Challenging Tradition, Young Jews Worship on Their Terms

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are no pews at Tikkun Leil Shabbat, no rabbis, no one with children or gray hair.

Instead, one rainy Friday night, the young worshipers sat in concentric circles in the basement of an office building, damp stragglers four deep against the walls. In the middle, Megan Brudney and Rob Levy played guitar, drums and sang, leading about 120 people through the full Shabbat liturgy in Hebrew.

Without a building and budget, Tikkun Leil Shabbat is one of the independent prayer groups, or minyanim, that Jews in their 20s and 30s have organized in the last five years in at least 27 cities around the country. They are challenging traditional Jewish notions of prayer, community and identity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

5 Comments
Posted November 29, 2007 at 8:52 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) wrote:

Raving Jews! Cool.

November 29, 10:31 am | [comment link]
2. Terry Tee wrote:

Love that pic of the Sefer (Scroll).  Left me wondering how liturgical churches like Anglicans and Catholics can similarly engage young people, beyond, say, being servers and readers and musicians.  None of those things are really leadership and creative roles.  Can we be faithful to tradition and yet involve them?  The fall-away after confirmation is frightening.  One small caveat:  the groups described in this article tend to me homogeneous.  Part of our strength in parish life is the cross-section of ages, races, classes.  So let’s not beat ourselves up too much as we wonder how to involve young adults.

November 29, 11:09 am | [comment link]
3. Terry Tee wrote:

for ‘tend to me’ read tend to be - apologies.

November 29, 11:11 am | [comment link]
4. Jody+ wrote:

And yet, at the same time, one of the healthiest movements (and most successful) in modern Judaism is the Chabad Lubavitch movement, which is nothing if not traditional, though controversial for a number of reasons.  One of my good friends used to worship in a Conservative Synagogue, then made Aliyah and stopped going to Synagogue regularly while in Israel until attracted to the Chabad house, recently returned to the US and told me that the Chabad house in our home town, which is only about a year old has “done more in a year than the Reformed and Conservatives could do in 100.”  And evidently many of those attracted to the Chabad house are younger… I find it interesting because it seems to mirror some trends in the Church.

November 29, 4:10 pm | [comment link]
5. Terry Tee wrote:

Jody, I agree Chabad would be approximately parallel to the charismatic movement in Christianity:  it incorporates ecstatic worship, joyful melodies and a direct preaching style that engages head-on with the concerns and issues of young adults.  And yet, I find myself wondering:  (a) if these congregations are mostly young adults, will their worship and spiritual needs change as they grow older?  (The same question would apply in many Christian settings, eg emergent Church congregations.)  (b) At the same time as we hear people say this kind of thing is what young adults want, what about those other voices telling us that young adults want liturgy that belongs to the classical tradition:  solemn, elegant, uplifting and above all anchored in doctrinal teaching?

November 29, 4:36 pm | [comment link]
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