Shefa's Rabbi Blog List
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
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Monday, November 21, 2011
Posted on Nov 21, 2011
By Aaron Alexander, Associate Dean, Ziegler School
Last week we intensely and passionately discussed and debated no less than eighthalakhic topics. However, this particular meeting illuminated one coherent theme:Access. Or, access, status, and equality in the light of Torah.
Access to Revelation.
Access to Authority.
Access to Relationships.
Access to God on behalf of the Community.
We talked deeply about real issues and real people. While it is impossible to cover everything at once, significant change demands careful attention, more questions than answers, and a healthy realization that different people understand and intuit God's will and word in diverse and distinct, yet equally valid ways.
(What follows is my take on four of the issues discussed, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the entire CJLS, or individual members.)
Access to Revelation: Rabbi Pamela Barmash put forth an appendix to her already unanimously passed teshuvah, "Status of the Heresh and of Sign Language." One issue remained unresolved: whether or not a deaf community could hold a fully ritualized Torah reading in sign language, complete with blessings. Rabbi Barmash brought with her well respected members of the deaf community who addressed the CJLS with passion and eloquence.
While the CJLS remains somewhat divided on whether or not sign language is 'reading' or 'translation', which impacts the Torah reading more than other rituals, Rabbi Barmash's teshuvah passed virtually unanimously. In this case, members of the Law Committee powerfully elevated inclusion and near-equal access to Torah for its deaf members of the Jewish community.
Access to Relationships: Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Avram Reisner and Danny Nevins put forth a worthy draft for a gay-marriage ceremony as a follow-up to their landmark teshuvah that passed in 2006. As the committee begins to fully unpack and internalize their effort, it is clear that the needs and rights of the gay community are being well considered within a framework of Halakhah and the Torah's most precious values.
Access to Authority: Rabbi Joseph Prouser presented a paper to rebut an unfortunate ruling by a prominent orthodox rabbi, that basically bans a convert from sitting on a Bet Din, even with all other qualifications being equal (see more here).
Rabbi Prouser has written an extraordinary response in the form of a teshuvah for the Conservative Movement's Joint Bet Din, bringing the best of halakhic discourse, academic rigor, and aggadic prose to strongly deflate any possible stringent opinion. In doing so, he beautifully reaffirms exactly how the Jewish community ought to treat and view those amongst us who make the holy choice to join Judaism - as nothing less than full Jews in every respect.
Access to God on behalf of the Community: Rabbi Gail Labovitz has addressed a question that has vexed living communities for quite some time. Knowing how essential and embedded the Yom Kippur fast is, may one who is unable to cease from eating based on medical advice (pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc..) still serve the community and God as Shaliah Tzibbur, prayer leader? Rabbi Labovitz's answer, Yes. While some restrictions will help guide the community in deciding how to implement this ruling, it is evident that Rabbi Labovitz has deftly utilized traditional sources and a realistic awareness of individual and communal needs to navigate this question.
After spending a few days reflecting on my first CJLS meeting I feel nothing less than honored and humbled to be nestled amongst this brilliant and thoughtful group, doing this work, all in service of God, Torah and Israel.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen: "On the Culture of Greed"
Friday, November 11, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
It's just a month away! From December 1 to December 4, United Synagogue's leaders and friends with gather in San Diego for Kallah 2011. We'll learn, sing, talk, think, feel, and share the joy of Shabbat with each other, and to learn skills to bring home to our own kehillot. And as part of the celebration of USY's 60th anniversary, we'll honorJackie Saltz that Saturday night, after havdalah. It's not too late to decide to join us.
Alim - Helping a Kehilla Evolve - One of the new United Synagogue's most pressing mandates is to work with new, emerging, or evolving kehillot. Here's the story of one such partnership.
What's New for You
Meet Our New Relationship Managers - As our new system of developing relationships with each of our kehillot continues to unfold, we are glad to announce that we've completed our team of kehilla relationship mangers. Please meet our two newest KRMs.
CJ Is On Its Way - The latest issue of CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism is due in your mailbox the week of November 21. Read about women rabbis, a bat mitzvah project in a Chinese orphanage, Jewish life in the Caribbean, bnai anousim in New Mexico, and so much more.
MicroGrants for Outreach to Young Adults - Our strategic plan stresses the importance of reaching out to young adults, who after all are our future. We are thrilled to be able to offer grants of up to $3,500 to kehillot that provide resources and engagement opportunities to 22- to 35-year-olds. Hurry – the application deadline is November 15.
Could Your Kehillah Use Help Launching a Leadership Program? - Sulam for Current Leaders provides a toolkit that helps you to plan around issues of leadership, delegation, and accountability. It explores the managerial challenges of volunteer and staff relationships, as well as the visionary aspects that make synagogue leadership special and sacred. Rabbi Charles Savenor and Bob Levanthal of the Alban Institute will lead a webinar exploring the program on Wednesday, November 16, at noon eastern time (that's 1 p.m. Atlantic, 11 a.m. central, 10 a.m. mountain, and 9 a.m. Pacific time). The webinar will be held again at 7:30 p.m. eastern time that day (and of course that's 8:30 Atlantic, 6:30 central, 5:30 mountain, and 4:30 Pacific, all p.m.). Register now; we'll send you call-in information by November 15.
Schechter Schools' New Website - The Solomon Schechter Day School Network's lovely new website offers prospective students and their parents the information they need to make the vitally important decision about where to go to school; its private section offers Schechter professionals and lay leaders materials, background, and support.
