Public Space JudaismSM
What is it?
Much of what is considered "Jewish outreach" takes place within the confines of institutions like synagogues or community centers for its members. The fact is, less than half of all Jews---intermarried or otherwise---are actually participating in Jewish institutions. In order to bridge the growing divide between the minority of Jews engaged with the organized community and the majority who are not, JOI advocates the creation of programs and events where the two can meet on neutral ground. Instead of asking people to cross our threshold we must go out and meet them first, to welcome them in. That's the kind of outreach JOI promotes and what we call the Public Space Judaism model.
The programs we suggest fit into three sequential models:
- Public Space Judaism---Jewish programming in secular public venues such as malls or parks frequented by the general population (including unaffiliated families) that are often holiday-themed events and allow for unplanned participation. Pioneered by the JOI-sponsored Celebrations program on Long Island (NY), that created "Hanukkah Mall Madness," "Sukkah-Building at Home Depot," and "Passover extravaganzas," as well as giant menorah-lightings, these programs find people and reach them "where they're at."
- Destination: Jewish Culture---Also held in secular venues, events like street fairs, author readings and film festivals welcome and encourage interest in Jewish topics. They are "destination events" because they require a prior knowledge of the program time and location, but they're outreach vehicles because they require no prior knowledge of things Jewish. These programs provide opportunities to have low-pressure, positive contacts with the organized Jewish community.
- Open Door Community---Taking place inside Jewish institutions but still welcoming and open to all, these programs initiate a connection with the organized community while remaining low-threshold to participation. Most of the Jewish community's current outreach efforts take place at this level and include the Reform movement's Taste of Judaism program, and open houses and food fairs at Jewish Community Centers.
Take a look at these fun and educational Public Space Judaism programs!