Web Feed

Syndicate content
things of interest in the synagogue world
Updated: 36 min 57 sec ago

Israel Ex-Generals Challenge Bibi on Security

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:41

Against a soundtrack of dramatic music, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lists his government’s security accomplishments, declaring over the shouts of opposition lawmakers that his Likud Party has stopped terrorists, stood up to Iran and secured Israel’s borders.

Click here for the rest of the article...

French Jewish Teens Beaten Walking From Synagogue

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 13:57

Two Jewish teens in France were robbed and beaten after leaving their Marseille synagogue.

Click here for the rest of the article...

This Month in The Tent: Useful Mission Statements

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 09:00

A congregation’s mission statement is often one of its founding documents, setting forth a vision for the congregation and serving as a guiding document as leaders manage the sacred. Yet a lot can happen in 15, 50, or even 100 years, and so congregational leaders may wish to periodically revisit the synagogue’s mission statement as a regular part of strategic planning.

When reviewing your congregation’s mission statement, keep in mind that effective mission statements:

  • Express the core values of the synagogue, including who the members are, which member needs the synagogue is attempting to fulfill, and how the synagogue plans to conduct its business
  • Articulate attainable goals
  • Provide a template that leaders and others can use to make decisions

Suggestions like these are available in The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum. In the “Mission Statements: Hints, Tips and Samples” document, you’ll find helpful information as well as mission statements created and used by Reform congregations. While you’re in The Tent, you also can access the URJ publication, “Hear, O Israel: Creating Meaningful Congregational Mission Statements and engage with your fellow leaders to find additional models of mission statements. (Enter the search term “MissionStatement” in the search box on any page of The Tent to find and join ongoing conversations.)

Seasonal Info: This year, Shavuot falls on May 23-24, which coincides with Memorial Day weekend. As you explore The Tent, search “Shavuot” to learn how congregational leaders are preparing for the confluence of the two holidays. You’ll also be able to download the “Shavuot Holiday Happenings” guide.

Tent Tips: The Tent has dozens of groups, from Membership to Facilities, from Recipe Box to Early Childhood. Each group addresses topics and issues within a specific area of interest. When posting a question or an update in The Tent, be sure to post in the appropriate group so your message will be seen by your target audience. For more Tent Tips, visit the Tent Tips group and join us for our March TentTalk webinars.

Join the conversation and access these and other great resources in The Tent.

'Allah Akhbar' Pest Busted for Threatening Miami Beach Synagogue

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 11:26

Miami police arrested a man twice who stood outside a Miami Beach synagogue and allegedly threatened the congregants.

Click here for the rest of the article...

How Kayaking in Alaska Prepared Me To Be a Rabbi

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 06:00

‘Gonzo Judaism’ Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein opens up how a kayaking trip through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge prepared him for his rabbinate — despite the sensory overload.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Ramaz Picks Eric Grossman as New Head of School

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 17:05

For the first time in its history, the Ramaz School, an elite modern Orthodox preparatory-style school in Manhattan, is tapping someone from outside its ranks to be its permanent head of school.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Copenhagen Muslims Get Permission for Peace Ring Around Synagogue

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 16:50

Danish Muslims can create a peace ring around a Copenhagen synagogue that came under a deadly attack, the city’s police said after originally refusing the request.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Shmuley Boteach Says Sorry for 'Genocide' Slur Against Susan Rice

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:02

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach apologized to U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice for his organization’s full-page ad in The New York Times accusing Rice of turning a blind eye to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Shmuley Boteach Says Sorry for 'Genocide' Slur Against Susan Rice

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 14:59

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach apologized to U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice for his organization’s full-page ad in The New York Times accusing Rice of turning a blind eye to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Click here for the rest of the article...

