What Millenials Want from Us


Beth CousensI recently had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Dr. Beth Cousens, a creative and strategic thinker, who works with leaders in Jewish education and in Jewish life to help organizations ensure success. Her focus on strategic thinking, partnership and creative and relevant Jewish educational ideas have helped her to be a respected voice in the field.

She shared with us her insights about engaging and empowering young adults in Jewish life. Our focus was Millennials, ages 22-35, how best to serve them, engage them, and what to expect from their “engagement” with our institutions. For example, she explained that many Jewish young adults don’t know how to be Jewish, as adults. They don’t want to register or sign up. They are very interested in the answer to the question “What value is added to my life?” and they are very much looking for meaning. They don’t want to be segmented unnaturally; i.e. don’t offer Torah study for singles. Offer Torah study if you want to offer Torah study and welcome the singles! Or, offer a singles event. But don’t try to combine two things that don’t naturally fit together.

They are definitely looking for DIY Judaism. No longer can Jewish institutions and congregations “do Jewish” for their members. These young adults want to do for themselves! They need our organizations to help them learn how to do it.


She shared 5 calls to action:

  1. Go to them. Help infuse Jewish content into their networks.
  2. Stand for something. Help them live within the context of Jewish ideas. (If they are looking for friends, love, work, etc. they will go elsewhere. They come to Jewish institutions for Jewish content!)
  3. Talk about and teach Jewish adulthood.
  4. Organize around Judaism. (Can we have house meetings to ask them what they are looking for and work with them to create programming for them?)
  5. Open our institutions: Create low barriers with high content.

I love the format of InterfaithFamily’s classes and workshops. Our mission falls directly in line with what these Millennials are looking for with our Love and Religion and Raising a Child offerings. We offer accessible and non-judgmental information so that interfaith families and those who support them can incorporate more Judaism into their lives. Check out our current offerings and stay tuned for changes to come in 2014!

What would you add to Dr. Cousens’ five calls to action?

One thought on “What Millenials Want from Us”

  • As a 27 year old, I am firmly a millennial and I agree with these suggestions. I think this is actually why I continue to be a “member” of my local Chabad community. I say member in quotes because I never really had to join anything, I just started showing up and was welcomed.

    Despite being a non-shomer-shabbos, non-kosher, intermarried Jew I still participate in the Chabad events because they are accessible. I did set up monthly donations which are like a membership fee, but I did it of my own free will, not as a price of admission to the community. I do not belong to any other synagogue.

    There’s something offputting about regular synagogues expecting a large sum up front for us to join, to even have the privilege of buying high holiday tickets, to be part of the community. Cousens model is basically what Chabad has been doing for years, and I would love to find a more progressive Jewish community offering the same things.

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