Knishes and Kilts, and Other Highlights of London’s Jewish Book Week

UK J. Book Week

By Liam Hoare The British Jewish cultural calendar has its three highpoints: Jewish Book Week in February; the UK Jewish Film Festival in November; and Limmud in December. Cyclical and as settled in diaries as the religious holidays, these events have given rise to the concept of a new kind of three-times-a-year Jew, as the British expression goes. In this case, it is someone who expresses their identity through attendance at cultural festivals, and not only through the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. … [Read more...]

Israel – A Social Start-Up Nation?

social investing

By Marina Leytes and Beth deBeer This blog is the first in a series which aims to educate and to clarify some of the confusion around the emerging field of impact investment in Israel and globally. It will present a high-level overview of the challenges and opportunities for transforming the nature of Jewish philanthropy. The blogs over the coming weeks will provide readers with (1) a better understanding of what impact investment is (2) an overview of the current landscape in Israel (3) strategies to engage for both individuals and institutions. … [Read more...]

Helping the Homeless through Socks

Adina Lichtman handing out socks to those in need

By Adina Lichtman Let’s start with the basics: Why socks? To those of us who are fortunate enough not to be homeless, it’s a reasonable question. After all, we often see people asking for food, for money - but never for socks. But sometimes it’s the smallest things, the things we rarely take the time to think about, that can be most important. A few months ago, I was handing out sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness in NYC when one man approached me. "It's great that you're giving out sandwiches,” he said, “but one thing we really need is socks, especially as winter approaches." Here I was, sandwiches in hand, assuming I knew the best way to help people. In reality, helping is about listening, and hearing the needs of different communities. It was a powerful lesson, and I wanted to … [Read more...]

Berlin’s Rabbi: Jews Need to Live Proudly, Show Identity and Fight Ignorance

‘We need to build bridges, not escape hatches,’ says Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal By Menachem Posner In light of the recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, where Jewish people were murdered in a kosher market and outside of a synagogue, as well as a number of violent acts recently against Jews in Berlin, Germany, Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, rabbi of the Berlin’s Jewish community, responds to questions regarding Jewry in that Western European capital. Q: What’s the feeling like in Berlin right now? A: There is no doubt that there is the feeling that things are heating up. But then they are heating up all over the world, and things are much more serious in other parts of Europe. The Jewish community here is large, growing and very young. True, anti-Semitism is a serious issue; … [Read more...]

The Americanization of Tikkun Olam

By Jonathan Krasner When President Barack Obama declared at the first White House reception for Jewish American Heritage Month, in 2010, that America must “uphold the principle of tikkun olam - our obligation to repair the world,” he became the latest in a parade of prominent American politicians, celebrities and opinion-makers, including Bill Clinton, Cornell West and Madonna, to invoke the term. The Americanization of tikkun olam reflects its ubiquity in American Jewish life, where many religious and communal leaders identify it as a core Jewish value. … [Read more...]

Never Before, Never Again

business-as-usual-is-not-an-option

For those of us deeply engaged in Jewish life, as lay leaders or professionals, it is no longer “business as usual.” By Sandy Cardin It has been almost 25 years since I became a Jewish professional, a stunningly long time from virtually every perspective. And while it is hard to remember much from the early 1990s, I recall feeling a sense of optimism as an American, as a Jew and as a Zionist. The world seemed poised for unprecedented peace and prosperity; the Berlin wall had been dismantled, the shackles had been removed from Soviet Jewry and the first Oslo Accord had been signed. … [Read more...]

Revised Law Lays Foundation for a More Inclusive Israeli Society

By Leiba Chaya David JNS.org Recent statistics indicate that approximately 1 million people in Israel have a disability, defined as a health problem that interferes with their daily activities. This definition covers a wide range of challenges, including physical limitations, mental illnesses, behavioral disorders, and more. Yet perhaps the most important part of the definition is “interferes with their daily activities.” Close to 1 million people are unable to do what most others do easily every day - get up, get dressed, grab something to eat, head off to work or school, run errands, play with friends, or stroll through the park. According to Ahiya Kamara, Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities within the Israeli Ministry of Justice, Israel has come a long way toward … [Read more...]

Seattle Study: 59% Gave Most or All of their Donations to non-Jewish Organizations

The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute have released the "2014 Greater Seattle Jewish Community Study," the latest in a series of population studies that uses both meta-analysis data and new surveys to estimate the size and characteristics of the Jewish population. The resulting analysis found that Seattle Jewry has grown nearly 70% in the last 13 years, fueled both by highly educated newcomers arriving in Seattle and by the large proportion of intermarried families who identify Jewishly. The study also found that Seattle has a substantial proportion of individuals who identify as culturally Jewish or as secular Jews. Key findings include: Charitable donations are high, but donors are more likely to contribute to non-Jewish than Jewish … [Read more...]