Looking back on this past weekend, I can’t help but be a little awed. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, especially since we are talking about what can be viewed as a glorified Shabaton, but the latest Jewlicious Festival was seriously nothing less than a transformative experience. Of course the participants all had a great time. The dedicated staff and small army of volunteers love the Festival and work tirelessly to make it happen and keep it running smoothly, so they too ultimately enjoy the experience. After 4 years, I’m used to that dynamic. But this year, when I stopped running around and just tried to absorb what was going on, the images that really stood out were those of the various Jewish communal leaders from all over the place who were in attendance and seemed a bit… what, stunned?
Stunned?? Yeah. Stunned. Jewlicious united people from across the Jewish spectrum – participants wore beards and payot and kippahs and nose rings and tattoos and long skirts and mini skirts and… not to belabor it, but I think you get the point. It was a diverse crowd. And it was an equally diverse group of presenters. There were many a heated discussion during the panels and in the corridors but it never seemed as if anyone felt out of place or uncomfortable, and despite all this diversity, everyone genuinely seemed to have a good time. A good time doing Jewish stuff, with other Jews. Crazy!! I’m sure some people left inspired. Many people left a little better educated about their identities and all were able to point to Jewlicious as an example of a Jewish experience… that totally didn’t suck.
Yes. Such a thing is possible. Simply provide cutting edge programing that combines Music, culture, technology, innovation, activism and a little of that ol’ timey Judaism. Allow the people that you are trying to attract to take a real leadership role in the creation of said programing. Put it all together and then work like crazy to make it happen. In my next post I will talk about some of the highlights of the Festival. Stay tuned!