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Op-Ed: To keep Jewish professionals, let them go

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 15:00

Companies like LinkedIn offer great models for how the Jewish community can benefit from the transient nature of employment.

(JTA) — I recently attended a farewell party for someone switching jobs from one Jewish organization to another. Among many accolades, one person giving a toast said, “While we are sorry to lose him, at least he is still committed to working in the Jewish world.”

While I appreciate this sentiment — and believe the Jewish community stands to benefit from this person’s many talents — it points to a common assumption that Jewish professionals should hold lifelong employment in the Jewish sector. Yet for the next generation of professionals, signs suggest it won’t be the case.

Data consistently show that employees spend less time in any given position, changing jobs every three to five years, with over 40 percent of those changes to completely different sectors. The rates are even higher for younger talent.

After years of work and research in talent development in and out of the Jewish community, I have come to realize that we can leverage how people actually build their careers in order to strengthen the Jewish professional sector and continue to grow the quantity and quality of our talent.

It starts with embracing the concept of permeability. We talk today about working in the “Jewish world” as if it is an independent celestial body full of J-infused acronyms, hard-to-penetrate borders and scorn if you consider leaving. As a result, great people who don’t see a permanent place for themselves in the sector are inclined to leave and never return, while others don’t even consider becoming Jewish professionals in the first place.

In reality, the Jewish sector could be just as fluid and dynamic as some of the most competitive sectors in the world.

Take the high-tech sector, for example. Companies like LinkedIn offer great models for how to navigate and ultimately benefit from the transient nature of employment. LinkedIn’s approach is explained in “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age,” a book written by its chairman, Reid Hoffman, along with Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh.

The professional networking platform hires people for “tours of duty” — two- to 10-year engagements with specific missions that meet company objectives and the employee’s personal development goals. Employees talk openly with their managers about leaving to do tours at other companies, but many also talk about coming back to LinkedIn when their needs align in the future.

This example shows that in order to fully leverage our porous structure, we need to communicate our understanding of our own permeability.

Indeed, instead of battening down the hatches, clinging to our employees and turning our backs to “outsiders,” we should send the message that while you are working in a Jewish organization, however long that may be, you will have an unparalleled opportunity to learn, grow and lay the groundwork for the career you envision.

Moving forward requires structural changes that embrace flexibility and promote the opportunities inherent in our sector. It requires ongoing and open conversations with rising talent about where they will go, and it requires us talking about the valuable skills and networks one can build working in Jewish organizational life.

Moreover, instead of denigrating people who choose to switch from the Jewish sector to a secular job, it means that we celebrate the fact that a non-Jewish organization recognizes the value of the skills gained in this sector.

It means that even as we bid farewell to staff members, we continue meaningful relationships with them, helping them find new opportunities, engaging their help in recruiting for our organizations, inspiring them and helping them to become key lay leaders for Jewish organizations. And finally, it means that we welcome those whose previous work experience is from outside the Jewish community.

By empowering individuals to spend a few years in the Jewish community building skills and networks, enhancing their professional and personal trajectories, and investing in a long-term relationship with them, we will attract and retain better talent to do this holy work.

Indeed, the more open and supportive the Jewish community becomes of individuals who embody the practice of moving between jobs and sectors, we will actually — perhaps counter-intuitively — create a more durable and attractive sector.

(Adam Simon is the director of Leadership Initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.)

Do's and Don'ts of Going to Synagogue Only on High Holidays

Sat, 09/20/2014 - 18:00

For every Jew who goes to synagogue only on the High Holidays, there’s a rabbi keenly aware of that fact. Sometimes even ‘stressed’ and ‘frustrated’ over that fact.

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Beit T’Shuvah

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:02

The Jewish High Holidays begin at sundown on Wednesday, September 24. Rabbi Mark Borovitz, spiritual leader of residential treatment center Beit T’Shuvah, the House of Return, in Los Angeles, speaks about this period of reflection and prayer. A former addict who spent time in prison, Borovitz sees addiction as a spiritual illness and the act of repenting, or doing teshuvah, as central to the recovery process.

The post Beit T’Shuvah appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

French Man Gets $1,300 Fine for Doing Quenelle

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:34

A tribunal fined and handed a suspended sentence to a man who made the quenelle gesture in front of a French synagogue’s Holocaust memorial plaque.

