Book Discussion: Beyond the Synagogue

Event details

  • Wednesday | March 23, 2022
  • 7:30 pm
  • (215) 887-8700

Join us on Zoom or 

On Wednesday March 23rd at 7:30pm, we will collaborate with a number of KI committees, KI speakers, and Rabbi Sussman to discuss the concepts and ideas that are explored in the book: Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice by Rachel Gross. Questions? Contact
Rachel B. Gross asserts that many prominent sociologists and historians have mistakenly concluded that American Judaism is in decline, and she contends that they are looking in the wrong places for Jewish religious activity. If they looked outside of traditional institutions and practices, such as attendance at synagogue or membership in Jewish Community Centers, they would see that the embrace of nostalgia provides evidence of an alternative, under-appreciated way of being Jewish and of maintaining Jewish continuity.
  • Moderator:  Janice Schwartz-Donahue, KI President
  • Panel: Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., Evonne Jonas Kruger, Ph.D., Arlene B. Holtz, Ph.D.

Book: Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice by Rachel B. Gross (New York University Press 2021).  Beyond the Synagogue discuses four ways in which Jews are connecting to their Judaism and Jewish communities outside of the synagogue: 

  • The Jewish genealogy movement 
  • Interest in historic synagogues and local Jewish history
  • The use of Jewish toys, dolls, and children’s books
  • The Jewish culinary revival

Each member of the panel offers a unique area of expertise: Judaism and Jewish history, organizational management and strategy, and leadership. As KI grapples with national data indicating the decline in synagogue membership, particularly among young Jews, Beyond the Synagogue opens an important discussion about how Jews “practice” Judaism.  At KI, we have Jewish genealogy programs, the Meyers Library, the Temple Judea Museum, social action projects and adult learning sessions that help many congregants connect to their Judaism outside the sanctuary.  This program also will offer other examples of how many Jews are practicing their Judaism beyond the synagogue that will help us consider new avenues of engagement for unaffiliated Jews in our community.