Open Dor

Open Dor's Mission Statement

The purpose of the Open Dor Foundation is to open the door to Jewish involvement through educational programs designed to reach out to unaffiliated and marginally active Jews, as well as to non-Jews who are part of the Jewish family through marriage to a Jew or through Jewish ancestry. The focus of the Foundation's activities will initially be the Washington, DC metropolitan area and selected college campuses outside of the Washington area.

Many Jews are unaffiliated or only marginally involved in Jewish activities. In metropolitan Washington area, only 26% of the Jews are members in good standing of a synagogue, and only 48% of the Jewish population is involved in or even known to any Jewish organization, whether synagogue, Federation, Jewish charitable or social organization, or Jewish Community Center.

Because of assimilation and intermarriage, many non-Jews are closely related to Jews. This group includes non Jewish spouses of Jews, non Jewish parents of Jewish children, adult offspring of intermarriage, and those with more distant Jewish ancestry who may wish to explore their Jewish heritage. Demographers estimate that 10 million Americans have at least one Jewish grandparent, which is roughly twice the estimate of the total American Jewish population.

The Open Dor Foundation will offer programs and classes to attract this population of Jews and those related to Jews, with the intent of increasing affiliation and commitment. Classes will likely include a course in "Jewish literacy," which would introduce basic Jewish concepts, including descriptions of Jewish holidays and life cycle celebrations. Classes may also include adult bar mitzvah and adult bat mitzvah programs for those - including adult converts - who missed these educational rites of passage in their adolescent years. Other programs may target particular cohorts within the community, such as engaged and newly married couples, and couples expecting their first child, encouraging these couples to create vibrant Jewish homes. These cohorts are particularly unlikely to be involved in or even known to the synagogues and other institutions of the Jewish community.

Some programs may reach out to groups with specific interests and needs, such as adoptive families and families dealing with health issues like infertility and breast cancer. These programs may include leadership from a rabbi as well as from social workers.

The Open Dor Foundation may also provide rabbinic visits to college campuses as well as to under-served Jewish populations outside of the Washington area. The purpose of these visits would be to meet with unaffiliated and marginally affiliated young Jews, especially those affected by intermarriage. The Foundation may also encourage similar outreach activities elsewhere in the United States, and train Jewish professionals for outreach work with unaffiliated and marginally affiliated Jews, and with non Jews related to Jews.

The Open Dor Foundation may also, on occasion, offer welcoming, accessible, and affordable (or free) learning-oriented religious services to attract the unaffiliated.