Reflecting on Albuquerque

Last week, Monique and I joined a number of other colleagues in Albuquerque, NM for the UMJC‘s mid-year leadership retreat.

This year’s retreat was extremely significant. The UMJC focused on discussing the future of Messianic Judaism, and all the invited presenters were young leaders. You can read Rabbi Russ Resnik’s reflections of the retreat on the UMJC website.

One of the aspects of the UMJC I appreciate the most is their focus on the future. Providing more than mere lip service, the UMJC has put their money where their mouth is. For example, they have provided tremendous resources to young leaders through internship and scholarship programs, young leaders retreats, and inviting younger leaders to be main speakers at conferences. The UMJC has been front and center in raising up a new generation into leadership.

Monique and I were two of the main presenters. In our first session, titled “The New American Jew,” we led participants in an interactive look at the make-up of the American Jewish Community today, helping to identify the spiritual needs of three primary generations – Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, and Millenials – and what these generations are all looking for in a spiritual home.

Our second session, titled “Building Spiritual Homes for the New American Jew,” we drew upon the previous session, and upon our conviction that Messianic communities should be vibrant spiritual homes for Jewish believers, seekers, and intermarrieds. As such, we delved into the practicalities of creating welcoming Jewish spiritual environments. We also discussed current communal models and methods, explored alternative and emergent models, and presented simple “how-to’s” for transforming congregations into sacred communities for the New American Jew.

The other presenters, our friends Nathan Joiner and Britta Phillips, also did an excellent job, and provided additional interactive opportunities. The entire retreat went very well, and the feedback has been tremendous.

Following the retreat, we enjoyed a day in beautiful Santa Fe with other rabbis and spouses, and stayed through the weekend enjoying the first couple days of Hanukkah with some family and friends. Overall, our trip to New Mexico was exciting, beneficial, and even relaxing.

If you are a leader or lay-leader of a UMJC affiliated congregation, Monique and I will also be doing a UMJC sponsored webinar January 5th on the topics we raised at the retreat. So if you missed the retreat, or want to continue the exciting dialogue begun in Albuquerque, join us for the webinar! For more information or to register for the webinar, go to

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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7 Responses to Reflecting on Albuquerque

  1. judeoxian says:

    It is encouraging to hear how focused the UMJC is on the future. In the Messianic congregations I've attended and visited, this is the biggest concern for me. Young people just aren't there. Nor does the leadership seem to acknowledge it or do anything to address it.

  2. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Absolutely! The issue of continuity is huge. Unless we really create vibrant communities that are attractive to young Jews and intermarrieds, we are in trouble. There are only about 5 congregations in the whole country that really have a vibrant group of 20 & 30 Somethings. And the number of young leaders (under 40) within our movement is well within 15 people (9 of them were at the recent UMJC sponsored Young Leaders Retreat, which included young leaders from the MJAA and Tikkun). Although there are a few really promising young teens who are in the pipeline to becomeing leaders, that is still around 20-25 people. So you do the math. Although I definitely believe G-d is not finished with us yet, this should serve as a wake-up call especially to those organizations who are still offering mere lip service to the future of Messianic Judaism in America.

  3. Anonymous says:

    and this is definitely not just in the messianic community. Here in Montreal, apart from Chabad and Reconstructionst congregations, the lack of youth and children in Coservative, Modern Orthodox and Reform is quite noticeable and a major issue. We had trouble finding a shul that we felt comfortable with…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Would you care to mention the 5 congregations? I'm trying to get a cousin to attend one in LA. Also, could you expand on "Although I definitely believe G-d is not finished with us yet," if you feel comfortable with doing so? Thanks,Dav

  5. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Dav-If by 'LA' you mean Los Angeles, I can recommend Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue as one possibility ( Other cities besides L.A. with vibrant groups of 20 & 30 Somethings include Boston, Seattle, a couple places in Florida, Philadelphia, maybe Atlanta, and we're currently developing such a community in Washington, DC. As far as my comment that "I believe G-d is not finished with us yet," implies my opinion that there is still hope. Despite the fact that, honestly, the future of Messianic Judaism looks grim, which is supported by the few studies that have been done on the Messianic Jewish movement, there are also a few promising developments happening. My above comment implies that there is indeed hope for the future of Messianic Judaism within pockets of communities, and a couple particular organizations. However, much of what we currently know will not last beyond one or maybe two generations max as there is no substance behind it.But through the efforts of individuals and specific groups who have, and continue to develop, solid Messianic Jewish identities, there can be hope that we can possibly have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (if Messiah chooses to tarry) who are solidly Messianic Jews (who live, think, and practice as Jews – who happen to also believe Yeshua to be Israel's Messiah). I hope that helps.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes L.A.–I recommended the one you mentioned . . . but the varmint might not go! He'll end up marrying the wrong kind of girl!I think there is reason to be much more optimistic on the other point . . .but maybe I'm wrong. Thanks,Dav

  7. Monique says:

    Dav, send me a private message at I happen to have a Rolodex of eligible Jewish women in LA … one of them happens to be a model (a very brainy model, I should add).And do your cousin a favor and buy him a plane ticket to the UMJC conference in Seattle this summer. Joshua and I met at a summer conference, as did several of our happily married friends who also remained loyal to the tribe. The conference shidduch is too good a trend to ignore!

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