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Could Rabbi Slaying in Miami Be a Hate Crime?

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 17:26

Police in Miami investigating the killing of a 60-year-old Orthodox rabbi over the weekend said on Monday they haven’t yet decided whether the shooting was a hate crime.

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Holland Jewish Museum Sets 'Anne' Frank Program

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 15:40

Holland’s main Jewish museum launched a children’s educational program centered around a new play about Anne Frank.

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Investing in the Next Generation: The URJ’s Emerging Young Adult Initiatives Community of Practice

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 09:00

For the past 18 months, the URJ supported three “Communities of Practice,” cohorts of congregations that came together to learn, discuss, and experiment in a specific field. Members from participating congregations have been asked to reflect about their process.

by Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg and Adam Freedman

Judaism is constantly evolving, addressing new challenges and needs, and a key aspect of synagogue life is setting a vision for tomorrow. Consistent is our yearning to plant seeds for the next generation, but that pathway to doing so is often unclear.

This yearning pushed us at Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto to prioritize congregational programming that would engage and inspire young Jewish adults. We joined the URJ’s Emerging Young Adult Initiatives Community of Practice (“CoP”) in order to explore best practices for addressing the needs of our young adult cohort and to connect with congregations facing parallel concerns. This initiative brought together seven Reform congregations for an 18-learning month process. We learned from experts in the field of young adult engagement, supported and drew support from the other congregations in the cohort, and launched a pilot to apply our learnings to our congregational needs and landscape. We viewed the CoP as a means to invest in our congregation’s continuing history.

Indeed, ways of engaging young adults in our congregation have evolved as a result of our participation in the CoP process, such as our successful “Next Generation” initiative. Programming has included tikkun olam service opportunities, such as a day of building with Habitat for Humanity; dynamic social gatherings, like Sushi in the Sukkah; and a high-profile networking/professional development series. With the support of H. Lawrence and Beverly Fein and Family, we have been able to send a delegation of young adults to Europe for the Young Adult March of the Living for the past three years, an experience that has inspired us to lead our people with strength. Our participation in the CoP has helped to capitalize on our already successful young adult initiatives, contributing to the development and growth of many of these programs.

A highlight of the CoP process was the formation of our Next Generation Tzedakah Investment Club. The young leaders of our community are mainly new professionals, looking to establish themselves, and their concerns include securing a meaningful job, purchasing a new home, and investing funds for the first time. As a synagogue community, we realized we could address such concerns through a Jewish lens. Further, we felt we could look at the Jewish responsibilities to give back.

As a first step, we identified an established member of the community to mentor our group. Congregant David Beutel, an investor, entrepreneur, and overall mensch, was an ideal fit. Next, we invited young leaders to join us. Participants needed to be members of the congregation between the ages of 22-39, and everyone was asked to contribute $72 to the tzedakah fund. Fourteen people joined the group that quickly took on the form of a chavurah. We met every other month, each time focusing on a unique topic. Experts were brought in to share their investment knowledge, teaching the group the basics of investment, stocks and bonds, real estate, and ethical investing.  As a group, we decided where to invest our funds and how to direct the proceeds.

The project was a great success, as evidenced by testimonials from its participants:

  • “During school, we were active in NFTY and Hillel’s social action programming, but upon leaving school we didn’t feel as though we were ready to completely immerse ourselves in the adult Jewish community. This club has allowed us to connect with others our age in a meaningful way and become part of a Jewish community that reflects our stage in life.” -Karen Lidor and Ariel Feldman
  • “Being able to learn about investment and financial planning from a Jewish framework was really interesting, and it was exciting to be able to invest in the future of Temple Sinai and the Jewish community as a whole, knowing that the seeds we plant today will grow and sustain future projects at Temple Sinai. I have learned valuable lessons about tzedakah and the different ways to give and their meanings.” -Jaime Reich​
  • “Being part of the Temple Sinai Next Gen Tzedakah Investment Club has been a great way for me to meet members of the Temple Sinai young professional community, interact with some brilliant experts, learn about investments, do tzedakah, and be a part of some interesting, thought-provoking discussions. I’m proud that we were able to set up a Temple Sinai fund to help provide great experiences at Temple Sinai for current and future Next Gen’ers.” -Ben Greisman

