Get Email Updates!

Ma Nishma JRF News for April 2009

March 24, 2009 - 10:25am -- Anonymous (not verified)


Dear Ma Nishma Subscriber,

I'm happy to deliver to your e-mail doorstep the latest issue of Ma Nishma ("What's Happening?"), featuring news and events from JRF. Now everyone can subscribe to Ma Nishma. Register at the JRF website at then click "Manage your JRF e-newsletter subscriptions" at the top left of the home page to subscribe.

Newsletter editors and webmasters: Please reprint stories and announcements from this issue for a JRF News page in your congregational newsletter and on your website.

Those who send Weekly Update e-mails: Please disseminate Ma Nishma along with your regular posting.

Download this issue of Ma Nishma as an MS Word document, for easier cut/paste into synagogue newsletters.

Please forward this to anyone you think would enjoy reading Ma Nishma.


Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
Editor, Ma Nishma / JRF Senior Communications Consultant


April 2009 / Nisan - Iyar 5769

Ma Nishma
News from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

In This Issue






PEARL 2009: Navigating Difficult Times

Following a successful inaugural year, JRF’s free PEARL (Providing Education and Resources for Leadership) distance-learning classes will once again provide relevant information and strategies beneficial to congregational leaders and staff. In the context of the present economic crisis, expert speakers will partner with JRF staff and lay leaders with the objectives to keep congregations and havurot strong; grow leadership; and continue critical tikkun olam work.

Each class will meet for 1 ¼ hour either by conference call or webinar and is supported by downloadable resources or previous PEARL audio files. Some classes delve deeper into previously presented topics. These 2.0 and 3.0 listings may ask you to read or listen to downloadable resources and send questions/comments in advance of the class.

Get all the details, including upcoming class descriptions and online registration information at

The 2009 National Tribute to Honor Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat

This year the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF) is delighted to be honoring Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat for his outstanding work and his unending efforts to develop strongly-identified Reconstructionist Jewish youth.

Rabbi Jeff exemplifies the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” His exciting, hands-on approach to Jewish education and captivating style of teaching (not to mention his unparalleled warmth, humor and joie de vivre) have helped build a generation of Reconstructionist youth with strong Jewish identities. These young people are becoming leaders in their congregations, on their college campuses, and in life.

Rabbi Jeff connects our young people with experiences that foster within them a curiosity and appreciation for their Judaism. As the founding director of Camp JRF, he established an experiential Jewish education curriculum based on Reconstructionism’s “Values of Spiritual Peoplehood” that makes Judaism fun and resonates with our youth. Rabbi Jeff was instrumental in helping to establish Camp JRF as one of the “Top Ten” Jewish overnight camps in the United States.

In his new position as Director of Special Initiatives, Rabbi Jeff is taking his show on the road to JRF congregations across the country, supporting and furthering JRF’s strategic vision for developing the Next Generation of Reconstructionist youth and the future of Reconstructionist Judaism. Programs he is piloting include experiential learning a la Camp JRF in our congregational schools; along with Education Directors in our Western region he is creating Reconstructionist camping experiences and retreats; summer Family Camp at Camp JRF; service learning events for parents and teens, and more.

We hope you will join us in this wonderful opportunity by contributing to the National Journal and placing a heartfelt tribute message to Rabbi Jeff who has done so much to enrich our movement and ensure its vitality for the future.

You may indicate how you wish to be part of this special dedication at the online JRF Donor Page. Your generous contributions and tributes will be recognized in the National Tribute Journal to be published online in late Spring 2009.

If you would like to place a personal message or ad in the JRF National Tribute Journal honoring Rabbi Jeff, please contact Marla Friedenberg at or 215-885-5601, ext. 28.

Save the Date for the 2010 JRF Biennial Convention!

[img_assist|nid=2247|title=Hyatt Regency Newport Beach|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=190]
Mark your calendar for November 11-14, 2010 for the 2010 JRF Convention — the largest gathering of Reconstructionists and likeminded friends in North America. Our biennial will take place at the stylish Hyatt Regency in sunny Newport Beach, California. Plan to join us for four informative and uplifting days as we engage with experts and emerging leaders in the Jewish world. Experience a joyful, meaningful Shabbat together with lively, inspiring services and opportunities for Torah study, networking, and a wealth of Jewish learning.

