Sinai Temple, in collaboration with Craig ‘N Co., will hold their popular Friday Night Live Shabbat service at Los Angeles Ford Ampitheatre on June 14, 2013.
(PRWeb May 09, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/SinaiTemple/FridayNightLiveattheFord/prweb10683665.htm
"Jo Joe," a new novel by Sally Wiener Grotta is "a riveting read; Astute, psychologically believable and moving," says Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum.
(PRWeb May 06, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/pixelhalllpress/050613/prweb10698345.htm
Inspiration Breaks announces sale on framed blessings and prayers that are sure to make lasting, one of a kind gifts this Mother’s Day.
(PRWeb April 30, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10684685.htm
Express Success LLC announces free Q&A call on karma, angels, past lives, and the inner child with Dr. Joy Pedersen, Angelic Channel, Licensed Spiritual Healer and Certified Spiritual Health Coach...
(PRWeb April 25, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/expresssuccess/freeqanda/prweb10665643.htm
Israel on Monday cancelled a visit by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to Jerusalem’s Old City, saying the Palestinians had sought to politicise a conservation mission.Click here for the rest of the article...
World renowned speaker and community leader Rabbi Shimon Green visits Congregation Beth Israel Malden, to educate, entertain, and inspire at a Shabbaton and Lag B'Omer celebration.
(PRWeb April 22, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10657018.htm
Imagine this: a school without a Facebook page! How could this be?
In the winter of 2011 Carmel Academy underwent a name change, as well as a rigorous and successful accreditation process. The name change, in particular, was a unique experience – one that required a great deal of forethought, leadership, careful planning and implementation. With a new branding campaign, a stellar accreditation report and the excitement that electrified our school community, we embraced this as an opportunity to also become part of the social media landscape. Coinciding with our new name and look, Carmel launched four social media platforms: a newly redesigned and robust read more
In a very personal and open letter, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann urges Hebrew Union College to reconsider its decision to deny entry to students who are romantically involved with non-Jews.Click here for the rest of the article...
Here are just a few of the recent stories from across the webosphere that speak directly to (and about) Reform Jews. What Jewish stories have you been reading recently? Leave a comment and let us know!
- “Modern-Day Rabbi Must Be CEO, Teacher, and Spiritual Leader at Once,” Forward
Are rabbis the new CEOs? Anne Cohen reports that “expectations have changed.” Rabbis are now required to read a spreadsheet as well as the Gemara. They need to be accessible, media-savvy public speakers; business-oriented entrepreneurs; fundraisers; program generators, and in touch with popular trends. To prepare rabbinical students for the challenges ahead, seminaries are reassessing their curriculum to focus more on professional development and pastoral skills than ever before.
- “Let There Be War at the Wall,” Haaretz
In this op-ed, RabbI Eric Yoffie writes that his first reaction to the ugly confrontation at the Western Wall on Friday was to be appalled and sickened. “But on reflection,” he says, “I’ve changed my mind: I welcome the war that the ultra-Orthodox have chosen to launch. As offensive as these actions were, there are multiple reasons to expect that good might emerge from the nastiness of recent days.”
- “Almost Half of Israeli Jews back Women of the Wall,” Times of Israel
Forty-eight percent of Israel’s Jewish population, including 64% of its secular citizens, support the Women of the Wall organization in its bid to enable alternatives to traditional prayer services at the Western Wall, according to a poll released Sunday. Only 26% of those who described themselves as traditionally religious supported the movement; none of the ultra-Orthodox respondents supported the movement.
The list is in and, according to the Jerusalem Post, our own Anat Hoffman is the 5th most influential Jew in the world. Hoffman, the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), trails only MK Yair Lapid, Jack Lew, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. She comes in above Jon Stewart (#7), Rep. Debbi Wasserman Schultz (#10) and Justice Elana Kagan (#12), just to name a few.
And, of course, our own Rabbi Saperstein is ranked as #26.
Hoffman’s high ranking is in part a result of her leadership in Women of the Wall, which has made remarkable strides over the past year advancing pluralism and women’s rights at the Kotel. Just this past week, Women of the Wall made headlines when thousands of Haredi Jews violently protested the group’s Rosh Kodesh service by launching rocks, spit and verbal abuse.
Unlike at previous services, for the first time in over two decades the police protected the Women of the Wall and arrested some of the perpetrators who threatened them. Such a dramatic turn in official treatment stems from a recent court ruling defending the right of women to pray at the Kotel.
