I’d like to discuss a phenomenon that is happening below the radar of mainstream media — in fact below the radar of many in our own Jewish community: the convergence of young adult Jewish life.
For many years in our community, there was but one way to engage in young adult Jewish life: the Federations. Young Leadership at the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Federation, while meaningful and empowering, was the only organized avenue to connect with other young Jews and to the community as a whole.
Over time, that changed. Jewish Community Action spawned Indie Jews. Jewish Family and Children’s Service implemented a Young Adults Outreach Program. And as our congregations grappled with the disengagement of younger Jews, they adapted and began engaging young adults through organized synagogue groups.
Over a generation, our community’s challenge evolved from one of insufficient avenues of engagement to that of an oversaturated marketplace. With that, groups began to fade: Hillel’s TAG (Twenty-somethings and Grads) folded. Jewish Family and Children’s Service Young Adults Outreach Program ended, only to be succeeded in recent years by the very successful JFCS NextGen. The Minneapolis Jewish Federation replaced Young Leadership with the 20|30 Project.
As the marketplace of young adult engagement reached equilibrium in recent years, our community faced the new challenge of how the various young adult groups can work together effectively — collaborating when appropriate, respecting boundaries and coalescing into complementary niches.
We still wrestle with this challenge, but from the perspective of an outsider-turned-insider, I’ll testify that the family of young adult groups has achieved a high level of harmony and balance. The best example is Cirque du Purim, our communal young adult Purim party now entering its third year.
Purim used to be a depressing, lonely, pathetic experience for young adults in the community. Each congregation would gather a few handfuls of young adults for a Saturday night Purim schpiel and booze. No critical mass existed at any Purim celebration to make it a genuinely fun and objectively successful event.
A coalition of young adult groups said dayenu and banded together to throw a community-wide Purim bash. Now in its third year, Cirque du Purim continues to grow and is the unparalleled highlight of the young adult Jewish calendar.
As the new 20|30 Project Manager at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, I am blessed to work within a family of young adult groups that places a premium on collaboration and evolves its collective opportunities in the marketplace of engagement with an awareness and sensitivity to each other.
While we celebrate the convergent Thanksgivukkah as a whole community, young adults from Minneapolis and the Western suburbs will party Wednesday night under the auspices of convergent groups: Makom (Adath’s 20s and 30s group), Bet Shalom Young Adults, Beth El Young Adults and Temple Israel Young Jews have all teamed up with the Federation 20|30 Project for a late night Thanksgivukkah Happy Hour at the Ridgedale Bar Louie from 9:30 PM – Midnight.
TCJewfolk is, of course, our media sponsor. We hope to see you there!