Masorti rabbis "virtual chaplaincy"

By Robyn Rosen, December 29, 2009

A “virtual chaplaincy” of Masorti rabbis has been launched to encourage young adults to engage in Jewish life without the need to join a shul.

The strategy is part of the relaunch of Marom, Masorti’s young adults and student division.

Movement director Matt Plen said the wider community was struggling to keep young adults involved in Judaism. “The community here is very good at working with youth, but that breaks down when people turn 18 and go to university. People of that age are very resistant to a framework of commitment.

“The adult community is panicking about assimilation and marrying out but we feel that the best strategy is to stop trying to tell them what to do. We want to build communities and develop leadership.”

An online rabbis’ network was viewed as one way to involve students. Rabbis Jonathan Wittenberg, Jeremy Gordon, Chaim Weiner, Jeremy Collick, Joel Levy and Daniella Kolodny are all on board and Cambridge, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, Sussex and London universities have expressed interest in the idea.

“One challenge non-Orthodox Jewish students face is they often don’t feel catered for by the official Orthodox chaplaincy,” Mr Plen added.

“We don’t have the resources to set up our own chaplaincy but we do have an amazing collection of rabbis across the country. We want to pair them up with students. They will be able to contact the rabbi by phone and email and they’ll visit campuses as well.”

Last updated: 1:13pm, December 31 2009