This Mothers Day, Celebrate Moms (of other religious backgrounds) who Make a Difference

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By Zohar Rotem Think about the moms in your life - the ones you will celebrate this Mothers Day. How have they made a difference in your life? In the lives of those you care about? Our parents have done so much to make us the adult individuals we have become, but moms are special. When it comes to childrearing, and especially when it comes to instilling a religious and cultural identity in children, moms still carry the lion share of the burden. Even after decades of great strides toward gender equality, it is mom, more often than not, who drives her children to Hebrew school, who coordinates play dates with Jewish peers, who plans and executes holiday gatherings and celebrations. So when it comes to the Jewish identity of our next generation, we have only two words for the moms in our lives - … [Read more...]

Why Are We in Nepal?

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By Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll Israelis are used to seeing our country run to assist when natural disasters strike. Think Haiti, Turkey and Japan. We are used to our soldiers being on the front lines not waiting for others to do the work. We know our engineers, medics and doctors work to solve global problems and save lives. Syrian fighters find themselves given the best medicine and technology Israel has to offer. Children of terrorists and sworn enemies receive life saving care here... We are so used to these things, that no one is fazed or surprised that we are doing it again. We are proud, but we expect it. I do not have all of the figures and if I did I probably couldn't really comprehend them, but 260 Israelis have left their homes and families to run to a disaster zone. Millions of … [Read more...]

Making Jewish E-Learning Accessible to All

By Aaron Richmond I had a bar mitzvah, have been to Israel twice, recently graduated college, and am 22. I also happen to be blind. Like most young Jews, I want our Jewish community to be welcoming and respectful of all. Thus, I was excited to see the report by the extremely highly regarded Avi Chai Foundation, http://avichai.org/knowledge_base/onlineblended-learning-state-of-the-field-survey-summary-findings-report-2014, which focuses on online learning. This is a relatively new field that is extremely promising for differentiated learners - i.e. gifted learners, people with learning disabilities, and everyone else in between. I happen to be a “typical” learner in my speed, but because I am blind, documents need to be what is called “screen reader accessible.” That is because most people with … [Read more...]

Developing Loving Rabbis & Jewish Professionals

By Aryeh Ben David Today, our rabbis and Jewish professionals are trained to be successful community leaders. They are smart, articulate, learned, motivated, and creative. They are trained in Jewish learning, counseling skills, and organizational proficiency. But what would happen if a central element of their training was developing, enhancing, and increasing their capacity for loving and compassion? Rabbi Akiva said that “loving your fellow person” was the central foundation of Torah. We follow the rulings of Hillel and not Shammai - not because Hillel was smarter or more persuasive, but because Hillel was kinder and more humble. We want Jewish law to foster a community of people behaving like Hillel - kind and humble. Are we there now? I have 4 questions: Are our rabbis and … [Read more...]

Shaping Intentionally Inviting Communities: LGBTQ Inclusion in Conservative Synagogues

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By Rabbi Joshua Rabin and Catherine Bell In 2002, an essay appeared in David Shneer and Caryn Aviv’s book Queer Jews entitled “In the Aron Kodesh,” an anonymous piece by a gay rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The essay described his silent struggle with wanting to serve as a rabbi in a movement that, at the time, would not accept his sexual identity. He wrestled with why he remained both closeted and committed to a movement which wanted to turn him away. His answer? “I want to change the movement from within. I want to make sure that future gay and lesbian rabbinical students do not need to lead double lives, but will be able to serve as role models for their communities as complete human beings” (Queer Jews, page 107). Over ten years later, much has changed in the … [Read more...]

Re-Declaring Independence

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By Noga Brenner Samia and Elliot Vaisrub Glassenberg This past Wednesday night, on the eve of Independence Day, over 200 Israeli leaders, scholars, artists, educators, students and members of the general public filled Independence Hall on Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv. They gathered at the very site Israel was declared a state 67 years ago, to hear four women leaders re-read and re-interpret the Declaration of Independence. Hannah Kehat, Anat Hoffman, Orit Kamir and Hadassah Froman shared their thoughts on the nature and future of Israeli democracy inspired by and based upon the Israeli Declaration of Independence. At the same time in Jerusalem, New York, Chicago, and cities throughout Israel, hundreds more gathered to read and re-declare Israeli independence, as part of a growing … [Read more...]