Religion & Beliefs

Why Be Jewish: Engaging the Sacred

Over the next few days, Jewcy will be welcoming some distriguished guests to blog about their experiences at the 2010 Why Be Jewish Gathering, held by the Samuel Bronfman Foundation.   To kick things off, Adam R. Bronfman gives us … Read More

By / May 12, 2010

Over the next few days, Jewcy will be welcoming some distriguished guests to blog about their experiences at the 2010 Why Be Jewish Gathering, held by the Samuel Bronfman Foundation.  

To kick things off, Adam R. Bronfman gives us his thoughts on what he came away with from the two days he spent pondering such an important question. 

"Why Be Jewish?" The Samuel Bronfman Foundation just finished our two day gathering, which poses this overarching question. Of course, the question still remains. "Why Be Jewish?" We keep asking the question and we keep holding the conference and we don’t necessarily expect to find the answer. My father, Edgar M. Bronfman, likes to wrestle with complicated questions. For him, asking questions is a fundamental Jewish value. This was the fourth year our foundation sought possible ways to frame a conversation in response to "Why Be Jewish?" Why ask the question? Why hold the conference?

We gathered. We talked about "Engaging the Sacred." We studied text, some ancient and some modern. We discussed our own sacred spaces and sacred time, both past and present. As we delved deeper into the text and deeper into our own experiences we began to share something that seemed "more" than merely a conference: we shared ourselves. We laughed and we cried and we became vulnerable.

For the last two days the foundation’s extended "family" engaged in text study and learned from a diverse group of thinkers, educators, rabbis and leaders. As I write this, I know my words will not really convey the essence of what occurred. We deepened our understanding of ourselves. We explored the nuanced meanings of sacredness from a uniquely Jewish perspective.

While the conference did not address our specific professional work or our current projects, I have gained a deeper understanding of my work and that of the other participants. My hope is that the other participants also gained a deeper understanding for the motivation behind their work. I emerge with a deeper understanding of myself, of our staff, and of the wonderful people with whom we collaborate to help shape a meaningful and vibrant Jewish future.

Over the next few days, you will have the chance to hear from a few participants who will share their thoughts and impressions of the 2010 Why Be Jewish Gathering. This series is intended to give a taste of the variety of perspectives that emerged over the event.

"Why Be Jewish?" We will keep asking!