Posts Tagged ‘the conversation’

People of the book(s)…

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I just spent three days at a truly remarkable conference, The Conversation.  I’m not sure there’s any way for me to effectively talk about the experience here. It was immense and confusing and private, and I’m still chewing it over, but I’ll  say this– I met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life, and I feel renewed and excited and compelled to rejoin the world of Jewish communal work.

I feel fraught and bewildered in good ways. I feel challenged to figure out how to help create an infrastructure for Jewish people like me, who live on the boundaries of the organized Jewish world.  I want to see the term “unaffiliated” mean a positive thing.

I am, myself, “unaffiliated”, but what that means is only that I defy denominations and groups, not that I lack interest, input, literacy. “Unaffiliated” means creative to me. Outside the box. Not that I’m not a vital part of the community as a whole.  There has to be a way for those of us who are living in small towns, non-Jewish n’hoods, to participate more fully. An easier way  for the intermarrieds and the politically contentious (I mean this nicely) to contribute, build.

It will require a new kind of participation, new types of structures, but I think this is wonderful!

Today, I’m wondering what would happen if there was a charter school that taught Hebrew immersion. Placed in a commuity with failing schools, but where a sizeable unaffiliated Jewish community was living nearby.   I wonder if the Hebrew would act as a secular draw, particularly for parents who want/need educational options, and also a new kind of Jewish community.  A charter school that would act as a hub for that community-building work in the kinds of places  I choose to live.

I would absolutely choose such a school for my kids!  A school that would be a non-denominational, all-inclusive way to meet other Jews, but also other non-Jews.  A place where my kids would learn Hebrew (which I want them to do) but also live in a mixed-up community. An anti-eruv. A place where I’d meet Jewish families to join pot-luck Shabbat dinners, but without moving to the burbs or doing private school.  And the charter could include Jewish holidays off from school!  Not religious instruction, but a secular centerpiece to transitioning n’hoods with Jewish families in them.

I’d imagine other things would spin out from it.