I enjoyed a wonderful Shabbat in New Jersey with members of the Yavneh student organization. Each of them studies at different campuses throughout the United States and runs Jewish programs on his/her own respective campus.
During Shabbat, I heard the following idea from OU President Rabbi Moshe Bane:
“I sat once for a meeting with a senior executive at Sony. I wanted back then to create videos about Judaism. He told me something interesting: Video games are much more popular today than movies are for watching. Why? Because people prefer an active game over passive watching.
“In the industry they call it ‘lean-back entertainment’ vs. ‘lean-forward entertainment.’ People prefer leaning forward, playing, feeling like they are doing something.
“That seems to me like a proper allegory for Jewish identity today. We have grown accustomed to receiving everything while leaning back. There is a shul, a rabbi, shiurim; everything is available and accessible and all we need to do is choose.
But you cannot compare it to active participation, to active learning, to feeling like you are part of the game. Towards the coming new year, each of us should think how we don’t only enjoy all that already exists, but also how we can lean forward, change things, and become an active Jew.”