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January 15, 2012

Weekend tidbits: Should I bother with Florida?

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/weekend_tidbits_should_i_bother_with_florida_20120115/

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1.

I was going to go to Florida to write about the Republican race. I have a plane ticket and all other necessary arrangements have been made. But should I really bother with a race that seems all but over? With Romney leading by 15% over Newt Gingrich, one wonders whether taking this long trip might be a waste of precious time. On the other hand, they say that Gingrich is now turning his attention to Florida. He had promised: “We will surge very rapidly in Florida.” So I might want to wait a couple more days.

2.

Take a look at this study – “a case study of one synagogue that radically altered their dues system and found more money, more members and more harmony”:

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the voluntary system is that it fundamentally changes the nature of the relationship between members and the synagogue. “I hear complaints all the time from synagogue leaders that people treat synagogues like a fee for service business. But in fact synagogues don’t do anything to counteract this mentality other than complain. We have done something proactive here; we have said that we care about you, that we want you to have a true stake in what we do here.”

3.

There’s no date yet, but the next big thing in Israeli politics is expected around March: The Kadima Party primary - Tzipi Livni vs. Shaul Mofaz - is going to be tough and ugly. It is also important, as with all the hype surrounding the candidacies of newcomers like Yair Lapid, the head of Kadima is going to be the only one claiming to be an actual alternative for Netanyahu’s premiership. Lapid can’t be Prime Minister and doesn’t pretend to be a candidate for this job, Labor’s Shelly Yachimovitz is also vying for more Labor seats, not for Netanyhau’s seat. If Kadima doesn’t come up with a candidate that is credible and ready and popular enough to gain the necessary votes, the next election can be about many interesting things but can only end with one Prime Minister: Netanyahu.

4.

And here’s one study on Jewish education. I’m one of the authors, so my recommendation should be treated with suspicion. One important point from this study:

The Most Important Point of Intervention Is the Teenage Years. In terms of predicting adult Jewish connections, statistical studies show that every year past the bar mitzvah year “counts” more than the year before. Receiving formal Jewish education from age 16 to 17 more accurately predicts adult Jewish connectedness than receiving formal Jewish education from age 15 to 16. Quantitative and qualitative research suggest that having mostly Jewish friends in high school is a motivator for continuing formal and informal Jewish education and a predictor for marrying or partnering with a Jew and forging strong Jewish connections.

Conversely, when teenagers stopped attending Jewish schools after bar and bat mitzvahs, both they and their parents (in separate interviews) reported that their family Jewish observances and activities such as Shabbat service attendance gradually declined.

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