We look forward to growing the Next Generation Tzedakah Investment Club with the hope of engaging young Temple Sinai members, while simultaneously sustaining young adult programming for years to come.  In doing so, we heed the interpretive words of Torah shared by Warren Buffett, who aptly stated, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg is associate rabbi at Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto. He was ordained from the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR in 2008. Adam Freedman is a proud new member of the congregation who works as an attorney with Torys LLP. Temple Sinai Congregation is a 1,600 family synagogue in midtown Toronto, presently commemorating its 60th year anniversary.

Rabbi Slain in Miami Mourned — Cops Hunt Killers

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 08:04

The rabbi gunned down on his way to synagogue in Miami was mourned yesterday at his funeral — as police hunted his killers.

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Daniel Barenboim Holds 'Peace Concert' With Arabs

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 07:53

Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim performed a free outdoor “peace concert” in his native Argentina with an orchestra he co-founded featuring Israeli and Arab musicians.

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Uniting Jewish Heritage Sites Across Czech Republic

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 06:00

No Jews have lived in Nova Cerekev since the Holocaust. But driving into the nondescript little town 80 miles from Prague, you still can’t miss the synagogue.

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$50K Reward for Info on Miami Rabbi Slaying

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 17:39

The Jewish community of Miami is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of two suspects in the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin.

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Barenboim performs free ‘peace concert’ in native Argentina with Arab-Israeli orchestra

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 17:13

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim performed a free outdoor “peace concert” in his native Argentina with an orchestra he co-founded featuring Israeli and Arab musicians.

Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performed a program of Vivaldi’s music on Sunday before a crowd of thousands at a neo-colonial bridge connecting Buenos Aires and the city of Valentin Alsina.

Saying he doesn’t speak during concerts or play music during talks, Barenboim told the audience, “But I want to say to you that I grew up in Argentina and some lessons remain inside me. I learned here that you can be Jewish, Polish, German, Syrian, Turk, and there is no problem here about multiple identities; you can be any of this and also an Argentinian.”

Barenboim, who in 2008 received Palestinian honorary citizenship, co-founded the orchestra with the late Palestinian academic Edward Said.

On Tuesday, Barenboim and the orchestra played Wagner at the Colon Theater, the main opera house in Buenos Aires. Barenboim’s performances of Wagner in Israel have been controversial because of the composer’s anti-Semitic views and because of how Nazi Germany made use of his music.

Prior to the Colon performance, Barenboim declared, “The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is very sensitive to the situation in Middle East. The musicians have relatives on both sides, the sides that are killing each other and, despite this cruel war, there is no Arabic or Israeli musician who has canceled his participation in this concert for peace. This is also a gesture to Argentina.”

Miami Jewish community offers $50,000 reward in Rabbi Raksin killing

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 16:03

(JTA) — The Jewish community of Miami is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of two suspects in the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin.

The reward was reported on Sunday by the Miami Herald.

Raksin, 60, an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, was shot and killed on his way to synagogue services in North Miami Beach on Saturday morning.

The funeral was set for Sunday afternoon, according to the Miami Herald.

Raksin reportedly was in town visiting his granddaughter and other relatives. He was walking to the synagogue, Bais Menachem, when he was confronted by the two young males being sought.

Police said Raksin was shot several times following an altercation, though witnesses told NBC reporters that there was no altercation and the assailants were African-American males. Raksin was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center, where he died.

Police said the shooting likely was a robbery gone bad.

“At this time there is no indication of this being a hate crime,” Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Elena Hernandez said in a statement, according to the Miami Herald.

A nearby synagogue, Torah V’Emunah, was the target of vandalism on July 28, with swastikas and the word “Hamas” spray-painted on the front pillars.

 

Rabbi Slain on Way to Services at Miami Synagogue in Apparent Botched Robbery

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 07:00

An Orthodox rabbi was gunned down in broad daylight as he walked to Shabbat services at a Miami synagogue — and cops are hunting two suspects.

