It’s Not Over: What’s Not Being Said About Long Term Recovery and Natural Disasters

Jewish Disaster Response Corps volunteers - Hurricane Sandy relief; photo courtesy.

We show up to volunteer when the chaos first touches down, but we disappear when the opportunity to truly help arises. By Samantha Kanofsky It’s been two years since I moved to New York, and two years since Hurricane Sandy hit - marking my initiation to East Coast weather and to the inspiring (and sometimes frustrating) world of long term recovery. The first event my roommates and I ever ran as a Brooklyn Moishe House was a cleanup day in Red Hook, bailing water out of washing machines and hauling unbelievable amounts of debris out of sodden backyards. … [Read more...]

Embracing Cheshvan – Illuminating the Fog

Bradley Caro Cook, Founder, Project Beyond

The weeks immediately following the overwhelming month of Tishrei, heavy with Jewish holidays, are always daunting. The workweek seems suddenly endless, the days too long. The lists of things to do stretch on and on, and there are no excuses - we can no longer hide behind out of office automatic replies. It is now time to begin to honor all of the commitments we made, to ourselves and to each other, and we often do not know where or how to begin. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, who wrote poetic introductions to each of the Jewish months in his work Meged Yerachim, says the following about the month of Cheshvan, the month following Tishrei, in which there are no Jewish holidays at all: When the soul shines, even skies laden with fog illuminate a pleasant light. Rav Kook is challenging us to … [Read more...]

TC Jewfolk: A New Model for a New Generation

By Leora Maccabee Itman When I moved back to my hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 2009 after college and law school, I wanted to connect with the Jewish community on my own terms. I wanted to find an online hub where I could learn about Jewish social, cultural and spiritual events and volunteer opportunities for young adults in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and then plug into them. I wanted to “do Jewish” surrounded by my peers, and hopefully meet a good-looking guy and a couple of great friends in the process. Unfortunately, I quickly found out that this online information hub didn’t exist. Instead, learning about Jewish opportunities for young adults in the Twin Cities was a difficult and often frustrating piecemeal process. I knew I wasn’t the only person with these … [Read more...]

It’s Not (Just) About the Numbers

By Rabbi Adam Greenwald and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson In our last piece in eJewishPhilanthropy we argued for the necessity of investing in conversion preparation programs as a response to our communal demographic crisis. We are a small - and as the studies all suggest - dwindling people and so it is a numerical imperative for our survival that we not only retain the Jews we already have, but open the doors to add in all those who are potentially interested to join our family. … [Read more...]

Southern Israel Comes Back to Life Thanks to the Jewish People

Children from southern Israel participate in a special summer camp run by The Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror. Photo credit: Sarah Bronson for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

By Rany Trainin At the conclusion of Simchat Torah, I had the opportunity to experience a truly moving event. More than one thousand people spanning four generations, all of them members and residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the past and the present, gathered to celebrate the end of the kibbutz's sixtieth birthday year. As residents of the Gaza border region, the kibbutz members also took the opportunity to mark a return to normalcy after a turbulent and difficult summer. As Deputy Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel and a longtime resident of the region, I was overcome with emotion upon being asked to greet the gathering on behalf of the Jewish world. The event took place thanks to the support of The Jewish Agency and the entire Jewish people, whose contributions made the emotional and … [Read more...]

The Tent: Helping Jewish Leaders Look Through New Prisms

By Larry Glickman Leading a Jewish community can be a daunting task. Whether you lead your community as clergy, professional staff, or lay leadership, we all do our sacred work through different prisms. We work through the prism of spirituality. The Torah and other teachings of our ancestors guide our communities with holiness and wisdom. We work through the prism of the history of our community. Every community has experienced its own victories and challenges, and those experiences often inform how the community is led today. We work through the prism of expertise and best practices. We bring information from our “day jobs,” and we learn from others who do the same work we do. What fresh ideas do they have? What do they do that has worked or failed? These are all prisms I have looked … [Read more...]

A Bill of Rights for Conversion Candidates

Bill of Rights

I propose that the American Jewish community adopt a Bill of Rights for Conversion Candidates, to be agreed upon by any of my rabbinic colleagues engaged in the holy work of preparing individuals (and their families) to join the Jewish People. By Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan I have heard enough from those who are going through or have gone through naturalization to the Jewish people. Even before the recent revelations (to be fair, allegations) regarding one of the lead rabbis in Orthodox Jewish conversions [I prefer "naturalization," as it indicates joining the Jewish people, not merely the religion], it had become clear that the entire system was broken and that potential converts were often being misled or taken advantage of. It is not my place to detail the abuses in the system, which are, … [Read more...]

On “Activism in Challenging Times”

By Russel Neiss Like many others who read eJPhil, I am both aware and so thoroughly appreciative of the work of Lynn Schusterman as an individual, and in her role as the Founder and Co-Chair of the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the amazing work that she has helped support in the Jewish and broader community. Which was one of the reasons I was quite surprised and saddened to read Ms. Schusterman's piece in Sunday's eJPhil advocating for a cancellation of the Metropolitan Opera's performance of The Death of Klinghoffer writing that it, "presents a singular viewpoint about a horrific act of terrorism, contains language that can only be described as anti-Semitic and goes so far as to imply moral equivalence between the Nazis and Jews." I don't know if she, like many of the … [Read more...]