We introduced the concept of the minyan to everyone and went around to do introductions and what people want to get out of the group. Many people are looking for an outlet for Jewish learning that involves thinking about big Jewish issues in a sustained way, and that creates a safe space for intellectual inquiry.
Rachel led a dynamic discussion called Holy Conversations, using a text from Dr. Erica Brown, and we discussed in partners and then as a group what it means to have open, intentional conversations that lead to heightened consciousness or transcendence. That led us into a discussion of what we want and need in our group to build that sense of intentionality into our sessions.
The meat of our session was having folks do a warm-up activity, writing on index cards about an experience where they felt engaged Jewishly, and conversely an experience where they felt disengaged. We shared aloud and that sparked a broader conversation about the minyan dialogue topics and what we might want to focus on this year.
We talked a lot about Jewish engagement issues, Jewish survival and fear, Jewish activism within the community and in larger social issues, moving forward beyond the PEW study, and thinking about new ways to measure Jewish engagement.
In our debrief at the conclusion of the two hour session, participants noted that they found the discussion valuable and interesting, and are excited to continue the journey. Our next step is coming to consensus on a dialogue topic and then we will reach out to local Jewish leaders and scholars to see what research/data/scholarly texts fit with that topic.
Please feel free to share any thoughts you have with me so we can make this minyan the best it can be.