Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Synagogues as an Apple Store; Are we up to the challenge?

My computer in Israel at Kibbutz Tzubah
I bought a Mac Book Air about a year ago and have enjoyed it since day 1.  I got it right before I went away to camp, OSRUI, so I could have all my madrichim, counselors, help me work out the kinks or at least the kinks in me as the operator.  What I didn't take advantage of until a few months later was the Apple One to One tutorial sessions.  For $99.00 which in my case was a BARGAIN Apple provides you with as many tutorial sessions as you want for a year.   I enjoy the hour sessions and I can ask any silly question and receive immediate answers.

Why blog about this?  Well sitting in a planning session at Lakeside today I realized that Apple knows how to make people comfortable in a world in which they are normally not comfortable and give them the knowledge they need to understand what is going on around them and feel competent.  

The more I thought about it I realized that this is something in the Jewish world we are not always successful at doing.  We need to give our members the opportunity in our synagogues, camps and schools the opportunity to learn at their own pace, ask any question no matter how foolish it may sound or seem to them and provide this at regular intervals.  How do we make congregants comfortable in places and situations where they may not be comfortable.  The staff at the Apple store makes working with computers, IPods, iPads and everything Apple look easy.  When you sit and work with the staff they let you navigate your system at your own pace until you learn how to for instance make an iMovie.  I have enjoyed learning a new skill and know that in the back of my mind that I can always go back to the Apple store if I have more questions.  

New Ark at Lakeside
I know that Apple is a business selling something most of us want and value.  I do believe that Judaism is something our congregants/campers/family want and we just need to think about the packaging.  We need to keep expanding our horizons and making room at "our stores" for everyone.  We need to engage people where they are at and where they feel comfortable.  Maybe if we open up a Synagogue NEXT to the Apple store? I might be on to something here!