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Martin Vesole Launches Shalomist Movement and Sleeping Truth to Help Stop Attrition in the U.S. Jewish Community

Martin Vesole, a long time Chicagoan, is passionate about doing his part to stop, and hopefully reverse, the attrition in the US Jewish community, as shockingly brought to light by the recent Pew Study on Judaism in October 2013. Although the study quantified disturbing trends, it only confirmed what many have known for decades, that Jews today are overwhelming intermarrying, not joining synagogues or other Jewish institutions, and in far too many cases are not raising their children Jewish.

The mission of the Shalomist Movement that Vesole launched a few years ago is to open hearts and minds to broadening and revitalizing Jewish thought and practice in order to attract many who have left, and to revitalize Judaism for all Jews. The root letters of Shalom mean “completeness” and “wholeness.” “Judaism needs to stretch to become more complete and whole by looking outside itself and being open to adopting ideas from the secular world and other religions that are compatible with Jewish thinking,” Vesole said. “Judaism has adjusted many times to meet challenges in the past, which is why we as an ancient people are still alive today, and we need to do it again now.”

“A primary focus of the Shalomist Movement is the belief that there is much we can learn from others, that all religions have piece of the truth and no religion has the whole truth. Because Judaism is more focused on God rather than dogma, it is in a unique position to add some of the things it can learn from others and build a more appealing and convincing form of Judaism for the 21st Century. Furthermore, by doing this, it will inevitably build bridges of understanding and commonality with the world’s other faith communities.”

“A great example of learning from others are the solutions that are already in place and that address the issue of dues. Many think it’s too dangerous to adopt a “no defined dues” policy; however there are over 25 Jewish congregations in the US right now that are doing this successfully, and many of them are actually generating more revenue now than in previous years using the standard dues approach. Many synagogues are also accepting would-be members with financial problems without ‘shaming’ them into proving their inability to pay, thereby increasing their memberships and activity levels. If we are flexible and willing to learn from each other, there is much hope for turning this around,” enthused Vesole.

Vesole’s recently launched fictional book, Sleeping Truth, is a companion story to the Shalomist Movement that illustrates the coming together of opposing viewpoints and the need to embrace new ideologies going forward. “Presenting these concepts in a fun and interesting format like a fictional story — that combines a passionate love story with a murder mystery — introduces the message in a likeable manner that will help us reach a broader audience, especially unaffiliated Jews,” Vesole said. “My hope is that the story will show them how to see Judaism in a new and more appealing way, and inspire them to reconnect with the Jewish soul within them.”

“This is a time we all need to find the courage to step out of our comfort zones to each do our part to help solve this attrition problem that over time is threatening our very survival as a diverse community. I’ve seen several Reform and Conservative synagogues in our area close, and others survive only with great difficulty. If we don’t start to act now, we are facing a much diminished Jewish community in the future. We can fix this, together!”

Martin Vesole is a 67 year old attorney who attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated from the De Paul College of Law in Chicago. He lived in Israel for two years attending Hebrew University in Jerusalem and working on a kibbutz famous for the Naot sandal line. Martin worked as a legal writer for over 20 years at Commerce Clearing House in Riverwoods, IL, and also served as President of Temple Menorah in Chicago and is a lifetime trustee on the Board of Directors. Martin now lives in Delray Beach, FL. Visit his website at

Chicago Jewish News, Dec. 5, 2014

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