Jews love starting organizations, more than anything else. And the worse the acronym, the better. Without cheating, try to figure out what any of these organizations do:
CPMAJO, JINSA, JHSGW, NJCRAC, COEJL, CAHJP, EAJC, COJECO, BACJRR…
How often do we start “organizations” with “Mission Statements” full of snappy buzzwords?
What does that even mean?
Nothing. Not a single thing.
We can form as many organizations as we want, that DOES NOT mean that anything is going to get done. It just means that a bunch of people are going to sit around in a room, talk about all the things that they want, talk about themselves, and accomplish nothing.
This is especially true with “outreach” organizations. The very word “outreach” implies that some people are already on the outside, while others are on the inside. Of course, those people within an organization are the insiders, trying to engage others.
But here’s the interesting irony: people don’t want to be friends with an organization, people want to be friends with people. Community comes from personal interaction, not signing up for a committee.
The organization should be a tool for personal interaction, not the other way around.
Would you feel comfortable telling your secrets to PepsiCo? How about Wal-Mart?
So how do we fix this?
We need to stop focusing on what we can do and look at we are doing.
What are we doing to bring Judaism to those who need it? How are we making Judaism more accessible and relevant to the 21st century? And when I say “we“, I’m not talking about the JCC or JNF or the ABCD or whatever. I’m asking all of us, personally:
What are YOU doing to live Jewishly?
No one is perfect, and no one, no matter who they are or say they are can live a perfect Jewish life. No one person can fulfill all the mitzvot. But remember, just because the road is long, it doesn’t give you an excuse to stand still. G-d only cares about how far you have walked on your own path.
So stop talking and get off your tuchus! Engage! Create something! Talk to people! Find out what they need, find out why they don’t care about being Jewish, why they can’t find Judaism meaningful to their 21st century daily lives.
Find this out and do something!
-Patrick and Michael