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Police Probe Dan Markel Link to 'Get' Extortion Rabbis

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 15:35

Police probing Dan Markel’s murder have looked into his link to rabbis accused of shaking down men who refused to grant divorces. But it is unlikely to be the motive for his slaying.

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Orthodox Educator Elimelech Meisels Sued Over Sex Assault Claim

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 12:45

Rabbi Elimelech Meisels, who runs four religious seminaries in Israel for young Orthodox women, is being sued for sexual assault and fraud.

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The December Project

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 12:02

Sara Davidson is a best-selling writer and journalist who confesses she felt completely unprepared to face the reality of her own mortality. In 2009, she met Jewish Renewal founder Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. They spent every Friday together for two years discussing what the spiritual teacher believed helps one prepare for death. The rabbi died this summer on July 3 at the age of 89. Their conversations culminated in Davidson’s book The December Project, named for what Reb Zalman referred to as the December of life. “When you feel you’re coming to the end of your tour of duty, what is the spiritual work of that time,” he asked, “and how do we prepare for the mystery?”

The post The December Project appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Orthodox educator Rabbi Elimelech Meisels sued for sexual assault

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 11:10

NEW YORK (JTA) — Rabbi Elimelech Meisels, who runs four religious seminaries in Israel for young Orthodox women, is being sued for sexual assault and fraud.

The civil suit was filed Monday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of four parents with daughters signed up for Meisels’ haredi Orthodox seminaries for the 2014-2015 school year. The parents are seeking to recover their tuition deposits.

The suit alleges that Meisels would lure girls under his charge “into late night coffee meetings and other private settings and then sexually assault them.” It says he threatened to ruin girls’ marriage prospects if they told and would “intimidate his victims by telling them that no one would believe that a rabbi and author with his reputation would have done such a thing.”

Meisels denies the allegations.

“The allegations are completely false,” Meisels told JTA in an email. “My attorney has advised me to pursue legal action against all those who are wronging myself and the seminaries.”

The seminaries named in the suit are Peninim, Binas Bais Yaakov, Chedvas Bais Yaakov and Keser Chaya.

The complaint said that seminary attendance has had negative impacts on the marriage prospects of the Orthodox women who have gone there. The parents involved in the lawsuit allege that Meisels is committing fraud by misrepresenting the seminaries as institutions that help Orthodox girls become upstanding Jewish women. Aside from Meisels, other administrators at the seminaries are named in the suit.

The matter was initially brought to the attention of the Chicago Beit Din, a Jewish religious court, which concluded that “students in these seminaries are at risk of harm and it does not recommend that prospective students attend these seminaries at this time,” according to the lawsuit. Following the Beit Din determination, two institutions that offered college credits to students attending Meisels’ seminaries suspended their affiliation with them.

Though Meisels claimed to have sold his seminaries following the Beit Din ruling, the Beit Din did not accept the sales as legitimate, according to the complaint.

Though the schools are based in Israel, Meisels and the other defendants named in the suit are U.S. citizens, and the non-profit organization that processes funds for the seminaries — Peninim of America — is a nonprofit charity in the United States, according to the complaint.

Luring Young Boston Jews With 'Beer Mitzvahs' and Shabbat in Bars

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 07:46

Welcome to Riverway Cafe, a program of Temple Israel of Boston to reach out to millennial Jews. The program is an outgrowth of the Riverway Project, which brings Jewish events to unconventional settings, like Shabbat services in bars.

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Athens Chief Rabbi Dies at 76

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 09:42

Rabbi Yaacov Arar, who served as Chief Rabbi of Athens for over four decades, has died.

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After 5 Attacks, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs Ponders Future

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 07:09

After the latest attack on his home, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs sat down on his couch, picked up the phone and made three calls.

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Prague Jews Elect David Peter as Chief Rabbi

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 17:50

The Jewish community of Prague elected Rabbi David Peter, a native of the Czech capital, as its new chief rabbi.

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'Magic in the Moonlight' Isn't That Bad and Neither Is Woody Allen

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 16:34

Reviewing Woody Allen’s ‘Magic in the Moonlight,’ Ezra Glinter said the director should have quit while he was ahead. Jay Michaelson finds the argument morally and aesthetically wrong.

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