Want to get a taste? See all the great programming from the 2008 JRF Convention.

Come to the JRF’s New Online Bookstore –!

Ready to grow your Reconstructionist book shelf? JRF’s new online bookstore -– -- features the full catalogue of JRF’s Reconstructionist Press, plus CDs, Camp JRF apparel and more. JRF affiliate congregations and members can get a 20% discount on most products. Call 1-877-JRF-PUBS to get your discount code.

The site will always be changing, so be sure to check back often. You can still order everything by phone by calling 1-877-JRF-PUBS.

Special Offers from JRF's Reconstructionist Press

[img_assist|nid=2128|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=227|height=240]Offer available from March 18th until the last day of Passover, April 16th.

With every purchase of the 10th Anniversary hardcover A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah (discounted sale price $54.00), you will receive a FREE COPY of our A Night of Questions CD, featuring music by Shabbat Unplugged ($20 list price value). Simply order a copy of the hardcover Haggadah online and we will add the CD to your purchase right before we ship. The Haggadah and CD would be a perfect gift for your Seder hosts.

This is a limited time offer. Take advantage of it online at, or call 877-JRF-PUBS and reference this offer.

Reconstructionist Press is in the middle of reprinting Kol Haneshama: Shabbat Vehagim Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book, available for preorder now and in stock mid-April. To reserve copies, call the Press and preorder as soon as possible by calling Hattie at 1-877-JRF-PUBS. She’ll be happy to put your name down on the reserved list!

JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative

With the enthusiasm around JRF’s Omer Learning Initiative, as well as the solid response of JRF congregations in the Climate Change Initiative, JRF is continues to deepen its greening work with member communities next year. Our hope is to motivate and educate our congregations in sustainable practices, with the goal of reaching 100 percent participation in the years ahead.

A full listing of the 7 weeks of teaching packets from the JRF Omer Initiative is available at and the three related Tikkun Olam conference calls held as part of this year's PEARL initiative, available at

Please refer to the following additional links to find specific resources for tikkun olam:

Get all the details on JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative.

For more information contact Rabbi Shawn Zevit, director of outreach and tikkun olam,

“Next Generation” Retreats for Reconstructionist Youth

From Camp to Shuls – 5th and 6th Grade Shabbaton – April 17-19

On April 17-19, 5th and 6th graders from more than five JRF congregations will come together at Camp JRF: The Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Campus. Under the direction of RENA leaders Kim Bodemer, Lori Rubin and Nancy Hersh, and Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, our Shabbaton will take some of the exciting Camp JRF programs and bring them to our schools and shules. Springtime in the Poconos has never been so much fun.

JRF Southern California Retreat Program – 5th and 6th Grade Retreat - April 24-26

The JRF western Region will again sponsor a Shabbaton partnered with Camp JCA Shalom in the Malibu Mountains for five JRF congregation of Southern California for 5th and 6th graders. At this retreat, to be held April 24-26, many of the popular programs will be adapted from those experienced at Camp JRF and from the 5th and 6th grade retreat of RENA held the previous week at the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Campus.

JRF West Mini Camp, Malibu, California – 3rd through 7th Grades - June 30-July 5

From June 30-July 5 JRF West Mini Camp will partner with the outstanding facilities and staff of Camp JCA Shalom in the beautiful mountains of Malibu. Under the direction of Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, Founding Director of Camp JRF, a taste of Reconstructionist Camping will come to the JRF Western Region with our exciting experiential educational programs and specialty areas such as challenge course, sports, environmental education, music, dance, ceramics, soccer and horseback riding. This program is open to all our Western Region JRFers from 3rd-7th grades. Registration is open now until May 1. Download the JRF West Mini Camp brochure and registration form.

News from Camp JRF for Summer 2009

Camp JRF is Filling Up - Register Now!

