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Showing posts from February, 2010

PJA Responds to SF Federation's New Policy

Progressive Jewish Alliance Addresses
"JCF Policy on Israel-Related Programming for its Grantees"

On February 18, 2010, the San Francisco Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (JCF) released a policy and set of guidelines, which are intended to address the controversy that arose from the screening of the documentary "Rachel" at the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.  While we applaud JCF's attempt to craft a policy that allows for "the rich exchange and expression that defines us as a community," we have grave concerns that the announced rules may undermine that very goal -- may, in fact, censor or chill an open exchange of ideas. 

We are particularly fearful of the effect these rules may have on a younger generation of Jews who are grappling with their Jewish identity, their relationship to Israel and their place in the larger community, precisely by engaging in the time-honored Jewish tradition…

Saturday night is Purim! "Nafoch hu"

Purim is a day on which "Nafoch hu" - nothing makes sense. It's a day of ritual ridiculousness. To that end:

Forward: "The Conservative Moment"

Forward: "The Conservative Moment" OpinionPublished February 24, 2010, issue of March 05, 2010.
Is this the Conservative movement's moment? Arnold Eisen, chancellor of the flagship Jewish Theological Seminary, certainly thinks so, and his optimistic evaluation takes full account of the challenges facing what was once America's largest Jewish religious denomination as it now struggles to define itself. His analysis echoes, though with far more detail and prescription, the statements made recently by other Conservative leaders — a hopeful sign, perhaps, that the center of American Jewry may actually be able to chart a future. In an interview just published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and elaborated on in a follow-up conversation with the Forward, Eisen offered an unusually blunt critique. Too many Conservative Jews — rabbis, even — can't describe the movement's message. Too many synagogues, camps, day and congre… "Hartman Institute to ordain women rabbis"

February 23, 110 Tuesday 17 AdarI 3870 15:42 IST  Photo by: AP Hartman Institute to ordain women rabbis24/02/2010Move aimed at creating cadre of North American Jewish educators.In a step that marks a major change in gender roles within modern Orthodoxy, women will be ordained as Orthodox rabbis. Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, founded by Rabbi David Hartman, himself a modern Orthodox rabbi, will open a four-year program next year to prepare women and men of all denominations - Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and also Orthodox - for rabbinic ordination. Ordination will be provided within the framework of a teacher-training program that prepares graduates to serve in Jewish high schools in North America. "For too long now we have been robbing ourselves of 50 percent of our potential leaders; people who can shape and inspire others," said Rabbi Donniel Hartman, co-director of the institute and son of David Hartman. "The classic distinctions between men and…

JTA: "Oren: Dispute at Wall will require ‘compromise’"

JTA: "Oren: Dispute at Wall will require 'compromise'" February 23, 2010 YORK (JTA) -- Israel's U.S. ambassador said resolving the controversy over prayer at the Western Wall will require "compromise on everyone's behalf."

Michael Oren, speaking Sunday night at the annual plenum of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in Dallas, responded to a question about Israel's police investigation into women who wore prayer shawls openly and read from the Torah at the Western Wall.

The controversy, which came to a head in January when the leader of the group Women of the Wall was questioned by Jerusalem police, has galvanized liberal Jewish groups in the United States.

"I will only assure you that I think there are good solutions for the problems at the Kotel," Oren said in response to a question on the subject. "They are at the top of my agenda. …

Announcing a Special ShefaJournal: "Tech-Tonic"

Announcing a Special ShefaJournal: "Tech-Tonic" downloadable at
On February 4th Avi Hein, a professional expert on technology and a passionate Conservative/Masorti Jew living in Israel, shared with the ShefaNetwork a link to an online project entitled "Envisioning Jewish Peoplehood" ( That post, along with a one from Avi Montigny, an administrator of, sparked an online conversation that has ranged from theory to technology and back, all directed at re-inventing the USCJ website. In the spirit of the upcoming celebration of Purim, the posts all called out "Nafoch Hu! Change it!" (Avi Hein's posts, found on pages 6-9, 14-15 and 19-20 of the journal, are truly the core of this journal's suggestions for technological transformation.)
Avi's message was post #3022 on the Shefanetwork archive ( Within the eighteen days since his pos…

