By Cantor Hayley Kobilinsky
Each year as I prepare for the High Holy Days, I return to the familiar melodies that make up our Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services. I no longer need to review the unique melodies of the Rosh HaShanah Amidah (prayers said while standing), because after chanting them a dozen times per year for over a dozen years, they are emblazoned on my mind.
There is a great deal of consistency within the Amidah, the central portion of every prayer service, but there are certain changes that take place depending upon the time of day, weekday or Shabbat, or Holy Day. For example, on a Shabbat evening, our prayer for peace is the Shalom Rav, but on Shabbat morning, it is replaced by Sim Shalom. Not surprisingly, there are certain changes that take place during the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) to accentuate the unique timbre of the day. Some of the special insertions and melodies are so memorable, in fact, that I will confess that during the rest of the year I occasionally must remind myself to not include them! Perhaps, in order to survive in our liturgy through years of reductions and reformations, a tune must be catchy. Some of those melodies with staying power became known as misinai tunes, as though they’re so old, they must have been handed down at Mount Sinai.
The use of misinai tunes is traditional for both the Avot and the Gevurot, the first two benedictions of the Amidah. The Rosh HaShanah Amidah begins like any other as the congregation rises and begins to chant the Avot v’Imahot (Fathers and Mothers, or more idiomatically, Our Forebears): “Blessed are You, Adonai, our God and God of our fathers and mothers…” Already the congregation can detect differences in the melody, which has changed to reflect the introspection required during the Yamim Noraim (LISTEN). After words describing the love of our ancestors for God and the love God showed them and their later generations, the cantor, interrupting the usual text, leads the congregation in a singable melody with the words “Zochreinu l’chayim, Melech chafeitz bachayim, v’chotveinu b’sefer hachayim, l’ma’ancha Elohim chayim.” The melody for the “zochreinu” is typically considered by the congregation to be somewhat sacrosanct, despite the several different popular versions. In the following example, set by Max Janowski, the special text begins with a mysterious-sounding opening statement and rises to its highest note on the words, “Melech” (King), and “v’chotveinu” (and writes us). Thus musically, the melody highlights the supremacy of God and the urgency with which we pray to be written in the Book of Life, like our ancestors (LISTEN).
The following benediction, known as Gevurot, begins “Atah Gibor l’Olam, Adonai, m’chayei hakol atah rav l’hoshiah,” and often continues with an upbeat congregational tune for “m’chalkeil chayim b’chesed…” For the High Holy Days, that melody assumes a more solemn, though still rhythmic sound (LISTEN). The words “Mi chamocha” (who is like You?), which are always present in the Gevurot, are reiterated as part of the next High Holy Day insertion. Note the pleading nature the melody imparts on the word “rachamim” (compassion) in this next example written by Cantor Adolf Katchko. Following the brief insertion, the Gevurot reverts to its usual text, concluding the prayer with the very familiar High Holy Day theme: a descending minor triad (LISTEN).
Towards the end of the Amidah, in our prayer for peace, there is a lengthy, imploring insertion: “B’Sefer Chayim b’rachah v’shalom, u’farnasa tovah, nizacheir v’nikateiv l’fanecha anachnu v’chol amcha beit Yisrael l’chayim tovim ul’shalom.” (To borrow Dr. Richard Sarason’s translation: May we and all Your people the household of Israel be remembered and inscribed for a good life and wellbeing in the book of life, blessing, wellbeing, and prosperity.) Some settings weave this insertion seamlessly into the regular melody, while others highlight it with a complementary theme. Compare these two selections representing the composers’ choices, respectively: Ben Steinberg’s Shalom Rav (LISTEN), and Michael Isaacson’s Sim Shalom (LISTEN).
Like on other Holy Days, Rosh HaShanah’s Amidah omits thirteen petitionary prayers out of its possible nineteen, and replaces them with one prayer, Kedushat HaYom (The Holiness of This Day), which focuses on the special aspects of that day. The multi-part Kedushat HaYom joins the remaining six prayers, and will be the topic of next Thursday’s 10 Minutes of Torah as we continue to delve into the unique elements of the Rosh HaShanah Amidah.
Hayley Kobilinsky is Cantor of Congregation B’nai Yisrael of Armonk, NY, where she has served for the past eight years. Hayley is also an adjunct professor at the Hebrew Union College’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, and is President of Kol Hazzanim – Westchester Community of Cantors. Hayley recently began assisting in the coordination of Thursdays’ 10 Minutes of Torah.
