Your Daily Phil: New survey on religious participation in the Reconstructionist movement + The third anniversary of the Tree of Life attack

Good Wednesday morning!

Today is the third anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Jewish community there will hold a commemoration ceremony this afternoon to remember the 11 worshippers killed in the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history.

Reboot, the Jewish creative network, is launching a new brand for a vinyl record series of film scores Reboot is creating to pair with historical movies, Reboot CEO David Katznelson told eJewishPhilanthropy.

The music Reboot created for Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 film “The Ten Commandments” will be the first one preserved under the “REBOOT RESCORED” label. That project is already underway, but the record won’t be available until as long as eight months from now, due to the surging popularity of the old-fashioned technology. Reboot’s score for the 1920 film “The Golem” will be recorded next, with liner notes offering commentary from the artists.

Katznelson, himself a music producer, is involved in REBOOT RESCORED, as are network members such as photo historian Maya Benton and musicians Steve Berlin, Jeremiah Lockwood and Rebecca Odes. “The way we do all of our projects at Reboot is that network members drive the project and the Reboot staff are there to add support,” Katznelson said.

Reboot is in discussions with the Israel Film Archive/Jerusalem Cinematheque about collaborating on a similar effort, Katznelson said. The organization is trying to raise about $150,000 for scores, licensing, production and live performances.


New study shows most Reconstructionist synagogues restrict interfaith ritual participation

Congregation Shir Hadash; Wheeling, Ill.

The Reconstructing Judaism movement prides itself on being welcoming and inclusive when it comes to participation by partners from different faiths, but many congregations draw a line in the sand when it comes to Jewish ritual by restricting participation by interfaith partners. That’s one key takeaway from a new survey of Reconstructing Judaism synagogues from the Center for Radically Inclusive Judaism (CFRIJ). The results reflect the continued importance of religious distinctions in the culture of Reconstructing Judaism, Rabbi Maurice Harris, the associate director of the movement’s congregational arm, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Religious distinctions: “We want Reconstructionist peoplehood to function in a way that’s open, welcoming and warm, but that’s also not going to erase all the differences between who is a member of the people and who is not,” Harris said, adding that many non-Jewish members of Reconstructionist synagogues want their differences to be acknowledged, even as they want to feel fully a part of their community. Just under half of the congregations surveyed will allow interfaith partners to bless the Torah or light Shabbat candles only in the company of someone who is Jewish, the survey found. Almost 90% count partners from different faith backgrounds as voting members, and 68% permit them to serve as board members.

Fully inclusive: In 87% of the congregations, some or all of the clergy will officiate in some capacity at interfaith weddings, and the same percentage will permit interfaith weddings to take place in their worship space. Less than a quarter of the congregations’ clergy will co-officiate with a leader from another faith. As many as a third of the congregations take a fully inclusive approach toward interfaith families and partners. “We try to articulate being a community of people drawn to each other and to our style of spiritual journey without doing any traditional Jewish gatekeeping,” wrote one of the respondents.

Disaffiliation and alienation: CFRIJ, which conducted the survey with cooperation from Harris and the movement, defines full inclusion as treating partners from different faith backgrounds as equal to their Jewish partners. Allowing interfaith partners to lead rituals by themselves is a key measure of inclusion, said Edmund Case, CFRIJ founder and conductor of the study. Jewish religious communities need to be more inclusive lest they make interfaith partners feel like outsiders, which will result in continued declines in membership and affiliation rates, Case said.

Read the full article here.


To prevent a crisis of clergy burnout, help them cultivate their inner lives


“As a spate of recent articles have proclaimed, clergy face a crisis. Here at eJewishPhilanthropy, Rabbi Lewis Kamrass warned of the real possibility of an exodus of rabbis from congregational life, due to the extreme additional emotional and professional burdens imposed upon them by the pandemic,” writes Rabbi Marc Margolius, senior program director at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Full catastrophe living: “To address the root causes of burnout, Jewish clergy themselves — liberal, Orthodox and of every stripe — need spiritual practices and resources to help them navigate periods of ‘full catastrophe living’ (in the phrase popularized by mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn) with grace, resilience and wisdom. This has, in fact, been our approach to working with over 500 clergy across denominations over the last two decades at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. As part of our Clergy Leadership Program, we bring rabbis and cantors on retreat and engage them in spiritual practices including mindfulness meditation, contemplative study and prayer. We do this not so that they ‘take time out’ or gulp down some oxygen in order to then get ‘back in the race,’ but rather that they become more able to experience all moments of their work and life as opportunities for witnessing and lifting up awareness of the divine.”

