Religion, Uncategorized

Koach college student survey

Koach is the Conservative movement’s organization for the benefit of college students. Since I was critical of some of their recent challenges I wanted to also note something positive. In advance of their next planning meeting (in about 1.5 weeks), they are doing a survey of college students and recent (in the last year) graduates. If you fit this description and have opinions about how a national organization can contribute to egalitarian Jewish observance on college campuses, please take their survey as soon as possible:
If you’re not part of the target population for the survey, but you’ve got opinions, why not share them in the comments below? Some of their leaders read comments posted here.
Here are my opinions:
The survey includes a draft vision/mission. Both are focused on “supporting educational & experimental programmings on campuses.” This treats Jewish practice like another course, as though college students are all still learning what it means to be Jewish. At the core, this ignores college students as practicing adult Jews. The Conservative movement has opinions on what it means to be an observant Jew, so I’d expect a college organization to support that goal.
Given Koach’s limited resources, what would this mean? It means connecting students to resources for observance on or near their campuses. Keep track of where students who are Ramah/USY alums or whose family went to a Conservative synagogue go to college. Make sure these students know what resources exist in their college communities, whether these are Hillels, local synagogues, and local independent minyanim. Even in small towns, you don’t need a Chabad house or even locally paid staff to have local families host students for Shabbat dinners. If Koach can identify campuses with small Jewish populations, but students who might still want a Jewish community, those are targets for more active engagement, whether directly from Koach or by bringing them to the attention of other organizations. Particularly for campuses with few Jewish students, the Koach conventions and Koach-led networking between campuses can be good resources for observant students.
I also think a web presence focused on news and opinion is not the best use of resources. Anyone can post an opinion, but it takes resources to make a site have high enough quality to regularly attract college students. The website could be a place that contains resources on Conservative Jewish practice (perhaps in collaboration with the Rabbinical Assembly to make a resource that benefits more than just college students). The resources currently there seem to be only slightly beyond an introduction to Judaism class. If there’s student-generated content on a website, it needs to live in this decade and let students regularly contribute. I’m not sure what this would look like, but forum that allow pseudonymity or anonymity where students can ask questions and get feedback regarding Jewish life on campuses or ask opinions from Conservative rabbis might be a good start. Simply including a way for a student enter their name so that someone can help connect them to families in the local Jewish community would be beneficial.
Overall, I’m glad to see someone in Koach is trying to get feedback from current students about the organization’s purpose. Even if you don’t have any positive connections to the Conservative movement, how could a hypothetical national organization with a $1 million dollar budget and a goal of supporting egalitarian and observant Jewish life on campus have benefited you?

4 thoughts on “Koach college student survey

  1. There seems to be an assumption on this website that 100% of young Jews go to college (and not just with this post). I would have thought that a progressive website would pay some attention to those who don’t (poor/working class and all that). But I don’t recall seeing a post that deals with them.

  2. @Dave, I didn’t make the assumption that all young Jews go to college. You seem to be making the assumption that no one poor goes to college. The list of campuses with current Koach contacts is at: You can see it’s biased toward wealthier schools with large Jewish communities, but they also have contacts at schools with more economically diverse student bodies. I’m glad you highlighted this point because, if you read my suggestions, I’m proposing a system that is less focused on putting most resources into a subset of schools and more on helping connect people to their local Jewish communities – particularly in colleges with smaller Jewish student communities. Such a shift would more likely benefit students with less money at less prestigious colleges.
    If you want to read advocacy regarding poor/working class, various writers on this blog use a magical system of tagging posts. Here are some tags that might refresh your memory:

  3. @Dan
    Not one the institutions on the contact list are of the community/junior college types that would that a scholarship-free poor person could easily afford. As to trade schools…
    None of the three links relate to students (the third item requires 7 years experience for its course)

  4. @Dave If you don’t like the list of campuses the Koach serves, or the means by which Koach serves young adults in the typically college-aged bracket of 18-24, complain to Koach. That was, in part, why Dan posted this.
    In any case, given your history of hostile comments toward non-Orthodox Jewry and its institutions on these pages, its refreshing to see you’re offering something constructive.

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