The battle over women’s rights at the Kotel has now spread to the Knesset, where Naftali Bennet and Tzipi Livni are publically sparring. Countering recent court decisions, Benner seeks to regulate prayer at the Kotel and to limit the Women of the Wall’s practice. Livni has expressed her opposition to any such limitations, which require her approval.
While the status of the Western Wall now dominates Israeli media (so much so that Women of the Wall is even a subject heading on Haartetz), its newfound fame is symptomatic of greater religious tensions in Israel. As the battles over religious pluralism, women’s rights and the rights of the non-Orthodox are on-going in Israel, we are proud to have Anat Hoffman at the helm.
Japan’s IRH Press Releases New Spiritual Interview Series by World Spiritual Leader and Japan’s Bestselling Author Master Ryuho Okawa.
(PRWeb April 18, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Iran_Israel2013/04/prweb10622819.htm
Milwaukee Jewish Day School is a non-diversified school accepting Jews from across the board. We have an excellent education program deeply rooted in tradition and innovation. We have a large emphasis on digital media and technology such as iPads, smart-boards, computer Labs, and a green screen studio. With so many students and parents using technology photo’s and videos have never been so important.
We’ve always had an Annual Campaign, but for the first time as a result of the Social Media Academy we decided to try something different, and accept donations online.
As the largest coed Jewish day school in Baltimore – and the area’s only community day school – we have made significant progress this year harnessing the power of social media to share key messages with our current and prospective families. We have increased our Page “likes” over 33 percent, and have created some great content, including a number of creative videos that have “gone viral”. We are posting regularly with engaging content, using a warm and friendly voice, and our page stats reflect the growth in our audience and their interest in our page.
By Rabbi Richard Sarason
In the traditional liturgy, the special character of each holiday is particularly conveyed by the piyyutim (hymns, liturgical poems) that are recited or chanted on that day. Most of these piyyutim have been omitted in Reform liturgies since the nineteenth century, out of a sense that their Hebrew diction is too arcane and their theology too medieval. Yet, some of these poems have routinely been retained in Reform High Holy Day prayer books, particularly for Yom Kippur.1
Probably the best known of the piyyutim for Rosh Hashanah, which over time has come to be recited on Yom Kippur as well, is Un’taneh tokef (“Let us declare the awesome sanctity of this day”). This poem powerfully dramatizes the Zichronot theme of Rosh Hashanah as Yom ha-din, the Day of Judgment, on which “all creatures pass before God as in a military muster” (the imagery comes from Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:2).2 It describes in rather harrowing images3 how the book of memory, in which each person’s deeds are inscribed, is opened on this day, and how everyone’s fate for the next year is inscribed on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur–for life or death, for prosperity or suffering. Yet the poem continues on a hopeful note that prayer, repentance, and charity may avert or temper any severe decree. It then contrasts the frailty and fragility of human life with God’s eternity, and expresses confidence in divine compassion. In the traditional liturgy, the poem is recited in the Musaf Amidah, right before the Kedushah, the acclamation of God’s holiness. The poem’s very last lines, in fact, transition into this acclamation.
The poem is intentionally upsetting; it aims to stop each of us in our tracks and to make us consider ultimate themes of life and death, as well as our personal behavior and responsibility for our actions. In previous generations, many worshippers were literally moved to tears by its message and imagery. In our own day, it is not necessary to take any of this mythic imagery at face value in order to take seriously the poem’s underlying ideas and exhortations. Some North American Reform prayer books (notably that of Isaac Mayer Wise) that were concerned about the imagery omitted altogether the first part of the poem. Others, such as the Union Prayer Book and Gates of Repentance, shortened the poem by omitting its ending. The current draft of the new Reform Mahzor gives the entire poem, with extensive framing commentary and “left-page” alternatives. Some North American Reform prayer books (notably the 1855 prayer book of Temple Emanuel in New York and the Union Prayer Book) included this poem only in the Yom Kippur liturgy rather than on Rosh Hashanah, regarding “the awesomeness of this day” as more appropriate to Yom Kippur.