Self-compassion: “This approach to Jewish mindfulness practices empowers clergy so that in times of stress they are better able to remain present in body, mind and spirit — present for their congregants, themselves and the divine. Through their practice, clergy learn to exercise self-compassion rather than berating themselves for not being able to ‘do it all’ and do it ‘perfectly.’ By becoming more tender and compassionate towards themselves, they learn to be more compassionate as well to those they serve.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Play Ball: Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch talks to Jake Mintz, one-half of the creative duo behind @cespedesBBQ, the parody Twitter account that launched the Maryland native and his childhood classmate Jake Shusterman into careers as sports commentators, first with Major League Baseball, and now at the Fox Sports Network. “The pair attended middle school at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville. They began to bond over a shared love of baseball when Shusterman left for high school… ‘We realized that the other person was one of the few people we knew who also liked baseball,’ said Mintz.” [JI]

Business News: Reid Hoffman, George Soros and other investors have launched Good Information Inc., a new public benefit corporation, whose mission is to combat disinformation by investing in local news companies and in other businesses that disseminate fact-based information, reports Sara Fischer in Axios. Tara McGowan, a Democratic strategist who ran a nonprofit called ACRONYM, which produced a $100 million digital campaign against President Donald Trump in 2020, said the group is open to investing in fact-based publications across the political spectrum: “The information crisis we’re in is so much bigger than politics,” she said. [Axios]

Turning Point: The Manhattan College Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center, which is part of a Roman Catholic school and led by a Muslim woman, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, writes Michael Hinman in a Riverdale Press article about the origins and future of this unlikely institution. Frederick Schweitzer, a Manhattan College professor, laid the groundwork for the center when a Catholic Church leader asked him to write a primer about Judaism, which in turn refocused Schweitzer’s career on the Holocaust and antisemitism. “For us, it was the Holocaust Resource Center, and it became the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Eduction Center,” Schweitzer said. “Its purview has broadened and deepened a good deal — which I didn’t anticipate, but I certainly accept.” [RiverdalePress]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated what is believed to be the country’s first museum dedicated to the Dreyfus affair… Hagee Ministries announced donations of $2.9 million to Israeli and Jewish charities at its 41st annual Night to Honor Israel… Bianca Sakol, the founder of Sebby’s Corner, an organization that has supported thousands of Afghan refugees and families struggling during the pandemic, received the prestigious Points of Light Award from the U.K.’s prime minister… According to a new Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s report, giving to women’s and girls’ organizations represents 1.9% of total charitable giving in the U.S…. UJA-Federation of New York launched a new online tool to analyze the pandemic-related needs and experiences of Jewish households in the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester County… Through a partnership between Code Kevudah and Met Council on Jewish Poverty, a coding program is helping women in the New York Orthodox Jewish community pursue software development and technology jobs… OLAM is holding its annual Focal Point conference virtually next week, bringing together Jewish leaders, funders, international development practitioners and global volunteering alumni… The Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative will offer its latest session in a series of professional development training programs for mikvah attendants and administrators… Hidden Sparks, an organization focused on providing Jewish day school teachers with the tools to support struggling students in mainstream classrooms, opened enrollment for its December Learning Lenses Course… Link correction: An opinion piece published yesterday by Prizmah’s Amy Adler can be found here.

Pic of the Day

Sam Churchill

The first March of the Living delegation since the start of the coronavirus pandemic visited Bergen-Belsen yesterday. The delegation, which is from the U.K. and consisted of four survivors and 80 participants, attended a memorial ceremony held by the survivors and two representatives of the British Army.


Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Israeli actress best known for playing Eve in the Netflix series “Lucifer,” Inbar Lavi… 
Professor emeritus of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, Jeremiah Stamler… Pacific Palisades, Calif., resident, Gordon Gerson… Producer and director, his films include “Animal House,” “Meatballs,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters” and “Twins,” Ivan Reitman… Rabbi emeritus at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom, Gary Glickstein… Author, actress and comedian, Fran Lebowitz… Senior vice president at MarketVision Research, Joel M. Schindler… CEO of Jewish Creativity International, Robert Goldfarb… Television writer, director and producer, Peter Marc Jacobson… Specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the Congressional Research Service, Dr. Kenneth Katzman… Co-owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and English soccer club Manchester United, Bryan Glazer… New York State senator from Manhattan, Brad Hoylman… Creator and editor of the Drudge ReportMatt Drudge… Hasidic cantor and singer known by his first and middle names, Shlomo Simcha Sufrin… Managing partner of the Los Angeles office of HR&A Advisors, Andrea Batista Schlesinger… Television meteorologist at The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams… Deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, Alexander F. G. Soros… Senior advisor for policy and engagement for USAID’s COVID-19 Task Force, Elizabeth “Liz” Leibowitz… Executive producer of online content at WTSP in St. Petersburg, Fla., Theresa Collington… Senior strategist at Red Balloon Security, Andrew J. Taub… Senior manager at Keko Washington, Stephanie Arbetter… Co-founder of New York City-based Arch Labs, Ryan Eisenman
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