B3 will create a multi-session program to fit our partners' needs. A sample of the kinds of programs we can provide, as well as an overview of our approach, can be found below. Click on each title for more information or simply scroll down:
Sample Summaries of Other Sessions:
B3’s mission is to develop a wide range of activities designed to engage—or re-engage—Boomers in Jewish life based on their emerging needs and interests. At the same time, B3 realizes that a serious and comprehensive program of communal transformation and leadership learning cannot be limited to one population segment but, rather, must seek to improve how we respond as a community to multi-generational demands. The combination of these two goals—serving Boomers and creating inter-generational connections—offers great potential for developing specific curriculum content to reshape how we approach leadership learning and liberate it from rote reliance on age as the primary discriminating recruitment criterion.
We have gathered rabbis and academics, activists, social entrepreneurs, trainers, analysts, researchers, coaches, community organizers, and Jewish service providers into the B3 Platform--all with the shared goal of creating innovative, relevant programs and services. By turning to recognized experts, we can offer powerful learning experiences that will allow participants to better plan for a Jewish future that, despite a dizzying array of stresses, can handle the institutional and communal demands of rapid change and colliding generations. This approach also reflects our fundamental belief in collaboration and the appeal of using the best program innovators now rather than duplicating efforts and reinventing the wheel.
B3’s platform strategy creates a single portfolio from which we can craft unique leadership and community building programs designed for local communities. By vigorously suggesting that leadership learning programs not be automatically limited to 20- or 30-somethings, we are also recommending that the primary criterion for participation should instead be real potential for community leadership. This relates to another goal of B3: to ensure a place on the communal agenda”for Jewish Boomers, not to the exclusion of other population segments but to the greater benefit of all.
B3 urges Jewish communities nationwide—leaders, funders, organizations and program designers—to rethink the way they approach the future in terms of learning, leadership, collaboration and community. We are creating what we believe is the most effective response to the serious challenge many Boomers and their younger successors present to the Jewish world: find us a place of meaning or we will look elsewhere.
The B3 program described below can help transform communities and institutions in a way that speaks to and engages not only Boomers but the generations that follow. It is, we hope, the starting point for conversations about ways to strengthen Jewish life.
Introductory Session: The First Convening/Articulating a Vision of the Future and a Communal Assessment
A B3 program begins by coming to grips with the changes taking place in today’s landscape and assessing how these changes are playing out in the community. There is a strong tendency to avoid empirical evidence and evidence-based decision-making in the hopes that we can maintain what we have or control the ways change will take place. This leads to resistance to change and means a community can lag in relevance. B3’s “First Convening” allows professional and volunteer leaders in the community to grapple with impact of multiple generations expressing emerging needs, making often competing demands and challenging the norms that have dictated Jewish communal life for many decades.
The Jewish community’s reigning core presumption has been that we need to focus exclusively on bringing young people into the fold. The reality we face—and one of the motivations behind B3—is more daunting: Boomers are no less vulnerable than younger people to alternative allegiances and influences, and are no less vital to future communal strength—whether short- or long-term. We ignore evidence of the dissipation of Boomers’ connections to Jewish life at our communal peril.
B-3 will help assess the demographic shifts and institutional needs and capacities of the community to better address what your Jewish community will be like in the first half of the 21st century. One outcome of this assessment is to brainstorm about and define the specific content for the balance of a multi-session program that will best provide the skills, insights, tools and experiences to equip local volunteer and professional leaders to bring about the transformation needed now and into the future.
Sample Session Summaries:
1. Leadership in a Multi-Generational World
Imagine our people’s story if Abraham and Sarah, Rebecca and Isaac, and Jacob, his wives and children all were competing to construct the Jewish future – and you will more clearly understand the circumstances of leadership in the 21st century.
For the first time in history, four generations with radically different iconic moments and experiences are meeting at conferences and in Board rooms, as professional and volunteer leaders, funders and service recipients, and attempting to make tough decisions on vision, mission and priorities as well as budgets and programs. Boomers are the largest cohort and are in charge of much of the current communal decision-making process. Yet, much more Boomer talent is untapped by the Jewish community and is being by-passed due to the pervasive focus on the younger generations. How can we address Boomers while also maintaining productive connections to other generation groups? Are these efforts mutually exclusive? Or can they be mutually reinforcing? This session explores how to identify, mobilize, recruit and train leadership that invests seriously in understanding and bridging generational differences while transcending the idea that only the young can become leaders and belong in leadership learning programs. Boomers have 20-30 years of potential creative engagement ahead of them; however, unless their energies are meaningfully connected to Jewish life, they could be lost.
Imagine how the Jewish community will look in 2030 if Boomers are involved in their Jewish communities…or if they are not. Imagine further if their involvement is part of an inter-generational effort to address the community’s needs…or if it is not.
