Discussion Guide - Jewish Neighborhoods: local & global living

June 1, 2014
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  1. What makes a neighborhood Jewish? What makes a place a neighborhood? Many people are more mobile today, moving from job to job, town to town. What roots them in a place? Can we develop shared histories and connectionsthat transcend place — that transcend a specific and shared geography? Is being rooted in a Jewish community — by virtue of physical proximity and shared experiences — important to building a sense of connectedness?
  2. What role could cultural institutions play in growing neighbohoods? What role does the neighborhood — the terrain surrounding one’s home — play in cultural production?  
  3. What role do virtual communities — such as virtual synagogues — and social media play in the establishment of non-specific neighborhoods? What do we gain and what do we lose when we’re connected without a brick-and-mortar center?
  4. How have the roles of national and international umbrella organizations changed over the past decade with the decentralization of authority, power, and place? Can these umbrellas reclaim new and more vital positions in our larger Jewish infrastructure? 
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1 Comment

  1. I believe that the growth of the Orthodox community is directly linked to the concept of a Jewish neighborhood. In the 1960’s as synagogues moved into the suburbs, the Reform and Conservative movements tried to create a communal feeling, once you arrived in the parking lot. JCC’s tried a similar approach. It takes a lot of effort, and hasn’t always been successful. In fact most JCC’s in North America are open to anyone regardless of religious affiliation.

    The Orthodox community left the urban areas later and then moved the urban experience of a Jewish neighborhood to suburbia. Orthodox Jews have to be in walking distance to the synagogue, so they live in concentrated areas, share social gatherings and don’t have to open their garage door to drive to their neighbors, they walk. Since that time, as evidenced in the Pew Report, the Orthodox community has been growing, with a stronger retention of its adherents that the other movements. While virtual communities may be nice, nothing can compare to a real neighborhood. Orthodox Jews really know their neighbors, share Shabbat meals together and provide support during happy moments, and sad ones too. It is the sense of community that truly binds people together, and that has to be experienced. The Orthodox synagogue becomes the center of the community, because from all directions, people come together for prayer, study and social gatherings.

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