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...]

Ten-Timers

[The following essay appears as an introduction to Slingshot ’14-’15, the 10th edition of Slingshot: A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation. The Guide, a go-to resource for volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects, help ensures the Jewish community remains relevant and thriving. We wanted to post this valuable essay separately, and hope you enjoy the insights from the innovative organizations below, which have been featured in all 10 editions of Slingshot. To learn more about the organizations featured in the guide, visit www.slingshotfund.org/directory.] To celebrate the milestone of Slingshot’s tenth anniversary, we have taken the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those organizations that have been highlighted in Slingshot ten years in a row. We … [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...]

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...]

Generations & Re-Generation: Implications for Sustaining the Jewish Community

New language, new ideas and new ways to define connections are needed if we are to adapt as a community to the many new opportunities for engagement emerging from every corner of our culture. By David Elcott and Stuart Himmelfarb In the time since we founded B3/The Jewish Boomer Platform, we have endeavored to change the conversation about aging and its implications for strengthening Jewish life in the United States. Our initial survey (in 2009) indicated that Baby Boomers are a vulnerable population, open to Jewish institutions, programs, and resources, but not wedded to them. In the ensuing years, we expanded our efforts with an exploration of the attitudes, behaviors and fidelity of the four adult cohorts in the Jewish community. This new survey, which examines more affiliated and engaged … [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...]

Introducing the Slingshot Class of 2014 – 2015

national_guide_slingshot-14-15_copy

Slingshot has released Slingshot ‘14 - ‘15 - its tenth annual guide to North America’s most innovative Jewish organizations. The Guide, a go-to resource for volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects, will help ensure the Jewish community remains relevant and thriving. Among the hundreds of organizations that applied for inclusion 82 were selected, and were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. Slingshot also published three smaller editions and supplements to accompany the Slingshot Guide. There are two regional editions, the Slingshot DC Edition and the Slingshot Midwest Edition, which highlight 18 and 21 organizations, respectively. … [Read more...]