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Incubator Session 4: Jewish Megatrends

On April 6, 2017, the fourth in a series of six sessions of the Reconstructionist Learning Networks Innovators Incubator took place. In this session, guest facilitator Rabbi Sid Schwarz guided a discussion on “Jewish Megatrends: Priming the Pump of Jewish Innovation.” Below are highlights from the session, with links to resources discussed.

How Can “Old” and “New” Jewish Organizations Learn from Each Other? 

Book cover of Jewish Megatrends by Sid Schwarz

Rabbi Sid Schwarz’s research in Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future presents the decline in so-called legacy Jewish organizations, but the simultaneous reinvention of Jewish life in grassroots Jewish activities: social justice, spiritual practice, independent minyanim, Jewish learning groups, eco-sustainability.

In the following audio clip, Sid offers an analogy to describe the slowness of legacy organizations to change versus the ability of small startups to respond to change quickly. He continues by sharing that in his experience both legacy organizations and innovative groups have sometimes underestimated each other, but have much to learn from each other.

Audio titled Incubator_4_Changing_Waves by Jewishrecon


Don’t Get Stale!

In the following audio clip, Sid cautions against the tendency for mature organizations to get stale.

Audio titled Incubator 4_Don't Get Stale by Jewishrecon


Going Beyond Passion

“Just because you have a passion and a computer, doesn’t mean you can create a group”

Audio titled Incubator 4_Passion by Jewishrecon


Can You Give My Life Meaning?

Sid discusses how Jews affiliate differently today: it’s not about checking off the traditional boxes of Jewish engagement. The essential question is: Can you give my life meaning? The following five themes are areas in which Jews are seeking meaning. All Jewish organizations should be engaging with at least one of these themes, if not more.


5 Themes of Emergent Communities

Venn diagram of themes




Tzedek/Social Justice

Kedushah/HolinessThese themes appear across religious/secular traditions. One significant example is the organizaion How We Gather. Learn more about Casper ter Kuile and Angie Thurston’s work at Judaism Unbound.


Innovation Torah

From Jacob: A question to ask ourselves in light of the Passover holiday and all year round: To what extent are we enslaved/free in our work to create Jewish communities? What would freedom look like?

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