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Showing posts from May, 2009

JTA Op-Ed: " Conservatives must look in the mirror"

Op-Ed: Conservatives must look in the mirror By Richard S. Moline · May 21, 2009
NORTHBROOK, Ill. (JTA) – I can confidently say that I am one of the first Jewish professionals to have used e-mail. At one of the first college student conferences I ever ran, a student approached me on the last day to suggest that on the following year's application, we also ask for e-mail addresses. "Sure," I replied. "What's e-mail?" That was the start of my encounter with the joys, frustrations and dangers of this medium. And since the day I first started by dialing a number, hearing a long tone, waiting several minutes to connect and waiting even longer to have e-mail pop up on the monitor, I have been receiving e-mails predicting the imminent demise of the Conservative movement. That was about 18 years ago, and the e-mails keep coming. Now, of course, the pr…

Jonathan D. Sarna in the Forward: "Saying Kaddish Too Soon?"

Forward: "Saying Kaddish Too Soon?"
Opinion by Jonathan D. Sarna
May 27, 2009, issue of June 05, 2009.
'With a heavy heart we will soon say Kaddish on the Reform and Conservative movements," Rabbi Norman Lamm, the distinguished chancellor of Yeshiva University, recently proclaimed in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "The future of American Jewry is in the hands of Haredim and the Modern Orthodox."Lamm's triumphalistic prediction has, unsurprisingly, elicited strong and angry responses from Conservative and Reform leaders who consider their movements youthful and vibrant. For a historian, though, the prediction cannot help but call to mind earlier attempts to divine American Judaism's future.When Lamm was young, those who followed trends in Jewish life expected to say Kaddish for Orthodox Judaism. A careful study in 1952 found that "only twenty-three percent of the children of the Orthodox intend to rema…

USCJ: Request for Submission of Resolutions by Congregations

Date: May 27, 2009
From: Faye Gingold, USCJ Director of Public Policy and Social Action <>

From December 6-10, 2009, United Synagogue will hold its International Biennial Convention at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, N.J. One of the most important items of business at convention is the framing of resolutions that represent the policy decisions of our organization. We invite your synagogue to submit topics to be considered at the resolutions session.

There are many issues that warrant our concern and resolutions are a way in which we share our view with the world. Resolutions in the past have addressed many topics and issues, including Israel, interfaith and religious matters, the environment, health care, energy policy, education, world Jewry/world affairs, humanitarian concerns and organizational matters of United Synagogue. Resolutions adopted between 1993 and 2007 can be found at

Following convention, ratifie…

A Shefa Challenge from HaYom: The Coalition for the Transformation of Conservative Judaism

Dear Chevreh,

The Hayom Coalition ( is moving forward with USCJ to create a dreamworthy plan.  Part of that is an assessment of the current moment.  But we're also engaging in a "thought experiment," which includes one page proposals for what you think a national synagogue organization should look like. What would be its principal goals? its primary focus? its main functions? 

We're inviting anyone interested to craft such a proposal and share them on Shefa, where HaYom representatives will be collecting the responses and preparing a collective vision. 

Please consider utilizing the latest ShefaJournal ( as the goal was similar, though not directed in the same way.

Kol Tuv, and Hatzlacha Rabbah!

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogro…

Ayeka: A Reflection on Genesis 2:9

Ayeka: A Reflection on Genesis 2:9
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

dedicated to my dear teacher Rabbi Neil Gillman


Ayeka?! Where are you?!  I'm Lonely.... and I miss you, and this world is still empty with everything I see when I can't see you.... I Love you, and I Need you.  Do you realize what you're called to be?  Do you realize that if you hide your face from Me the universe shudders?  All the angels on the head of a pin and the totality of non-humans mean nothing to me - they just do what I say or what instinct tells them (which is pretty much the same) but you don't listen to Me and I Love that. 

Your independence wasn't something I thought about in advance, but you're just like Me - I don't listen either!  In fact, I threw Truth to the ground to make you.... What does that mean anyway?  I've never Understood.  Maybe it means that you're worth more to Me than Truth.  Maybe that means that relationship is why I Exist too. 

Ayeka - …

Save a life: Marrow Drive at Netivot Shalom on Sunday, June 14, 1:00 – 6:00 pm.

Dear Chevreh,

I'm writing you with an urgent request.  There is a member of our community, a devoted husband and father of two young girls, Jon Galinson, who is battling Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Jon's best hope for a cure is a stem cell transplant.  I'm inviting your community to cosponsor this Marrow Drive taking place at Netivot Shalom on Sunday, June 14, 1:00 – 6:00 pm.  Cosponsoring only entails spreading the word.  You can, of course, also choose to contirbute to the expense of the registry, but this is not our expectation.  Please help us find a match for Jon and for thousands like him by coming to our drive and joining the national donor registry.   (There is also going to be a "Be the Match" registry at the Israel in the Gardens Festival, Sunday, June 7 at Yerba Buena Gardens. please join me in registering yourselves.

