Denomination, Shenomination: A Night of Learning with Rabbis From Across the Spectrum


Particpant, Eser
May 5, 2014

On the last Friday night in March, I experienced an evening of true Jewish pluralism. I was one of about 100 young adults that gathered in the function hall of Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline to celebrate Shabbat and the program that brought us all together: Eser.

We came from about 20 different local communities, and our families and current religious practices spanned from secular to Orthodox. We were excited to share Friday night rituals and a hearty meal together. The highlight of the evening was a spirited and candid Ask the Rabbi panel with Eser-affiliated teachers who came from a range of rabbinical schools. We tossed out one challenging question after another: How can synagogues better welcome LGBT young adults into their communities? What is the biggest misconception about the different denominations? Can one be agnostic and still live a rich and fulfilling Jewish life?

Before responding to many of the questions, the rabbis held impromptu “team huddles” to briefly discuss and coordinate their individual answers. This, to me, represented a microcosm of Eser and my hope for American Judaism — people of varied Jewish backgrounds talking to and learning from each other, in order to make informed individual choices. If we keep this up, our future Jewish community is in good shape.

Elana Kieffer spends her days with older adults at the retirement community where she works, and her evenings with young adults in programs like Eser.

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