Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

A History of the Lost Generation

Posted by lchaimlover on August 9, 2007



From birthright to the gym, young Jews are looking for

many ways to be Jewish, without too much comittment.

Once we walk across that stage and receive our diplomas, we attempt to become adults. This means getting jobs, finding a community, and solidifying our identity as Jews. But after 20 some years of being spoon fed our Judaism, we don’t know how to connect when the time comes, and then we moan about our alienation and isolation. Why?

When Jews first came to this country, the first thing each group always did was to build a synagogue. So it would make sense that we join our local synagogues that most closely fall in line with our beliefs. But there we find uninspired rabbis, and less enthusiastic patrons mumbling along to prayers they may have never understood. And we are lucky to find someone in our demographic. Where else can we go? In the Bay Area, as I have all ready established, there are very few other options for Jews looking for “free Judaism”.

So where does this leave us? It leaves us a lost generation, groping to be Jews, but struggling to find a replacement for a synagogue as we have no desire to pray. This brings me to the root of the problem. It’s not that the synagogues are all that bad, it’s just that we don’t want to sit there, we don’t have the patience. Why?

We should be willing to “come to the adults’ table” and establish the new Jewish leadership, but we were raised by a generation of Jews who thought that saying “You’re a Jew” and sending us to a gym to just play basketball with other Jews would be enough of a foundation to help us grow up as good strong Jews. We were a spoiled generation, weaned on instant gratification. That was our parents’ and grandparents’ fool hardy notion, and now our generation is paying for it by being blamed for being lost and disinterested.

But enough throwing around blame. That was the past, and we stand in the present on the precipice of the future. It is time for us to stand up and assume leadership, create our own communities, and not let our children be raised with the same alienation. Of course we don’t want to work, is this new? No, the Torah is littered with the whining of a people who wanted the land of milk & honey but didn’t want to do the work.

Yes, I do expect to get a return on investment for my time and energy, I expect to have a community, I expect to find Kehillah. I expect this because the Jewish community is not just about tzedakah of fundraising (two very different things by the way), it’s about the other 612 mitvot as well. Whether or not you believe in G-d, if you don’t hold to any of the 613 principles that have nurtured our people for 5,000 years, then why do you call yourself Jewish? And don’t say because Mommy and Daddy did. We’re grow up nows remember. Beckham called him self half Jewish, in one interview to connect with fans in LA, does that make him suddenly a Jew? Words doesn’t make you “be” a Jew, but action does.

Now, it is our responsibility to come to the table (thanks for the offer JB) and decide upon our future.

Because how many generations can be raised without a strong community before they aren’t Jews anymore?



9 Responses to “A History of the Lost Generation”

  1. Dina said

    You say:
    Where else can we go? In the Bay Area, as I have all ready established, there are very few other options for Jews looking for “free Judaism”.

    I have found the Bay Area to be the most vital Jewish young adult community I have ever lived in. With multiple options of groups and activities. Oy Bay’s own calendar is filled with these programs.

    In San Francisco Congregation Emanu-El attracts over 300 young adults to its Late Shabbat on the second Friday of every month, along with numerous events every month. The Mission Minyan is almost entirley a young adult gathering. Every Federation has a Young Adults Division that promotoes programs which are social, educational, philanthropic and a combination of all the above. Just visit Summer Sizzle on the 19th of this month to see the variety of people in attendance. The Cellar has Second Saturday. There’s the Bay Area Tribe, Hub, Access, YPN and so much more. And not all of these events are just a singles scene.

    I am so proud of this community and I think people just need to have a little initiative to find the organizations that appeal to them and get invovled. You’re right, it’s not spoon fed any more, but it’s all at our finger tips.

  2. Oyster said

    Heh, good point, Dina. This just goes to remind me why I find myself shlepping up to SF so often. There’s many more Jewish happenings up there! 🙂

    YPN? Access? Whoa, I haven’t heard of these groups before… care to pimp them here, Dinachka?

    I’ll also point out that the list you mentioned is a nice mix of “old institutions” like synagogues & federations, along with grass-roots projects like Second Saturday & BAT. I’ll forgive you for leaving Oy Bay off the list… :-p

  3. Oyster said

    BTW: my kvetch about the Foster City JCC (pictured above).


    I went there once with a Jewish friend, and NOT A SINGLE EMPLOYEE THAT I MET WAS JEWISH. Most of the people there weren’t Jewish.

    Remind me once again why I need to donate money to the Federation to subsidize gymnasia for non-Jews?

    I’d have no problem with it, if they’d return the favor.

  4. lchaimlover said

    you are right, but i was referring to places that aren’t synagogues. that’s what i meant by “free judaism”. thanks for the promos for the places to go though.

  5. Dina said

    Access is UJC’s young adult program, http://www.ajcsanfrancisco.org/site/c.irKPIUPFIsE/b.847993/k.AE6F/Young_Leaders.htm.
    YPN is part of AIPAC. My point is just that if you’re looking for Jewish things to do with others in their 20s and 30s there are numerous possibilities right here in the Bay Area.

    Now- about your point concerning your Federation dollars going to support a gym for non-Jews… Again I wish you would find out the facts before making the statements. JCC gyms are completely funded by the memberships they charge. In fact, gym dues help subsidize other JCC programs so that fees can be less expensive for interested Jewish participants. That is why so many JCC gyms have non-Jews join. Federation dollars go to support vital programs and scholarships that the more poor members of our community cannot afford. How do you want us to return the favor? By sponsoring birthright israel trips? Done. By putting on programs such as Summer Sizzle and Latke Ball that help bring our community together? Done. By providing hot meals to our grandparents in assisted living facilities? Done. I’m happy to provide you with more information on what Federation does if you’re curious.

  6. lchaimlover said


    Thanks for all of the info. All the SF Jews are set!

    What about the Jews who live in the South Bay?

  7. Dina said

    http://www.svyad.org/ has events at least every month.

    Perhaps those of you living in the South Bay can contribute other organizations you know of.

    Many San Francisco based groups do events in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View (Summer Sizzle, Bay Area Tribe picnic, etc.).

  8. JB said


    South Bay Jews also have a variety of things to choose from. SVYAD, as Dina points out, has events regularly. Congregation Beth David Young Adults has a wide variety of programs open to everyone. Bay Area Tribe has programs on the peninsula, which is not too far for us to drive. And let us not leave out Oy Bay. (How was the camping trip?)

    I think Dina points out very well that, while one has to look for them (and maybe drive a little), Jewish young adults in the Bay Area have a whole lot to choose from.

  9. […] Some have advocated the reasoning that this is something that raises money for the federations. Oh, really? Okay, so let’s take a big step back and think about all the ways that federations can invest money to make money, if that’s the only reason to have a JCC. How about taking those millions, and plunking it down in a conservatively-managed mutual fund? And now we’re talkin’ about something intrinsically Jewish! Heh, j/k folks. The point being that if making bank were the justification, then running a sweat mill is hardly the most lucrative of investment options. […]

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