The Boulder JCC recently received a grant from Roots and Branches, an initiative of Rose Community Foundation. The purpose of this grant is to create a lighthearted, innovative, friendly network of young Jews in Boulder who are interested in, and excited about, programming for the young, Jewish Boulder crowd. In order to accomplish this, I am having conversations with 100 young adult Jews in Boulder County over the next few months, to discuss what their background is and what they are looking for in terms of young Jewish adult programming.
After three conversations, I can already see that many more questions will arise from these one-on-one chats. Having conversations about how people classify their connection to Judaism really allows for a full spectrum of answers. For example, two of the three people I spoke to connect just as much if not more to Israel, rather than the religion of Judaism.
For me growing up in New Jersey, Jews were either Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox. I experienced Hasidic culture only on a surface level while getting Gus’s pickles on the Lower East Side of New York City. I was exposed to the Reconstructionist movement, which was new and hip at the time, but to me felt similar to Reform Judaism, which is how I was raised. I didn’t think Judaism could get more modern than that. Then I came to Boulder! There were two sects of Judaism that I had never heard of: the Renewal and Humanistic movements, both of which fascinate me.
In determining a question that I assumed was fairly straightforward, “How do you classify your connection to Judaism?” I thought I had anticipated every possible response. Then it happened. In one of my interviews, someone offered a new answer to this question and called him/herself a Post-Denominational Jew. As it was described it to me, a Post-Denominational affiliation means the person is very connected to their Judaism in religious, cultural, and spiritual contexts, but that connection supersedes any one denomination of Judaism.
Perhaps this is one way for Judaism to remain relevant and modern in today’s society. Especially in Boulder, there is ample opportunity to connect where, when, and how you want to connect. If you classify yourself as more of a cultural rather than religious Jew, go Humanistic. If you want to connect spiritually and are fascinated by the mysticism of Judaism, you are in the birthplace of the Renewal movement. All the same, if you are connected to your Judaism, the religious, cultural, and social aspects of the religion are all important to you, but you aren’t a part of one particular congregation, you could be “Post-Denominational.” The beauty of it is that there are still so many ways to connect with other like-minded individuals and feel like you are a part of this vibrant and innovative community.
As always, if you are a Boulder Jew between the ages of 21-45, give me a shout. I would love to take you out for coffee and talk about where you came from, what you are looking for in terms of programming for this demographic, and how we can work together to achieve this. If you know someone that fits this age group, feel free to send them my information or shoot me a line with theirs.