Judaism in Europe is Going through a Difficult Time


Israel and the Jews in Europe must learn how to communicate much better By Luis Bassat Judaism in Europe is going through a difficult time and the economic downturn has undoubtedly had a decisive effect on this. Europe’s growth cannot compete with that of China, India, Russia, Brazil, or with any other already established economies such as the United States and Japan. This has led to the birth of populist and intransigent positions. One need not be reminded of Germany in the 1930s which was plunged into an even deeper crisis than ours and how the Nazi party was able to take advantage of public discontent to impose its disastrous policy. The emergence of neo-Nazi parties in Europe is worrying as we have seen in Greece, Holland, France, Germany and other countries. Parallel Islamic terrorist … [Read more...]

The Idolatry in Binaries

By David J. Steiner “God is a fundamental axiom of Judaism,” exclaimed one of the people who came to console us upon the death of Herbert M. Kliebard, acclaimed scholar and author of The Struggle for the American Curriculum, who would have been my father in law. Though they were friends for over forty years, I could see Herb turning in his grave as I debated his colleague and friend and made him my chevruta for the afternoon. By declaring “fundamental axioms,” we create binaries, which serve as false gods because they generate the illusion of an absolute choice in a fluid trajectory of culture and ideas. Decisions we make today may be correct today and could also be inappropriate, irrelevant or simply wrong tomorrow. The idea of making a fence around the Torah, from Pirkei Avot, does not mean … [Read more...]

Empowerment and Impact: SF Federation’s Jewish Women’s Fund

By Julie Levine The gap between San Francisco's wealthy residents and its poor ones is growing faster than in any other city in the nation, according to a Brookings Institution 2014 study. *** My Jewish values have always guided me throughout my life - taking care of others, giving help to those in need, tzedakah, social justice, and a commitment to Jewish tradition, study and engagement. I strive to raise my kids with an understanding and deep connection to these Jewish values. I want them to make the world a better place not because it’s a good thing to do but rather because it’s their responsibility. I want them to treat people fairly, honestly, and as equals. But, it’s become increasingly challenging for me to teach my kids about empathy, compassion, and equality when the gap between … [Read more...]

When an Ideology Requires a Name Change


We wanted to adopt a name that reflected our approach to Jewish life, a name that reflects our vision and mission, one that embraces the far reaches of the Jewish community. By Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky The Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI) was founded over 25 years ago at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). The organization served to support the academic inquiry of its founder, Dr. Egon Mayer, of blessed memory, a sociologist known for his foundational research into the incipient phenomenon of intermarriage. As its first president and volunteer leader, David Belin, of blessed memory, was cofounder of JOI. As a scholastic endeavor, focused on intermarriage, the organizational name served it well - and continued to do so for many years. Over the years, the operating … [Read more...]

The Move to the Apple Remote, Part 3: UF Hillel’s Three Buttons

By Rabbi Adam Grossman [The most recent article, “Move to the Apple Remote, Part 2: Why UF Hillel Exists,” outlined UF Hillel’s strategy to better impact and establish relevancy for students and communities. This piece illustrates how Birthright, Career Growth and Leadership Development will enhance student engagement with UF Hillel, empower students to transform Jewish communities post-college and find meaning through a Jewish lens.] 525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year? The line, from the song “Seasons of Love” in the Broadway show Rent asks, with this exact amount of minutes in a year, what are we going to do. When a student arrives on campus, the options to fill up this time, beyond coursework and sleep, are limitless. A new student at the University of Florida can connect with over … [Read more...]

What a Paper Plate Says About My Jewish Identity

paper plate for Rudy Brandt

By Rudy Brandt I just returned from living in Israel for four months on a high school semester study abroad program called NFTY-EIE High School in Israel. I was looking around my room at all of the things that made up who I was before I had left and found new parts of myself among the ruins and sand in the homeland of my people. As my eyes glanced over to my bed, my desk and then my shelves, something caught my attention. Sitting on the shelf was a paper plate, propped up by old books. The plate was expertly decorated by a couple of Crayola markers and in clear block lettering it read, “Rudy Brandt: Most likely to spend every weekend of her high school career going from one Jewish event to another.” I smiled to myself as I read the paper plate award and thought, “how true - how totally … [Read more...]