More Youth-Friendliness

It’s always nice to have some positive confirmation. In a recent post I debated the relative value of building a “Youth Friendly” congregation.

This article in the Cleveland Jewish News again raises that theme, specifically:

“We’ve got to get younger in our leadership. We’ve got to get connected to social media. We need to recognize that old paradigms need to be adjusted. The younger generation doesn’t look at (Jewish) institutions as anything more than ‘something my parents did’ because we don’t put out the welcome mat.”

My response is “yes and no”. Once again we have this connection between “social media” and “putting out the welcome mat” for the “younger generation”. I know that might not be exactly what he had in mind, but those two ideas are repeated often enough that I believe people have it in at least the back of their mind.

And once again I think it’s missing the point.

First, there is no “younger generation” – it’s a false demographic with imaginary boundaries. I have a 7 year old child, I’m still in a state of active learning about my career and interests and I use almost every form of “social media” both for work and play. Am I part of the younger generation? I am also over 40 and have a child in college. Am I still part of that group?).

Second, this alleged “younger generation” isn’t going to suddenly warm up to a Federation that tweets or friends or feeds – especially if the only purpose for doing so is to “hook” some group of people.

What anybody wants – young or old – is a Federation whose internal narrative – the story they tell themselves ABOUT themselves – includes a place for the listener.