2. The Jewish Innovation Economy: An Emerging Market for Knowledge and Social Capital
The language of social entrepreneurship has entered the vocabulary of voluntary association. It embodies the recognition that we are moving away from the corporate institutional structures that proved so effective in the 1950’s and earlier, but feel vulnerable, out-of-step and teetering now. In their place, smaller and more nimble niche social and public service enterprises are emerging that respond to a new set of expressed or anticipated needs. For most people, this is a “youth thing” outside of the organized community, but, in reality, we see the four age cohorts active in Jewish life today searching for new ways to build community and satisfy unique demands and expectations across many boundaries – like geography, age, gender, and affiliation. This session is a boot camp for social entrepreneurs, bringing an unparalleled opportunity to apply what has been learned about the new Jewish innovation economy—and inspiring participants to take action and create initiatives that address the needs they see around them.
3. Community in a Networked World: Re-imagining the Synagogue and Community-based Institutions
Web sites, chat rooms, e-bulletins and e-blasts are commonplace in many institutions today. But the changes taking place all around us are not simply technological and surely not restricted to the realm of “new media”. What is happening out there offers radical new ways to imagine the potential of community institutions and engagement. The changes are less about time and space than about the full use of networks, choices, interests and affinities. While new understandings of community may be easier for younger generations, other cohorts need to understand and engage in the changes around them since they also control philanthropic resources and hold leadership positions, and will also need to be comfortable as active agents of change. Grounded in the Jewish commitment to covenantal relationships, we bring to this session imagination and a practical tool kit on what is happening at the edges of the virtual universe that will soon be mandatory for Jewish institutions if they are to flourish. The terms—and media—of engagement are changing and will never be the same. This session will enable activists to mobilize new tools to help build community.
4. Re-envisioning Volunteerism and Public Service in a Downsized Age
This session transforms organizations through innovative volunteer and encore career engagement strategies that can cultivate, inspire and harness vast untapped resources in the Jewish community. With B3’s special expertise with Boomers, we will empower communal institutions with the knowledge, guidance, and framework for creating a more dynamic and effective engagement model to better fulfill organizational missions and build capacity beyond what the present staff alone can accomplish. This means we must view, utilize and expand the volunteer and professional resources available and move from static programs to dynamic, enterprise-wide, networked assets. Our method is collaborative learning so that the operational and cultural changes envisioned will “stick,” and capacity will continue to grow beyond our time with the organization. This outcome-oriented session will close with a commitment among participants on ways to change the volunteer and professional environment in the community.
5. Demographics and their Implications: Knowing the Facts
We are a community in the fourth generation of radical, rapid transformation. While some among us can still imagine Bubbie and Zeyde and the warm glow of Shabbat candles, Boomers-as-grandparents might be more likely to be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or scuba diving in Aruba. While some mourn for Jewish continuity of this type, Jews in the United States are making sweeping choices about identity, behavior, connection with the larger world and what the Jewish family should look like. We tend to polarize what is good or bad for the Jews. Instead of simply asking “how Jewish are Jews?” we should now be asking, “How are Jews Jewish?” The answers are far more complex than we can imagine – not just when it comes to Generations X or Y or the Millennials, but including the huge cohort of Boomers. This session will provide updated survey research results and analysis about American Jewry in a way that can be digested and applied to the current scene—both nationally and in local communities.
6. Service Learning and Vocation Vacations: Taking Talent Seriously in Multiple Generations
If we seek to attract, mobilize and retain the talents of Jews, young and old alike, we need to provide opportunities for them to perform public service with integrity, meaning, satisfaction and authenticity. This is especially true for Boomers who are exploring what to do over the next decades as they consider how long to continue their mid-life careers and what to do with their talents, ideals and experience. This “how-to” session provides pathways to developing high-quality service opportunities and building an inspired Jewish community engaged in service. Jewish Service Learning is a powerful program model in which participants combine authentic service, substantive learning, and deep reflection in ways that strengthen their commitment to civic engagement and social change while providing a Jewish context for that commitment. By providing volunteer, quasi-professional or even serious professional service engagement opportunities, the community can gain greater capacity and commitment. The goal here is to support new and exemplary programs and to share best practices from other Jewish, secular, and interfaith programs. We are at a critical juncture as volunteerism and the desire for hands-on involvement with causes approach record levels: will volunteering occur in a Jewish context and as a meaningful expression of Jewish values…or not?
7. Creating a Personal Leadership Vision: A Reflective, Skill-Building Opportunity
Volunteering can either be an isolated episode among many other activities or an enduring expression of one’s deepest values and commitments. When we engage volunteers in serious, committed activities, we can help them place their activities in a deeper, more meaningful personal context. To do this, the volunteer needs to reflect on the personal and communal reasons for their involvement. What is the path that led them to this involvement? What are their personal goals and their volunteer path forward? What is their vision for the outcome of their involvement? What role can Jewish values and text play in placing their involvement in a larger personal and collective context? This session speaks to personal rebranding, identifying one’s unique selling proposition in order to better determine where one really wants to invest personal energy and focus. It involves an open discussion among all participants of the motivations for meaningful volunteer engagement—as well as opportunities for deep personal reflection on each person’s goals. How do we see the intersection of our values with these activities and the community setting in which they occur? How can we convey these values? Do they have meaning for others, whether among our peers or among other generations? What was and is our path to involvement and leadership? What, finally, is our emerging personal story?
