Let's Turn Jewish Practice Into Something Competitive

Getting Creative To Find Ways Get People Back to Religion

Jew-Man: Would more people practice Judaism if they could play it like a game?
Kurt Hoffman
Jew-Man: Would more people practice Judaism if they could play it like a game?

By Noam Neusner

Published February 20, 2013, issue of February 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Creepy? Perhaps. Technically unfeasible? Maybe. But effective? You bet!

I would love to see how often my fellow Jews are able to achieve spiritual clarity. What keeps people on the road of morality? What is the best time for Jewish learning? I would love to learn how others experience these things. I might even emulate them.

If Jews aren’t ready for this kind of individual measurement and online comparison, we could start at the organizational level. I would love to have tracking data on a variety of key components of communal life. In a sense, we already do this with major charitable gifts. Every organization publishes a list of its top givers in dinner programs. Do they do this to thank the givers? No. They do it to shame the non-givers or the too-little-givers.

We need to apply this principle on a broader level, and with deeper impact on other aspects of Jewish organizational life.

For example, what is the average sermon length of every rabbi in my community? What is the error rate among their Torah readers? What is the average carbohydrate count per portion at the Kiddush luncheon? These kinds of facts interest me. I suspect they would interest others.

If the information were posted publicly and in real time, think of what that would reveal about American Jewish life. We wouldn’t have to wait every few years for some big census underwritten by the federation. We could do away with lists of important Jews — such as the one published in this newspaper — and see just who is doing measurably important things.

We could simply self-report our growth or diminishment as a people, one person at a time. We might learn something.

Noam Neusner is a principal with the communications firm 30 Point Strategies. He was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @Glutens.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.