I am a believer in the impact of pop culture as an indicator of how things are going and will go in our society. So it was interesting to read a story in the June 22 Washington Post on the decline of what makes a “hit” TV show. Simply put, the explosion of options for the view is redefining what makes a hit. There are simply so many choices between all the various outlets that what counted as a “hit” show a few years ago does not match today. Viewership is spread out over so many channels and programs. There are just so many more ways to watch what appeals to me, so it is no longer unusual for several people in a family to be “watching” many shows all at the same time on several different platforms,, from tv to phone to tablet.
As I was reading this article, I was immediately reminded of the recent Pew study of American Jews. The shift in affiliation rates and how people access their Judaism is emerging in front of us. Will these trends continue as we emerge from Covid? I think yes. Just like the revolution in TV, let me suggest we may be witnessing a similar revolution in how people approach and access their Judaism. Yes, many will continue to access it thought the traditional institutions, like the synagogue. Yet, many more, and I suggest that this may be cross-generational, will continue to access their Jewish i.d. via the web; from serious education, to life cycle bar-bat mitzvah training, specialized interest communities, to on-line synagogues that continue to make geography meaningless. And, of course, many will do what some are calling “mixed use”; we will “join” a synagogue and continue to “shop” around for expanded educational and communal opportunities that meet our specific needs at a specific time. Simply put we may be seeing the rapid growth of multiple pathways available for Jews to access their Judaism. This may be, and I think it will be, one of the most powerful and possibly transformational aspects of how we create our community post Covid.
This is exciting and we should welcome it for it opens the door for a new surge of creativity and engagement. We have always changed and evolved. How much the more so now! Let us not be afraid to “go forth”!
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.