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A Jew, a Unitarian Universalist and a Catholic answer questions about abortion. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but in fact, is an apt summary of a briefing for Capitol Hill staffers held earlier this week where RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser spoke. The briefing was entitled “Faith Support for Reproductive Health and Justice,” and featured speakers from RAC partners Catholics for Choice, National Council of Jewish Women, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Unitarian Universalist Association. Leaders from all of these communities spoke to recently hired Congressional office staff about ways in which the progressive faith community can participate in reproductive justice advocacy efforts, and why we – as people of faith – believe so strongly in a woman’s ability to make choices about her own body.
This is a mantra that is familiar to the RAC and RAC supporters. It seems like a no-brainer to us that Jewish tradition supports this crucial right to choose – we read it in texts such as Mishnah Ohaloth 7:6, which claims that a woman is forbidden from sacrificing her own life for that of the fetus, and if her life is threatened, she is allowed no other option but abortion. The Reform Movement has long advocated for reproductive justice, asserting that women are capable of making decisions about their own reproductive health.
However, this isn’t a message that always permeates public discourse or media coverage, making it all the more important that we keep letting people know that there IS a progressive faith voice that supports reproductive rights, from abortion access to comprehensive sex education to a budget free of restrictive financial policies. Tell your member of Congress that you support contraceptive access for all women – that you are a part of a religious community that believes in and will stand up for reproductive health and justice.
I belonged to a synagogue for twenty years. This year we made the decision not to rejoin. The reason? I was feeling less connected to a place that was putting control over choice. Concretely: Leadership would not permit the Shabbat morning prayer class I had attended for the past eight years to continue on a weekly basis. We could hold the class twice a month, but not every week.
Every Passover, Jews around the world gather at the Seder table to re-tell one of the greatest stories ever: the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. As much as we love tradition, this year we are giving the Seder ritual a new twist—and we want you to join us!
So, how will this Passover be different from all other Passovers?
by Annette Powers, Dana Stein and Jane Herman
Annette: Despite the drenching rain in New York City, it was standing room only at Town and Village Synagogue this morning, where hundreds gathered to daven Rosh Chodesh Nisan in solidarity with Women of the Wall’s mission for the rights of all people to pray freely at the Kotel. The crowd was a mix of men, women and children across the spectrum of Jewish denominations. There were students from day schools and youth groups, Jewish professionals and lay leaders, rabbis and cantors. Some women wore tallitot; some didn’t. Some women wore tefillin; some didn’t. Neither one’s Jewish background nor one’s level of observance mattered; everyone joined in song together, swayed together and prayed together for an end to the discrimination of non-Orthodox Jews in Israel. The feeling of this service, filled with joyous singing and inspiring speeches, was one of great fervor, pride, energy and solidarity.
Dana: Just as WRJ leaders joined hand-in-hand with Knesset members at the Women of the Wall event at the Western Wall in Israel today, so too did staff members of WRJ and URJ stand in solidarity with them at this energetic, meaningful gathering here in NYC. Participation in these events—as well as others in Cleveland, Washington, DC and on the campuses of Brandeis University and the University of Pennsylvania—symbolized the Reform Movement’s continued support for the rights of women around the world, especially in Israel, to pray where and how they wish. As we enter the Jewish month of Nisan and prepare for Passover, the celebration of our freedom from the bonds of slavery in Egypt, it’s important to remember that religious freedom is still in jeopardy in today’s world. We hope for a day when women in Israel can pray freely at the Western Wall without fear of retribution, and a day when women worldwide are granted the same religious freedoms as men.
Jane: Although many of us prayed from our own siddurim—Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal and others—sometimes making it a challenge to be on the right page, our voices were, nonetheless, united in song, and even in a few key pieces of liturgy—most notably the Hatzi Kaddish and the Torah service. Most of all, though, we are united in our belief that all of us should be able to pray in our own way at the Kotel—free from fear of arrest and detention should our “own way” include wearing a tallit, singing, or reading from the Torah. May our prayers for such a time be answered speedily and in our day.
Annette Powers is the Public Relations and Communications Manager at the URJ.
Dana Stein is the Manager of Marketing and Communications at WRJ.
Jane Herman is the Executive Writer and Editor at the URJ.
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My son Ariel and his girlfriend Michal announced their engagement last week. They do not want to be married by the Rabbinate, so like too many Israelis they will purchase two tickets to Cyprus and get a civil marriage at the Nicosia municipal hall. Upon their return we will hold a wedding here in Israel officiated by a Reform Rabbi, which, unlike their marriage in Cyprus, will not be recognized by the Israeli State.
