BJF, LJCC Responding To Challenge Of Engaging Young Jews

    By Richard Friedman,
    Director of BJF and LJCC
    A recent story on the Washington Post website was headlined “Religion is increasingly less of a focus for America’s Jewish community.”
    The story was based on a recent study that reflected an array of trends pertaining to American Jews, their relationship to their Judaism, and their connection to Israel.  The story focused in particular on young Jews.
    “A recent Public Religion Research Institute study found that among Jewish Americans under 30, less than half – 47 percent – identified religiously as Jewish,” the Washington Post story noted.
    “Fewer than 1 in 5 American Jews consider observing Jewish law to be an essential part of what it means to be Jewish, something the majority of American Jews say they are proud to be,” it added.
    Among other things, the Post story reflects the importance of having strong “secular Jewish institutions” — such as Federations and JCCs as venues for engaging young Jewish adults in Jewish life. We’ve seen this through the Levite Jewish Community Center and Birmingham Jewish Federation.
    Two examples are the large number of young Jewish adults who were involved as volunteers in the JCC Maccabi Games that were held in Birmingham this past summer and the number of young Jewish adults who participate in the BJF’s “You Belong In Birmingham” program on an ongoing basis.
    Both our Levite Jewish Community Center and Birmingham Jewish Federation play crucial roles in connecting young Jews to Jewish life. As the recently-begun new Jewish year unfolds, we are more committed than ever to making each of these institutions even stronger and more multi-faceted.
    JCCs and Federations remain important gateways to Jewish life, especially for young Jews, and this is one more reason that having a strong JCC and Federation are essential to having a strong Jewish community.

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