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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.

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Lincoln Center To Rename Hall for David Geffen

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 14:37

New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts will rename its Avery Fisher Hall for music mogul David Geffen, who has made a $100 million gift to help with its renovation, officials said on Wednesday.

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21 Lost Latvia Synagogues Recreated as Scale Models

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 11:56

Decades after their destruction by the Nazis, Latvia’s lost synagogues have been recreated in detailed model form as part of efforts to recapture and document the once-rich Jewish life in the Baltic country.

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Italy Celebrates Reopening of 13th-Century Synagogue

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 05:34

The Italian city of Trani celebrated the reopening of the medieval Scolanova Synagogue.

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Secret Jewish History of Temple Beth Shalom

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:14

Temple Beth Shalom is one of Boca’s most popular bridge venues. But few who cruise past to get a nosh at Izzy’s Deli realize that there’s some Yiddish in Temple Beth Shalom’s own bloodlines.

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Yehuda Glick Gets Green Light To Pray on Temple Mount

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:11

Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was wrongfully prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount for two years, an Israeli court found.

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Rabinnic and Legal Groups Partner to Prevent Agunot

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:28

A Religious Zionist rabbinic organization in Israel has launched a new prenuptial agreement to help ensure that divorcing wives will receive a religious divorce, or get.

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On 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the RAC Talks Civil Rights

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 10:00

As the newly appointed director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, I am inspired by the storied history of our role in the critical social justice battles of our time. In fact, the RAC was founded at the height of the Civil Rights Movement to provide an outlet for Reform Jews to express their deep commitment to equality and justice in our society.

Next weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, which was one in a series of Selma-to-Montgomery marches demanding voting rights for African-Americans. Like Reform Jews 50 years ago, my colleagues and I will be in Selma – alongside President Barack Obama, Rep. John Lewis, a number of congregational and community leaders and civil rights activists.

How can you participate?

  • I urge you and your families to join us on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30pm EST, for a special webinar featuring Julian Bond, Al Vorspan, Rabbi Joshua Caruso, and others who will share their experiences fighting for racial and economic justice and their insights on the work ahead of us.
  • Choose from one of these two prayers your family or congregation can use to honor this anniversary.
  • If you can be in the area, I hope you will join the Jewish community in Selma at Temple Mishkan Israel, on Sunday, March 8, and march with us behind the RAC banner.

The Jewish call to care for the most marginalized in our society has led us to engage deeply in the fight against economic inequality on a state, federal and international level.

This work will continue at the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience, April 26-28th, 2015 in Washington. You can register here or follow along online. I am honored that this program will include a tribute to Rabbi David Saperstein’s 40 years of moral leadership and my formal installation as director of the RAC. Among our esteemed speakers will be former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Rabbi Denise Eger, president-elect of the CCAR.

The Consultation will be an opportunity for our Movement to come together, and for us to mobilize around the following exciting priorities:

As we continue to forge the path of tikkun olam, we are connecting the teachings of our tradition to the greatest struggles for justice in our world today. When we march arm-in-arm in Selma, we know that each step takes us closer to a world of justice, wholeness and compassion

Rabbi Barry Freundel Quits Post at Towson University

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 12:59

Rabbi Barry Freundel, who pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges, has resigned as a professor at Towson University in Maryland.

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Elements Theatre Company Brings "Pound of Flesh" Touring...

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 21:20

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...

(PRWeb January 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12483603.htm

'MikiLeaks' Reveals New NSA Spying Scandal

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 17:00

BACKWARD: Rabbi Barry Freundel, who has pled guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism, has revealed that he was recruited as part of a government surveillance program called ‘MikiLeaks.’

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Rabbi Freundel’s 8 Reasons There Should Be an Alarm Clock in The Mikveh

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 17:00

BACKWARD: Rabbi Freundel’s 8 reasons there should be an alarm clock in the mikveh.

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We’re Youth Educators, Not Youth Workers

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:58

by Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman

What went on at the Youth Summit? Yes, learning. Yes, networking. Yes, collaboration. But so much more. Experimentation. Visioning. Celebration. Inspiration. In addition to watching NFTY teens celebrate and pray together, we too needed this opportunity to join as a community.

I had the honor to co-lead a learning session block. My title, “Moving from Youth Worker to Youth Educator,” implies that we do more than just “work.” Language is a powerful tool that frames who we are and what we do. By shifting our language to be seen as people who educate youth, not just work with them, we have the opportunity to be taken more seriously amongst our colleagues and lay partners.  However, this alone does not shift the paradigm.  It needs to be backed with a knowledge of the literature being written about experiential education and the conversations happening of what is changing in the field.

Additionally, to be truly seen as an educator, one must create an educational vision outlining clear statements reflecting our values–of the congregation, the youth group, and one’s self. Youth educators have a passion and mission to educate the teens with whom we work; we help to shape youths’ Jewish identity in a communal environment. Through the development of this vision we can ensure we are meeting our learner-based goals in an experiential setting.

Colleagues at the Youth Summit also focused on teaching important topics around issues of inclusion, moving towards experiential Jewish learning, making a difference as a mentor, and managing organizational dynamics.  I have returned home re-energized, and armed with more ideas for the work I do in my congregation.

