When Patrick Aleph announced to his friends and followers on Twitter that he was attending the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans, he declared that he was going to be partying “Charlie Sheen style” and was inviting others to join him.

There was a flurry of positive responses from others who were in the same young Jewish innovator space as Patrick (Aleph runs punktorah.org), but somehow I doubt that the GA will be scandalized by an epidemic of naked, drunken physical altercations with adult film star/escorts. For the pop culture challenged among us, actor Charlie Sheen was recently in the news for causing a disturbance in a hotel due to a naked, drunken physical altercation with an adult film star/escort.

But I digress. Patrick was surely inspired by the notion of travelling into the very heart of the Jewish establishment and creating a bit of a ruckus. Young Jewish innovators do what they do often as a response to, or as a reaction against an organized Jewish community which they feel is not sufficiently cognizant of or responsive to their particular needs.

Met with indifference or incredulity, these innovators simply create their own grassroots, peer-led communities, facilitated by their mastery of Internet technology that is second nature to them. When given the opportunity to confront their elders, the desire to be disruptive is strong. And why not? They can’t be fired because they don’t work for anyone and, for the most part, their funding can’t be cut because they’re not really funded much.


I am all for creating a ruckus. There’s lots our aged philanthropic titans can learn from our young passionate innovators. But turmoil, once unleashed, is often uncontrollable.

What I mean by that is that an ideal interaction between the alte kachers and the young bucks can’t be unidirectional. Yes of course our new innovators are passionate, energetic and technologically savvy.

However, there’s something to be said about stability. There’s something to be said about getting the job done and doing the unsexy things, day in and day out, that need to be done.

After all, someone has to volunteer for the hevra kadisha. Someone has to care for our Jewish aged, infirm and ill. Technology is great but you can’t marry an avatar. An e-mail list of 10 people does not a minyan make.

I look forward to seeing how the GA progresses. I always hope for dramatic changes, but I’ll be pleased with small incremental steps forward.

The writer is founder of Jewlicious.com.
Jewlicious is participating in the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans.

Click for full Jpost coverage of the GA 2010

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