Young Adult Jewish Communal Professionals Conference?

A session at TribeFest on spirituality led to a lot of comments from young adults, that was the genesis of this post
A session at TribeFest on spirituality led to a lot of comments from young adults, that was the genesis of this post

One of my takeaways from having attended TribeFest last month is that many young adult Jewish communal professionals are really looking for something [that is not yet being offered to them] (when speaking about young adults, for the context of the organized Jewish community these days are 20s-30s (for some, it also includes early 40s)).  

Yes, they want to serve the Jewish community in a full-time capacity – perhaps they dedicate their lifework/career to working at it – and, many times, are not getting financially remunerated to what they should be for their talents and efforts.  In many cases (most?all?), they are also looking to grow and to stretch with their Jewish identities, as well as to wrestle with it.  Yet, how many opportunities are given to them to do so?  I think many young adult Jewish communal professionals (henceforth, YAJCPs) were attracted to TribeFest for a variety of reasons – perhaps for professional development, for professional networking, for a great time, sure – but also to struggle and to think and to be inspired in their own Jewish identities.  This became evident at one particular session in which several of the participants – who also happened to be YAJCPs – voiced their struggles and desires to be Jewishly enriched, while also working as a part of the organized Jewish community.

Lest one think that YAJCPs’ quest in their Jewish identity is a selfish reaason to come and to spend time on, one of the special aspects of TribeFest is the energy and inspiration to refuel one’s Jewish life.  This then feeds into one’s professional life and into the communities they are serving.  clearly, a worthwhile communal investment that should be returned manifold.

It would be great if such a thing were to come to reality.  However, such a national (or North American) event would most likely need to gradually build up and develop interest.  If such a conference were to be held, it would need to start small.  Maybe it could be a regional gathering, which expands each year.  Alternatively, it could be something that has multiple regional gatherings that build up to (and perhaps even continue into) a national/continental conference.

I don’t know either who/which organization would want to convene it (JFNA?) or, more importantly, who would want to fund it.  Who knows?  Maybe it could be a grassroots thing and get crowd-funding, perhaps through Jewcer.

Also, it will have to develop not only interest, but also buy-in from the YAJCP’s supervisors, since the money would come from their organizations (unless it is crowd-funded).

Of course, one question that inevitably pops up with such a huge endeavor as this is why expend the resources – be they mental, emotional, chronological, intellectual, financial, social, etc. – when there are other burning issues for the Jews, especially when it comes to money for young adults?  Maybe even having that money going into using these YAJCPs to tap into their peer networks, perhaps even those who are not that involved with the organized Jewish community.  But the most important reason is that YAJCPs are not only the future of the Jewish community, but they’re also very much involved in the present.  Furthermore, by energizing them and helping them become better Jews and Jewish communal professionals, they will be better at their current and future jobs, and the Jewish community will stand to benefit.  Moreover, the types of conversations and ideas that emerge will be incredibly fruitful, as the types of people who come will contribute to a great atmosphere.

Here are some further elements, ideas, etc.:

Who: 20s-30s working in Jewish organizations
When: Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday conference

Where: Big enough city that is easily reachable by all
What: Some Potential Topics:

  • dealing with older people {managing up. dealing with donors, etc.}
  • dating as a YAJCP
  • raising kids as a YAJCP
  • developing one’s jewish identity as a YAJCP
  • problems…
  • working as young people in a culture that is not thinking in current ways
  • getting our peers involved in the organized jewish community

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