Rabbi Goldie Milgrom Reviews "Rashi's Daughters" and "Torah Queeries"

Rabbi Goldie Milgrom Reviews "Rashi's Daughters" and "Torah Queeries"

Engaging New Torah Queeries 
-- Rabbi Goldie MilgramNew ideas and ideals in Jewish and secular life tend to develop on a creative periphery and move into mainstream acceptance over time. Usually, this ideological shift occurs in response to real or perceived oppression or inequities. We have seen this with regard to labor laws, kashrut, women and children, as well as the ordination and growing acceptance of female, gay and lesbian clergy. All along the remarkably diverse spectrum of gender we are seeing new books and social action initiatives in Jewish life.These trends are underscored by two recent sets of work, the carefully researched and wonderfully imaginative historical fiction of Rashi's Daughters(Book I: YochevedBook II: MiriamBook III: Rachel; by Maggie Anton and the poignant non-fiction lament and solidarity of Torah Queeries: Weekly… "Jewish Agency Chairman Bielski: Recognize Reform, Conservative Judaism in Israel"

Photo by: Ariel JerozolimskiBielski: Recognize Reform, Conservative Judaism in Israel

Jewish Agency chairman says non-acceptance of other streams limits the potential of aliya. Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Ze'ev Bielski has called on the State of Israel to embrace Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism and acknowledged that non-acceptance of these movements, which are followed by the majority of Jews in North America, was one of the biggest barriers to immigrationfrom the West. "The time has come for the government and the rabbinate to show the millions of people from the Reform and Conservative movements that they are a part of us," Bielski told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview this week. "I don't think that anyone can take the responsibility for losing out on so many people who might want to come on al



MARCH 3, 2010 AT 7:30 PM

The Playback Theater is a modern ritual with powerful ability to help build, strengthen and connect between community members. The show brings together compassion, intimacy and fun at the same time. Jewish Circle Productions is an educational Drama production company dedicated to spreading Jewish and Israeli awareness through the use of drama. A team composed of Israeli actors, writers, and musicians; we believe that the best way to connect to our audience is through real people and compelling stories.  The actors improvise on the spot a scene or an image based on a story. The playback technique treats the story and the storyteller with respect and the actors are highly trained to listen, reflect and play the story back in a creative meaningful way. A story can be anything; nostalgic, sad or funny.


[shefa] proposal for the USCJ website

hi fred (and chevreh) - 
i've been hoping that the USCJ page would become the conduit for CJ Torah, since there is so much content already embedded.
examples: the COMPACT archive (online but not searchable),  the "how to keep a kosher kitchen interactive page", (all but invisible), the program bank, (which isn't searchable, etc....).  The USY program page is searchable, and the KOACH page is categorized quite well.  The USCJ page has a decent Hazak program-bank, but the only other place for quickly accessible program guidance is the Schechter awards section (again, not obvious from the home page).
So, if this 'conduit' approach were taken, individual shuls could choose their template and 'feed' from the USCJ page, similar to a blog service (which i utilize myself), and USCJ could serve as the convener and disseminator (though, significantly, not the author) of CJ Torah emanating from FJMC, JTS, Ziegler, Masorti, etc...  This would be a (welcome and) sign…

organizing and an article to remind us of our work

Shavuah Tov, Chevreh,
Much has happened, even since our conversation last Sunday morning.  Below, please find an important (and upsetting) article by Rabbi Andy Sacks, director of Religious Affairs for the Masorti movement.  And we have a lead that might help us plan some events to raise both awareness and funds for the Masorti Foundation.  Rom Rosenblum has agreed, along with others who are coming forward to support the effort, to lead our efforts to advocate for pluralism in Israel through strengthening the Masorti Movement.  Jeff and I had a meeting with Rom this past Friday, and are committed to supporting this effort every way we can.
A grant has been announced, through the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, for local communities to do innovative Israel programming.  It will take some quick/skilled work to get this grant written and submitted.  It will hopefully empower us to make progress towards local Masorti organizing.  If you can help out in this effort, please be in to…