New Partnership Between JDate and Ramah Aims to Connect Camp Alumni

RamahDate

The first-ever partnership between JDate and a Jewish camping movement has launched. A project of the Reshet Ramah alumni and community engagement initiative, RamahDate will offer former Ramah campers and staff members the opportunity to connect online with other Ramah alumni 18 years of age and older who share the passion for vibrant Jewish life that characterizes the Camp Ramah experience. A well-established, industry leader, JDate is responsible for more Jewish marriages than all other online dating sites combined. Online dating has become increasingly prevalent in the last decade; Jews who married in 2011 were more than twice as likely to have used online dating than those married in 2003. RamahDate members will subscribe to JDate through an exclusive link for Ramah alumni only and receive … [Read more...]

Just the Facts! Ten Key Indicators of American Jewish Behavior

By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. Policy and planning begin with an understanding of core data on how a group behaves or performs within a society. Introduced below is a “snapshot” of Jewish communal trends: Unlike many other ethnic and religious communities in the United States, Jews are today primarily concentrated in only a few major urban settings, namely the metropolitan New York area, Southern California, South Florida, metropolitan Chicago, and the Bay Area. While there are significant, and in some cases, historic Jewish communities residing elsewhere across the United States, these five population centers are crucial to the American Jewish communal system. Jews define themselves primarily as professionals and are amongst the most educated ethnic and religious community within this … [Read more...]

Why a Bar Mitzvah Isn’t a DIY Event

By Vicky Glikin A congregant brought to my attention a recent Crain’s article that discusses the growing phenomenon of the “do-it-yourself b’nai mitzvah.” While the article does contain one quote by a rabbi decrying this practice as completely missing the point of what it means to become a bar mitzvah, the bulk of the article covers the reasons some parents choose to have a DIY bar mitzvah, as well as the benefits some clergy members and Hebrew tutors see in providing these services. The benefits as described in the article can be summarized as follows: Convenience: private tutor scheduling sessions around the child’s schedule rather than the synagogue’s schedule Personalization: the experience being “anything, but cookie-cutter” versus synagogues, which one rabbi (who officiates at … [Read more...]

Sinai in Columbus

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By Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D. That’s exactly how it felt for those of us who gathered to revisit 30 spectacular years of the Wexner Foundation, my vote for the experiment with the greatest vision and long-term promise for 21st-century Jewry. The brain child of Leslie Wexner in Columbus, the Foundation has quietly but systematically been establishing a coalition of partners who can change the world: a generation of young Israelis brought to Harvard to learn leadership and business entrepreneurship; a cadre of young adults about to enter careers in Jewish organizational leadership; and a massive cohort of Jewish men and women in every major city in North America, who have been given the Jewish education they always wanted paired with vision to lead the communities that they serve. Just two … [Read more...]

Seeing is Believing: Visual T’filot and the Future of Jewish Worship

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By Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D. Three years ago, my synagogue agreed to install large retractable screens on either side of the Ark and mounted projectors on the back wall of our 900 seat sanctuary. With almost no resistance, we quickly transitioned from late 15th century technology to early 21th century modalities of communicating. It was a relatively easy process. In addition to her musical talents, our Cantor discovered she had an inherent talent for developing liturgical power point. What size font, which colors, Hebrew versus transliteration, translation versus epitomes of the text, iconic images versus new art and still life versus video instantly presented themselves as questions we needed to address. One by one, we worked our way through the various technological and philosophical … [Read more...]

“Jewish Revival” before Chabad: The Legacy of Herbert S. Goldstein

West Side Institutional Synagogue; photo via Wikipedia

By Dr Gil Graff Recent biographies of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe have, appropriately, underscored the extraordinary leadership of Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his father-in-law, Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, in "kiruv" - drawing Jews nearer Torah and a connection with mitzvot (one mitzvah at a time). By the end of the 20th century, not only Chabad, but such entities as Aish ha-Torah, Ohr Somayach, and community kolelim combining daily study with adult education, were among an expanding array of kiruv organizations in North America. Lesser known, however, is that a generation before the appearance of Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson on the shores of the United States (1940), a significant "Jewish revival" initiative was mounted in New York by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein. A 1914 graduate of the Jewish … [Read more...]

Educating Rabbis for Jews without Borders

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By Rabbi Hayim Herring, PhD A Generous Community [What goes into the making of a 21st Century rabbinical leader? In this latest series of essays to be published on eJP, we share thoughts from Rabbi David Teutsch, Ph.D., Rabbi Ellen Lewis, Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg and Rabbi Hayim Herring, Ph.D. The first three essays originally appeared in, “Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation on Rabbinical Educartion,” Avenida Books, December 2014. This final essay is newly written for eJP and looks at how we may respond to the paradigm shift currently underway in the North American Jewish Community.] ***** Writing an essay for a publication is a generous act, so thank you to the thirty-three contributors - rabbis, lay people and educators of rabbis - to the print volume of Keeping Faith in … [Read more...]