Why Be Jewish? project, event shine light on how Judaism resonates today

Jeff and Randy Vines (above) and Lory Cooper (below) are two of the featured interviews in the Jewish Light’s video series, “Why Be Jewish” which launches at an April 4 event.  

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

April 4 event at .ZACK highlights stories of 20- and 30-something Jews in St. Louis

There’s no one way to be Jewish in 2019 America. At least that’s one of the themes the Jewish Light discovered when it embarked on its “Why Be Jewish?” video storytelling project a year ago.

Now we’re ready to unveil the series to the St. Louis Jewish community and have you weigh in with your thoughts and comments. To do so, we’re inviting you to a unique evening of entertainment and conversation starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4 at the .ZACK, 3224 Locust St. in Grand Center.

This free event is unlike any other the Light has hosted. It starts off with live music from the Brothers Lazaroff and friends, with their unique blend of rock, jazz and psychedelic Americana. (They have an affinity for klezmer music, too, as seen at the annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo.) Attendees can also partake in a cash bar, shop at a pop-up inside the .ZACK from STL-Style and enjoy light snacks. 

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The showing of the “Why Be Jewish?” videos follows, with each one running between three and four minutes, for a total of 35 minutes. These compelling videos each tell of the participant’s connection to Judaism, how it has evolved over time and what it may look like going forward. Most of the participants are in their 20s and 30s, though a few are a little older. 

Interviewed are single Jews, married Jews, interfaith couples, LGBTQ Jews, Jewish converts, a Jew by choice, unaffiliated Jews, and Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews. A few faces may be familiar because they work in the local Jewish community, but most do not.

After the videos, it’s time to interact. We want to hear from you — what resonated for you in these videos, what was missing — and have you weigh in with your own thoughts about “Why Be Jewish?” There will be several creative ways for you to express yourself, or you can just sit back and listen if you’d like. No pressure, though we hope you will provide us with some feedback.

While there is no charge, please RSVP online at www.stljewishlight.com/zack or by calling Elise Krug at 314-743-3671. To view a couple of the videos in advance, go to www.stljewishlight.com/whybejewish.

“Why Be Jewish?” was made possible by a generous grant from the Kranzberg Family Foundation, with assistance from the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.