We Believe in Synagogues

by Andi Rosenthal and Cantor Adina Frydman Dear Friends, It is astonishing to consider how deep our connections are to our five thousand year old ancestors in the Exodus story. With the approach of Passover, we imagine them, somehow connecting to the tectonic shifts of peoplehood, tension and anxiety characterized by the Pesach narrative. We cannot help but feel their sense of displacement, liberation, and awe at the miracles that awaited them. … [Read more...]

Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education Experiences Show Increased Potential for Jewish Engagement

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Experiences that blend Jewish learning with the outdoors, food, and environment are attracting a growing number of diverse Jews to meaningful and inspiring Jewish life, reports the first-ever national survey on Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) - Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE). The report, released today by a group of six major funders and Hazon, examines the history, programs, professionals, and participants that comprise JOFEE experiences. Leaders of JOFEE are eager to share the key findings and continue a conversation about its potential for growth and for Jewish engagement. “For the last decade, a growing number of young Jewish people have been connecting Jewish tradition, on the one … [Read more...]

UJA-Fed NY Selects “Professional Outsider” as New CEO

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Eric Goldstein, a financial litigation lawyer and vice chair of the Federation, has been selected as the new CEO at UJA-Federation of New York. This according to a report in The Forward: “According to his professional resume he has represented many high profile Wall Street clients, including JPMorgan Chase, which he defended from class action suits after the 2008 collapse of Bear Stearns. Goldstein represented junk bond billionaire Michael Milken who, in a plea deal, was convicted of securities fraud in 1990. Goldstein also defended Milken against numerous civil cases and a class action suit filed against him in connection with this case.” UJA-Federation's Board was originally scheduled to vote on Goldstein's appointment earlier in the week. A snowstorm caused rescheduling of the meeting to … [Read more...]

Deepening the Impact of Professional Development

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Perhaps this year the Jewish community can commit itself to taking professional development to the next level, identifying what it might threaten if it is taken seriously, and learning to tolerate some discomfort, some awkwardness, for the sake of swifter, smoother, healthier movement. by Maya Bernstein I recently invested in swimming lessons. I love to swim; it is one of my regular ways of exercising. But when an old injury began hurting each time I was in the water, and when my father shared that he’d recently torn a rotator cuff while swimming, I decided that if I am going to continue swimming, I’d better get a few pointers. At first, the lessons were fun - I felt like a kid again. Then, I realized something. Each time I was in a lesson, I’d turn, stroke, and kick the way the instructor was … [Read more...]

Bring Another CEO to Work Day

by Naomi Korb Weiss and Bob Sherman At a November 2012 intimate breakfast for executives at UJA-Federation of New York, a facilitator suggested casually that participants in the room consider ‘reverse-shadowing’ one another to gain insights into other management styles and organizations. Two such executives took this suggestion to heart; below they each share the immense insights they gained from just two days. His Hers Name The Jewish Education Project (result of recent merger between Board of Jewish Education of Greater NY and SAJES PresenTense Group Age of Agency 133 years old 7 years old Mission To increase the impact and expand the reach of Jewish education for today's children, teens and families To strengthen the Jewish community by equipping social … [Read more...]

Lies, Damned Lies and Big Data

by Russel Neiss Nary a day goes by that there isn't yet another response to what seems to be an endless myriad of reactions to the Pew Study. And this week, JTA reported on a $750,000 initiative by the NY Fed for twelve NY-based congregations to promote "more sophisticated data use among synagogues." Ostensibly, these and countless other "data driven" initiatives going back to the establishment of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research in 1919 have existed in order to facilitate and support the work of Jewish educators and communal professionals and help them engage in the holy work they do - but I wonder if our fetishizing of these figures is doing more harm than good. A Mashal: Robert McNamara was appointed as the U.S. secretary of defense when the Vietnam conflict began to rear its ugly … [Read more...]

Jewish Peoplehood: From Concept-Building to People-Building

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 11 - Jewish Peoplehood in Practice - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] The Case of the Peoplehood Education Toolkit by Clare Goldwater and Shlomi Ravid Historians of Jewish communal history may well describe the last two decades as the period of the rude awakening to the crisis of Jewish Peoplehood. The long-term impacts of the forces of modernity and sociology on one hand, and lack of response on the other, have combined to shake the foundations of Jewish collective identity. Jews of different backgrounds and commitments have less and less to do with each other, the sense of a joint fate and common destiny is fading away rapidly and the feeling of a joint responsibility for fellow Jews and for the Jewish enterprise is … [Read more...]

Peoplehood Education Toolkit Released

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The Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education, in cooperation with UJA Federation-New York, has released a Peoplehood Education Toolkit. This is a comprehensive resource for Jewish educators and communal leaders interested in questions of Jewish collective belonging, global community and mutual responsibility. There are tools for dealing with WHY to teach about Jewish Peoplehood, HOW to do it well and WHAT to do. … [Read more...]