Jonathan Sarna: You’re Young and Jewish: Discuss

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Source: NYT, 1-16-11

Reboot, a nonprofit organization based in Amherst, Mass., that is run by Lou Cove, has proved a refuge of sorts for well-connected American Jews who are curious about the ideas and rituals of their ancestors and who want to adapt them to their lives. “For so many years being a Jew was defined by the Holocaust on one side and Israel on the other,” said Rachel Levin, a founder, who is associate director at Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, which is a major donor to Reboot. “Now the conversation is about something other than that.”

About 350 people have attended, with new inductees nominated, anonymously, by previous Rebooters.

They include up-and-comers from Hollywood (Jenji Kohan, the creator of Showtime’s “Weeds”), New York publishing (Ben Greenman, a fiction writer and an editor at The New Yorker), Silicon Valley (Anne Wojcicki, a founder of 23andMe and the wife of Sergey Brin, a Google founder) and digital media (Rachel Sklar, a blogger). (Some New York Times employees have attended; this reporter has not.)

“Our goal is not to get the 40 most successful people,” said Roger Bennett, a founder who lives in New York and is senior vice president at the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, an initial contributor to Reboot that now has 18 donors and a yearly $1.8 million budget. The organization was inspired in part, he said, by the teachings of Jonathan Sarna, a Brandeis University professor who contends that the most creative ideas for reviving Jewish culture come from outsiders. Mr. Bennett said he recruits culturally savvy mostly 30-somethings disconnected from, but willing to examine, their Jewish life, and hopes Reboot will eventually help “tens of thousands of people” to reconnect with Judaism. “It is not a self-involved gathering of individuals, but a place to develop programs and processes to make our peers engage,” he said….READ MORE

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