Life is strenuous: There are careers to build, marriages to plan and begin and, most cherished of all, children to raise and give our love and support. It is not easy to juggle all the challenges that life presents us. Indeed, it is even more difficult to thrive without a strong community to provide attention for young families and to have their best interests at heart. At the same time, the Jewish community – as a whole, but also on the local level – needs to do its due diligence to ensure that new families, within the chaos of their lives, have a place to feel warm and secure, a place where their intellectual and spiritual needs are met and where they are not only encouraged to be active members, but also sought out to become leaders with crucial voices on the challenges facing Jews today.
By empowering new families to become active members of the community, we ensure that the values of Judaism will be passed on to a new generation. If the 2013 Pew Study about contemporary Jewish life in America taught us anything, it is that the continuation of our traditions is vitally centered on how we approach community interaction. It is not enough to expect people to show up at a few holiday parties, eat a latke or a bagel and call it a night. Rather, the hard work has to come from within, with the knowledge that engaging young families in a positive and nonimposing manner is the key to retention.