Rabbi Joshua Waxman of Or Hadash in Ft. Washington, PA and Rabbi Nancy Epstein, JRF Director of Congregational Relations are both featured in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent article Congregations Grapple With Spiritual, Financial Woes. The article examines the way synagogues are managing the economic crisis and what services they are providing their congregants. Rabbi Waxman opens the article with sensitive but concrete measures to support his congregants.
Kol hakavod to Rabbi Brant Rosen, rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL, for being recognized in Newsweek magazine as one of the Top Pulpit Rabbis in America.
With Rosen's leadership, JRC is gaining notoriety as "America's greenest shul" for meeting the highest standards in green building practices in its recent renovation.
Newsweek's criteria were rabbis' inspirational abilities; leadership within the congregation, denomination and the community; and skills in meeting the spiritual and personal needs of congregants.
by Lisa Pemberton
This article originally appeared in The Olympian and is reprinted with permission.
Members of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia have envisioned a new synagogue for about 15 years.
"At one time, the (new building) committee was called TBH 2000," said Beth Halpern of Olympia. "When we first started, it seemed realistic." read more »
The dream soon will come to fruition as workers put the final touches on the 18,000-square-foot temple at Eighth Avenue and Washington Street, formerly the home of a Christian Science church.
An Unusual Megillah
By Marissa Brostoff
The Scroll of Esther is getting a makeover from several kids in Pennsylvania, a Reconstructionist scribe and a computer graphics program. read more »
Congregation Or Hadash, a small Reconstructionist synagogue located in the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington, has commissioned a sofer to create a megillah that incorporates drawings by students in its religious school.
This 4' x 6' banner is made up of over 150 felt tracings from the many children and adults who have joined in Mishkan Ha'am's services and celebrations since the shul's founding.
Ten years ago, Yonkers, New York, residents Joey Parnes and Ellen Tattelman ran a notice in local newspapers inviting area residents who were “looking for a synagogue and haven’t found the right fit” to meet. “We were looking to create a Reconstructionist group that would be egalitarian, participatory, and open to varying viewpoints,” says Parnes. “Joyously, we found others who were looking for the same thing!” read more »
Today, Mishkan Ha’am, with members from Riverdale through Westchester’s Rivertowns, has grown to include regular Shabbat services for all ages, holiday and life cycle celebrations, a Hebrew School, adult education program, social action activities, and innovative programming such as meditation and chanting-centered Shabbat observances and Shabbat morning yoga sessions. In all these contexts, participants engage in connecting Jewish tradition with their contemporary lives.
In celebration of Israel’s 60th Anniversary, the Shabbat between Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha’Atzmaut has been designated as Shabbat Israel by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and will be commemorated in an array of events throughout the country.
The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, as a member of the Conference of Presidents and a partner in this initiative, invites all JRF congregations to devote the weekend of May 9-11 to special programs marking this historic milestone in Israel’s history. read more »
Here are some helpful links to support your Israel 60 / Shabbat Israel event planning:
Need a break? Want to re-energize your Shabbat practice? Could your family use some time to relax and be playful together? Come celebrate Shabbat with members of Reconstructionist congregations throughout the Midwest at the JRF Midwest Region Shabbaton.
This gathering for singles and families is conveniently located at the Butzel Conference Center in Ortonville, MI, just an hour's drive from Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing.
The Butzel Conference Center is located on 1,300 acres of beautiful woodland overlooking a scenic lake with hiking, basketball, tennis, mini golf and more.
Reprinted with permission of the New Jersey Jewish News
by Johanna Ginsberg
NJJN Staff Writer
For a complete list of resources for congregations available through JRF see http://www.jrf.org/congregations
January 24, 2008
Bnai Keshet in Montclair has just completed its long-range planning project. It’s a job committee chair Betty Murphy doesn’t think the Reconstructionist synagogue could have accomplished without the expertise of consultant David Teutsch.
“Having an outside arbiter was really great, especially when it came to people’s opinions,” she said. Teutsch also helped committee members keep focused and identify the right areas of concentration, Murphy said. read more »
What are your shul’s Christmas-day traditions? For the past few years, the members of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, Washington, have gathered for a fun-filled Christmas-day Jewish movie night. Their premiere event in 2004, which featured a showing of Fiddler on the Roof, included a sing-along, costume contest, and a potluck, as well as the now-traditional food and blanket drive benefitting the Olympia Food Bank and other local organizations that support the community.
Kehilat HaNahar of New Hope, PA, held a successful Mitzvah Day on Oct. 21. That day, the community:
• Packed 500 lunches for a Trenton-area soup kitchen
• Cooked 65 meals for the Aid for Friends organization
• Sent care packages to 61 members of the New Jersey Air National Guard 108th Air Refueling Wing, stationed in the Middle East
• Signed people up to assist with HOPE (Helping People Every Day) and NOVA (Network of Victims Assistance)
• Enrolled people in the CROP walk in Lambertville
The activities were funded through a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
For additional resources on hunger and poverty see: http://www.jrf.org/hunger