As a mother and as a leader in the Reform Movement, I am fed up with this situation. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness that it is time to assert the right of all Israelis who live their life here to also get married here.
Lin Dror and her fiancé, members of a Reform synagogue in Mod’iin, have decided that they do not want to leave their country to marry. Next Thursday, March 21, 2013, they will marry on the steps of the Knesset in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon from Kehilat Yozma, and Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ).
When I asked Lin why she was taking this step to marry at the Knesset with Reform rabbis, her reasoning was clear. She said that she had grown up in the Movement. As a member of Kehilat Yozma, Kinneret Shiryon is her rabbi and she does not want this important moment in her life to be shared with a rabbi she doesn’t know and who doesn’t mean anything to her. She is a Reform Jew and she feels it is her choice and her right to be married in her own country in a way that is meaningful to her.
IRAC and the IMPJ have been fighting for years to change the status quo on marriage and divorce. At every turn, we are blocked by governments who refuse to engage in serious debate on this issue. We have no choice but to place this issue at their feet and force them to see how their political intransigence is affecting the lives of so many Israelis.
Couples such as my son and Michal, and Lin and her partner, should be able to have their union sanctified in the way that means the most to them in their own community, the Israeli Reform community.
Image courtesy of The Jerusalem Post.
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By Kenny Goszman, NFTY-STR Programming Vice President
Walking into PARTY’s BART Shabbat event last Friday, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know, I was about to witness the coming-together of seven Broward Country reform congregations in food, in song, in prayer, and in welcoming a very special guest.
The night began with a youth group dinner, where the TYG’s from each of the seven congregations that make up BART, or the Broward County Area Reform Temples, all joined for a delicious meal. This was an awesome reunion with NFTY friends, some of whom I saw last week at NFTY Convention in LA, but also some that I hadn’t seen since Winter Regional in December.
Following the meal, we filed into the large sanctuary with the congregants from the seven Broward congregations where we sang and prayed. It was a true honor to see rabbis and cantors from seven different temples collaborating and producing wonderful music and prayer experiences for us all. The NFT Y section in the back corner of the sanctuary cheered on as current T YG Presidents Brandon Marks, Matt Kessler, Avi Matarasso, and Hanna Santo were called up to the bimah to light the Shabbat candles and lead the congregation in the kiddush.
Later on came the moment we had all been waiting for—the guest of honor at this BART Shabbat, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, came forth and spoke to us all. Beyond his great Jewish wisdom and his remarkable sense of humor, Rabbi Jacobs made some extremely important points that set a direction for Reform Judaism:
- We must continue to be accepting and open-minded of others who may want to join our community
- We must strive for greater engagement, especially for youth, through creative means
- We must unify and work tirelessly for peace, and reach out to government officials about issues such as gun control reform
- We must work together to ensure the growth and viability of Reform Judaism everywhere
After the service, both the NFTY group and Rabbi Jacobs stayed behind for a bit so that we could present him with a small gift to show our appreciation for him (he loved his new NFTY-STR travel mug!). We took a few pictures together and he told us that we are the future leaders of Reform Judaism and that it is we who will carry the Reform movement in years to come.
That is a lot on our plates, NFTY-STR, but I know we can do it. Are you ready?
Jews young and old are searching for innovative and contemporary ways to explore their heritage. Reform congregations have been experimenting with different liturgical melodies for years, and urban minyanim experiences like the Riverway Project in Boston are fostering new and dynamic worship and learning experiences.
WAREHOUSE ATX, March 15th at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX, is an alternative Shabbat experience using music and new media produced by ROI Community member Josh Nelson in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism. The Warehouse seeks to reengage young Jews by hosting Shabbat events in unconventional spaces.
WAREHOUSE ATX marks the latest in a concerted effort to expand our reach to those Jews with whom traditional community experiences do not resonate, but to whom the values of Reform Judaism – diversity, equality and modernity – are a strong contemporary spiritual framework.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has been responding to these trends with visionary initiatives, such as the Movement-wide B’nai Mitzvah Revolution (an effort aimed at reimagining the rite of passage for 21st century Jewish engagement) and “communities of practice,” congregational networking groups devoted to experimenting with new models for synagogue financing, early childhood engagement and more.
