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Showing posts from July, 2009

Aug 10th - Concert in Jerusalem!

A Night of New Jewish Music
with Rabbi Menachem Creditor
aug 10, 8-9:15pm
The USCJ Fuchsberg Center on Agron St.

Menachem Creditor of Shirav, a renowned Jewish folk music group from the States, will present a night of 'unplugged' music, blending traditional lyrics and contemporary original melodies.  All are welcome to share, and to sing!

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to

Shabbat Chazon: "Dispatch from a Normal State"

Shabbat Chazon: "Dispatch from a Normal State"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

In memory of Dr. Barbara Wachs

Sitting here in Jerusalem, just waiting for the pre-Shabbat siren, I realize something has changed.  I've been here many times, shared this holy place with my wife, my children, my parents, and now my extended family, some of whom have made Aliyah.  But something is different this time.

The combination of having become so familiar with the streets of Jerusalem and my growing Israel-based family hase transformed a tourist experience into a 'normal' one.  Whereas in the past it was the Kotel and Ben Yehudah Street that captivated me, the highlights of this trip have been playing with my children and my parents in a Jerusalem playground, noticing the diversity of other playing Jerusalemites.  Old and young, black and white, Jewish, Muslim, kippah-wearing and not.

David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel once quipped: "We will know we have become a normal…

Rabbi Michael Graetz on Ynet: "Identity crisis in Israel"

Rabbi Michael Graetz on Ynet: "Identity crisis in Israel"

We have to return the positive pride in being Jewish to Jewish Israelis, and the positive pride of being Israeli to Israeli Jews

Rabbi Michael Graetz,7340,L-3748487,00.html

Many Israelis are born Jews, but as they grow up and witness people identified as Jews doing things that offend their own sense of morality, things that offend their own sense of justice, they have an identity crisis with their being called "Jew". So, for a long while, many people took refuge by saying: "well, I am an Israeli, and not a Jew." What they meant was that "I", my own identity, can't really cope with my identifying myself as a "Jew", but, I can easily and proudly identify myself as an "Israeli". Israel then was glitzy, proud, victorious, a miracle. Good materiel for self identity. But, today, even the Israeli part is having a rough time in our own eyes. …

Rabbi Reuven Hammer in JPost: "Louis Jacobs' View of Divine Revelation"

JPost: "Louis Jacobs' View of Divine Revelation"Rabbi Reuven HammerWe have recently marked the third Yahrzeit of Rabbi Louis Jacobs, one of the most brilliant and controversial Jewish thinkers of the modern age. In the mid 20th century he was considered to be a rising star in British Orthodoxy. He would most certainly have become Principal of Jews College in London and probably Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue of Great Britain had he not published his book We Have Reason To Believe, in which he detailed his way of reconciling modern Biblical criticism- which he accepted – with traditional Jewish beliefs in divine revelation (Torah Min HaShamayim).His studies had led him to accept the view of modern Biblical scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish, that the Torah contains the teachings of various schools within ancient Judaism and therefore represents the work both of God and of human beings. Thus one must study it with the same openness with which one studies all documents. H…

Marketing, Content, and Seeking in the Conservative Movement.

Shalom Chevreh,
Just a pre-Shabbat thought [based on a conversation taking place on ShefaNetwork] about marketing, content, self-definition and seeking in the Conservative Movement.  
I believe that we, the self-select people who are paying attention to this conversation, are seekers.  We aren't the same, we don't all wish for one thing - but we have a significant amount in common - much more than a successful marketing approach would demonstrate. 
Conservative Judaism is not an institution - it's an approach to life.  It isn't the only magnificent approach to life, but it is a magnificent one.  It isn't the only authentic Jewish path, but it is a Jewish path to God and to a better world.  
What makes us unique, I believe, is our "nostalgic" connection to Halacha and our commitment to being open to change.  As opposed to the Orthodox Judaismsout there, (which roughly agree that the Torah and Tradition are clear mandates FROM God), and as opposed to Reform Jud…

The Jewish Week: "Reinvigorating Hebrew Schools: A New Approach"

The Jewish Week: "Reinvigorating Hebrew Schools: A New Approach"by Jonathan S. Woocher
Special To The Jewish Week The growing burden of day school tuitions has, as Gary Rosenblatt recently noted in these pages, ironically focused new attention on supplementary Jewish education. Families who firmly believe in the value of day school education, but are now facing virtually insurmountable challenges trying to pay for it, are wondering whether it is possible to find at least some of what they seek for their children in revamped, intensive supplementary programs.  They join many other families with children already in such programs, and others trying to decide whether to enroll their children at all, in asking whether supplementary education can provide a meaningful and satisfying Jewish educational experience.

