“I Thought I was Dead”: Polls as a Casualty of the Israeli Elections

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By Leonard Saxe, Charles Kadushin, and Theodore Sasson A bold headline in Ha’aretz on the day after the Israeli election read, “When I was told about the results, I thought I was dead.” The quote was not by the leader of the defeated Zionist Union party, but by Professor Camil Fuchs, a distinguished survey statistician and lead consultant for several pre- and post-election polls. His polls, along with others reported by the Israeli press, were “dead wrong,” underestimating Netanyahu’s support by 50% in pre-election polls and post-election exit polls, and overstating Herzog’s vote by more than 10%. The polling expert was not the only one initially misled. Relying, in part, on these polls, the Israel media predicted a Netanyahu debacle. Some of the press acknowledged that they were biased by … [Read more...]

Unshackling the Chains of Spiritual Poverty

By Ted Dreier Children are organically connected. When a child asks about the nature of a snail, sees the beauty of a star-studded night's sky, bucks convention unknowingly by taking up an unusual hobby, or gets lost in his imagination, he is naturally expressing the nature of his soul. But when adults fail to acknowledge children, these young souls suffer. A deep and unnecessary spiritual deficit can occur when these children are unsupported in exploring this healthy and natural wonder in the world. Tragically, our society often discourages youth from these types of expressions. As a result, their spiritual growth is stunted. In her book, The Soul of Education, nationally renowned educator and practitioner Rachel Kessler warns us what might lie ahead, imploring, “Do we need periodic reminders … [Read more...]

Can We Disrupt Religious School? – A Response

By Beverly Socher-Lerner In “Can We Disrupt Religious School?” Cousens is distressed over supplementary Jewish education’s inability to “get that much done.” At the same time, she acknowledges the need to disrupt but stops short of saying how to do that. Here are a few places I think we could start: 1. Move away from a model where “getting it done” is a goal unto itself. Instead, let’s take seriously John Dewey’s articulation that the learning process is only completed when we are in contexts where we can apply our learning. Let’s create Jewish learning environments where our students and their families are part of a culture where they get to practice what they learn and where their habits are distinctively communal and Jewish in nature. At Makom Community, a daily afterschool … [Read more...]

It Is No Longer Just Herzl’s Dream, It Is Our Future

By Karen Rubinstein For close to 35 years, I have had the opportunity to serve as the head of the American Zionist Movement. While the movement known as modern Zionism has been in place for well over a century, I believe we can all agree that the past thirty years have been a time to finally appreciate the sheer success of this movement. In Israel’s early years, the nation’s very existence was a huge question mark and for decades we were never quite sure whether the next attack from our enemies would be the fatal blow that would end our dream. In many ways that insecurity lasted into this modern period when not only was Israel able to survive, but the Jewish State began to truly thrive. The historic messages of turning the desert into farmland became more and more of a reality. The skyscrapers … [Read more...]

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

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By Shoshana Dweck and James A. Cohen A quick Internet search easily unearths maxims telling us that change is inevitable and challenges strengthen us. We are the first to admit that we were lucky to have taken on our roles as Federation president and Federation C.E.O. in an intermediate community that had three extraordinary attributes: the community was not only ready for change, it was demanding change; the lay leaders were willing to do the hard work of making those changes: and (most of) the community wanted us to succeed. We did not have the luxury of fearing change or kvetching about change or postponing change. We were given the mandate to make change from day one. One of the themes of President Obama's recent State of the Union Address was to encourage movement beyond the mentality of … [Read more...]

What Do We Need? Paid Family Leave. When Do We Need It? Now!

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By Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, Betsy Landis, and Stephanie Blumenkranz A Personal Perspective Four and a half years ago, following an uneventful pregnancy that didn’t cause me to miss a day of work, I gave birth to twin boys. I was really fortunate. Not every pregnancy goes this smoothly and there is nothing I did better than anyone else to produce this outcome. It is impossible to overstate how grateful I felt to work at AVODAH, an organization which guarantees up to six weeks of paid leave, in addition to working with me to combine sick and vacation days toward 12 weeks of leave, most of which were paid. My newborn boys were wonderful, but they were expensive and they did not come with a manual. The fact that I could have been without a job or without pay during this blessed and … [Read more...]

A Response to Cousens

By Ana Robbins In “Can We Disrupt Religious School?,” Beth Cousens argues poignantly that a revitalization of Jewish education in America will require more than a change in how we run our schools, it will require religious school to identify a new audience. A new audience? Who could Hebrew schools serve? The American Jewish community’s current model of religious schools within synagogues leaves an astonishing service gap. It does not serve Jewish kids whose families do not belong to synagogues ... most Jewish kids! What if religious school aimed to impact every Jewish child. What would it mean for the future of the Jewish people if we removed the barriers to accessing a Jewish education? By only discussing the challenges of synagogue Hebrew schools, we are missing the larger challenge: … [Read more...]