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August 02, 1985 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

•••

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

26 Friday, August- 2, 1985

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THE
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Resouling The World

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Balfour Brickner, left, senior rabbi of Manhattan's Stephen Wise Free
Synagogue, and David Szonyi, assistant director of the Radius
Institute, listen to a discussion about the psychology of Jewish
identity during the two and a half-day seminar produced by the
Radius Institute at Stony Point, N.Y.

marriage is estimated at be-
tween 20 and 25 percent, a
rise of more than 17 percent
since 1930.
"The cold numbers," wrote
Mayer, "have raised the
harsh prospect that increas-
ingly Jews are not only es-
tranged from organized Jew-
ish institutions, but many are
also becoming estranged from
the most intimate wellspring
of Jewish tradition, the Jew-
ish family..."
In a keynote speech to the
opening session of the semi-
nar, Mayer expanded on his
paper.
"The younger the group,"
he said, "the greater the pro-
portion of non-affiliation. The
trend is that more and more
of our fellow Jews do not find
much meaning or solace in or-.
ganized Judaism. We can no
longer reconstitute the tradi-
tional family. Nearly 60 per-
cent of the never married are
unaffiliated. The more un-
conventional the life style,
the greater the probability
that there will be non-affilia-
tion. Growing numbers of
people find their communities
irrelevant and feel that they
are irrelevant to their com-
munities. There is a need,"
Mayer concluded, "to make
our brothers and sisters feel
wanted." .
In general, the rest of the
seminar — somewhat more
than two days of speeches
and discussion by an incredi-
bly articulate group of people
— was devoted to the explor-
ation of issues arising from
contemporary social trends in
the Jewish community, the
problems encountered by out-
reach workers, and various
methods of solving them.
One of the workers' deepest
concerns was knowing when
and how to reach out to the
unaffiliated and disaffected.
What if they didn't want to
be reached out to? At what

point does an outreach work-

er become a proselytizer?
And what is outreach?
The Radius Institute had
provided seminar partici-
pants with "a model for
outreach and outreach work-
ers," which defined the terms
broadly; so broadly, in fact,
that most of the conferees
either ignored the descrip-
tions or sought to make them
specific enough to fit their
own interests. The seminar
did not formally discuss the
issue or adopt a definition,
and most participants assum-
ed that everyone knew what
the terms meant. As a result,
the conferees experienced a
significant communications
gap, which was best express-
ed by a participant in one of
the conference's discussion
groups:
"Before we engage in out-
reach," she said, "we must
clearly engage in inreach."
"In terms of outreach,"
said David Arnow, president-
elect of the New Israel Fund,
"one size does not fit all."
At the same time, the
Radius seminar did offer lec-
turs and informal workshops
on such practical subjects as
ethnotherapy, advertising
and marketing techniques,
program conceptualization
and implementation and
strategies for outreach.
In his talk on strategies for
outreach, Leonard Hirsch,
president of the Institute for
Strategic Management in
Washington, D.C., and
former director of organiza-
tional development for the
White House, offered ways in
which workers might use
political techniques to
reclaim unaffiliated and disaf-
fected Jews. One of them con-
cerned what Hirsch, himself
a confessedly disaffected
Jew, regarded as the proper
method of approaching pro-
spective candidates for out-

reach.
Hirsch recounted his days

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