You can help save the life of a member of our Bay Area Jewish community.   Attached, please find…

very relevant article: Alban Weekly - 05/25/09 Green Eyeshades and Rose-Colored Glasses

Green Eyeshades and Rose-Colored Glasses
by Dan Hotchkiss

Congregational budget-makers frequently divide into two camps that approach the task in different ways. The first camp is likely to include children of the Great Depression, experts in finance, elementary school teachers, and persons anxious about their own money situation. Their first priority is to make sure that the budget balances and that the congregation makes no plans or commitments it is less than 100 percent certain it can meet. They squint over budget sheets like bookkeepers of old with their bright lamps and shoulder garters—I call this camp the Green Eyeshades.The second camp typically includes young clergy, upscale decorators, Baby Boomers, college professors, and commission salespeople. They firmly believe that with God (or even without God) all things are possible. They say, "We are a congregation, not a business." This camp can be identified at budget me…

The Power of a Jewish Voice

The Power of a Jewish VoiceRabbi Menachem Creditor
Nicholas Patruno has written that: 
"[During the Sho'ah, the Nazis' attempts at] the suppression of language served as a cruel reminder that there would be no voice left to tell. ...But in Auschwitz, Primo Levi soon concluded that his survival, in physical and moral terms, depended largely on his ability to oppose this Nazi scheme. ...Levi later wrote that 'one can and must communicate, and thereby contribute in a useful way to the peace of others and one's self.' (Memory and Mastery, p.92)"
I was blessed tonight to witness the father-and-daughter dialog between Ben and Charlene Stern at my shul and experienced the truth of Levi's statement, that Ben Stern's determination to contribute his voice has inspired a legacy of both Jewish memory and vision for the Jewish future. 
In the most basic of terms, tonight was a highly charged, unbearable experience of testimony. Embraced and guided by his daughter …

Forward: "Conservative Jews Decry Bias in IDF"

Forward: "Conservative Jews Decry Bias in IDF"By Nathan Jeffay
Published May 20, 2009, issue of May 29, 2009. AVIV — When Gabrielle Pollack sought to say kaddish for her recently deceased grandmother, the young female soldier found that in the Israeli Army, it can be daunting to be a Conservative Jew.And the army, for its part, found it can be daunting to accommodate one as non-Orthodox Jewish movements increasingly jockey to break the Orthodox monopoly over official religion in Israel.Pollack, 19, is part of a 15-strong group from the Conservative youth movement Noam serving together in Nahal, a military division that combines army service, civil service, and work for their movement. But the military chaplaincy, like all of Israel's official Jewish religiousagencies, is an Orthodox institution that does not recognize a woman's right to be counted and participate equally in formal prayer.As a result, Pollack, whose grandmothe…

Rabbi Andy Sacks on "No Ayatollahs for Israel""

Wednesday May 20, 2009 "No Ayatollahs for Israel" Rabbi Andrew Sacks

Many years ago, shortly after the first McDonald's restaurant opened in Jerusalem, I spoke with a group of Jewish youth visiting from the States. They lamented the fact that the restaurant was not Kosher. This led to a discussion where over half of the participants felt that Israeli law should require restaurants - at least in western Jerusalem - to be Kosher. No Big Macs with cheese. "This is a Jewish State and the laws should reflect Jewish values and traditions," one opined. 

"If this is how you feel," I asked, "do you feel the laws ought to prohibit women from wearing pants in public, require married women to cover their hair, outlaw couples from holding hands in public, and punish homosexuality?"

"I am not a fanatic," he responded.

"So where would you like to draw the lin…

Ray Goldstein in the Jewish Week: "For Conservative Shuls, A Moment Of Challenge"

Jewish Week Op-Ed: "For Conservative Shuls, A Moment Of Challenge"
by Ray Goldstein
Special To The Jewish Week

Recently the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has been criticized harshly, both from outside the Conservative movement and, more troublingly, from within it as well ("New Rump Group Levels Fresh Attacks On USCJ," May 15).
The critiques are not wholly without merit. This is, undeniably, a moment of challenge and change for the United Synagogue, which represents Conservative synagogues in North America.
The demographics we face are challenging. Today there are fewer people who identify themselves as Conservative Jews than there used to be. An increasing number view themselves as post-denominational, choosing independent minyanim over our synagogues. Others jump from shul to shul, or from movement to movement. Some delay going anywhere altogether until they marry and start …

Commentary Magazine – Michael Oren: "Seven Existential Threats to Israel"

Commentary Magazine – Michael Oren: "Seven Existential Threats to Israel"
Michael B. Oren - May 01, 2009
Commentary Magazine

Rarely in modern history have nations faced genuine existential threats. Wars are waged to change regimes, alter borders, acquire resources, and impose ideologies, but almost never to eliminate another state and its people. This was certainly the case during World War II, in which the Allies sought to achieve the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan and to oust their odious leaders, but never to destroy the German and Japanese states or to annihilate their populations. In the infrequent cases in which modern states were threatened with their survival, the experience proved to be traumatic in the extreme. Military coups, popular uprisings, and civil strife are typical by-products of a state's encounter with even a single existential threat.

The State of Israel copes not only with one…

Haaretz: "IDF reservists to Barak: Renew Shalit talks immediately"

Ha'aretz: "IDF reservists to Barak: Renew Shalit talks immediately"
Jack Khoury, 17/05/2009

Israel Defense Forces reservists demanded on Sunday that Ehud Barak work to immediately renew negotiations to secure the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The group of reservists, comprised of officers and rank and file soldiers, made the demand during a meeting with Barak at his Tel Aviv office. They stressed in particular the need for an official specifically responsible for the case to be appointed.

They also asked Barak to press United States President Barack Obama's administration to condition financial aid for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on the receipt of information on Shalit and permission for the Red Cross to visit him.

"We demanded that they apply pressure on the Red Cross, so that the treatment of Hamas prisoners in Israel will be symmetrical to the treatment Gilad Shalit receives in captivity," sai…