Rosh Hashanah!

Think of: “Shabbat Across America” exclusively for YP’s, for only 10 minutes.

The Jewish and Israel support organizations March of the Living and Alums for Campus Fairness are numbers 16 and 17 of national and Israeli organizations that just signed up.

They join with AEPi, America-Israel Friendship League, American Friends of Kaplan Medical Center, Artists4Israel, Hasbara Fellowships, Israel Forever Foundation, Israeli American Council, Livnot U’Lehibanot, Masa Israel Journey, New York Board of Rabbis, StandWithUs, Students Supporting Israel, Synagogue Connect, Times of Israel, and Young Jewish Leadership Concepts.

Leaders of these organizations have been meeting by international conference call over the last few months to prepare for the second year of an effort to identify and engage post-college Jewish young professionals in Jewish community life, … while the YP’s are sitting in shul on September 30, Rosh Hashanah.

It is a very simple program. From the bimah, the congregational Rabbi, or Assistant Rabbi, or key shul leader says “JOIN ME for 10 minutes at the table in the lobby. We’ll say a brucha over the apples and honey, you’ll get a chance to meet each other, and we’ll learn a bit about how Israeli Hi-tech Medical Miracles save lives.” Here is an opportunity for Jews, and especially young Jews, to hear about Israel and NOT get disengaged by politics.

During its Premier event on September 10, 2018, a half dozen synagogues participated in a “new stitch for YP’s in the fabric of American Jewish life,” – https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/fabric-of-american-jewish-life-has-new-stitch-for-yps/. More than 50 synagogues across the country are expected to join this year. Registration is being hosted by the Israel Forever Foundation on its dynamic Israel educational web portal.

Info/Registration for Synagogues.

A 10-minute threshold is an easy commitment, both for YP’s, and for the Rabbi or synagogue leader who has to depart from major annual responsibilities. What could be more important for the synagogue, for the Rabbi, and for the Jewish community, than the promise of a “Chuppah” engagement down the line as they bring young adults together? And to meet this objective of YP’s shmoozing, isn’t it worthwhile to give them a “hall pass” out of, perhaps, part of the “Musaf” service?

The YP 10-Minute program Registration includes a spot for the Shul President, not as a speaker, but to act as a witness that YP’s are present, and worthy of future engagement. The Sisterhood President is invited to “own” the event as well. Not only will the Lady Leaders make sure that the table is stocked with apples and honey, but they will also engage the “Bubbie and Zayde” network so the young adults are identified (no writing on Chag), and along with the Education Director, follow-up engagement will be possible. The Israeli American Council partners are called upon to provide a local Israeli to share a word or two about Israeli ingenuity. They will also enlighten Americans about the existence of the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, which while serving more than ONE Million Israelis, 11% of the population, is virtually unknown in the US. Kaplan in Rehovot is building the largest Hi-Tech Cardiac Center in the Middle East, and with shoe recycling stations around the country, YP’s will be invited to be “foot soldiers” to the effort to defeat cardiac disease, the #1 medical killer in the Western world, in the US, and particularly for women.

As the scores of Jewish organizational leaders have been meeting and preparing for September 30, they have been reminded that 20 years ago Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman met to launch Birthright. Today’s leaders were asked “wouldn’t you have liked to be in the room, and be counted as a Founder of Birthright?”

In fact these visionary leaders, and those who want to join them, are founding a new “fabric” of engagement in which in five years from now YP’s will know that for Rosh HaShanah they will be seeing friends and meeting new friends as they go home to family and shul, or even more critical, they know that there will be a community of engagement on Rosh Hashanah wherever their careers will take them.

About the Author
Lou Balcher served from 2004 - 2013 as Director of Academic Affairs to Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region. He also served as Education Director for Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, PA, and as administrator and teacher for Gratz College's Jewish Community High School. He is a former Membership Director for the Philadelphia and Cincinnati regions of B'nai B'rith International. For three decades, he has coordinated post-college young leadership programs for Young Jewish Leadership Concepts. Additionally, he consults as National Director of the American Friends of the Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, Israel which serves more than one million Israeli citizens.