The Conspiracy

Reforming the Reformed

This post comes a bit late tonight, because I’ve been consumed with an article for the fall issue of New Voices on the state of Reform Judaism on college campuses. The article could be a novella, and I had to condense it into an approximately 1,000-word article. Talk about challenging.

But what was neat about this exploration was the number of interesting people I got to talk to. New Voices’ own David A.M. Wilensky and I had a great phone conversation, where he gave me a ton of resources and names of people I could talk to in the Reform world. This led to some interesting dialogues with members of the four-person Kesher Leadership Council, which is now defunct.

Oh, it’s defunct, you ask? Perhaps you’re not up on the Reform Judaism world — and I don’t blame you. It’s hard to keep up with these things sometimes. In case you didn’t know, the Union for Reform Judaism went through a restructuring last fall, which led to the elimination of all funding for Kesher and the elimination of the Kesher staff person. In case you were living under the Reform-Judaism-rock, Kesher (loosely “connection” in Hebrew) was the college-and-university-student-arm of the URJ. There was, briefly, a national governing body, called the Kesher Leadership Council.

With the funding cuts, the council also fizzled. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still Reform Jews on campuses across the country. I count myself in that group. So, what do we do?

Do we work within the framework of our Hillel? Do we join a Jewish fraternity or sorority, in hopes of getting that social connection? Do we get involved in a different movement, such as Chabad? These are really great questions that I’m still asking mysel &#8212 and here’s the spoiler: They don’t all get answered in my article. But it’s a fascinating issue to continue to think about, and have multiple opinions on, as is the case with most Jewish issues.

So stay tuned for the article, and if you’re a Reform Jew floating around on a small, isolated college campus without a large Jewish population, shoot me a line! I’d love to hear your story.

PS. They still do a Birthright trip…with the name Kesher…despite the lack of a national Kesher. But it’s an option…


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  1. Bloggers’ Round Table: Movement affiliation on campus? « New Voices - April 6, 2011

    […] of a group of Koach members, the new version preserves it. Two years ago, a round of restructuring completely de-funded Kesher, the Reform college […]

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