Judaism Unbound Episode 59: Jewish Futurology - Hayim Herring


Dan and Lex are joined by Hayim Herring, an expert in Jewish entrepreneurship and self-identified "Jewish futurist." [1] They discuss challenges faced by synagogues and opportunities available to them in today's ever-shifting landscape of American Judaism.

(0:01 - 14:16): What is a Jewish futurist? Herring explains what he does and also tells the story of his professional journey, including his time at STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal. [2] He also addresses the transitional period of Judaism in which we find ourselves today. [3]

(14:17 - 27:28): Herring explores the twin issues of mission and purpose as applied to synagogue life. [4] How can synagogues ensure that they remain focused on 3-5 particular functions that they are uniquely well-positioned to serve? How can institutions that educate leaders of Jewish life (rabbis, cantors, etc) shift their structures and curricula to better meet the needs of contemporary Jews? [5] [6]

(27:29 - 45:19): Herring suggests that we emphasize trans-generational forms of connection and community in Jewish life. He also, along with the co-hosts, explores both the dangers and benefits of forms of Jewish life that occur digitally. He closes the episode by advocating for an elevation of the role of artists in contemporary Judaism.

[1] Learn more about Hayim Herring by reading his bio here.

[2] Learn more about one of STAR's most well-known initiatives, "Synaplex," by reading this 2003 article in JTA.

[3] Herring mentions Lab/Shul as a congregation that is growing and thriving. Learn more about their work by listening to Episode 29 of our podcast, featuring Lab/Shul's Spiritual Director, Amichai Lau-Lavie.

[4] Purchase Herring's most recent book, Leading Congregations and Non-Profits in a Connect World: Platforms, People and Purpose, co-written with Terri Martinson Elton, by clicking here.

[5] Purchase Herring's book Keeping Faith in Rabbis, featuring an essay co-written by our very own Dan Libenson and past podcast guest Barak Richman, by clicking here.

[6] Hear Dan and Barak present some of their related ideas, through the video directly to the right.