Synagogue Connect is a project initiated by Rabbis Ronald N. Brown and Charles Klein for the purposes of reaching out to the many unaffiliated college students in America. We are all well aware of the reports of anti-Semitism on college campuses. According to a survey conducted by the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Trinity College 54% of Jewish college students experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism within the past academic year. There are few who believe that this is just a passing phenomenon. Many in the Jewish community send their children to college with the expectation that the experience will broaden their horizons, when in fact, it may diminish their self-image, making them feel vulnerable and setting them apart from others.
There is much that is being done on campuses for these students. But we, in the synagogue community, have a role to play as well. As rabbis, along with our synagogues, we can reach out to college students to let them know that they are not alone and, perhaps, reconnect them to the synagogue community.
We are working with Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority and KAHAL (as well as many Jewish Organizations) to reach out to Jewish young adults residing on campus, living at home or traveling abroad. We have created an extensive list of synagogues which will open their doors (at no charge to them) or offer virtual services for the High Holidays. These students and young adults, who may come from unaffiliated families, can then choose a synagogue of their choice to attend. Beyond that, it is the hope of Synagogue Connect that this gesture might encourage an ongoing connection between these Jewish youth and rabbis.
If you wish to have your synagogue participate in this project please visit our sign up form.
Any young adult wishing to attend services will be asked to contact the synagogue beforehand and bring identification for admission. Those requesting virtual services will need to contact the synagogue, provide information (name, email, etc.) for security purposes, and will receive via email service times and information necessary to view.
This can be a powerful message to Jewish youth that synagogue doors are, and will always be, open to them.