Understanding the model

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This continuum represents varying states of Jewish involvement that progress along a scale from passive involvement to active ownership. It is a continuum because while for some it may represent a trajectory of Jewish growth, individuals may also stay indefinitely at any given point along this continuum.


Outreach is the precursor to engagement and happens largely at the initiative of Jewish organizations and communal professionals who design and carry out programming to connect people to Jewish learning, experiences, and community, and work to bring individuals in as participants or even volunteers.


Engagement is an important form of Jewish involvement and is often at least the initial goal of outreach. In terms of concrete behaviors, engagement can consist of participation in a variety of Jewish activities, but is a somewhat passive form of participation.


To be Jewishly empowered is to have an authentic sense of one's Jewish self and to have the confidence and commitment to proactively pursue a Jewish path of one's own choosing, one that may also involve commitment to participating in and strengthening Jewish life around them.

Cycling Arrows

These cycling arrows represent the dynamic reinforcement empowerment and personal Jewish sovereignty give to one another. As individuals are empowered Jewishly, they contribute to the vitality of Jewish community; individuals embedded in such a community encounter continuous opportunities to take responsibility for and shared ownership of the community, empowering them further.

Personal Jewish Sovereignty

Personal Jewish sovereignty indicates a full sense of control and ownership over one's Jewish path.

Program Characteristics

How can individuals be supported to encourage movement along the continuum? Different characteristics of programming lead to different kinds of personal outcomes, reflecting either engagement or empowerment. Those that yield personal outcomes associated with engagement are paralleled by those that are more than just a more intensive version of the first.

Encouragement - Internalization

Programs that focus on outreach and engagement promote new experiences and encourage people to try new things. Empowerment-oriented programs assume some buy-in and focus on helping participants internalize Jewish values and commitments.

License to Explore - License to Experiment

Exploration may entail looking carefully at all the pieces of some whole, and experimentation may entail trying to fit them together in a variety of ways. While exploration is not entirely passive, as it encourages creativity of attention, it is still quite different from experimentation, which involves innovation, rearrangement and authorship.

Instruction - Mentorship

Instructors stand apart from participants; they teach something that their charges don't already know. Mentors, in comparison, draw out of their mentees' latent understandings and skills; they serve as partners and not as imparters of knowledge.

Participation Opportunities - Ownership Opportunities

Outreach and engagement are all about getting people to take part, moving from a state of not being involved to one of participation and ideally, ongoing connection. Empowerment programs want people not only to take part, but to take ownership, to make an experience their own.

Personal Outcomes

At the level of personal outcomes exists a second set of matching concepts that differ in both degree and quality. This parallelism is between the green box on the left and the purple box on the far right, mediated by the head icon in the center.

Followership - Leadership

A desirable outcome of an outreach program is that participants return; a desirable outcome of an engagement program is that participants want to go further. Empowerment programs cultivate independence. If successful, their participants don't simply wait for more offerings; they might even take the lead themselves.

Knowledge - Expertise

Jewish text knowledge can be gained and developed to an extent through more passive forms of knowledge consumption, but expertise involves not only more knowledge, but the ability to search out and acquire more without strong guidance.

Motivation - Commitment

Motivation brings people into the room, and commitment brings them back repeatedly. Motivation can be simply initial interest and desire to know more. Commitment involves a deeper, more persistent and more focused kind of motivation fed through an authentic sense of involvement.

Curiosity - Cultural Competence

Curiosity is the intellectual analog to motivation. This is the spark that ignites a desire to learn more. Empowerment programs produce more than a desire to learn more, they result in learning, understanding, know-how, and competence.

Social Connection

While social connection does not have a matching concept in the purple box, social connection is an important aspect all along the continuum, and its more deeply developed counterpart is found in the concept of community vitality which stands outside of the model itself, but is the ultimate communal expression of empowered members.

Empowerment (Head)

This head icon represents the internal qualities that individuals develop through their experience of intensive, empowering programs and are integral to preparing and supporting people in increasingly independent and proactive kinds of involvement in Jewish life.

Continuum (Consumers - Contributors)

This continuum from Consumers to Contributors mirrors the continuum of Jewish involvement at the top, with the outreach and engagement phases of the continuum representing passive involvement, and the empowerment and personal Jewish sovereignty phases representing proactive involvement.