The poem has an interesting history. It was composed by an unknown poet in the land of Israel during the Byzantine era (perhaps in the 6th to 7th centuries C.E.),4 and appears in three Mahzor fragments of the rite of the land of Israel found in the Cairo Genizah. It does not appear in any fragments of the Babylonian rite found there, nor does it appear in the Sefardic rite. It is taken up into the medieval Ashkenazic rite together with other piyyutimfrom the land of Israel (there was a movement of – some – liturgical texts and customs from the land of Israel through Italy and into the Rhineland). The well-known legend (paraphrased by Chaim Stern in Gates of Repentance) of the martyrdom of Rabbi Amnon of Mayence/Mainz,5 who is said to have composed and recited this poem in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah as he was expiring, is just that-an Ashkenazic legend that aims to sanctify the rather recent custom of reciting this poem by linking it up with a tale of pious martyrdom in the wake of the Crusades in the Rhineland. In the legend, Rabbi Amnon is said to have come in a dream to the prestigious Rabbi Kalonymos Meshullam ben Kalonymos and taught him the poem. Rabbi Kalonymos ben Meshullam was, in fact, one of the martyrs of the First Crusade.
Un’taneh tokef remains one of the highlights of the High Holy Day liturgy on account of its sober theme and graphic imagery. It exhorts us to consider what really matters in life, and leaves us with a sense of urgency, but also a sense of confidence that repentance and change are possible – and that this is how we should approach the Divine.
For further reading:
Machzor: Challenge and Change. Resource Pack for Individual and Group Study. CCAR, 2010.
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, ed., Who by Fire, Who by Water: Un’taneh Tokef.Jewish Lights, 2010.
- Very often the piyyutim retained were from the Spanish-Portuguese Sephardic rite, which are written in a more classic biblical Hebrew style under the influence of Arabic poetics, rather than from the Ashkenazic rite, where the earlier and more florid Byzantine poetic models from the land of Israel were still being emulated. The Spanish poems, on the whole, are easier to understand and correspond more to western poetic aesthetic ideals than the Byzantine and Ashkenazic ones. Thus, for example, it has been common in Reform prayer books to begin the Yom KippurSeder Ha’avodah, the description of the Yom Kippur rites in the Second Temple, with the introductory poem from the Sephardic rite rather than from the Ashkenazic one. That custom may still be found in Gates of Repentance, p. 410.
- The best manuscripts of the Mishnah and at least one Genizah fragment of the poem read here kiv’numeron rather than kiv’nei maron. Numeron is a Greek loan-word, meaning a military muster, during which each soldier is counted. B’nei maronrepresents a later attempt to read this as two Semitic words: “those on high” = the angels (construing maron as an Aramaized form of marom). Interestingly, the creative misreading seems already to be presumed in the content of the poem, which proclaims that the angels also are judged on Rosh Hashanah.
- As a graphic depiction of the Day of Judgment, this poem has sometimes been likened to the Catholic Dies Irae hymn of the Latin Requiem Mass, which describes the Last Judgment in similarly harrowing terms (and dates from roughly the same period). Un’taneh tokef, of course, does not deal with the final judgment at the end of time but rather with the annual judgment on Rosh Hashanah.
- Piyyut-scholar Joseph Yahalom has identified the poem’s author as Yannai, a sixth-seventh century synagogue poet best known for his extensive weekly cycles ofkedushtot, which relate the weekly Torah readings to the first three benedictions of the Amidah. See his “Who Shall be the Author and Who Shall Not,” Haaretz, September 6, 2002.
- This first appears in Or Zarua (“Light is sown”), a book of liturgical customs and their reasons by Isaac ben Moses of Vienna (c. 1180-1250). The name Amnon is characteristic of Italian Jews, not Ashkenazic Jews. There apparently was a Rabbi Amnon who was martyred in Italy.
Dr. Sarason is Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought and the Associate Editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual. He was ordained at HUC-JIR.
The Toronto Board of Rabbis criticized the Jewish Defense League of Canada for inviting Islam critic Pamela Geller to speak in the city.Click here for the rest of the article...
Aside from receiving the Torah, Shavuot is also a grain harvest. In the age of booming urban sprawl, processed foods and industrial sized sodas, it is easy to forget that many of the important philosophies on tzedakah and sustainability are rooted (pun intended) in agricultural rituals. When harvesting a field, we are taught to leave whatever falls to the ground and the corners of our fields for the poor and the stranger (Leviticus 19:9-11). Even in our times of plenty, the fruits of our labor should be shared with those who are less fortunate. This tradition, while perhaps removed from the realities of 21st century life, should remind us that as we take in the rewards our hard work has produced we should also give to those who are less fortunate. Money may not grow on trees, rendering the “leave the corners” command a little murkier to follow, but we should still make the effort to live by the spirit of our teachings.
