At local centers, Sunday is for learning: Seminar asks ‘Why be Jewish?’
On Sunday, Nov. 16, two all-day events — one at the Cooperman JCC in West Orange and one at the JCC of Central NJ in Scotch Plains — offer the Greater MetroWest community a chance to explore Jewish values and identity.
Union County synagogues and Jewish organizations are teaming up to hold a day-long seminar on fostering Jewish identity.
“Why Be Jewish in the 21st Century? Beginning the Conversation,” will take place at the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains on Sunday, Nov. 16; it is free and open to the community.
Leading that seminar will be Canadian-born Israeli educator Doron Kornbluth, author of — among other works — Why Be Jewish? Knowledge and Inspiration for Jews of Today and Raising Kids to Love Being Jewish.
In addition to the JCC and some private donors, the event is cosponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and its Jewish identity-building organization, The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, and a coalition of synagogues that have been collaborating for a number of years, most often on programs about Israel: Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains; Congregation Anshe Chesed, Linden; Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah, Clark; and Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim, Cranford.
“The program came about after a discussion among a group of parents of 20- to 30-year-olds, who shared that their children seem uninterested in participating in the Jewish community as young adults,” said CBI’s Rabbi George Nudell. “They also shared that their children felt uninterested or indifferent about seeking a Jewish spouse. As they shared this with friends, they realized many other parents are struggling with the same issues and were seeking ideas about how to respond.”
They asked Kornbluth to be the presenter, Nudell said, because “his books are instrumental in helping Jewish parents navigate how to instill a love of Judaism in their children throughout all of life’s stages.”
Kornbluth grew up in Montreal, and made aliya in 1991 at the age of 21, after doing a degree in political science. He became a tour guide, and started lecturing to groups and writing books and articles about Jewish identity. These days he speaks to hundreds of audiences around the world each year.
Kornbluth said his approach is well suited to the variety of denominations involved in the Nov. 16 seminar. “I am proud that my books, guiding, and talks are used by all segments of the Jewish community — from Reform to Orthodox,” he said, “which, unfortunately, is rather unusual today.”