Judaism Unbound Episode 104: The Open Dor Project - George Wielechowski

As we begin an exploration of "spiritual entrepreneurs" who are working to develop new organizations focused on meaning and spirituality in forms other than a typical synagogue, Dan and Lex are joined by George Wielechowski, the founding director of the Open Dor Project. [1] In our conversation, Wielechowski provides a window into his work supporting new spiritual communities around the country, along with the story of his own journey into Judaism. 

(0:01 - 14:26): Wielechowski begins the episode by explaining what The Open Dor Project is, along with what it does to support fledgling forms of Jewish life around the country. He then explores the role that bravery must play for those who he works with, who have taken a wide variety of risks, personally and organizationally, in an effort to inspire folks through Judaism.  [2] [3] Continuing, he provides an overview of the four organizations (and the individuals leading them) that make up Open Dor's first cohort. [4]

(14:27 - 25:49): To examine the question of the pilot cohort's adjacency to existing forms of Jewish institutional life, Wielechowski draws on the analogy of a cantilever bridge. He asserts that some of those he works with are directly adjacent to that which already exists, while others represent a broader shift from normative forms of Jewish life and practice. He then considers a few changes to the Jewish institutional world that could have a particularly positive impact if actualized.

(25:50 - 41:37): Wielechowski looks back at his own life experience, including his upbringing, his decision to become a Jew, and his professional evolution. In doing so, he emphasizes elements of Jewish life that were so beautiful and compelling to him before he became Jewish. To close the episode, he takes a look at an ongoing theme of Judaism Unbound -- the changing role of rabbis and, relatedly, Jewish authority. [5] 

[1] Learn more about the Open Dor Project at www.opendorproject.org. Learn more about George Wielechowski by clicking here. For a related episode, featuring the Director of Moishe House, who spearheaded the creation of Open Dor, see Episode 19: Moishe House - David Cygielman.

[2] Wielechowski references the Jewish Emergent Network, an umbrella of seven emergent spiritual communities around the country. Learn more about JEN and its member organizations by clicking here.

[3] For past Judaism Unbound episodes featuring members of the Jewish Emergent Network, see Episode 23: Hello Mazel - Noa Kushner, Yoav Schlesinger or Episode 29: Lab/Shul - Amichai Lau-Lavie.

[4] Learn about these four organizations by visiting their respective websites, and stay tuned for upcoming episodes over the course of the next four weeks, featuring each of them.    The Well     CoHere     Jewish Studio Project     Because Jewish 

[5] For more on the ways in which Jewish authority is evolving, see Episode 99: Regular Jews.