Building Jewish community at events such as SXSW—a “unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies,” according to its website, that draws tens of thousands of attendees—is a natural fit for a partnership between the ROI Community and the Reform Movement. As an international network of more than 800 activists and change makers in 50 countries who are redefining Jewish engagement, ROI Community is helping to build Jewish identity and community. Likewise, the Reform Movement provides a living Jewish experience for a diverse and vibrant community. Together, this confluence sparks opportunities for Jewish peoplehood for the future, and builds bridges to Jews at SXSW who might not otherwise have had a taste of modern Reform Judaism.
Remixing traditional community experiences at SXSW among creative professionals is the ideal incubator for innovation in Jewish life. Indeed, where better to experiment with new ideas and forge new connections than at a cutting-edge arts festival, chock full of young, modern Jews devoted to personal and professional creativity? If you’re at SXSW – be sure to drop by WAREHOUSE ATX.
by Zachary Rolf
You can teach kids from books, show them documentaries, bring in guest speakers, and so on, and so on. But the learning – the real life learning – that takes place when you put a group of kids together in (supervised/controlled) intense immersion-like programming is unmatched. We know how tremendously impactful Jewish summer camps are. As Jewish professionals, it’s on us to create experiences like that year-round.
Two years ago, 20 teens from Central Synagogue in Manhattan explored the streets of Prague. Last year, 30 discovered Berlin. This year, 38 teens traveled with us to Amsterdam in mid-February. The letter below is an excerpt of one posted to our youth programming blog and sent to the parents of the young travelers. (You can cruise through the rest of the blog to see photos and read reactions from the students themselves.) You just can’t make this stuff up. What happens on these trips in terms of students’ connection to Judaism is nothing short of magical.
When we dream up these study trips, we have incredibly lofty goals for what we hope to accomplish. In a period of 4 days in a foreign city, we hope that the students:
- Learn about the city we are visiting.
- Connect to the Jewish history and community.
- Form a cohesive group, made up of students in 10-12th grade, in order to process the experiences in a safe/nurturing environment.
- Take something home with them. We want them to use the city, which is on another continent, to help them find something new about their own Jewish identity that will then have an impact on how they experience Judaism back home.
All in four days…
Whether on our blog, on Facebook, or on Instagram, you have seen our pictures. You can see what we saw. Our itinerary shows you where we went on a given day. Through the daily blog postings, you are able to take a peek into the mind of an emerging Jewish adolescent who is processing profound experiences in real time with his/her peers — sharing their views throughout it all.
But you are not able to feel the atmosphere that exists within this group — the safety they all feel, obviously in terms of their physical safety, but also their emotional and spiritual safety. The thoughts, laughs, and tears that were shared have brought this group to a new level. Yes, in just four (very full) days.
I am excited for your kids to return to you tomorrow so that you’ll be able to feel it. You undoubtedly will. Ask them to share stories: what they ate, who they got to know better, how XYZ made them feel, what they were surprised by, etc. Ask them about the fire alarm in our hotel and watch their faces for a reaction. Ask them about how challenging it was for a group of 43 people to cross the streets while trying to avoid cars, trams, and bikes! Ask them about Havdalah in the park, or about singing Hashkiveinu at night in the dining room of our hotel. Ask them everything, and I promise you will be able to see, hear, and feel the impact that these students are capable of making on one another.
On behalf of everyone at Central Synagogue, I want to thank you for everything you do to help them to not forget this feeling or this experience.
Zachary Rolf is the director of youth engagement & outreach at Central Synagogue in New York City.
By Rabbi Edwin Goldberg
The Amidah for the High Holy Days features thematic additions for the Days of Awe. One significant addition on Rosh Hashanah is “M’loch” – a prayer that celebrates the coronation of God as the Ultimate Ruler. On Yom Kippur, a similarly sounding prayer is added in its place, “M’chol,” – a request for forgiveness from God. The Rosh Hashanah addition reflects the fundamental theme of God as universal Creator and Ruler. The addition in Yom Kippur mirrors the basic theme of God’s forgiveness. In creating a new machzor for the Reform Movement the editorial committee has explored alternative themes, parallel to the notions of sovereignty and divine forgiveness.
For instance, in addition to the traditional M’loch the pilot copy of Rosh Hashanah morning includes a setting from the first chapter of Isaiah, including:
Hear the word of the Eternal,
you chieftains of Sodom;
give ear to God’s instruction,
you folk of Gomorrah!
“What need have I of all your sacrifices?”
“I am sated with the burnt offerings of rams,
and suet of fatlings,
and blood of bulls;
and I have no delight
in lambs and he-goats. . . .