[img_assist|nid=1418|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=76]More than 325 campers are already registered for the summer of a lifetime at Camp JRF! Some units are full and are now taking waiting lists, so sign up today to save ensure a spot for your child. Watch the Camp JRF video and download the 2009 brochure and registration forms on the web at or call us at 877-CAMP-JRF.

Camp JRF Launches Bonim Summer Leadership Program for Entering High School Seniors

Bonim is a new program geared towards preparing entering twelfth graders for leadership roles in camp and beyond. During the first session, participants will learn what it takes to make camp run, to work as a counselor, and to facilitate programming across camp. Those teens who stay for the entire summer will have the opportunity to do significant hands-on tikkun olam work in the community and will begin to make the transition from camper to staff member in real and meaningful ways. With a small group of participants and a highly experienced staff, Bonim is sure to be a defining experience for all. Bonim will engage entering high school seniors in a significant leadership development experience that allows participants opportunities not only to learn but also plenty of chances to put that learning into practice.

The program is in two parts:

  • During the first session, participants will spend their morning participating in a havaya (our experiential educational programming) and will then work in one of the behind-the-scenes areas of camp (kitchen, maintenance, office, etc). The afternoon will be spent apprenticing in a program area (general counseling, aquatics, sports, art, drama, etc.) and then in a debriefing session that will allow for ongoing learning and growth from the apprenticeship. Evenings will be spent as a unit participating in some of the fun of camp during evening programs created specifically for this group.
  • During the second session, mornings will be spent working in a camper unit or program area (putting the skills learned in the first session apprenticeship to good use). During the afternoons, the group will go out into the community to do significant hands-on tikkun olam work. Evenings will continue to be spent as a unit.

Our hope is that teens will join us for the entire summer (June 30 - August 16); participating in both sessions will allow the most opportunities for growth, learning, and an incomparable capstone experience to years as a camper, not to mention incredible preparation for following summers as a staff member. If teens are unable to commit to the entire summer, they may join us for the first session only. (It is not possible to come only for the second session.) In recognition of the work Bonim participants will do on behalf of camp, we have worked to keep tuition for this program as low as possible. For those who participate successfully in both sessions, we will provide a small stipend as an additional “thank you” for a job well done.

We are excited to be offering this new program this summer – we hope that having a relatively small cohort will allow for a close-knit group that can truly see how its work in all areas of camp can really have an impact on the way camp runs.

For more information, visit or call 877-CAMP-JRF.

Camp JRF Seeks a Sports Director

Staff applications are being accepted for a Sports Director to design and oversee Camp JRF's sports programming this summer. If you know an athletically talented young person looking for a rewarding summer leadership experience, have him or her read the job description and download the staff application in the Staff section at or call Julia Tauber, Camp JRF's Assistant Director, at 877-CAMP-JRF, ext. 32.

Camp JRF is Available for Your Special Events

Planning an annual Shabbaton or retreat? Consider holding it at Camp JRF on the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Campus. This beautiful facility in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains is now available for rental for our JRF congregations, boards, religious schools, JRF regional programs, teens, and the like.

For more information, please contact the Camp JRF office at 877-CAMP JRF (877-226-7573).

Reconstructionist Teen Weekend! The No’ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah April 17-19

On April 17 - 19, 8th - 12th graders from JRF congregations across North America will have the opportunity to attend the exciting No’ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah. The weekend is a great opportunity for teens to meet other Reconstructionist teens, have fun, take part in experiential Jewish learning, sing and dance together, hang out, and be part of our exciting and growing youth movement.

To register or to check out pictures from past kallot log on to If you have any questions please contact No’ar Hadash Program Coordinator Alanna Sklover at or 215-885-5601, ext. 26. We can’t wait to see you!

Harmoniyah 2nd Biennial Retreat October 29 - November 1, 2009

Thursday, October 29 - Sunday, November 1, 2009
in Bethesda, Maryland (just outside Washington, DC)

Experience a wonderful opportunity for learning, professional development, spiritual growth, lots of music-making and seeing old and new friends in the JRF world.

This year’s retreat is hosted by Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland. Stay tuned for more info.

Harmoniyah is the music network of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. It is a group of talented musicians, both professional and volunteer, who serve JRF congregations in a myriad of musical and spiritual ways.


