Web Feed

Syndicate content
things of interest in the synagogue world
Updated: 11 min 22 sec ago

"555 Days of Prayer to Save America" Stewards Thank Public...

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:33

Planners of the 555-day prayer initiative rejoice at recent increased interest. Meanwhile, the prayer event reaches day 309, with the current prayer against the sins of the U.S.A. having reached day...

(PRWeb January 07, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11462040.htm

George Clooney Vows To Use 'Monuments Men' in Push on Looted Art

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 14:05

For the most ambitious of his five films as director, George Clooney assembled a top-shelf cast of fellow actors to play art experts tasked with retrieving artistic treasure stolen by the Germans during World War Two.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Project Zug Promotes Jewish Textual Study Using Internet Video Technology

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 14:00

Project Zug uses online video chat platform Skype to connect Jews around the world through hevruta, the age-old Jewish tradition of studying in pairs.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Russian Poklonnaya Hill Synagogue Rented Out for Parties

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 08:06

Several prominent Russian Jews criticized the recreational use of a Russian synagogue that also functions as a Holocaust memorial monument.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Party at Russian synagogue-Holocaust memorial causes uproar

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 07:04

(JTA) — The Russian Jewish Congress is defending itself against criticism for renting out a Moscow synagogue that also functions as a Holocaust memorial for a party.

Russia’s Bank of Industrial and Investment Settlements, or PIR Bank, celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Poklonnaya Hill Memorial Synagogue on Jan. 20 with a barbecue of lamb, alcoholic beverages and loud music, according to a report on the website MK.ru.

PIR Bank is a donor to the Russian Jewish Congress, which built the synagogue in 1998 in memory of hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Valery Engel, vice president of the World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jewry, told the Pravda daily that while American Jews often hold events at synagogues, “Russian tradition has no such parallels. To some extent, it is blasphemy.”

Boris Spiegel, the president of the World Congress, said, “Holding secular events there perhaps is not appropriate.”

The Russian Jewish Congress in a statement published last week on its website defended its decision to allow the party to take place at the synagogue, which does not have a rabbi or regular congregation.

According to the Russian Jewish Congress, the synagogue has been rented out before for cultural activities, including a jazz concert.

“The Memorial Synagogue at Poklonnaya Hill regularly sees not only religious events but also secular, educational, public and charitable activities aimed at both the Jews and non-Jews, the statement said. “We plan to continue this practice, acting upon the example of most of the leading museums of the world.

“In 2014, one such social event was a recreational evening for the bank — a longtime partner of charitable projects of the Russian Jewish Congress. We are grateful to the media for the major interest in the activities of the Russian Jewish Congress.”


Israeli Group of Orthodox Feminists Opposed to Kotel Egalitarian Prayer Area

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 18:51

An Israeli group of Orthodox feminists voiced its opposition to moving non-traditional women’s prayer to a new egalitarian area.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Day school’s defenders and critics

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 18:30

Sam Ser’s essay about why he is not sending his children to Jewish day school, which we published last week, struck a nerve.

A few days after the essay ran, the head of Ser’s local community day school, in suburban Detroit, published a response. Now Amram Altzman, a List College student, is defending day schools for New Voices, a Jewish student publication. His take: even though he didn’t appreciate it at the time, he now sees the value in his 13 years of intensive Jewish education and the community of peers with whom he shared it.

“I needed a community of fellow students who were as willing to strike down the text, to throw out equally outrageous examples while still using Talmudic logic,” he writes. “That community of people who wanted to engage with the texts was something that drove me to apply to the Jewish Theological Seminary for college, wherein I would be able to continue engaging with those texts in a serious way, and seek to apply them to my life, thousands of years after some of them were redacted.”

Kveller, MyJewishLearning’s parenting site, has published numerous essays on why or why not parents have opted for or against day school.  It can be a heated argument, in which people on either side often feel somewhat self-righteous: “we’re better Jews” versus “we support public school and want our children exposed to diversity” or “we don’t want to go into debt” versus “we make Jewish education a priority.”

Anyone else want to jump in?


Orthodox feminists’ group objecting to egalitarian section at Western Wall

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 17:55

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli group of Orthodox feminists voiced its opposition to moving non-traditional women’s prayer to a new egalitarian area.

The Kolech-Religious Women’s Forum sent a letter this week to a special government committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit saying that its members would not be willing to pray in a female minyan in the egalitarian section because as Orthodox women they will not pray with men.

The letter follows reports that the Women of the Wall organization, after months of negotiations, is close to approving an agreement with the Israeli government via the committee that would move the group’s monthly prayer service to the new egalitarian area.

The agreement includes issues relating to the area’s size, appearance, management, accessibility, budget and name. Taken together, the conditions mandate that the new section be treated as equal to the existing Western Wall plaza.

“The compromise being formulated in your discussions with Women of the Wall, according to which women’s prayer groups would be forced to leave the women’s section and move to Ezrat Yisrael (the egalitarian section), could deal a heavy blow to Orthodox women, and we will not be able to agree to this,” the letter said. “We see ourselves as part of Orthodoxy, and our prayers have already become part of the local custom as interpreted in Judge Sobel’s ruling.”

A  Jerusalem District Court last year said women praying in a quorum with tallit and tefillin is not a violation of the local custom and therefore is permitted in the women’s section of the Western Wall. Women have not been arrested at the monthly prayer services since the ruling.

