How Do You Do Jewish?

We are about to celebrate Simchat Torah, iStock_000017973950_Largethe Jewish holiday when we complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah and start all over again. “In the beginning God created…

Famously, the first chapter of the Torah says that God created the human being “in His own image.” That means we are all creative beings! My task, as the new Director of Jewish Innovation for the JCC, is to get creative with Jewish life and, if you’re up for it, help you get creative with it, too.

Jewish innovation takes place when we bring our Jewish lenses to bear on our greatest passions and interests in the world, and vice versa. Traditionally, Jewish programming may have set out to make “Jewish” someone’s primary identity. These days, most of the really exciting, creative and inspiring Jewish projects, organizations and initiatives recognize that we are multifaceted human beings with multiple identities, living in a varied and complex world. So instead of asserting “Jewish” above those different interests and identities, we bring them all together to see what exciting chidush (innovation) emerges:


What can Jewish texts and wisdom teach us about nature and the environment, and what can nature and the environment teach us about Judaism? (You can find out through our Family Hikes or our Farm to Table Food Festival.)




How can we express our Jewish values through direct service, and let our social justice work teach us how to be Jewish? (Mitzvah Day’s coming up on January 18th and/or you can get involved in our Mitzvah Corps!)



How are Jewish artists expressing their identity and engagement with Jewish wisdom through their art, and what can the Jewish tradition teach us about the artistic process? (We have an amazing program of world-class Jewish performances, debates and workshops, and a School for the Performing Arts for you to explore these questions.)



Keep checking our calendar of events as we add more and more opportunities to create and experience innovative expressions of Jewish life at the OFJCC. In the meantime, we’re asking you “How Do You Do Jewish?” Reply below or email me your answers at It’s an open invitation to tell us what we can create here, to help you do Jewish your way.

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Joel Stanley

Written by Joel Stanley

Joel is the Oshman Family JCC’s former Director of Jewish Innovation. It was his job to infuse programs with Jewish values and content while helping create new forms of Jewish expression. Originally from London, UK, he doubles as an actor, director, and theatre-maker. Joel's other passions include Burning Man, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, and Scrabble.

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