They are become a burden to Me,
I cannot endure them.
And when you lift up your hands,
I will turn My eyes away from you;
though you pray at length,
I will not listen.
Your hands are stained with crime —
wash yourselves clean;
Put your evil doings
away from My sight.
Cease to do evil;
learn to do good.
Devote yourselves to justice;
defend the oppressed.
Uphold the rights of the orphan;
plead the cause of the widow.
As the note in the pilot copy points out, the Book of Isaiah emphasizes the imperative of creating an ethical society among the people Israel. Sacrificial offerings on the altar, says the prophet, are meaningless in the absence of moral behavior; interpersonal morality is the most direct form of service to God. Our Rosh HaShanah liturgy includes Isaiah’s teaching that justice is directly linked to God: “The Source of all might is exalted through justice, the God of holiness made holy through righteousness.” It is through our own moral behavior, then, that we may come closer to the Divine. In other words, it is only through our moral behavior that God’s sovereignty can be realized.
In Yom Kippur, opposite the prayer that requests from God forgiveness we offer a poem from the late poet Ruth Brin, entitled “Discovery”:
No one ever told me the coming of the Messiah
Could be an inward thing;
No one ever told me a change of heart
Might be as quiet as new-fallen snow.
No one ever told me that redemption
Was as simple as springtime and as wonderful
As birds returning after a long winter,
Rose-breasted grosbeaks singing in the swaying branches
Of a newly budded tree.
No one ever told me that salvation
Might be like a fresh spring wind
Blowing away the dried withered leaves of another year,
Carrying the scent of flowers, the promise of fruition.
What I found for myself I try to tell you:
Redemption and salvation are very near,
And the taste of them is in the world
That God created and laid before us.
Our intent in sharing this piece was to remind us of our responsibility when seeking forgiveness to uphold our responsibility in making ourselves better. Forgiveness is not passive. Even from God. It asks the best of us too.
Moving forward with the machzor, it is hoped that the alternative additions, complementary to the traditional texts, will expand our High Holy day experience. It is nice to know that, as worshipers of the Infinite God, there are countless ways to deepen our relationship to the machzor and to God.
Rabbi Edwin Goldberg has served as the senior rabbi of Temple Judea in Coral Gables since 1996. In July he will begin serving as the senior rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago. He is the coordinating editor of the forthcoming CCAR Machzor and is the author of five books. His newest book is, Saying No and Letting Go: Jewish Wisdom on Making Room for What Matters Most.
This was originally published in the New York Jewish Week’s blog, “The New Normal,” on March 4th.
In Berachot (34b), the Talmud teaches that a synagogue must be built with windows in the sanctuary. I believe this is so we can see who is outside and unable to join us. As Jews, we have to maintain “mental windows” everywhere so that we understand that those whom we refer to as “shut-ins” are not shut-in. They are cruelly shut out of the life many of us take for granted.
We have to begin by helping our larger communities understand that we Jews have to change our attitudes. There is a saying in the disability community that goes, “Before ramping buildings, you’ve got to ramp attitudes.”
In Genesis, God first creates containers — that is, land, sky and water. Then God fills those containers with animals, heavenly bodies and fish. After that God creates Adam and Eve.
For those of us in the disability community, it is important to understand Adam and Eve’s bodies as “containers” themselves. For we are taught in Pirke Avot, “Do not look at the container, but rather look at what is inside of it.” (4:27)
We must recognize all people, including people with disabilities, as people first. We must look beyond the disability – beyond the “container” — and see the person within, the person with often unacknowledged, and therefore, untapped potential.
Rabbi Lynne Landsberg is the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s senior adviser on disability issues, co-chair of the Jewish Disability Network and co-chair of the Committee on Disability Awareness and Inclusion of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
by Cantor Rosalie Boxt
Man, I’ve been talking a lot. Hours and hours! More than usual, even (In grade school, I was called Ms. Butt-insky for chatting so much.) I don’t love talking on the phone and do not keep up by phone with as many friends as I should, but in the past three weeks, I’ve had a dozen or more hours of conversations, and all about the same thing: prayer and worship. In all aspects of my life these days, I’m talking to people about what makes “good worship” – at a cantors’ convention, at Reform Movement events, and in my synagogue. I’m even consulting some communities about music and worship, repertoire, and meaningful prayer.