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French man gets suspended sentence for quenelle at synagogue

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 07:49

(JTA) — A tribunal fined and handed a suspended sentence to a man who made the quenelle gesture in front of a French synagogue’s Holocaust memorial plaque.

The Correctional Tribunal of Colmar in northeastern France last week sentenced the 42-year-old man, who was not named in media reports, to three months in jail, to become effective if he is convicted of a similar offense. He was also made to pay $1,300, the L’Alsace daily reported.

The defendant posted on social networks a picture of himself posing with his son while making the quenelle in front of a commemorative plaque for Jewish victims of the Holocaust located at the entrance to the synagogue of Colmar.

The quenelle, folding one arm over one’s chest while pointing downward with the other arm, is identified with the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who has several convictions for inciting hatred against Jews.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the quenelle “an anti-Semitic gesture of hate” and Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish communities, said it was an “inverted Nazi salute,” though he added it carried an anti-Semitic message only when performed in a Jewish context.

Dieudonné maintains the quenelle is a gesture of defiance against the system and does not signal anti-Semitism.

Separately, the deputy mayor of Drancy near Paris, Christophe Lagarde, filed a complaint with police against another man who posed with his family while performing the quenelle in front of the Parisian suburb’s Holocaust memorial site, according to a report by the BNVCA watchdog on anti-Semitism.

Several people have been convicted of inciting racial hatred for disseminating pictures of themselves making the quenelle.

1,200-Year-Old Jewish Prayerbook on Display in Jerusalem

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 17:27

A Jewish prayer book believed to be the world’s oldest will be exhibited in Jerusalem for one month.

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1,200-year-old Jewish prayer book on display in Jerusalem

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 14:16

A book believed to be the world’s oldest Jewish prayer book will be displayed for a month in Jerusalem. (Ardon Bar Hama, Osaf Green)

(JTA) — A Jewish prayer book believed to be the world’s oldest will be exhibited in Jerusalem for one month.

The 1,200-year-old siddur was unveiled Thursday at a ceremony at the Bible Lands Museum. In a news release, the museum described it as the oldest Jewish prayer book.

Steve Green, the museum’s chairman, purchased the book for his personal collection a year ago.

The prayer book will be displayed in the museum’s Book of Books exhibit, a collection of important biblical tests. On display are original fragments from the Septuagint, the earliest New Testament Scriptures, illuminated manuscripts, rare fragments from the Cairo Geniza and original pages from the Gutenberg Bible.

Written in Hebrew and still in its original binding, the book originates from the Middle East. It contains the morning service, liturgical poems and the Passover Haggadah.

10 Groups Mount Push To Block U.S. Funds From Campus Critics of Israel

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 07:47

Ten organizations have announced a coordinated effort to convince Congress to reform the Higher Education Act to prevent federal funding of anti-American and anti-Israel activity.

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Los Angeles Orthodox Synagogue Plans To Hire Woman as Maharat

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 07:35

Congregation B’nai David-Judea, an Orthodox synagogue in Los Angeles, is planning to hire its first female clergy member by September, 2015.

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Groups working to prevent federal funding of anti-Israel activity on campus

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 06:32

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Ten organizations have announced a coordinated effort to convince Congress to reform the Higher Education Act to prevent federal funding of anti-American and anti-Israel activity.

Congress currently is considering the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which includes the allocation of federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide.

Most of the ten organizations working on the reform effort are Jewish.

Organizations involved in education, the Jewish community and civil rights are working together to ensure there is oversight of universities. The goal is to require recipients of federal funding to implement grievance procedures and for the Department of Education to include a complaint resolution process.

Rabbi Meyer May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called upon Congress to press the Department of Education to demand that those who receive HEA funding “guarantee that the funds will not be used to stifle the free speech of Israel advocates or to foment anti-Semitism on campus.”

The organizations involved include Accuracy in Academia, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Endowment for Middle East Truth, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Middle East Forum, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and Zionist Organization of America.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League is calling on university administrators to look out for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on campus due to a possible increase in anti-Israel activity around the High Holidays.

American Muslims for Palestine set Sept. 23, a day before the start of Rosh Hashanah, as International Day of Action on College Campuses. That group has called for the elimination of study abroad programs in Israel, a ban on university administrators traveling to Israel and an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

“Such tactics disrupt campus life and stifle the ideals of inquiry, free expression and the civil exchange of ideas – precisely the foundation on which university communities are built,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL national director.