It's an important question for these families and the future of the Jewish community …

NYT: When is it OK for kids to run around naked?
NYT: When is it OK for kids to run around naked? By Julie Scelfo The New York Times,updated 5:07 a.m. PT,Thurs., July 16, 2009
Alex Nicola, who will be 5 in August, enjoys being naked as frequently as possible at home. "In the morning he gets up and takes his pajamas off, and rather than get dressed right away, he walks around naked," said Dawn Nicola, Alex's mother, a stay-at-home parent in Castle Rock, Colo. After school, he likes to take off his pants, recline on his stuffed animal chair and watch an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants while snacking on cheese-flavored crackers."I call him my little naked boy," Mrs. Nicola, 44, said affectionately. Alex's desire to be unclothed is not shared by his twin brother, Andrew, or by his 6-year-old sister, Gabrielle. "It's a stage he's going through, and he'll grow out of it," said John Nicola, 39, Alex's father, a s…

Rabbi Hayim Herring on Alban: "The Third Place"

Alban: "The Third Place"by Hayim Herring

We live in a time of tremendous societal upheaval. While history is often cyclical, showing both change and continuity, there are times when change is so systemic and deep that we enter a fundamentally new era. These changes are of such profound magnitude that they are redefining how life is lived in many areas we assumed were unyielding givens. In broad terms, we might think about boundary shifting, permeability, and cross-religious and cultural appropriation as the motifs that characterize this age. Culture, economics, history, biology, technology—all areas of life are up for reassessment or revision because of these forces. Whether we in the Jewish community view our current era as essentially more of the same or fundamentally different is not a moot issue. Rather, it influences whether we apply current models of thinking about all aspects of our world or if we need different ones.F…

Re: [Shefa] It Is Time For A New Message and Mindset

Shalom Steve and Chevreh,

So important, I believe, to keep the focus on a combination of communication and content.  The Conservative Movement certainly has an image problem, but it's also a reality.  If the "Come Home to Conservative Judaism" line isn't working, it's important to recognize the intent of the attempt (to generate a sense of "home") and determine if that's what we believe our shuls are called to be. And if they are that, then it's the mandate of every synagogue to take steps to live up to the dream of being someone's home.

The Hayom coalition (with which I'm proud to be counted) is dedicated to this transformation - the alignment of our movement's institutions with our spiritual ideals.  Who chose the slogan?  Was there an attempt to listen to those not yet connected when determining a marketing strategy?  And, once the correct combination of listening and marketing is achieved, have our shuls had the time and support to…

USCJ Exec VP Rabbi Steven Wernick Reflects on Meeting with President Obama

Rabbi Steven Wernick Reflects on Meeting with President Obama

Rabbi Steven C. Wernick, who has just become executive vice president and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, was among the 16 national Jewish leaders invited to the White House on July 13 for a candid conversation with President Barack Obama about the issues most important to the President and the American Jewish community.

Subjects included the economy, the environment, healthcare, and poverty, but the focus was on foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. President Obama stressed that his commitment to Israel is deep and true; his posture with Israel is no tougher than with the Palestinians and both will benefit equally from peace in the region. "President Obama asked us to understand that although we might eventually have some disagreements about tactics and strategy – and of course tactics and strategy are very important – he wanted to reassure us that his administration has not and is not an…

Baltimore Jewish Times: " Hebrew National & Kosher Politics"

Hebrew National & Kosher PoliticsWhat's kosher about answering to a higher authority?July 10, 2009

Kenneth Lasson
Special to the Jewish Times

"No one should see how laws or sausages are made."— Otto von BismarckBarbecued hot dogs are as American as apple pie on the Fourth of July — and as universal, for that matter, as Israeli cookouts on Yom Ha'atzmaut or Lag B'Omer. In fact, they're consumed around the world, from Australia to Zambia, and have become a major part of the increasingly capitalistic fast-food business in communist China and Russia.But nowhere are as many hot dogs eaten as in the United States. We bite into more than 20 billion of them a year — some 818 every second from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. (Yes, there is such a group, which also lists things like the biggest hot dog-selling ci…