I was so upset when walking to Jewish Heritage Night at PNC Park on Tuesday night to see the Jews for Jesus group on the Roberto Clemente Bridge (on what would have been Roberto Clemente’s 80th birthday). I wasn’t that upset that they were there. What makes America great is that they have the freedom to be in public space and do what they want to do. What caught my attention was what a poorly conceived strategy they had.
Think about it – Jewish Heritage Night – attracting Jews who are proudly identified as Jews. As I walked around the few blocks of seats reserved for Jewish Heritage Night, I saw members of our community involved with Jewish institutions, synagogues and Jewish education. What kind of potential does Jews for Jesus really have in recruiting any of them? I would guess none whatsoever. Can’t they come up with a better strategy?
We are coming up on the Jewish High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim. What can we as a Jewish community and we as individuals do to strategically outreach to bring those in who are less engaged Jewishly? Perhaps each of us can identify someone not so connected or someone brand new to Pittsburgh and invite them for a holiday meal or to join us at synagogue or to attend the Federation’s Apples and Honey event (a program of Shalom Pittsburgh). Let’s make it personal and reach out in a quality way to make someone less engaged feel comfortable and welcome.
I know we can be much smarter and more effective than what I saw on Tuesday night.