The oft-mentioned RJ Brodsky, director of the Jewish Policy Center, interviewed Stephen Richer about the founding of Gather the Jews and the greater issue of Jewish community involvement among young professionals.
Stephen Richer explained the dilemma: “On my December 2007 Birthright Trip, my peers and I discussed how being Jewish affected our day-to-day interactions with the non-Jewish world. One travel mate said it didn’t affect his life at all because he never tells anyone that he’s Jewish. ‘Why not?’ I asked. He replied, ‘Because Judaism’s not exactly the coolest religion, right? I mean it’s kinda dorky’.”
“I felt simultaneously confused, exasperated, disappointed, and motivated to do something,” Stephen said. The result was his co-founding of Gather the Jews (GTJ) in the Washington, D.C. area, where Stephen currently serves as President.
The link between this incident during his trip and the founding of GTJ was not 100 percent direct; after all, nearly 30 months separated the two. But as Stephen notes, “GTJ is supposed to address what my fellow Birthright traveler felt – by encouraging young professional Jews to connect to Judaism in nearly any way or their own original way, GTJ promotes a Judaism that is young, cool, forceful, active, and robust.”
To read the full article, on the Jewish Policy Center blog, click here.