“Attempts to move us over to Ezrat Yisrael represent a blow to our religious identity,” the Kolech letter said. “Since we observe halacha strictly and belong to the Orthodox Jewish stream, we are not willing to forfeit our right to pray as we see fit in the women’s section of the Western Wall.”

The Kolech group, which has been a strong supporter of Women of the Wall, has asked for a meeting with Mendelblit and his committee in order to explain their stance.



Conductor of Israel National Opera Guilty of Nazi Collaboration

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 17:45

In a Tel Aviv courtroom, Hirsch Barenblat, the conductor of the Israel National Opera, was found guilty on charges of collaborating with the Nazis.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Forget Tefillin — Orthodox Women Need Empowerment in Daily Lives

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 13:26

The silent majority of Orthodox women today are not preoccupied with fighting for ownership over men’s rituals. They need change in their daily lives, Avital Chizhik writes.

Click here for the rest of the article...

5 Germans Honored for Preserving Jewish History

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 09:06

The rescuer of a ruined synagogue in Gudensberg is one of five German non-Jews honored this year for ensuring that local Jewish history is not forgotten.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Portugal's Oldest Synagogue Gets $290K Facelift in Azores

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 07:49

A Portuguese municipality has begun restoring the country’s oldest intact synagogue, which is situated on the island of Sao Miguel.

Click here for the rest of the article...

My Jewish Journey

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 06:00

By Susan Klau

To my family, one of the most important aspects of Reform Judaism is community. My Jewish journey through adolescence was much different than my parents’. My dad, born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, experienced a limited and informal Jewish education. Puerto Rico’s Temple Youth Groups are associated with NFTY-NAR (the New York Area Region) and my dad did one year of NFTY his sophomore year of high school. As he tells it, his NFTY experience consisted of sitting in a circle with some of his classmates, eating pizza, talking about Jewish ‘hot’ topics, and singing To Everything There Is a Season.

My mother became a Jew by choice after meeting my dad, and one of the things that she loved so much about Judaism was the friendship network that came with the religion. When I was born, my parents knew that they wanted Judaism to be an important part of my identity.

When I joined my NFTY region my freshman year of high school, my parents couldn’t have been happier. Through raising me, my parents became more involved with Judaism themselves, and it was important to them that I continue Jewish learning after I became a bat mitzvah.

I am now a freshman in college. As I reflected on how important NFTY was to my family and me, I asked my mom what she saw in NFTY. She said,

“It gave you a healthy community, and I saw that when someone was sick or lonely, other NFTY people would outreach to them; when you traveled somewhere you would see someone from NFTY and you had instant connections. One of my friends told me this and I completely agree – NFTY and camp was one of the best parenting decisions I ever made.”

It’s important to note that though neither of my parents were too active in Jewish life growing up, their Jewish journeys have shifted and changed. They became active in Jewish life vicariously through me – since I couldn’t have gone to two NFTY conventions and a URJ Biennial without their support. I was thrilled when they came to see me run a NFTY program I had written and worked on for several weeks. Not only did they attend to see it come to life, but they sat on the floor with my NFTY peers and participated in a discussion about the Jewish values in decision making. No matter what year you were born, you can always engage in conversation.

A big saying in our family is l’dor vador (from generation to generation). My parents encouraged me to engage in a NFTY family that I now cherish, and know I’ll continue to deem important long into my adult years. And because of NFTY and because of who I am, I know that there will be many chains of my family involved for years to come – l’dor vador – from my parent’s child to my children.

Susan Klau is a NFTY and URJ Camp alumnus. She is currently studying at American University in Washington, D.C. where she is involved in Jewish activities on campus.

Intermarriage Is Fact of Jewish Life — Not Disease

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 18:05

Intermarriage is a reality of American life. Instead of treating intermarriage like a ‘disease,’ Rabbi Rick Jacobs trumpets the success of outreach to secure Jewish future.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Could Woody Allen Be Charged in Sex Abuse Claim by Dylan Farrow?

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 08:05

Woody Allen contends that renewed accusations by the filmmaker’s adopted daughter that he sexually abused her at age 7 are “untrue and disgraceful,” a spokeswoman for the director said on Sunday, a day after her letter detailing the allegations shook up Hollywood.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Rabbis Shift To Say 'I Do' to Intermarriage

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 06:00

A growing number of rabbis who once refused to perform interfaith weddings have changed their minds. And they don’t regret it.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Modern Orthodox Leader Won't Appeal Sexual Assault Conviction

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 13:50

Rabbi Mordechai “Motti” Elon, an Israeli Modern Orthodox leader, will not appeal his conviction on two charges of sexually assaulting a minor.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Italian Jewish Relics at Risk From Flooding Tiber River

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 10:05

Volunteers spent hours placing sandbags and protective sheets to protect the Spanish Synagogue and the Rome Jewish Museum, fearing flooding from the swollen Tiber River.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Roger Waters Attacks Scarlett Johansson, Neil Young Over Israel Support

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 09:50

Roger Waters assailed actress Scarlett Johansson and musician Neil Young on his Facebook page for their support of Israel.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Does God Already Know Who's Winning the Super Bowl?

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 06:00

Rabbi Daniel Alter expects some added fervency during daily prayer services at the Denver Academy of Torah in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

Click here for the rest of the article...