The Americanization of Tikkun Olam

By Jonathan Krasner When President Barack Obama declared at the first White House reception for Jewish American Heritage Month, in 2010, that America must “uphold the principle of tikkun olam - our obligation to repair the world,” he became the latest in a parade of prominent American politicians, celebrities and opinion-makers, including Bill Clinton, Cornell West and Madonna, to invoke the term. The Americanization of tikkun olam reflects its ubiquity in American Jewish life, where many religious and communal leaders identify it as a core Jewish value. … [Read more...]

Reflections on Global Anti-Semitism: Its Implications and Impact

Reflections on Global Anti-Semitism: Its Implications and Impact The New Assault on Jews, the State of Israel, and Western Civilization by Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. Throughout modern history anti-Semitism has been understood to represent a persistent threat to the welfare and security of the Jewish people. The current and more pronounced forms of global anti-Jewish behavior represent a different political phenomenon, presenting in turn a new challenge to the Jewish people and the larger society. Within recent weeks, one can identify from the events in France, Denmark, Belgium, and elsewhere elements of this alarming new form of political assault on Jews and the State of Israel. Intimidation and fear are the desired political outcomes on the part of those who seek create this trauma of hate. … [Read more...]

Managing the Fears of Change


By Dr Gabe Goldman This year the Pittsburgh Agency for Jewish Learning (AJL), supported by funding from the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, sponsored a series of workshops - called “K’hillot Kayamot: Sustainable Communities” - on congregational change. Congregation leadership teams met throughout the year with Debra Brosan, MA, OD, of GestaltWorks to identify needed changes and strategies for achieving them. My experience with K’hillot Kayamot (I attended the sessions as a representative of the AJL) brought to mind the daunting challenges I encountered a number of years ago, while working with the Board of a large Jewish organization of a major Midwestern Jewish community. The organization’s goal of expanding its work was being met by staff resistance that had morphed into a … [Read more...]

Last In Deed, First In Thought: Beit Makhshava and a New Jewish European Narrative

There can be no argument over facts, but the crux of the matter is how we fuse them into a distinct narrative and what that narrative does to our ability to change reality on the ground. By Oriol Poveda Europe is a wasteland. Anti-Semitism has reached a new historical pitch. European Jewry is in its terminal stage. Assimilate or emigrate. In the last few years, I have repeatedly been exposed to this narrative and it would be dangerous and foolish to deny the facts upon which it rests. There is no question that anti-Semitism, fueled by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and unsuccessful integration policies that have failed to tackle social exclusion, has gone on the offensive in Europe with fatal results. The recent terror attacks at the HyperCacher kosher market in Paris … [Read more...]

Jewish Camps: How is the Magic Made?

photo courtesy Blue Star Camps

By Joseph Reimer Many of us have become increasingly aware that Jewish summer camps make magic. Camps provide powerful Jewish bonding experiences that lead many youth to feel more passionate about their Judaism. Yet we are not exactly sure how this happens. There have been empirical studies that support the power of the camp experience. Yet there remains so much that we do not yet know about how camps make this magic or what it would take to make Jewish camps even more effective zones of Jewish learning. In order to tackle these questions, The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) and The Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) partnered to bring together last month front-line practitioners, researchers and funders to gather for a day of conversation and consultation. Together … [Read more...]

Speak Up

By Joanna Barker "Speak up for those who cannot speak, for the rights for the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, and champion the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8 As Proverbs 31:8 reminds us, we are to be advocates for those who may otherwise be marginalized by society. We must remember the lesson, “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Lazeh - All of Israel is responsible for one another.” This is something that all Jews should aim to achieve in every sphere of life. From our schools, to our family gatherings, to our synagogues and universities and beyond, this idea of responsibility for one another should be central in our lives. Over the past few years, synagogues have recognized the need to be more inclusive and have taken important steps to better support their students and members who have a … [Read more...]

A Call for a Global Movement to Fight Anti-Semitism

Copenhagen, 2013

By Barry Finestone Growing up as a Jew in Glasgow, Scotland, and living there for the first 23 years of my life, I never really faced any anti-Semitism. Yes, on rare occasion someone would utter a comment as I walked down the corridor of my public high school. And in college I heard the beginnings of the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist movement on campus that is so prevalent now. But by and large it was all good. As we grew older, my generation of Glasgow Jews left home. Many of us went to metropolitan areas, where the Jewish community is larger and opportunities greater. London was and still is the desired destination for the vast majority. In the past few years as I visited my friends in the United Kingdom and stayed in touch with them via social media, I could see that things have changed. Is … [Read more...]