Generosity in our harvesting and planting should not end with the sharing of the corners of a field. Every seven years, during the shmita year, we must allow our fields to rest. They are given a year without being used to produce food. Just as we are commanded to take the seventh day to rest, we must also allow our fields to rest and recuperate as well. As we celebrate this Shavuot, let us reflect on what it means to harvest in this era and how we can give back to our communities and our world.
Image courtesy of David Angel.
No Limits Media presents Two Who Dared: The Sharps' War; being shown at churches, synagogues and theaters across the country and in Canada this spring. A Unitarian Minister and his wife leave...
(PRWeb April 17, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10634160.htm
Craig Taubman, celebrated Jewish musician and producer, has released a brand new album under his Craig ‘N Co. label celebrating the best of Jewish music and designed to relax and refresh.
(PRWeb April 17, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/CraigTaubman/AcousticShabbat/prweb10639583.htm
May 9, 2013
Boy Scouts of America
Middle Tennessee Council
3414 Hillsboro Pike
PO Box 150409
Nashville, TN 37215
I am writing as a rabbi and as one who became an Eagle Scout in 1966. From 1963 to 1972, I spent time each summer at the Stahlman Camp of the Boxwell Reservation in Middle Tennessee. From 1970 – 72, I worked on the waterfront there. In 1970, I attended the National Camping School of the BSA and in 1971 was an instructor in that school. I was also honored by being Order of the Arrow. At one time, I was even considering a career path in the BSA.
I am writing to express my significant disappointment that the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America has announced that it would not support a proposed policy change that would open membership to young people who are openly gay.
In all my years of scouting, I cannot think of one minute wherein I was encouraged to discriminate against another scout. I grew up during the Civil Rights era in Nashville. The first significant friendships and relationships that I had with African American youth my age occurred at Boxwell. I learned there that social justice and treating others with respect and fairness were integral parts of scouting and the Scout Law. Specifically, I learned from the Scout Law that “A Scout is Friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.”
I can hardly see how discrimination against openly gay young people and openly gay adults who wish to work as patrol dads and/or Scout leaders is not an egregious violation of the Scout Law.
Around the country, educators – myself included – are actively working to curtail bullying. This ban actually makes it more likely that bullying will occur and that significant harm will occur to gay youth, adults and their families around the country. I also wish to point out that most distressingly LGBT youth experience significantly higher rates of suicide. These children and their families must not be denied the opportunities to achieve as well as the structures of support that the Boy Scouts already provide to so many.
Personally, I am not gay. I am the proud father of three wonderful children and the devoted husband to my wife for thirty-eight years. As I Jew, I have seen only all too recently the terrible effects of discrimination against the Jewish people. The recent history of the Jews in World War II illustrates the terrible consequences of bias and bigotry, even when sanctioned by the majority of people within a society. Accordingly, I am appalled by the statement that this decision was based upon research during which “of about 3,000 surveyed, 66 percent said openly gay youths should not be allowed to participate in Scouting. About 15.7 percent said gay Scouts should be allowed. The rest were neutral.” Basic human rights should never be subject to the will of the majority. When I was growing up, I learned that the Scout Law applied to everyone, not just to those who were popular, Christian, white or heterosexual.
Jewish tradition here is fully congruent with the best of the Scout Law when it teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God. This is also entirely congruent with the twelfth Scout Law, “A Scout is Reverent” which obviously I take very seriously. That stamp of the divine applies to us all!
Therefore, I would like to urge you to support the lifting of the BSA’s policy of discrimination that currently impacts both children and adults. When that occurs, I would look forward once again to participating again in the worthy work of the BSA.
Rabbi Fred Guttman
Note: Rabbi Fred Guttman is a native of Nashville, belonged to Troop 31 sponsored by St. Georges Episcopal Church and is a graduate of MBA and Vanderbilt.
Rabbi Fred Guttman is the senior rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, NC.
The Religious Action Center is currently circulating a sign on letter for rabbis and cantors calling for the Boy Scouts of America to lift their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders, if you are interested in signing please click here.