JRF New York/New Jersey Region Evening of Celebration and Theatre – Thursday, April 2, 2009

[img_assist|nid=2170|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=68]Plan to join us on Thursday, April 2nd for the JRF’s New York/New Jersey region Evening of Celebration in support of Reconstructionist Judaism, our congregations and the JRF.
Keruv / Next Generation Awards and Theatre
Next Generation honoree Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, Founding Director of Camp JRF and No'ar Hadash - the Reconstructionist Youth Movement
Geoffrey Chinn, z"l, SAJ, Chair, 2009 Evening of Celebration

Plans are underway for another amazing evening of theater as the New York/New Jersey region gathers to see the Broadway revival of the classic American musical West Side Story!

This year’s event honors those who are dedicated to outreach, with the Keruv for an Inclusive Community award. There will be a special Keruv/Next Generation tribute to Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, Founding Director of Camp JRF and No’ar Hadash—the Reconstructionist youth movement. The awards reception and a light supper, beginning at 6:15 pm, precede the show, curtain at 8:00 pm.

The tale of Romeo and Juliet is transported to the turbulent streets of New York City in the 1950s as star-crossed lovers are caught between rival street gangs. Directed by the show’s librettist, Arthur Laurents, the show features Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim’s legendary score.

For more information contact Melanie Schneider, Director NY/NJ Region at 212-870-2483 or

Going Out On The Town…With JRF! -- Midwest FUNdraiser 2009

[img_assist|nid=2231|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=150|height=185]Register Online Now.

This year, JRF is nationally honoring Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, founding Director of Camp JRF and No’ar Hadash – the Reconstructionist youth movement.

Please purchase a tribute to Rabbi Jeff and/or your favorite Midwest Region honoree and plan on joining us at these upcoming FUNdraiser events:

Sunday, April 19, 5 pm – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL

Thursday, May 7, 7:30 pm – Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Chase Bank Auditorium at Chase Tower 10 South Dearborn Street, Chicago – chat with the hosts and panelists after the show.

JRF Midwest Region Family Journey to Israel in Summer 2009

[img_assist|nid=2141|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=160]JRF Midwest Region Family Journey to Israel - June 23 - July 7, 2009
Led by Rabbi Eitan Weiner-Kaplow and and Dawn Weiner-Kaplow of Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue, Northbrook, Illinois

Come to Israel to discover your Jewish historical and spiritual roots in the land and its people. Starting and ending in Jerusalem, we will track Jewish civilization from Biblical days to the bustling and exciting modern State of Israel. Our tour will explore Israeli society, culture, art, technology, spirituality, politics and more.

Get all the details and download the flyer at

To register or receive more information, contact Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue at 847- 498-8218 or


Birkat HaHammah - The Blessing of the Sun, April 8, 2009

[img_assist|nid=2207|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=240]North American Solar and Renewable Energy Campaign in the Jewish Community - Events throughout North American and Israel

The year 5769 (2008-2009) will be the little known Jewish year of “Birkat HaHammah” the “blessing of the sun.” Every 28 years, the ancient rabbis demarked a time in the Jewish calendar that celebrates the ceremonial return of the sun to its original place in the cosmos during creation.

JRF is part of a national coalition that will use this rare event to focus on solar power and energy stewardship.


JRF Support of Immigration Reform: Progress by Pesach 2009 Initiative

Progress by Pesach is the national Jewish campaign to encourage the new administration and congress to choose humanitarian immigration reform over the failed policy of exclusively relying on raids and enforcement tactics as a means of controlling immigration.

Passover is a time when we celebrate our freedom from bondage and remember when we were strangers in a strange land. Connecting our history to the struggles of immigrants today is the inspiration behind Progress by Pesach.

Read "A Faith Leaders’ Statement on Immigration" supported by the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, 2008, at

JRF Supports 2009 JCPA Child Nutrition Seder

For Passover in 2009, the JCPA is offering a phenomenal mobilizing event through which JRF communities, congregations from every Jewish stream and local JCRCs can engage community members in meaningful anti-poverty advocacy: The Child Nutrition Seder.

