Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
The following is addressed
primarily to myself. I hope that others will
also find it of value.
Short range, day to day, week
to week goals are necessary for the proper
functioning of Synagogues. But they are not
sufficient. To make Judaism more dynamic and
meaningful, long range goals must also be
A short range goal is to have
daily minyanim for services. A long range
goal is to make the daily minyanim more meaningful
to those who attend. The significance of the
prayers and their relevance to each person's
life should be discussed.
Having weekly Sabbath services
is a short range goal. A long range goal is
to involve the participants, to transform
and inspire them, to help them improve their
lives by their weekly Synagogue experience.
Reading the Torah in the Synagogue
is a short range goal. Making Torah values
part of our lives is a long range goal. All
too often, people listen to the Torah as they
might listen to a talk in a foreign language;
there is little understanding. Even when the
words are understood, there is little effort
to relate to the values being expressed.
Reading the haftorah (the weekly
prophetic portion) is a short range goal.
A person must be selected each week for this
task. However, seldom is the long range task
of becoming "b’nei neviim"
(descendents of the Prophets) considered.
Moses said, "would that all the Jewish
people would be prophets." But, even
with the weekly reading of a portion of the
prophetic literature, one generally searches
in vain for a prophetic voice in Judaism today.
Youth activities to keep children
active, and out of adults' hands during services
is a short range goal. The long range goal
would be to have youth activities that teach
Jewish values, such as compassion, kindness,
and justice. Children all too often get programmed
into the same kinds of apathy and mindless
activities as adults.
A short range goal is to work
for a better Synagogue, to see that the day
to day needs are met. A long range goal would
be to apply Jewish values in working for a
better Synagogue, community, city, nation,
and world. All too often, Judaism is confined
to the four walls of the sanctuary. The world
needs, perhaps more than ever before, Jewish
values and Jewish involvement.
A short range goal would be
to work on a particular aspect of Judaism:
conducting a Seder, building a Succah, lighting
Chanukah candles. Long range goals would be
to use these particular activities as inspirations
for universal ideals; to feed the hungry,
work for a peaceful world, reduce poverty,
clean the environment.
A short range goal is to work
for Israel's security, to contribute money,
to help it meet its social and economic needs.
A long range goal would be to work to help
make Israel what it must become: a holy people,
a light unto the nations, a witness for God,
an echo of eternity.
A short range goal is study,
the holding of regular classes on the Torah
and other aspects of Judaism. A long range
goal is study that leads to action, the type
of study that shows what Judaism has to say
about current issues such as pollution, hunger,
energy, waste, and peace, and provides the
knowledge and inspiration to help Jews apply
Short range goals are essential.
They must be met if Judaism is to survive.
But they have been overemphasized compared
to long range, universal goals. There must
be far greater consideration of long range
goals to revitalize Judaism and help make
it relevant to today's critical issues.