…perhaps we need to drop the perpetual use of the word “journey” in Jewish life in favor of the word “destination.” Journey feels like a lovely invitation for people to explore questions of meaning and relevance while advancing Jewish knowledge, but without pushing Jewish commitment. A journey is inherently safe and respectful. It helps us engage others with an attitude of discovery. Get people curious, the thinking goes, and the beauty of our tradition will be enough to turn tourists into genuine seekers.
What were we thinking? Journey can also imply a meandering, wandering, often destination-less trip that asks little and delivers even less. These journeys, when shared, are often tedious and passive records of decisions or events — like Hebrew school or bar mitzvah — often made by someone else. What are the real and transformative Jewish decisions that make for an interesting story? Many Jewish milestones are high on sentiment and weak on content, full of feeling but empty of depth.
It is time to create Jewish destinations rather than mere journeys, causes rather than movements. It is a high time for high content and passion-filled Jewish moments that spill over with their relevance to the way we actually live our lives: in informing our values, in raising the ethical bar, in shaping our rituals, in giving us a spiritual language to articulate human purpose, in offering us a portal to God and transcendence.
Erica Brown, “Part-Time Judaism”, 2013-2014: The Year Gone By…The Year Ahead, A Special Supplement to the Florida Jewish Journal and the New York Jewish Week (27 December 2013), 7.