Sales Training 101 says you have zero chance of making the sale if you can't get 'em in the door. If you do manage to get 'em in the door, but you still can't make the sale, then you've got other problems — and you can't rule out that one of the problems might be the product you're trying to sell.
This is no less true with religious doctrines. With every generation, we have to do a new doctrinal "sales job" to try to keep our young people in the fold. On that score, our Jewish friends apparently are having some of the same problems as we are — it seems that many of their young people just aren't buying what's on offer:
But just as critics have charged the purveyors of the mega-church movement with peddling a watered-down, consumer-oriented brand of faith, Jewish religious leaders experimenting with new ways to reach the nonobservant have been accused of promoting Judaism-lite.
"A lot of times these marketing approaches fool themselves," said Rafael Guber, a Jewish researcher who wrote a recent column in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles entitled, "Selling Judaism: Let's Make It Harder." "They say, first, we'll make it easy and get them in, and then after they get in, we'll get the discipline and structure. The problem is nobody ever gets to Step 2."
But Synaplex's impact has been remarkable, doubling and tripling Friday night or Saturday morning attendance in many places. Although it is unclear whether people have gone deeper in their religious observance, for many rabbis it is enough for now that they are there at all.
"Truthfully, I'd rather have people in shul on Friday night, hanging out at the synagogue, than out at a bar," said Rabbi Laurence Sebert of the Town and Village Synagogue and a Synaplex participant. "It's all small steps."
From Michael Luo, With Yoga, Comedy and Parties, Synagogues Entice Newcomers, NY Times, Apr. 4, 2006 (emphasis added).