More on CAJE: Echoing the Sentiments

Last week, we published five essays answering the question “What’s next for CAJE?” We invited readers to send us their thoughts. This is one of several responses we received from TAPBB readers.

by Janice Alper

Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything there is a season. In the US today it is a season of new hope and optimism with the cloud of fear and job loss and homelessness confronting all of us. Yet, our president has charged us to pull ourselves up and move forward.

I read with interest the various perspectives on CAJE’s recent announcement to cancel this year’s conference. While it may come as a shock to some, as with all shocking moments, we seem to get through them and emerge stronger. Thus, not to belabor the point, I find that what has already been articulated was said better than I could ever verbalize. I believe that both Cherie Koller Fox and Ira Wise have given us the charge for new hope and optimism.

We absolutely need to get back to our grass roots in the 21st century. Our conferences have to be relevant, timely and allow us to come away with broader Jewish knowledge and a feeling that we can live our lives better as Jews and transmit those feelings to all we touch, our students, families, colleagues and everyone in our lives.

As a founder of CAJE, and someone who benefitted greatly from my involvement professionally and personally, and who is now one of those who is literally gray, I think we need to look at new models and generate truly ALTERNATIVE gatherings (I am deliberately not using the word ‘conference’) that will be of benefit to those who participate. Going back to the basics, reaching people via e-conference, i-pod broadcasts and the like, will create a new generation of people who can network and learn together.

Surely nothing can substitute for the magic that takes place when 2000 Jews come together in one place, but annually this may not be the right way to do it. Let’s build the base, make it stronger and with ownership and come together in our larger numbers every two or three years. Surely the magic will happen again.

Let us consider this an opportunity to truly be ALTERNATIVE, to learn, to grow and to enhance Jewish education.