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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “Visions Project Submission” in the subject line.
Arts and Culture
• 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
• 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 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
• 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
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