Orthodox synagogue ready to hire first female clergy member

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 06:27

(JTA) — Congregation B’nai David-Judea, an Orthodox synagogue in Los Angeles, is planning to hire its first female clergy member by September, 2015.

Such a hire would be a first among Orthodox synagogues in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported.

The congregation recently retained Alissa Newborn, 25, a student at the New York-based seminary Yeshivat Maharat, for a one-year “kehilla intern” position. The position involves addressing the full congregation on  Shabbat, and teaching at various events with different groups from within the congregation. In addition, Newborn will shadow B’nai David’s Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky in life-cycle events, according to  the Jewish Journal.

Newborn will complete her studies while interning in Los Angeles; upon graduation she will earn the title of “maharat”— an acronym  meaning female leader of Jewish law, spirit and Torah.

If the congregation benefits from the presence of a female religious leader, the synagogue’s board will put together a list of candidates for a permanent female clergy member position, Kanefsky told the Jewish Journal.

Kanefsky also said that the move could be controversial, and emphasized that the female clergy member will not be called by the title “rabbi.” He said he hopes that using an alternative title will ease concerns from Orthodox congregation members who would otherwise be resistant to introducing female clergy.

“The best way to derail a good idea is by moving too far, too fast,” Kanefsky told the  Jewish Journal. “If we want to continue advancing women’s participation in communal leadership, we have to have common communal sense.”

Orthodox groups have condemned ordaining female clergy members in the past. In 2010, the Rabbinical Council of America said in a statement that it “cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of their title.”

Nonetheless, Yeshivat Maharat—the only Orthodox institution in the world with a female ordination program—has placed five of its graduates and eight of its current students, including Newborn, in jobs and internships at eight Orthodox synagogues in the United States and one in Montreal.

Europe Jews Demand More Security Amid Anti-Semitic Attacks

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 09:52

European authorities must provide greater security for Jewish institutions, a major Jewish organization said in the wake of a suspected arson attack on a Brussels synagogue.

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Michael Broyde, Modern Orthodox Rabbi in 'Sockpuppet' Scandal, Plans New Shul

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:40

Michael Broyde, the Modern Orthodox rabbi at the center of a scandal involving his sue of pseudonyms to tout his reputation in online discussions, reportedly is launching a new Atlanta-area synagogue.

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Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto Will Confess to Bribery

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:03

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto is expected to sign a plea bargain by the end of the week, confessing that he attempted to bribe the commander of the national police fraud to receive information about an investigation against him.

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Are Ultra-Orthodox Turning Away From Vaccination?

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:00

An ultra-Orthodox rabbi was roundly criticized for questioning the value of vaccinations for children. But some say more and more in the community are shunning the practice.

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Arson Eyed in Belgian Shul Fire

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 13:07

Belgian prosecutors are investigating a fire at a synagogue in Brussels on Tuesday, which they say was set intentionally but does not seem to have been a “terrorist attack”, a spokesman said.

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French Chief Rabbi Sees 'Indifference' to Anti-Semitism

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:06

France’s government has reacted strongly to a rising tide of anti-Semitic acts this year but French society seems indifferent to the threat they present, the country’s newly elected chief rabbi said on Tuesday.

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It’s Past Time to End Pay Discrimination

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 14:33

On Thursday, the Senate passed the first of two procedural measures to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199), which would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

We are pleased by today’s Senate vote to proceed on the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199). This vote marks a significant step toward addressing the longstanding obstacles to women’s economic security, and broader equality and participation in our society. The persistent lack of pay equity is offensive to all who believe in our nation’s commitment to the fundamental equality of women and men as well as equality of opportunity for all. This inequity is also offensive to us as Reform Jews and as moral people who believe in the dignity of work and fair compensation (Leviticus 19:13). We look forward to the bill’s final passage in both the Senate and House, and the day when all workers are paid justly for their work.

This is the farthest the Paycheck Fairness Act has ever moved in the Senate. Contact your Senators before today’s second procedural vote to encourage their support for the bill.

Dutch Police Release Israeli Rabbi Fleeing Sex Crimes Accusations

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 19:15

Dutch police released Eliezer Berland, a rabbi who had been arrested because he is wanted for questioning in Israel in connection with alleged sex crimes.

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