Aharon Horwitz, from PresenTense, has an articulate blog post about the challenges of attracting and retaining young adults in advance of a conference in Detroit on that topic. He summarizes his recommendations as follows:
- Let's not focus on a specific solution, but rather on building a framework for solution creation and a marketplace for good ideas.
- Let's forge a smooth and effective partnership between the established Jewish institutions and the solutions that might emerge from the field.
- As per the above, let's make sure that people who want to better Jewish Communities know exactly what their options are for entering, partnering, leveraging, and getting lift from the established institutions.
- Let's NOT invest more resources in young leadership as it is currently formulated, nor in purely social gatherings and events. Let's keep those funded as is and instead devote incremental resources to some more experimental directions that will complement existing young leadership.
- Let's do some business and social enterprise innovation within the Jewish Framework -- let's embrace being a startup nation outside the borders of Israel too!
- Let's start telling the stories of the positive publicly on all possible channels.
Many of these ideas seem to apply to the challenges of attracting more learners and families to Jewish educational settings as well, and to the potential for partnership between established institutions (day schools, synagogues, camps, JCCs, etc.) and the growing number of entrepreneurial educational innovators.
Check out the comments to Horwitz's blog post as well, especially the citation of the work being undertaken by Synagogue 3000 through its Next Dor initiative. They emphasize the importance of 1) involving the prospective participants in the conversation about what they want; and 2) building direct relationships and not relying on programming alone.
Do we do this enough with our parents and families?