As we enter 2020 - do we have the vision?

When you visit the ophtalmologist and you're told your vision is 2020, you are probably very happy, as the expression means "perfect vision". But what about the YEAR 2020?

Since 2000, the American Jewish Community has been conducting studies on a variety of subjects and projecting trends to the year 2020. So a study of engagement of young Jews in University campuses said that by the year 2020 that engagement was going to be looser, and anti Israel activism was going to be stronger . At the time a number of solutions were proposed, but almost none of them weas implemented.

Another study showed that by the year 2020, traditional Jewish institutions were going to face a crisis of donations and supporters. Several initiatives from (what is called today) JFNA and the Harold Grinspun Foundation (LIfe and Legacy) helped reduced the impact of those changes, but by no means avoid them. 

Yet another study showed that engagement of young Jews with Israel was going to diminish. This is a bit more complicated, as real metrics on the subject are difficult. Birthright Israel (Taglit) did a superb job in connecting young Jews with Israel. That connection, however, did not necessarily follow the "party line", and many of those younfg Jews chose yo engage with Israel in different terms - not always favoring ther same positions than their elders.

The list could go on and on... but we are now IN 2020. What is our vision today? It looks like the Jewish community in America is struggling to redefine itself while fighting growing antisemitism. The Jewish community is today more religiously observant (and Orthodox) than two decades ago. It is more politically conservative. It is more hawkishly right wing Zionist. It is also more insecure psychologically than it was two decades ago. It is also more fragmented along religious and political fracture lines than ever before. Groups on both extremes of the political spectrum try to take advantage of the situation by highlighting the crisis and blaming it on "the other side", and conjuring images of the Apocalypse to come. Not so different from what is happening in the General American political life.

I think it is time overdue to articulate a new vision. Maybe doing it in 2020 will give us a better vision... I believe we need to work for a community in which differences of opinions and religious practice are respected. Where we can hold to our own beliefs and preferences without invalidating the alternatives. Our sages once said that "It takes many Jews to read the Torah", meaning that each individual's perspective is an important building block of the collective vision. I believe we need to work for a community that looks at its needs and the ways to meet them; a community for which Israel is central but makes room for competing ideas of what Israel ought to be. A community that put people at the center of concern, and not "brick and mortar". 

Can we articulate a vision to achieve all of that? I believe we can, and I believe we should.


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