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.
Another week down and five conversations later, I was again struck by the differences in people’s connections to Judaism. Yet despite these differences, everyone has similar desires for young adult programming in the Boulder Jewish community
I would have thought that someone who is Conservative and someone who is Secular would want totally opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of programming. What I’ve discovered is quite the opposite. What people are really looking for is a way to connect with fellow Jews in a manner that is open, relaxed, and fun. Yes, some people prefer to connect over a beer at a happy hour, while some prefer hikes, volunteering events, and Shabbat pot lucks, but no matter what your preferences, everyone is looking to build relationships with other local Jews, which in turn, means they are building the local Jewish community.
I think sometimes, people in this demographic may have trepidation when talking about building a Jewish community, as many of us hold bad memories of Hebrew School, being forced to go to Synagogue on Friday instead of hanging out with friends, or taking those extra Bar or Bat Mitzvah lessons. However, we can all learn a lesson from this. There is an unspoken connection between Jewish people, especially Jews living in the same area. For the most part, we were raised on similar values and morals and have gone through similar experiences throughout life. In each conversation I have had thus far, I’ve found myself saying, “my story is very similar,” “I did the same exact thing,” or “I feel the same way.” No matter what your particular interests are, I think we owe it to ourselves to build community. This does not mean that everyone needs to be involved in all aspects of Jewish programming, however if you like to drink beer, why not have a beer with some other local Jews at a happy hour? If you like to go on hikes or have Shabbat dinner, why not go with some people who you may not know very well, but are connected to you at a very core level? Basically, if you are looking to meet new people, wouldn’t it be more meaningful to meet people who you already have a connection with, and who share like-minded values with you?
As always, if you are a Boulder Jew between the ages of 25-35, 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.