I find the worship question (and it is a question, isn’t it?) being asked everywhere in my own life. “How can I teach cantorial students about worship?” “What is the cantorate’s contribution to worship in congregations?” “What does our community (in my case, primarily the Reform Movement) want and need to create ‘good worship’?” What I have learned in these hours of newfound conversation is that the path to “worship that works,” regardless of the community, is about the questions we ask, not about the answers we give – or even seek, for that matter. I get questions about what is new, what are the best trends, and what a community/clergy/group should know in order to add to or enhance their own worship.
I could (and often do) provide a long list of ideas, including tunes, tricks, and tools. They are valid, valuable, perhaps even useful. But when these congregations and leaders call me looking for music or resources, I find that is rarely the only thing I offer in response.
“For what?” I ask. “For whom? And why?” I could randomly throw darts at the problems people identify and want to solve, and hope one works, or I can have a bigger, broader, more important and meaningful conversation with people about the values of their community – a conversation that starts with questions, not answers. There is a meta-communication, Rabbi Larry Hoffman teaches, in all the unspoken communication of a community, of a space. What does your community feel about prayer? About God? What are the clergy’s expectations about prayer? The community’s? And in many of my conversations, I learn that these open discussions in congregations or among clergy happen far too rarely. So I’m talking. A lot.
Don’t get me wrong: I love to pray – to try to pray – as well. I love being a part of – as a congregant or shaliach (leader) – the worship experience, and striving for it to be not necessarily “good” (for what is “good” worship?) but good for something. What that “something” is depends entirely on each individual community, group, leader and participant.
But the talking has to happen before the doing. Truth be told, not only am I doing a lot of talking, but I am encouraging those who ask, to get talking themselves. I hope that they, as I am, do a lot of listening, as well.
I do love to talk – about worship most of all – and I hope to do much more of it. But I’m finding that asking questions and getting others to talk may be even more worthwhile.
Cantor Rosalie Boxt is a member of the URJ Faculty of Expert Practitioners, the cantor of Temple Emanuel in Kensington, MD, and Director of Worship for the 2013 URJ Biennial.
In response to Congress’ failure to reach a budget agreement and the triggering of sequestration, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“Today, as the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration begin, we are concerned greatly about the impact of the cuts on struggling Americans still recovering from the effects of the long lasting recession. Sequestration protects several vital safety net programs from harmful cuts, including Medicaid, Social Security and SNAP. Yet, the blunt across-the-board budget cuts will impact the Women, Infants and Children food program, benefits to the long term unemployed and housing vouchers, among many other areas supporting people in need. According to the Coalition on Human Needs, not only could 70,000 children be denied Head Start and 4 million fewer meals on wheels served to seniors, but 700,000 jobs may be lost. Every one of these numbers represents human beings, our fellow Americans. And why? That 600,000 mothers and young children may lose WIC nutrition aid just because of the stubbornness of Congress to act is nothing short of a national tragedy. Indiscriminate, broad-based and harmful budget cutting is not a sensible way to make policy, and the cuts set in motion today will, sadly, not only hurt struggling American families but may damage the economy writ large.
The Jewish value of tzedakah encompasses much more than just charity to the poor; it commands justice, righteousness and responsibility. In these difficult economic times, Congress must take responsibility and take action. As budget discussions continue in the shadow of the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution, there are tough choices to be made. But these choices must not increase poverty or inequality for Americans.”
by Rob Kern
The Shalom TV Channel is premiering a new series that features meetings with some of Israel’s most fascinating and articulate individuals, representing a variety of viewpoints and perspectives in Israeli life.
Titled “Voices Of Israel,” the first meeting is with Anat Hoffman, who is executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel and also known to American Jews as the founder of Women Of The Wall, a group of women from every movement of Judaism who seek the right to pray at the women’s section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem in a pluralistic fashion (e.g. wearing tallitot and reading from the Torah).
In a delightful hour of insight and humor, Anat speaks with Shalom TV president Mark S. Golub about her own background (born in Israel, she became Israel’s swimming champion, which won her a scholarship to study at the University of California at Berkeley), how she became involved in the world of social protest, and how she views ultra-Orthodox control of aspects of Israeli life as a challenge to society.
All of the meetings for the series “Voices of Israel” were taped in Israel before a live audience of American Jews who accompanied Rabbi Golub on a Shalom TV mission to Israel.
To see if your cable provider has Shalom TV and for the channel number, search your zip code on this website. Shalom TV may also be viewed “live”on Roku and online on computer, mobile devices and tablets by visiting a special site.
Rob Kern is the director of communications for ARZA.