At high holiday services in my conservative Jewish synagogue, I reflected on the omnipresence of narratives of decline in my professional and religious life. Apparently, the approved sermon topic at many conservative pulpits this year was how to rescue the shrinking conservative movement. The Pew Report’s stark figures on that decline, illustrated to the right, suggested the theme of the sermon (at least in my congregation): reaching out to new revenue sources applicants potential converts congregants. As the rabbi stated, unless we find more congregants (and soon!) by opening the doors & working to engage new audiences, we will wither on the vine.
This sermon was explicitly delivered as a recruiting pitch, and I found it familiar. Doesn’t the claim — “we’ve learned our lesson, we’re now going to innovate” — sound exactly like a thousand Law Dean speeches? Here’s a summary of one, by an especially skillful and media-savvy Dean: Read More