Home March 2012 Gen Y Conundrum

Gen Y Conundrum

The Orange County Jewish community is lucky, and so are its beneficiaries.  There are many people willing to open their checkbooks to support various causes and many people willing to open their arms to provide a reading lesson, a book, a blanket or just a hug.
The community’s generosity extends to causes in Israel, American communities devastated by disasters and hungry and homeless people right here in Orange County.  Yet, as many people can attest, some members of our own community are falling through the cracks.
Sometimes the problem is a lack of action on the part of potential participants.  While demographic data are sketchy, there are many unaffiliated Jews.  Some embrace Judaism for certain life events and then let their affiliation fall by the wayside.
The Bureau of Jewish Education strives to reach the post-B’nai Mitzvah demographic.  Hillel does its utmost to reach college-age students. And then?
With people spending more time in higher education, marrying later and starting families later, there is a long period, somewhere between 21 and 40 or so, that merits special attention.  This demographic may not be comfortable with the same approaches to Jewish institutions as previous generations.
Fortunately, Orange County and other communities have taken great strides to provide opportunities for the “Generation Y” demographic to meet, mingle, party and worship in environments that are “not your parent’s institutions.”  While the latter may come later, the groups keep the younger set in the Jewish world now and enable integration into more mainstream institutions.
For many twenty- and thirty-somethings, these groups are a safe haven where they can relate to like-minded people.  For others, they are a bridge to philanthropy and affiliation with the overall Jewish community.
Now, one of those institutions, the Moishe House of Orange County, is in danger of closing its doors.  As stated in our cover story (see page 24), the unconventional funding model calls for a higher degree of local support at this time.  Participants, many of whom look at the Moishe House as a home away from home and a strong connection to Judaism, are working to save it, but many are in first jobs and not in a financial situation that allows them to make meaningful contributions.
We as a community have to invest in our future.  If we want our sons and daughters to take those first steps toward a meaningful relationship with the Jewish community, we have to show them that we care about their needs and their way of being and doing Jewish.  While other opportunities for this demographic are alive and well, the loss of the Moishe House would eliminate about 40 percent of the Gen Y programming in the area.  That is simply unacceptable.
How can you help?  You can donate by using the link www.moishehouse.org and specifying that you want your donation to go to the Orange County Moishe House.  You can encourage other Jewish institutions to partner with and support the Moishe House too.  Building a bridge to Jewish involvement today is the key to having that involvement tomorrow.

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