HOT TOPIC: Is content or connectedness more important to Jewish identity today?
JEWISH CONNECTIVITY: THE GOAL OF JEWISH LEARNING TODAY
When I began my career, the primary focus of Jewish learning was content mastery. One could master Tanach, Talmud, Hebrew literature, Jewish history. Our metrics for success were longitudinal outcomes: graduates’ memberships in campus life and in adult synagogues, future support of Jewish causes, and reduced interfaith marriage.
Along came the Information Age. Our quest for content mastery was helped by technologies that put content into convenient places, cross-referenced and hyperlinked. Yet, as all this great content became easily accessible, infinitely more content appeared. With that came the realization that nobody was going to be able to be the kol bo, the person who could master everything. As the ability to access Jewish knowledge was flattening the playing field, people looked to create their own personal brand of Jewishness and Judaism. Finally, there was recognition: Dues memberships no longer effectively measured success and that interfaith marriage was no longer universally accepted as a measure of failure.