1) Why do people go? The article quotes a founder of one of these minyanim as saying people are looking for, “redemptive, transformative experiences that give rhythm to their days and weeks and give meaning to their lives.” Which means to say that organized religion, certainly Orthodoxy, has failed to provide such experiences. Look around you in shule – are people bored during davening, asleep during the “sermon”, eagerly counting the minutes until kiddush? If not in your shule, I am sure you know a shule like this. Is shule supposed to be a "redemptive, transformative experience", and if we don't have that experience, why not and what can we do about it?
2) From the article:
I wrote a few posts ago about Ms. Haviva Ner-David and the changes to Orthodoxy she advocates. Well, if Orthodoxy is not going to radically change (and I don’t mean to suggest it should!), how should Orthodoxy address concerns like those raised by Rebecca Israel? Do we just dismiss these complaints as unfounded at the cost of another person leaving Orthodoxy, or should we be doing some soul-searching about whether we are even hearing the complaint and/or offering a meaningful response?
“The primary reason I am here is because of gender equality,” said Rebecca Israel, 25, who was raised in an Orthodox family. Ms. Israel attended D.C. Minyan and Tikkun Leil Shabbat, which she visited one recent Friday, until she moved a year ago to New York, where she goes to Kehilat Hadar. “If Judaism is central to my morality, then its practices needed to reflect the morality that I learned from it. In religious practices that limit women’s participation, Orthodox shuls were not living up to that equality that is important to me.”
3) Why should we care? The article notes: “Kehilat Hadar’s e-mail list, however, has about 2,800 addresses, a sign of the transience of the young Jewish population in the city and the high level of interest.” 2800 souls who want an affiliation with something spiritual and meaningful; 2800 souls who are searching for G-d and say they can't find him in our shules. How should we respond? Are their claims to be dismissed as not genuine or their concerns moot because they deviate from tradition? Can Orthodoxy provide the spirituality and community they crave in a way that does not undermine halacha? 2800 people are not leaving the derech because they cannot square the age of the universe with braishis or because they cannot see how torah m'sinai fits the documentary hypothesis - they are leaving because established religion, Orthodoxy included, has proven itself spiritually irrelevant to their lives. That is a thought that should scare us.