L’Taken Student Lobbies to End to Violence Against Women

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 12:00

Over the course of six L’Taken seminars this winter, I had the opportunity to work with inspiring groups of teen advocates dedicated to ending violence against women. At the final seminar of this season, Sasha Halpern, from Temple Brith Achim in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, connected Jewish values to a powerful personal story to implore her Senators and Representatives to support the International Violence Against Women Act:

From Sarah’s hospitality to Miriam’s leadership to Deborah’s intelligence and more, women in the Tanach have always exemplified strength. They are not doormats to be trampled upon and neither are today’s women, but this fact doesn’t stop many violent individuals from trying to steal women’s humanity. A third of the women in the world will experience violence perpetrated against them. This violence puts the victims in a position of inferiority to their abusers, furthering the inequality between man and woman.

Central to Judaism is the principle that all humans are created b’tselem Elohim, in the image of the divine. Every human being is created to reflect God’s power and awe. Theoretically, if we are all created this way, how could any one person be any greater than another? The values of Judaism reject this huge inequality in the world.

In addition, Leviticus 19:16 compels us not to “stand idly by the blood of a neighbor.” As Americans, our neighbors are the people of the world, and their blood is being spilled. We can no longer watch as women of the world are attacked and belittled by men. We, both as Jews and as Americans, must take a stand.

While I have never personally experienced such horrifying violence, a close friend of mine grew up completely immersed in it. From the time she was born, she witnessed her father abuse her mother physically, sexually and emotionally. When she became a teenager, this abuse fell upon her. After struggling with this situation for fifteen years, her family was finally freed when he was arrested for repeated assault. He is currently serving a two-year long sentence in jail.

My friend’s story is a direct result of support instituted by the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994 to begin to address gender based violence in the United States. VAWA-funded programs allowed my friend’s family to afford expensive lawyer fees and still keep themselves alive and well. This kind of support is completely absent in many parts of the world. Though organizations exist to fight for victims of violence, many require additional support to increase their impact and to accomplish necessary reforms.

In addition, many international governments turn a blind eye to violence against women, an injustice that I-VAWA strives to address. In many of these places, gender based violence is expected, even considered a cultural norm. Local advocates have been fighting this violence for years, and the United States government could provide much-needed support. I implore you, for families the world around in situation as bad as and worse than that of my friend, to support the International Violence Against Women Act.

This week, in honor of International Women’s Day, Representative Jan Schokowsky (D-IL-9) reintroduced the International Violence Against Women’s Act (H.R. 1340). The bill would provide concrete tools to change the circumstances that lead to gender-based violence, including support for equal economic opportunity, access to education, legal accountability, and public health services for survivors of violence. Urge your Members of Congress to support I-VAWA and to join the fight to end violence against women and girls across the world.

5 Jewish Educators Cited as Young Pioneers

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 10:44

Five Jewish educators under age 36 have been selected for the Young Pioneers Award given by New York’s Jewish Education Project.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Kindling the Flame of Education in Our Students

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 09:00

by Emily Messinger

Philosophers – Jewish and otherwise – have long shared their individual insights into the philosophy of education. For educators, such insights can teach us about our students, how we relate to them, the challenges we offer them, and the ways we shape them into the best they can be.

From Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue focusing on the I–Thou relationship and the I–It relationship, we learn about the importance of creating holy and authentic relationships. Buber’s I-Thou relationship represents a sacred, respectful, and meaningful dynamic that occurs among and between two people when they are in true dialogue and feel mutual respect, appreciation, and admiration. Both individuals feel as though that have something to add to and learn from an I-Thou relationship. Buber also believes that God’s presence exists and is, in fact, further brought into our world through the interactions that take place in I-Thou relationships.

Nel Noddings, an American philosopher known for her work in the philosophy of education, teaches us that caring and moral education are as important as – if not more important than – students’ academic studies. Teachers are responsible not only for creating caring relationships in which they are the “carers,” but are also responsible for helping students develop the capacity to care. More than telling students how to care, teachers must model this behavior through their interactions with students and others in the classroom. Only when students feel cared for will they learn to care for themselves and others.

