Reconstructionist Rabbi Sidney Schwarz argues here that the old model of the
synagogue is outdated, and no longer meets the needs of Baby Boomer
constituents, who are genuinely interested in a renewed spirituality. His
quest to make the synagogue a place of "great Jewish excitement and
commitment" involves many of the same strategies that fuel new-paradigm
Christian churches: reach the "unsynagogued," be open to innovative and
informal modes of worship, get congregants involved in vibrant, close-knit
small groups (havurot), and--most importantly--never forget that people
have come for spiritual food, not gefilte fish. Judaism, Schwarz writes, has
to be about more than a mere ethnic affiliation or it is lost.
He profiles one thriving "synagogue-community" from each of the four major Jewish denominations in America: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and
Reconstructionist (using his own synagogue). Schwarz's ideas for
transformation are resonant, wise, and powerful, but what makes this book
truly special are the individual profiles of people who reconnected with their Judaism.