If you missed the conversation visit the hashtag #nftyys on Facebook and Twitter to read the snippets. Join The Tent discussion groups to read the notes, and watch the videos of the live-stream sessions. Just because we have returned home doesn’t mean the conversation needs to end, or that you need to be left out.  I for one, know that I can’t wait to put it all of my learning into action!

Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland, FL and the President of RYPA, the Reform Youth Professionals Association. 

Anne Frank Replica House Teaches Holocaust Lesson

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 07:43

The Netherlands’ education minister attended the first lesson in a program which teaches school children about the Holocaust in a replica of the house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

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Cheating Hasids Out of a Future

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 06:00

A lawsuit in Canada offers a blueprint to reforming the substandard education provided in Hasidic communities. It holds the government accountable for allowing the outrage.

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Education, Action, and Advocacy at NFTY Convention 2015!

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 18:00

Last week I joined the Religious Action Center’s programming team at NFTY Convention 2015 in Atlanta, GA to help lead a social justice track.

The students in our track participated in two days of activities, first together focusing broadly on the impact of combining education, action, and advocacy in a campaign, and then splitting up to more intensively study Jewish values and political realities of the fight for funding anti-Malaria nets in Africa, economic inequality in the United States and the obstacles facing people around the world in both adapting to and mitigating the causes of climate change. The teens in our programs grappled with the relationship between Jewish text and contemporary political issues and learned about vulnerable communities both abroad and in North America. Finally, they were asked to propose, if not solutions, than at least plans, to raise awareness, take action around and advocate for change on one of the three issues that we had discussed.

We speak often of the importance of passing down our tradition l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation. When we talk about climate change we restate that cornerstone of our values in relation to passing down a heritable earth in the face of climate disruption and environmental degradation. This is the generation that has been shown time and again to care the most about climate change, according to studies, in large part because they will be the most effected by rising ocean levels, increased droughts and decreased biodiversity. During the NFTY social justice track we were able to both pass down our Jewish tradition and our legacy of environmental advocacy to a group of passionate high school students enthusiastic about making a difference for their generation.

In this way, our work with teens is some of the most important work we do at the RAC. While our coalitions, our visits to congressional offices and briefings are incredibly important here in Washington, D.C. to directly effecting a specific piece of legislation, it’s our face-to-face moments, our discussion groups and high school programs that have the most visible impact on the people in our Movement. These teens are the people that will ensure – in their communities, their high schools, colleges and into their adult lives—that the Jewish obligations to pursue justice and care for our earth are carried forward.

If you’re interested in using one of the programs we ran during NFTY Convention in your community, check out rac.org/nfty for the materials we used.

New York City Changes Policy on Controversial Circumcision Rite

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:00

New York City mohels suspected of infecting babies with herpes during a controversial circumcision rite will have to undergo DNA testing, according to a tentative agreement announced today between the city and ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

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The Joy of Generational Leadership

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 13:57

by Dr. Madelyn Mishkin Katz

It’s the summer of 1983. I’m a 28-year-old student at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) preparing for a career in Jewish education, and spending my summer on staff at URJ Camp Swig (presently URJ Camp Newman) in Saratoga, California.

I had an experience, the power of which remains with me to this day. Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (the former name of the URJ) came to camp. He and I co-led a program in the then newly dedicated Holocaust Memorial. Needless to say, I offered to let him lead the program on his own, as he was – well, he was the leading figure of American Jewry at the time– but he insisted that we do it together. Rabbi Schindler, this wise, insightful, compassionate rabbinic leader – and me, this relatively new Jewish educational leader — led the program together. He could easily have done this on his own but he made room for me, sending the message to all that there was immense power in this shared, generational leadership. I never forgot that moment.

Fast-forward to NFTY Convention and the Youth Summit nearly 32 years later. Once again I am co-leading an important program on adaptive leadership with another wise, insightful, and compassionate (maybe someday rabbinic!) leader – Evan Traylor – who is a past president of NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement; in fact, he conceived the program idea. When I read his proposal for the program on Adaptive Leadership – a key topic in my leadership course for rabbinic students – I asked him if I could co-teach it with him at the Youth Summit.  As he and I stood together, teaching this past Shabbat in Atlanta, I was reminded of my experience with Rabbi Schindler. Our leadership – in 1983 and this past weekend – was seamless, despite the age gaps and the very distinct differences in our life experience and professional circumstances.

What joyous experiences in generational leadership with Rabbi Schindler and Evan Traylor. These unique, extremely meaningful opportunities are far and few between. It’s at places like the Youth Summit where possibilities like this are endless and plentiful.


Dr. Madelyn Mishkin Katz is the Associate Dean at HUC-JIR-Los Angeles

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Kisses Ring of Skver Rebbe David Twersky

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 11:58

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio appeared to literally kiss the hand of a controversial Hasidic leader last night at the rabbi’s son’s wedding in upstate New York.

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Copenhagen Rejects Muslim 'Peace Ring' at Terror Synagogue

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 07:39

Copenhagen police denied a request by Danish Muslims to create a peace ring around a city synagogue that came under a deadly attack.

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