Educators Workshops in Oakland - Our educational consultants, Wendy Light and Susan Wyner, go to Oakland, California, in mid-November to offer workshops to help teachers in Jewish institutions and educational leadersconfront the challenges they face.
Celebrate USY@60 in New York at Citi Field - On Sunday, November 20, our Metny region will celebrate USY's 60th birthday, honor Bruce Varon, and remember Bob Perla by launching a youth fund in his name. Email Wendy Glick for more information.
We Want Your Art! - Next year's calendar will showcase art from our affiliated kehillot. If there is something particularly beautiful in your synagogue – an object, a structural element, an angle where the light comes in – send us a photograph and we will be glad to consider it for the 2012/2013 5773 calendar. Email images to Joanne Palmer. The deadline is November 30.
United Synagogue Kallah - We take what used to be the biennial convention and make it into a kallah – an unconventional convention – as we gear up toward Shabbat and then celebrate it with joy, spirit, heart, and mind on December 1 through 4 in San Diego, California. Please join us!
Hazak Is Going to Israel - Hazak, for people 55 and older – often much older! – is kicking off a new, much more active trip to Israel, with an exciting new itinerary. The trip is set for December 11 to December 22, 2011. Join us! Email Jo-Anne Tucker-Zemlak for information.
USY's International Convention - From Sunday, December 25, to Thursday, December 29, USYers will get together in Philadelphia with incredible ruach, curiosity, and joy to celebrate the organization's 61st international convention.
North American Day School Conference - Educational leaders from across the Jewish world, including representatives of the Schechter Day School Network, will gather in Atlanta from January 15-17 for the annual North American Day School Conference.
Koach Kallah - Koach, our college program, invites college students to Boston University from February 23 to February 26 for the 2012 Koach kallah. Rabbi Jane Kanareck, assistant professor of rabbinics at Hebrew College, will be there; the weekend will focus on high-quality, accessible learning, skills training, and leadership development, and of course Shabbat will be filled with music, talk, high spirits, spirited davening, and joy. This year, the kallah is made possible by the generous support of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism.
From the Conservative Yeshiva
Summer Program - Registration for the summer program at the Conservative Yeshiva at United Synagogue'sFuchsberg Jerusalem Center is open. We offer two three-week session, one beginning July 1, the other July 22. Learn Hebrew, study texts, and enjoy the city! We are introducing the volunteer and study option – learn for half the day, and volunteer with Jerusalem-area organizations the other half.
Scholarships for the Conservative Yeshiva's year program still are available. Come for the Yeshiva's spring semester, which begins January 4, and experience the joy of talmud Torah in Jerusalem.
Feel free to email for information about any of the Conservative Yeshiva's programs.
USY International Convention - This December, Philadelphia will host the 61st annual USY convention. It will include a musical salute to USY's 60th anniversary, Chanukah candlelighting, discussions about derech eretz (ethical behavior), social activities, leadership sessions, social action programs, a talk from Marc Elliot, music from a cappella group Six13, and much more. USYers, talk to your regional USY office, look on the web, or email us for more information.
Early Bird Registration - If your teenager wants to join us in one of our life-altering summer programs, which go to the glaciers of Alaska or to sun-soaked Israel, to the depths of the Grand Canyon or the top of Masada, register now and lock in the early bird 2011 price. It's good until November 15. From then until December 31, you can save $100.
Nativ Opens a New Track - Nativ, USY's gap-year leadership program in Israel, now offers a track in Kfar Hassidim Youth Village. You can get regular updates about Nativ 31's year in Israel on Twitter by following @nativisrael. Nativ is accepting applications for the 2012-2013 school year.
From Our Book and Media Center
Autumn and winter give us more time to read, to think, and to create, as we curl up indoors, next to a fireplace (if we're lucky enough to have one). Here are some books with food for (Jewish) thought.
It's Never Too Late For a Luach - The secular year is drawing to a close, but the Jewish year is still young. Do you have your luach yet? If you buy one now, you can register for Luach Updates, an online information source that keeps you up to date.
Thank You from Project Reconnect
More than 300 kehillot across the world participated in Project Reconnect's High Holy Day program, Come Home For the Holidays. Project Reconnect is grateful to each one of them, and wants to express its gratitude publicly. Project Reconnect also is looking for stories from participating kehillot and the families who opened their homes this holiday season. Please send your stories to Daniel.
USY at 60
We look forward to watching old friends reconnect, laugh, and remember as we raise scholarship funds to ensure USY's bright future.
Please join us at facebook.com/USY60. If you met your husband or wife at USY, please share your story on Facebook – just enter "I Met My Spouse in USY" in the search box.
Celebrate USY@60 in New York at CitiField - On Sunday, November 20, our Metny region will celebrate USY's 60th birthday, honor Bruce Varon, and remember Bob Perla by launching a youth fund in his name. Email Wendy Glick for more information.
Around the Jewish World
New Bedford Shul Seeks Former Members - Tifereth Israel Congregation in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is turning 90! It's looking for former members and their descendants for a big birthday bash to celebrate chai times five in November. Email, call 508-997-3171, or write to 145 Brownell Avenue, New Bedford, MA 02740.
Around the Jewish World
Get A Job, Rambam! - Masorti, the organization that represents Conservative/Masorti kehillot in Israel, offers a copy of the poster that's taken non-haredi Israel bystorm. For just $11.95, you can have your very own copy.
Take advantage of free Internet hosting services to affiliated synagogues, USY chapters, and afternoon/day schools. We now also can provide your synagogue with a free template CMS website.
Two Minute Torah
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