Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” What is true in sports is also true for our efforts to build Jewish community in the 21st century.
If we want to harness the creativity and passion of young people that want to build our community in their own image, we must take risks. We need to develop a balanced communal appetite for risk, and we need better tools to understand and analyze it. This is central theme of my piece in the latest issue of the Peoplehood Papers, which aims to examine what we as a community can do to better nurture Jewish Peoplehood. A diverse group of Jewish leaders and thinkers were asked to weigh in on the topic and address some of the following questions.
- What are the key changes that need to be made to better the community’s ability to nurture Peoplehood?
- How can we overcome the challenges to a notion of collective Jewish identity?
- What is the role Jewish Peoplehood should play in Jewish life?
In the previous Peoplehood Papers issue, my colleague Lisa Eisen wrote about how we define Jewish Peoplehood today. She argues that the emergence of a vibrant Jewish community is in the hands of today’s young people and that it is our responsibility to put the young people back in peoplehood by providing them with the tools, resources, framing and opportunities necessary to help create the most empowered generation of young Jews ever.
I build on her argument by suggesting that in order to empower young Jewish adults to create and find their paths to Jewish Peoplehood, we need to embrace risk with a sense of purpose and not let fear of failure constrain our community’s willingness to let young Jews push the envelope on developing the future Jewish community and Peoplehood. Embracing unintended consequences, investing in individuals as lifelong community builders and reframing our perceptions of failure are the kinds of measured risks that will yield a long-term positive return on investment for the Jewish people.
This is exactly the approach we take with the ROI Community, a global network of more than 800 young Jewish innovators who are creating new avenues of Jewish experiences that have the potential to transform the Jewish world. Not every initiative they dream up will succeed, but they will all come with the opportunity to learn from our successes and failures and inform our work and our community going forward. I hope that more organizations in the Jewish community will consider adopting a similar philosophy.
It was an honor to be able to share these ideas as one of the contributors to the eighth edition of the Peoplehood Papers. I hope you will take the time to read Nurturing Jewish Peoplehood in the 21st Century: What Should We Do Differently? and share your comments and thoughts with us.