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The Conversation Continues...

The second gathering of the Synagogue 3000 Leadership Network's Working Group on Emergent Sacred Communities took place in New York City August 27-29, 2006.

Most of the core group from January returned, along with a few additions, including three Israeli Emergent leaders. They significantly deepened their connections and interest in one another. The successful integration of the new attendees (both Israeli and American), the enthusiasm they expressed publicly and privately, and the excellent work they did to plan for their future together make it clear that a cohesive network is developing, one in which leaders are encountering one another as fellow experts and fellow learners. The lessons Synagogue 3000 learns from Jewish Emergents will provide both inspiration and practical ideas for mainstream synagogues and other Jewish sacred communities.

The new Israeli members came to S3K via our relationship with RIKMA, a rabbinic leadership development organization in Israel headed by Rabbi David Lazar. The presence of the RIKMA Fellows was one of the most compelling aspects of the gathering, not only because it offered evidence that the Jewish Emergent phenomenon is not limited to the U.S., but also because it offered unique insights into the development of Jewish religious pluralism in Israel. Perhaps most importantly, the relationship with Israeli Emergents opened the possibility for U.S.-based Emergents to find new ways to explore their relationship with Israel. Because research and experience have shown that a connection to Israel is increasingly problematic for Jewish GenXers and GenYers, this concern has challenged a number of Emergent communities. Personal connections between American and Israeli Emergent leaders may inspire new approaches to engaging American Jews with Israel. Indeed, at least one Emergent leader was inspired to write a Yom Kippur sermon calling for new and re-envisioned relationships with Israel.

At the conclusion of the gathering, we introduced a proposed framework for future meetings, based on the portions of S3K's developing Jewish Emergent Initiative which have received generous funding from the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds. The group refined that framework into four meetings centered on four discrete areas where Emergents are innovating: education, worship, organizational leadership, and social justice. The first of these gatherings will be held in January of 2007 in California.