Okay, that’s not actually a technical term – nor is it one I really want on my business card or resume. There, it’s sufficient to call me rabbi.
But, there’s also something cool about being a rabbi who followed a less than traditional path.
Until fairly recently, I thought I would graduate from the Hebrew Union College, become an assistant rabbi at some large Reform congregation on the East Coast, and then see where my career took me. Only, it didn’t quite happen that way.
Instead, I became the first second full-time rabbi (now that’s confusing, but we don’t like calling me the assistant rabbi) at Congregation Beth Adam – and 50% of my job involves building an online congregation. It was not part of my plan – but the more I learned about the opportunity to be part of this bold initiative, the less I could stay away.
I decided to embrace the opportunities – to be entrepreneurial, to take risks, and to learn. I want to bring thoughtful ideas for progress to our progressive Judaism.
As for the cyberspace issue, it’s clear to me that we need a new solution to serving the Jews of the 21st century. Affiliation is low, especially among single people in their 20s and 30s. Synagogues do not appeal to many people. Either we’re too busy, or we find most sermons boring, or we aren’t interested in hearing traditional liturgy, or it’s daunting walking into a new community, or we don’t like the idea of sitting in a pew and taking in information passively, or all of the above.
There are lots of reasons we’re staying way from synagogues – but that doesn’t mean we necessarily want to stay away from Judaism – or from some of the aspects of congregational life, like the community we find here. So, it makes sense to me that as more and more people are maintaining their social networks online, we can build an online congregation. If you build it, they will come! At least that’s what I’m planning on…