If you have any questions on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and mobilizing your community around the legislation, please contact Melissa Boteach at If you have any questions on implementing the Seder in your community and/or how to best partner with your local Jewish Community Relations Council, please contact Becky Eisen at

Get all the details at


Bet Am Shalom in White Plains, New York, invites one and all to the Bet Am Shalom Theater Project, an original work entitled "Deja Vu" on Saturday, April 25 and May 2 at 8:45 pm, and Sunday, April 26 and May 3 at 1:30 pm. "Deja Vu" is a musical play of epic dimensions spanning thousands of years from Abraham to present day as told by a writer visiting Israel. The book, music and lyrics were written by a group of creative and talented members of Bet Am Shalom, R. Vincent Park, Ilene Semiatin, Richard Woodrow, Merrill Rotter and Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller. Admission is $25. For reservations, please call the synagogue office at (914) 946-8851.

At Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, Georgia, "the rabbi opens his table so you can help fill the tables of others." Bet Haverim's second night CBH Community Seder will celebrate the festival of Passover with Social Action and Song. Thanks to the generosity of a few anonymous donors and Rabbi Josh Lesser, the cost of the Seder will be the price of a mitzvah. One of the primary texts in the Passover Haggadah is "Let all who are hungry come and eat" - for the CBH Seder, participants are asked to bring a gift card from a grocery store in lieu of payment. This way all engaged in feeding the community during this challenging economic time. Being held at the beautiful Historic Kirkwood Library (106 Kirkwood Road, Atlanta, GA) on Thursday, April 9, the “Pass it Forward for Passover” Seder will begin at 6:30 pm. While open to the public, seating is limited, and advance reservations are required. Gift cards will be collected at the door for admission. Each participant is asked to donate a $10 – $50 dollar gift card. All RSVPs should be made to or by calling 404.315.6446

B’nai Havurah in Denver, Colorado, is planning for its Taste of Summer Institute, April 3 and 4, with a special Friday night dinner and musical service for the whole family starting with a half-hour of schmoozing at 5:15 and including musical Kabbalat Shabbat service with Susan Spero. Shabbat morning musical services - when Hal and Carla feature the music of Shlomo Carlebach! Babysitting provided for both events. Free! Come and enjoy. B’nai Havurah’s Summer Institute at Snow Mountain Ranch is May 15-17!

The women of Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, California, will celebrate Pesach together at their Women’s Seder on Wednesday April 15. The gathering, with the theme "Sharing Seder, Sisterhood and Inspiring Books" will be led by Rabbi Sheryl Lewart with music by Julie Silver. Everyone in attendance is asked to bring a book that has inspired her that can be donated to women who are in need of hope and guidance. Come share your inspiration. 6:00-6:30 pm hors d’oeuvres in the foyer; 6:30 pm sharp Seder begins. Cost:$80 per person; $40 young women ages 12-18. RSVP by April 1. For more information please contact Cindy Freedland at (310) 454-3075.

On April 24-26, Kehilat HaNahar, the “Little Shul by the River," in New Hope, Pennsylvania, will hold a Mussar Retreat (Shabbaton), facilitated by Alan Morinis of The Mussar Institute. Who would not want to be more patient, show more gratitude, or get a better handle on our anger, all in a manner that brings us closer to our true good character and nature -- in ways that enhance, not interfere with, our daily interactions and activities? The Shabbaton is open to anyone from any walk of life who is seeking a way to enhance his or her spiritual practice. Friday night and Saturday morning services are open to everyone at no cost. Cost for participating in the workshops and meals during the course of the weekend: $60 for KHN members, $75 for non-members. For more information about Mussar and Alan Morinis, please visit the Mussar Institute website at To register, call Kehilat HaNahar at 215-862-1912 or Sharon Schwartz at 215-345-4217 by April 1. This program is funded in part by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Rabbi Arnold Rachlis of University Synagoge in Irvine, California, was honored with an invitation to deliver the invocation at President Obama's appearance at the Orange County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, March 18. Read Rabbi Rachlis’s invocation and connect to a CNN I-report interview that followed the meeting plus additional coverage.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

This is the archival site for It is no longer updated.

For the new site, please visit