8. Renew the Spirit, Renew the Soul: The Spiritual Quest as a Tool to Build Community
Living in an age of rapid change, we are often like amnesiacs without viable connections to the past. When new means better and change is demanded, many are unwilling to rely on the traditions, values and institutions we inherited. How can the universe of meaning which spoke to a former era have relevance to us “modems”? We are all novices in a world that seems to be brand new each day. Orphaned from history, we can satisfy our needs and desires, but might not necessarily feel that our lives are as meaningful or worthwhile. From synagogues to camps to retreat settings, from Israel trips to federation Board meetings, there is a sense that we have entered a more complex age of spiritual and experiential needs and challenges. As with our other organizations, large, corporate synagogue settings and traditional religious experiences no longer satisfy, whether on a personal or a communal level. This is not exclusively a Reform or Orthodox, Chassidic or secular question – the most traditional settings could still provide new and energized religious opportunities. Yet spiritual life is seen, within the American context, as a personal journey – even if it occurs within a community – and one’s faith is not static. People seek new and/or renewed religious experiences. Exploring spiritual opportunities today could create new pathways to meaning for generations to come. This session will offer both experience and methodology that can be applied in diverse Jewish settings.
9. Marketing and Branding When Generations Collide and When Communities Take Action
The tools and insights of the marketing world have much to tell us about successfully building a community of meaning and action. How we express the goals of our efforts or the “brand positioning” of our organizations is not a sterile marketing exercise; instead, it taps into the deepest levels of meaning of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. If marketing’s goal is to find the optimal way to convey to people the meaning or benefit of a product or service, then it follows that our communal efforts will benefit from these marketing tools and insights. If the goal of advertising is to inform, intrigue and inspire action—as occurs with sampling or trial of a new product—then it can be a productive tool as we strive to build community and expand involvement. And if the goal of a media plan is to identify the most effective and efficient ways to deliver a message to a target audience in a very cluttered and dynamic media environment, then we might benefit from learning new ways to attract people’s attention and interest. This session allows participants to explore the world of marketing, branding, advertising, media planning and positioning—all with an eye on what it is we are really trying to achieve. The outcome is a clearer sense of our objectives and the strategies that will help us achieve them. Who said Madison Avenue has nothing to teach the Jewish community? Try it, you’ll like it.
10. Trekking into the Wilderness to Find Ourselves—Building a Team
An extended experience in the wilderness—led by experienced, Jewishly-learned guides—can provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore our values and join participants into a tightly-knit team. B3’s partners include an expert wilderness guide who can combine overnight wilderness experiences with deep exploration of relevant Jewish texts. The result can transform how we see ourselves, our group and the world around us. As has been shown in studies and research, these experiences can offer effective leadership training and skill building, testing models of collaboration while providing core leadership skills. Something mystical and impactful happens when we leave the city—or even the suburbs—behind. This program could provide a powerful group-building activity as part of any multi-session program.
11. The Environment and Food Justice: What Role can the Jewish Community and Jewish Values Play in these Global Efforts?
The admonishment that we need to “think globally and act locally” has implications for the contemporary relevance of the Jewish community. What do Jewish values teach us about the environment and food justice? As these issues continue to grow in importance, what should our role be as a community and as a people? What are the latest initiatives under way in Jewish life and in the general community that address these two pressing issues? How can we imagine a Jewish response to them? And how can we galvanize Jewish activism and involvement? Finally, is there a generational divide—or consensus—when it comes to addressing these issues? A workshop format that will inspire and inform.
12. The Covenantal Convening: Renewing Jewish Life and Meaning in the 21st Century—Concluding with a Leadership Challenge
Perhaps the greatest truism today is that the only continuity we can rely on is change. The Biblical expression hadesh yameynu k’kedem—renew our days as of old—notwithstanding, we live in an age of remarkable transformation where everything can be changed, from hair color to gender, from nationality and religion, to career and spouse—often in but a keystroke. In the United States, the average American moves every eight years. Half of all marriages end in divorce. We spend more money on diets than most nations spend on food. The word "impossible" is not part of our vocabulary. We were born into and will spend our entire lives immersed in this world of few limits and of seemingly infinite possibilities. We will probably live three times as long as the average Roman and twice as long as the Europeans of the 1700's. That's a lot more time to spend. And much of that time occurs later in life, after the end of careers, when we become empty nesters and begin a new search for meaning and involvement—and reject the old image of golden-agers retiring to a Sun Belt condo to play golf.
We also live in an age of unparalleled opportunity for Jews and for the Jewish people. The freedoms which we who live in North America take for granted are extending to Jews throughout the world. For the first time in millennia, the overwhelming majority of Jews live in freedom and security. Yet this strong sense of new and open opportunity brings its own risks – how do we build the community, institutions, educational and cultural programs that will appeal to multiple generations? and who will be the architects of the new Jewish community?
This closing session will bring participants together to explore in a collaborative inquiry what we have learned and where we are going, affirming a sense of purpose and mission that will provide new understandings backed by a toolkit of concrete and creative change opportunities, and a commitment by the participating volunteer and Jewish professional leaders, the Boomers and others who participated in the sessions.