We were astounded by not only the number of individuals and congregations present at our Next Dor Conversation in October (176 attendees and 53 congregations), but also by the amount of passion and enthusiasm they exuded for taking the next crucial step in keeping Judaism and its institutions relevant for the next generation. We want to help synagogues transform themselves into places where those in their 20s and 30s willingly flock. In addition to our six pilot sites around the country (in New York, Washington DC, Marin County CA, Atlanta, Miami, and St. Louis), Next Dor is proud to publicly announce the beginning of the next phase in our development, the Next Dor Network, a community of communities across the continent dedicated to supporting the next generation of Jews.
What is the Next Dor Network?
The Next Dor Network is a network of congregations that ‘get it,’ that get that reaching the next generation should be among our top priorities as a Jewish community. We are not talking about attracting them as members of synagogues; rather, we treat engagement with young Jewish adults as a value lishmah, a value for its own sake. We are creating a network where congregations can speak with us and with one another as we collectively do this sacred work. Next Dor is here to provide the resources to those who are investing in community for young Jewish adults.
Congregations in the Next Dor Network will have access to Synagogue 3000 and Next Dor’s resources of experts and materials. We will provide webinars on relevant topics such as how to conduct one-on-one conversations (crucial to the Next Dor philosophy of relationship-building), fundraising, and social media, among other topics. Next Dor Network sites will also have access to the Next Dor Playbook, www.synagogue3000.org/playbook, which is our extensive ever-evolving online handbook of what we have learned so far through our on-the-ground research in our pilot sites. We expect to convene conferences to continue the conversation we began together this past October.
Many congregations were moved by what they encountered at the Next Dor Conversation and have since heeded our call to join the emerging Next Dor Network.
Layleader and founder of the United Synagogue of Hoboken’s 20s and 30s initiative in Hoboken, NJ, Becky Deitsch Skoff reports that her congregation’s contingent, which included her rabbi, rabbinic intern, and another layleader were greatly inspired by connecting with others who were engaged in this same kind of work. They came to the conference looking to network and to gather new ideas to add to their year-old initiative and are energized to join a continent-wide effort to engage 20s and 30s in Jewish life. Becky Deitsch Skoff was pleased to hear her congregation’s mission reinforced at the conference, “Young adult engagement is part of a greater Jewish mission. It’s not about membership. The conference helped us to continue nurturing this important idea.”
Rabbi Leah Berkowitz of Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, NC and her congregational contingent were equally energized about the Next Dor Conversation and about joining the Next Dor Network. “We were really motivated by the idea of relational organizing that we learned about at the Next Dor Conversation. It can seem so counterintuitive to leave the office, leave the email, and go talk to people face-to-face, but it’s what we need to do and it has really yielded results.” Judea Reform is in the beginning stages of their formation of their Next Dor initiative. Rabbi Berkowitz emphasized, “We need to figure out something that speaks to this demographic. If we don’t, then we will lose a whole generation – and more.”
Looking forward, Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, is not sure exactly what their new Next Dor initiative will look like, but he knows that he wont be figuring it out alone. Armed with a plethora of Next Dor resources, he will be working in collaboration with the 20s and 30s in his community. “It’s not a didactic process,” Rabbi Farkas reports. “It’s done in conversation and we decide together what is best.” He is moving away from “the way that programs have been done for years where you create a program and send a flyer and hope that the numbers show up and then judge your success on whether people come or not. I don’t believe in that. It’s not about programs; it’s about relationships. It’s okay if a smaller group of people comes if they’re turned on by what you’ve done. That leads to long term systemic change and ultimately will result in bigger success down the line.” Rabbi Farkas is excited about the opportunity for the next generation “to craft their own vision and actualize that vision” and “to really take ownership over their Jewish lives.”
How Your Congregation Can Join
Congregations already committed to the Next Dor vision and signed onto the Next Dor Network include B’nai Jeshurun/Tzerim in New York, NY; Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, GA; Congregation Emanu-El in New York, NY; Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, NC; Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, NY; Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA; Sha’ar Communities in Closter, NJ; Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, NY; Temple Beth-El in Providence, RI; Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, MI; United Synagogue of Hoboken in Hoboken, NJ; and Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. We expect more congregations to officially join in the months ahead.
Want to learn more about how can you join the Next Dor Network?
Be in contact with our Director of Congregational Engagement, Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.