The Future is Here: Let’s Do Something About It

listening sessionThis is a guest post by Jessica Lerman.
When people talk about the future, they’re normally talking about robots and flying cars. As awesome as this is, there is also a future much closer to us. That is, the future of the Jewish community right here in St. Paul.
I have attended a couple of community listening sessions, or focus groups that are part of a Community Planning Process being conducted by the Greater St. Paul Jewish community, throughout St. Paul over the past week or so. At each session, groups of 10-15 community members discuss our community’s strengths, concerns, and vision of the future.  Playing the role of note taker, I have seen that each session is filled with unique conversation and interesting ideas. It’s fun to see community participation and appreciation of this community planning process. Participants value that they can share their opinions in the comfortable focus group environment. They also say it is nice to know our community is taking the time to hear what we want our future to be.
The conversations that have been most interesting are those between young adults.  Granted this may be because this is my age range, but I think we have unique perspectives to offer. As one participant said, “Nowadays, it’s really about connecting with people who happen to be Jewish.”
Is this what we want our focus to be? Do we want a religious Jewish community or a cultural Jewish community? What do St. Paul Jewish institutions need to do moving into the future? Is there even a need for these institutions or do secular organizations fulfill our needs and wants? It doesn’t stop with these hot topics.  I am telling you, these conversations are more than just interesting; they are dynamic, deep, and inspiring.  All the more, your opinion can be heard in a valuable and impactful way.
Young adults are the future of the community so we need to make sure ours is one that we are comfortable with and proud of. If you’re from greater St. Paul, come let your thoughts and ideas be heard by a community that wants to listen. After all, we young adults do have invaluable insight, right?  There is a session coming up on Tues., July 23 at 6 p.m. at Davanni’s on Cleveland for our age group. Free pizza, plus a Caribou Gift card for the first 12 people who sign up and attend! There are other sessions this summer, too. You can go to to sign up.
So if you like to talk, or even if you don’t, a community listening session is the place to do it. Why not let your voice be heard by a community that cares? Although we may not be talking about robots and flying cars, the future of our community is important and we have the chance now to help build what we want to see.
Jessica Lerman is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating next spring. This summer, she is interning with the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul, working with marketing and communications.