The Day After. The Day Before.

By Hamutal Gouri War, as Lorraine Schneider, said in a famous poster created in 1966, is not healthy for children and other living things. War takes a terrible toll. It challenges the resilience of communities. It takes life. It leaves parents grieving for their children, wives for their spouses, children for their parents. It leaves deep wounds that never quite heal. … [Read more...]

Rosh Hashanah – Jewish Anxiety

By Rafi Cooper “Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.” Classic Woody Allen. Classic Jewish anxiety. Being Jewish is often characterised, particularly in the modern media’s imagination, as this Allenesque mix between a kind of unspoken self-confidence and a self-deprecating comedic front, masking a sense of unease with oneself. As Rosh Hashanah approaches, this question of Jewish anxiety always springs up at me. I wonder what Isaac thought as his father was binding him to the altar. Was he anxious? Surely if anyone had the right to be anxious, it would be him (understatement being another classic Jewish trait). For centuries, Jewish thinking has debated what was going through Isaac’s mind. This debate will go on. Suffice to say here, if Isaac was feeling more than a … [Read more...]

Israel Can’t Do Without US Jewry

By Jay Ruderman The State of Israel has been through quite a difficult two and a half months - but at the same time, so have the Jewish communities all around the world. The US Jewry followed the situation in Israel with a great amount of concern, while its representatives worked with all their might in Washington, in a bid to defend Israel's interests and desires in front of the American administration. Despite the different outlooks of the United States' leaders over the years, the relationship between Israel and its greatest friend in the world remained vital to its future and to securing its existence. Through military aid of $3 billion a year, alongside diplomatic support, America was and still is the strongest power in the world which chooses to stand by Israel in moments when most … [Read more...]

Now Is The Time: An Opportunity for Deeper Israel Education

How do you teach about Israel in the constant specter of crisis? By Ari Naveh On October 16, 1973, as Jews all over gathered together to ask for redemption, the world changed. That evening, Egyptian and Syrian forces led surprise attacks on the Northern and Southern borders of Israel, beginning the war that would change the scope and perspective of Israeli society in ways that we are still feeling to this day. The war, especially the nature of its unforeseen attacks, left a nation that so joyously celebrated a victory just six years earlier reeling, anxious, confused, and disappointed. While Israel was eventually victorious in the Yom Kippur War, somehow this victory felt different, pyrrhic. Given the unfortunate circumstances that unfolded this past summer, it is safe to say that many of … [Read more...]

Experiential Jewish Education: What We Are Doing To Grow It.

By Shuki Taylor [This is an introductory article to a series dedicated to experiential Jewish education that will be published over the coming weeks.] In recent years, the field of experiential Jewish education (EJE) has been subject to much attention. Many Jewish institutions have created new positions - or reframed existing ones - that focus on EJE. New master’s and certificate programs are being offered, and they attract a growing number of applicants. Opinions for and against the development of the field of EJE have been published - many of them on these pages - and many EJE-related achievements have been publically celebrated. Most recently, I was struck by the words of Dr. Daniel Pekarsky who so profoundly described experiential Jewish education as an opportunity “to ensure that … [Read more...]

Moving From Jewish Programming to Inspired Judaism

When people ask me what comes after Moishe House, I no longer believe it can be another Jewish program. It has to be Judaism. By David Cygielman There is a lot of conversation about the notion of “free” in the Jewish community, particularly around college and young adult programming. As a community, we are struggling with the transition from a Jewish world that not only is free, but also provides huge opportunities at little or no cost if you just show up, to the stage that comes next. This “free” programming comes in stark contrast to the reality that living an active Jewish life is actually quite expensive. I am now in my 30s and see the cost side as more of a byproduct than the actual root of the issue. We have plenty of evidence that young people will pay for things, but it is based on … [Read more...]

Crisis, Opportunity and Engaging Birthrighters

By Andrew Fretwell Moments of crisis often reveal many insights about our Jewish community, if we can decode them properly. What can this “moment,” this conflict in Gaza and swelling tide of global anti-Semitism, teach us about our community here in the United States? Right now, we can see whether or not we provide a Jewish space where we can safely wrestle with ourselves and one another - specifically about Israel - and grow our ideas and relationships in the process. Our aspirations for how future generations of American Jews relate to Israel will in many ways be determined by the presence of such spaces. The 265,000 young American Jews who have gone on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips offer an unprecedented opportunity to reinvigorate our community’s culture of reflection and ideation. … [Read more...]

Birthright Israel and Intermarriage

By Edmund Case and Jodi Bromberg Taglit-Birthright Israel may well be the most effective program ever designed and implemented to strengthen Jewish engagement among young Jews. A just-released study confirms many positive impacts of Birthright Israel on marriage and family choices. At InterfaithFamily we greatly appreciate that participation in Birthright Israel is open to young adult Jews whose parents are intermarried; the new study says that 17% of participants from 2001 to 2006 have one Jewish parent and that recent trip cohorts include a larger proportion of those individuals. We have published several articles by trip participants about their very positive trip experiences and hope they have had some effect in alleviating any concerns children of intermarried parents might have about … [Read more...]