Are Synagogues Still Relevant?

By Sidney Schwarz

The Jewish Week, March 15, 2011

Jewish funders are more eager to fund alternatives to synagogues than innovations within synagogues. Benefitting from this trend are independent minyanim, outreach programs to non-traditional populations (e.g. 20-somethings, LGBTs, interfaith families, etc.), public-space Judaism, environmental programs and social justice initiatives. Indeed many of these new initiatives are benefitting from a burst of energy from the younger generation in things Jewish and growing support for social entrepreneurship to reinvent the Jewish community. There is much to celebrate in these new developments, but it would be unwise to write off synagogues just yet. The cumulative cost of all synagogue buildings and professional staff in America represents the single biggest investment of Jewish communal dollars that exists. As a class, synagogues can be criticized for not adjusting quickly enough to changes in American society and culture, and they are losing market share as a result. However, I don’t know of anyone who believes that what synagogues offer can be replaced by the Internet.

Topic: Congregations and Synagogues, Organizational Development, Liberal Judaism, Synagogues and Congregations

Name of Publication: The Jewish Week

Editor: Rosenblatt, Gary

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Schwarz, Sidney. Are Synagogues Still Relevant?. The Jewish Week. The Jewish Week. 15 March 2011:


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