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Updated: 1 hour 23 min ago

‘Mad Man’ on the Movie Set

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 06:00

Matthew Weiner, director of the TV hit “Mad Men”, got the inspiration for his first feature film, “Are You Here” from his seven-year-old son — when he bit into a chicken leg.

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Hamptons Synagogue Raises $1 Million For Israel in One Night

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 12:09

Congregants at a synagogue in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island pledged more than $1 million at a fundraiser for Israel.

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Hamptons synagogue raises $1 million for Israel in one night

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:27

(JTA) — Congregants at a synagogue in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island pledged more than $1 million at a fundraiser for Israel.

The money raised at the Aug. 9 gathering following Shabbat at The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach will go to the UJA-Federation of New York’s Israel Emergency Fund, which assists organizations that provide medical treatment and economic support for Israelis in the wake of conflict.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude and pride over the show of support by our congregation, that realizes the depths of the trauma — of the pain and suffering of Israelis — and reached deep to help however they could during this tragic and terrible crisis,” the synagogue’s rabbi, Marc Schneier, said in a news release.



Two Lawsuits Target Embattled Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto and Top Aide

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 06:00

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, one of Israel’s most powerful rabbis, and his senior aide are the target of two separate lawsuits in a New York court.

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Mourner's Car Vandalized At Miami Memorial For Slain Rabbi

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 15:11

A mourner attending a memorial service in North Miami Beach, Fla., for murdered rabbi Joseph Raksin had his car defaced with anti-Semitic symbols.

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Car vandalized with swastika at murdered rabbi’s Fla. memorial

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:07

 (JTA) — A mourner attending a memorial service in North Miami Beach, Fla., for murdered rabbi Joseph Raksin had his car defaced with anti-Semitic symbols.

A swastika and Iron Cross were etched Sunday on a BMW owned by the mourner, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. The Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating the vandalism.

The service at the Bais Menachem Chabad synagogue was held a day after Raksin was shot and killed while was on his way to Sabbath morning services there. Raksin, 60, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was in south Florida visiting his daughter and her family.

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn for the funeral procession for Raksin, a father of six who was a leader in the Orthodox community. His hearse passed Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters there.

At a news conference on the same day, Police Chief Alfredo Ramirez said his department is “utilizing all its resources to apprehend the perpetrators” in the shooting, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Police said they were looking for two men who walked away after shooting Raksin. One who was wearing a yellow shirt; the other had on an orange shirt.

Maj. Hector Llevat of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Homicide Bureau said the investigation is in its preliminary stages and the motive is unknown.

“Right now there are no indications it’s a hate crime or related to a hate crime,” Llevat said. “However, we’re not closing that door and we’re not ruling anything out.”

Members of Raksin’s family have said they believe the murder was a hate crime.

Miami’s Jewish community is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Raksin’s assailants, 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.



A Peach of a Synagogue

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 06:00

You might not think of a nearly 300-year-old Sephardic synagogue as the top tourist destination in a state. Unless you’re talking about Georgia and Savannah’s Mickve Israel, that is.

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Professor Irwin Corey, 'World's Foremost Authority,' Going Strong at 100

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 06:00

Irwin Corey once said that if a man lives to be 100, he has the right to recite a limerick about farting at his birthday party — even if it’s inside a synagogue. And that’s what he did.

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A Jewish Junta

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 05:00

By Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Who recruited you into NFTY?

Who invited you to your first event?

Who tapped you on the shoulder, and suggested you should become involved in a Jewish youth group?

I remember them. They called themselves “The Junta.” Sometimes they were referred to as a “gang of four.” They were the four high school seniors who were the founders of the Village Temple Youth Group back in 1983. To those of us who were younger, they were the coolest kids you could imagine. And because of their efforts, an entire generation of Jewish teens found a home in Jewish life.

My older brother, Ben, was a member of “The Junta.” He and his friends were approached by the NFTY regional board (OK, for those who remember it was called CRaFTY – a great name that stands for City Region, a Federation of Temple Youth; great because it assumed everyone knew which city!). They were asked to start a TYG (Temple Youth Group) at their congregation, which to our knowledge had not had one during their 35-year history. And so “The Junta” was born. They called themselves that so they would all share leadership equally.

Ben and his friends worked with our temple’s rabbi and adult leadership to hire a part-time advisor. They attended leadership trainings run by the NFTY region. They organized events and activities. But the most important, visionary thing that they did was to invest in a group of younger teens — including me. They knew that all of their efforts would only be sustainable if they developed a cadre of younger teens to share their passion, vision, and excitement about building a vibrant, Jewish youth community. They had great programs, but at the same time, they all knew that it wasn’t about the programs — it was about building relationships. In retrospect, I think it’s remarkable that those teenage leaders weren’t limited by their own self interest. As much as they wanted to build a community for themselves, they cared about the next wave of teens; and I think they cared about the waves and waves of teens who would follow.

Their great insight is applicable today: teens still have a critical role in sustainable, growing youth engagement through mentoring. Many Jewish young people can name the older teen who invited them to their first event, recruited them into leadership, and guided them as they grew as leaders. We know that adults have a critical role to play in Jewish youth engagement, and we need to invest in youth workers, rabbis, and educators; but we also know that teen mentors have a critical role to play. And the earlier we can encourage 11th and 12th graders to convince their younger peers to get involved, the better.

Across North America, NFTY is launching NFTY6, an effort to recruit and engage sixth graders to participate in the kind of fun, exciting Jewish programming that will hook them for life. This strategy is critical, because it reaches teenagers before they become b’nai mitzvah, when they are still involved in congregational life, and before the dangerous time when so many young people drop out. The key to the strategy is the role older teens play — reaching out and tapping younger peers on the shoulder and inviting them personally to programs — modelling Jewish engagement for them.

We hope that as NFTY focuses on 6th through 8th graders, leveraging the creative energy of older teens, congregations across North America will make the same decision. Building on the robust madrichim programs run by many synagogues, one way to keep 11th and 12th graders fully engaged is by having them mentor younger teens. This strategy is a win-win, as it reaches both populations.

I am still grateful to the Village Temple Youth Group “Junta” for mentoring me and my friends. Especially since many of us were the annoying, younger siblings, their commitment to us was really remarkable. Let’s encourage all of our younger teens to make the same investment in the future.

Rabbi Jonah Pesneris the senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism . Named one of the most influential rabbis in America, he has been an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.

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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