Visions for the post-pandemic Jewish world: Imagining a better future


NEW YORK (JTA) — After nearly two months of intense social distancing, we are all finding ourselves longing for things to return to normal — and recognizing that it might be a long while before that happens.

But is a return to business as usual really what we should aim for? The extended disruption gives us a chance to take stock of how we’ve operated up to now, consider alternatives and even build a better vision for the future.

We’re already seeing that happen across the Jewish world. Jews of all denominations have tapped digital tools to deliver the Torah and connection that had been largely analog. The heartbeats of Jewish life — weddings, funerals, bar and bat mitzvahs, studying Torah, cooking together, telling jokes and daily minyanim — have been reimagined to match the circumstances. And communities are stepping up to support their neediest members in new ways.

But those have mostly been quick fixes, responsive and scattershot rather than carefully considered and coordinated. What if we had a shared vision for the Jewish future, so we could do more than just fumble our way there? 

We’ve asked some of the most thoughtful people we know to share their best ideas for the post-pandemic Jewish future. Below are the pieces we’ve published in this series so far — we’ll be publishing more and updating this list in the days and weeks to come. 

We want these ideas to start conversations and inspire new visions that can help the Jewish people weather this crisis and emerge even stronger. Use #JewishFuture to share your ideas on social media. If you’d like to submit an essay for consideration, email with “Visions Project Submission” in the subject line. 


Arts and Culture

Saturday Night Seder showed the power of accessible Jewish art. Does it really take a plague to make it happen? by Benj Pasek

Jewish humor will get us through this pandemic — and all of our hardships to come by Jon Savitt

More people than ever are making Jewish food. Let’s make this connection to tradition last. by Shannon Sarna

Community Life 

Today, we’re mourning the loss of our social spaces. Tomorrow, let’s redesign them. by Hannah Lebovits

Anti-Semitism was already on the rise. Now we must contend with its post-pandemic forms. by Jonathan A. Greenblatt

We built Jewish education around once-in-a-lifetime experiences. That was a mistake. by Rabbi Benji Levy

Frontline workers are heroes. We can show our appreciation as we repair our world. by Randi Weingarten

• Vulnerable Jewish communities are suffering through this crisis. We must not forget them when it’s over. by Hen Mazzig

• It’s time to talk about democratizing Jewish philanthropy. by Lila Corwin Berman

• Our rabbis are exhausted. It’s time to adopt a startup mentality. by Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein

• It’s time to build digital-first Jewish communities that will outlast the pandemic. by Lex Rofeberg

It is time for Hasidic leaders to embrace the internet by Frimet Goldberger


After this pandemic, higher education will have to leave the ivory tower by Morton Shapiro and Gary Saul Morson

Hillel is usually a happy, vibrant space. Now, we need to help students process their grief by Rabbi Jonah Geffen 

• To meet our students’ needs, Hillel must do more than build Jewish community on campus by Michael Simon

Technology makes Jewish education more accessible. We must ensure the tradeoff isn’t our values. by Henry Abramson

Family Life

Modeling values and resilience for our children is our most important job as parents by Chana Lightstone

We’re all Jewish homeschoolers now. That’s one shift that should stick around. by Bethany Mandel

Zoom Judaism helps us in crisis. But we can’t let it replace building a stronger Jewish home. by Avigayil Halpern

Ritual and Observance

Making Jewish traditions work for you doesn’t have to be an emergency approach by Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Our post-pandemic Shabbat meals should include far less meat by Melissa Hoffman

Zoom shiva shouldn’t end once the pandemic does by Sharrona Pearl

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