Reboot Summit 2002

By Douglas Rushkoff. Published in Reboot on 1 January 2002

We are really glad you’re making the time and effort to attend the Reboot summit next month. Roger, Rachel and I have been working hard to develop a program that will give us the shared ground and open space necessary to engage in a meaningful set of conversations about Judaism and Jewishness.

The weekend will offer us a variety of forums through which our own agendas can emerge, find expression, and even be debated.

First, we’ll use the occasion of Shabbat as a way of engaging with Jewish narrative and liturgy in a context that invites thought, scrutiny, and re-evaluation.

By beginning with a shared experience of Torah, in a fashion open not only to genuine inspiration but also to critical objectivity, we are hoping to provide a trigger for a set of diverse reactions. If a brief exposure to Judaism’s core story does nothing more than remind of you of why you no longer find it relevant to your life, it will have served its purpose just as much as if it inspires you to delve deeper into Jewish content. Maybe even more so.

For our inquiry and discussions, we’ll be employing a variety of different formats, from group debates to impromptu gatherings in a library filled with resources to inform our thinking. We’ll also use a methodology adapted from the “Open Space” techniques of Harrison Owen, which will allow each of us to determine the issues that need to be addressed and then take responsibility for their full, if inconclusive, consideration.

The shape of the weekend will move from the personal to the universal, covering all sorts of permutations in between. By beginning with our individual experiences of Judaism, finding common threads among us, and then extending these themes to their broader implications, we can begin to determine for ourselves what, if anything, distinguishes the sacred from the secular, the particular from the universal, and the Jewish from the, well, non-Jewish.

All this “work” will be balanced out with an ample assortment of opportunities for physical recreation, exploration of the natural landscape surrounding the resort, and socializing.

A brief word about the term “Reboot.” we chose this title for our summit not simply because the terms “renaissance,” ‘rebirth,” and “renewal” have already been adopted by existing Jewish institutions and outreach efforts. My bias for new media terminology notwithstanding, I felt it was important that we have a way of reminding ourselves that this weekend marks a potential discontinuity. We are flipping off the switch and restarting the operating system. And we’re using open source code, this time. We are allowing ourselves to imagine how we might reboot this whole religion, from scratch if need be, on our own terms.

Although we may be dealing with a several thosand-year-old tradition, our premise for the three days we’ll be together is that we need not feel limited by any of the imposed or assumed restrictions with which we might normally regard Judaism or anything Jewish. This is an opportunity, in the spirit of divine conspiracy, to break any and all assumptions that are standing in the way of honest engagement with Judaism today.

More than anything else, it will be my job to facilitate an event where you feel free to say whatever may be on your mind or in your heart, however radical or conventional, resistant or complacent it may sound to you. We’re in this to get into this - like I said in my letter of invitation - no holds barred.

I can’t emphasize enough that we are not being convened for Reboot; Reboot is being convened for us.

More soon,