John Dewey, a twentieth-century American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, urged us to make the learning experience personally meaningful and authentic for students. It must be built on prior interactions and knowledge, and be expressed in concert with real life experiences outside one’s learning environment. Dewey also stressed the importance of teaching to the student, acknowledging that there are myriad ways to connect with, educate, and influence our learners.

Finally, we must take into account the teachings of Jewish philosopher and theologian Franz Rosenzweig, who proposed that rather than starting from Torah and leading into life, learning starts “from life, a world that knows nothing of the Law, or pretends to know nothing, back to the Torah.”

Using the teachings of Buber, Noddings, Dewey, and Rosenzweig as a foundation, it is critical that we see our students’ education as did Socrates: “the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” We must create I-Thou relationships that honor their uniqueness and individuality, as well as design lessons that are relevant and meaningful to them and their lives. Even as we hope to teach our students that Judaism is a living, breathing religion with the potential to be a positive, enriching part of their everyday lives, we also must convey how important it is for them to be proud Jews who value, honor, and respect themselves, each other, their community, and the world-at-large. To do so, we must behave not only as committed Jews, but also as caring and loving teachers, friends, and role models.

By extension, our schools and synagogue communities must strive to challenge the intellect of our students while also offering them opportunities to nourish their souls. It is critical that we help students see how Judaism – as a culture, religion, people, and place – can enhance their lives and, we hope, lead to lifelong personal practice and connection with the Jewish community. Unlike secular learning environments, our religious schools can offer students (and their parents) opportunities for spiritual connections – through Mussar, tikkun middot (nurturing character development), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and other avenues. We have the ability – and, indeed, the responsibility – not only to teach Hebrew, holidays, and history, but also to ensure that our students grow into well-adjusted, emotionally developed human beings.

Let us take the teachings of these philosophers to heart so that more than just filling our students’ vessels, we kindle the flame of education in each of them.

Emily Messinger is the director of teen engagement and the co-interim director of congregational learning at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA.

Rabbis End Ban on Christmas Trees in Israel Hotels

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 06:31

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has issued new kashrut regulations to hotels, significantly reducing rabbinic involvement in matters unrelated to the kosher status of food regarding the behavior of hotels on the Jewish Sabbath.

Click here for the rest of the article...

If Jewish Seminaries Are Empty, Let's Merge Them

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 06:00

Rabbi Andy Bachman has a solution for the dwindling number of non-Orthodox rabbinical students: Combine existing seminaries for different denominations into one school.

Click here for the rest of the article...

NYPD Investigating Suspicious Activity Outside 2 Brooklyn Synagogues

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 19:12

The New York Police Department is investigating suspicious activity outside of two Brooklyn synagogues.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Why I Simply Cannot Accept Intermarriage

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 06:00

The Conservative movement is slowly coming around to accepting intermarriage. Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky explains why rabbis must resist the trend for the future of the Jewish people.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Press Invitation: The Merchant of Venice Presented by Elements Theatre...

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 01:34

Educational touring program features religious leaders, artists, and scholars discussing the impact of persecution and bigotry on “The Other” as it relates to prejudice, injustice and assimilation.

(PRWeb February 04, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/02/prweb12497304.htm

How Synagogue Music Breaks Down Barriers Between Denominations

Sat, 03/07/2015 - 06:00

Music was once a way Jewish denominations distinguished themselves from one another. Now it is breaking down the walls between them, as Jenna Weissman Joselit explains.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Recruiting Radical Muslims; B Corp Business Ethics; Blind Boys of Alabama

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 17:05

The growing appeal of ISIS and other extremist groups in the West; for-profit companies that try to solve social and environmental problems; and the gospel music and spiritual journey of five blind boys from Alabama.

The post Recruiting Radical Muslims; B Corp Business Ethics; Blind Boys of Alabama appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Suburban Detroit Synagogue Gets $10M for Music Program

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 11:32

A synagogue in suburban Detroit has received a $10 million endowment to fund its music program.

Click here for the rest of the article...