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Jewish Emergent Initiative

Synagogue 3000 has taken a leading role in fostering the growth of emerging Jewish communities and their leaders, from across the denominational and postdenominational spectrum, in their work to redefine the meaning of synagogue and sacred community for the 21st century. S3K conceived the Jewish Emergent Initiative as a framework to recognize, cultivate and learn from their evolution.

As a matter of principle, S3K believes the Jewish community must invest in these bold new experiments. As a matter of practical and social scientific significance, S3K is committed to learning both from and about them, and then sharing best practices with Jewish congregations around the world and disseminating information about them to like-minded social entrepreneurs, communal and philanthropic leaders, and academic researchers. As a matter of relevance, S3K believes that the innovations, dynamism and creativity exhibited by these communities and their leaders are a unique and powerful source of inspiration and ideas for mainstream Jewish congregations and the Jewish community as a whole.

Jewish Emergent's greatest strength, and its greatest challenge, is that there no set answers or rules when it comes to building a congregation and a community. They know that their seminary training did not provide them with the skill sets they now need in order to develop their congregations. Their focus now is to learn together and to serve as teachers and peer advisors to each other.

Project Overview: Activities and Outcomes
  • Working Group Leadership Workshops: The members of the Working Group on Emergent Sacred Communities will meet four times over the next 18 months in focused workshops on the themes of education, worship, organizational leadership, and social justice. Through these meetings they will support and learn from one another, and, most importantly, work collaboratively to leverage the impact of their work in their individual communities.
  • Innovation Microgrants: Jewish Emergent leaders and their communities will receive financial support, which is crucial to their continuing progress. In return, through write-ups of the innovative projects they pursue, they will share important lessons learned in their communities with one another and with the broader Jewish world.
  • Emergent Communities Documentation Project: The American Jewish community as a whole, and especially leaders of mainstream congregations and denominations, will gain access to the new visions of Jewish Emergent leaders through a survey of members and attendees of Emergent communities, write-ups of best practices, descriptive reports on the communities' evolution, and written accounts and reflections by the Emergent leaders themselves. Interview transcripts, along with organizational and demographic data, will constitute "snapshots" of critical and timely information to enhance future research and analysis.
Funding
Synagogue 3000 thanks the Joseph & Rebecca Meyerhoff Awards Committee, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Fuller Family Foundation, and private donors for their generous support of this initiative.
Synagogue 3000