The Jewish World Is About To Turn Inside Out

Everything is about to change.

The world you’re used to, the big establishments you’ve been trusting, the leaders you’re used to following.

We are entering a new age, one in which the internet is changing perhaps every aspect of the world.

And that is no different in the religious world.  In fact, because the religious world tends to run at least a few years behind the rest of the world (technologically and culturally), we can actually see what is happening the world in front of it as a harbinger of what will soon be hitting the Jewish world like a tidal wave.

Look at what’s happening in the elections (if you dare).

A man who spent his whole life in relative obscurity trying to wage a revolution is now putting a very serious scare into perhaps the most powerful woman in America.  He’s called Bernie Sanders, and just four years ago a man like him could never have done what he has done.  That’s why it hasn’t been as effective as it could have been until now.

Another man, this one full of bluster and anger, giving birth to a movement that’s been seething for 8 years.  A movement that could not have happened without all those angry people connecting with each other on the internet and allowing their frustration to reach a boiling point, connecting and realizing that the “establishment” had failed them for at least a decade.  That man is Donald Trump, and just four years ago he was considered a joke.

Both men have one thing in common: they represent the internet age crashing against the pre-internet age.  Where the names “Bush” or “Clinton” no longer mean anything close to what they used to.  Where hundreds of millions of dollars from rich people doesn’t guarantee you power.  Where the “establishment” is being overturned by people who have started to receive their information, build communities, and create worldviews that are independent of any controlled source, like large media, traditional leadership, and the gatekeepers of an old technological age where humans instead of technology controlled our access.

In this new world, blogs, online forums, fragmented communities, and so much more are the new norm.  Power, at least in the form of attention, is spreading out and entering mini communities instead of a global community.  The changes that brought about Trump and Sanders are just the first time we’ve had to deal with how transformative this change really is on such a large level.  Get ready for this to be the new normal, not a one-time glitch.

All of that, is a preamble, my friends, into a view of what the Jewish world will look like shortly.  We live in a world now where a few establishments, federations, philanthropists, and others have controlled the money, attention, and success of the Jewish world.  A world reflective of the pre-internet age, in which human gatekeepers were the entrance-way to change (or lack thereof).

But the internet age is coming to the Jewish world.  And it’s best we start paying attention so we aren’t caught with our pants down in the way that America has been.

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What do I mean?

Look at abuse, the scandal that is rocking the Jewish world from top to bottom.  Unlike the Catholic church, the Jewish (Haredi) world is much more insulated from the rest of the world, and so it has been able to resist the continual fallout from the secular media in a way even the most powerful religious institution on earth hasn’t been able to.

That is quickly changing.  We are entering a time where a Newsweek article is impossible to ignore.  Your newsfeed does not block secular media the way Haredi institutions do.  The news will, and is, getting out.  And, like the American establishment is realizing now, the people who are forming communities online, getting their news from places other than their trusted new outlets, and talking among each other outside of the purview of their leaders, will eventually refuse to accept this anymore.

But it’s not just Haredim, and in fact they will be the last to feel this change.  We’re also talking about the very liberal institutions in the Jewish world, the ones with lots of money and very little understanding of this new world.  The ones  who give money to, and enable, only those they agree with, and only those who are part of the “let’s sell our version of Judaism” culture that has infected every aspect of the Jewish world.

The world is transforming from a place where the people with power are those who learn how to effectively talk at and control others to the people who empower others and talk with the others around them.

That’s why kiruv will soon be a failed model, one in which it will be impossible to sell your particular viewpoint of Judaism by insulating your audience from any dissenting viewpoints.  It’s simply impossible, and instead at some point there will be a transition where those trying to sell Judaism will realize that it’s no longer: it must spring from within a person and in that person’s way.

Judaism, in other words, is about to become much more fragmented and diverse.  The Jewish world will soon go through the same transition the Democrats and the Republicans are: breaking into pieces with many different viewpoints that will somehow need to be integrated into the whole.  And no longer will the big names of the past hold the sway they did just because they are big names.

Now, the Jewish world is resisting this with all its power.  Fighting tooth and nail, from the Haredim to the liberal institutions of power, from the funders/philanthropists to the leaders of media.  Every point of power is about to break apart and be transformed.

The question is what they plan to do about it.

But first they need to accept it’s happening instead of fighting it.