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JRF News - Ma Nishma for February 2009

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Dear Ma Nishma Subscriber,

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Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
JRF Communications Director


February 2009 / Shevat - Adar 5769

Ma Nishma
News from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

In This Issue






JRF Statement and Resources in Response to Events in the Middle East

Statement from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation [January 16, 2009]

"We are deeply saddened that violence has once again engulfed Israelis and Palestinians. We share in the fear and loss experienced by Israelis caught in rocket fire from Hamas and are also concerned with the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We stand with the people of Israel in this time of crisis and support the right of Israel to do everything necessary to protect its population. We support all efforts to negotiate a meaningful, lasting resolution of the current conflict that will provide true security for Israel’s citizens. We decry criticisms of Israel that devolve into hate speech and anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish people and on Israel’s right to exist.

While the ultimate resolution of the current conflict depends on the decisions of Israel and of Hamas, this crisis is an opportunity to become educated about the history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict; to work to maintain open and respectful debate of the issues; and to support humanitarian efforts that aid victims on both sides – Israeli citizens living in communities in the south and the civilians of Gaza caught in the cross fire. Our thoughts are also with IDF soldiers risking their lives for Israel.

We reaffirm our call for a just and lasting peace that will protect Israel’s right to a secure existence and that will also fulfill the national aspirations of the Palestinian people."

JRF has added a diverse array of resources to the rich collection of materials relating to Israel already on the website. We hope these resources will assist in understanding the issues and in promoting dialogue within your communities.

Access the statement and resource list at

JRF to Launch TEL Post B'nai Mitzvah Program in Fall 2009

JRF is proud to announce that it will launch the TEL Post B’nai Mitzvah Program in the fall of 2009. Tel is the Hebrew word for an archeological hill, and JRF is using the word as an acronym for Teens: Experience and Learning. JRF seeks to create a true tel experience for our teens based on the opportunity to dig through first-hand “life-centered” experiences and sift out new, meaningful educational gleanings that are personally relevant to their lives.

The TEL program was created in response to the need expressed by Reconstructionist Education Directors for effective post b’nai mitzvah programming. It is framed and anchored by two kallot (retreats) at Camp JRF. In between the kallot, eight two-hour havayot (experiential learning opportunities) will be held in each community, based on the effective havaya model of Camp JRF.

Get the details at

Congregations interested in participating in the program should contact Rabbi Erin Hirsh, JRF Director of Education at or 215-885-5601, ext. 16.

The JRF is grateful to the Schocken Foundation for making this program possible and would welcome further financial support. If you or someone you know is interested in more information about supporting the TEL program, please contact Marla Friedenberg, JRF Development Associate at or 215-885-5601, ext. 28.

JRF Leadership Workshop on Congregational Growth

The Dynamics of Growth: Membership, Outreach, and Financial Resources
Sunday, March 29, 2009 — 1 pm to 6 pm
Beth Israel, Media, PA

All JRF affiliates are invited to send representatives to this special one-day leadership workshop with Rabbi Shawn Zevit, JRF Director of Outreach & External Affairs/Tikkun Olam, Marla Friedenberg, Assistant Director of Development, and other experts in the field.

Goals and Benefits

  • Learn how to use a congregational systems approach to understand the dynamics of congregational growth.
  • Discover how a congregation’s stage of development relates to issues of membership and financial resources.
  • Come away with important skills and ideas about how to effectively reach out to attract new members, reach in to strengthen existing members and volunteers, and to creatively grow the congregation's financial resources, qualitatively and quantitatively.

This workshop will benefit congregational presidents, Board members, chairs and members of membership, programming, and development committees, treasurers, planned giving and capital campaign advocates, rabbis, cantors, senior administrators, educational and program directors, up-and-coming leaders, and all concerned with congregational growth and development.

Check for updates at

JRF Convention Forum: Rabbi Elliott Tepperman on "Strengthening and Transforming Congregational Life"

An opening forum at the 42nd JRF Convention entitled Strengthening and Transforming Congregational Life explored dynamics of change, growth, and the innovative approaches congregations across the country are using to meet the needs and interests of a new generation of Jews. Panelists Rabbi Hayim Herring, Amy L. Sales and Rabbi Elliott Tepperman discussed the perennial challenges of meaningful and vibrant community-of –the-whole while responding to diverse interests and needs.

An article by Rabbi Elliott Tepperman originally appeared in The Rainbow, the monthly newsletter of JRF affiliate Bnai Keshet in Montclair, NJ:

“At the recent convention of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, I was asked to participate in one of the Opening Forum discussions. The topic was “Strengthening and Transforming Congregational Life.” Hayim Herring, Executive Director, STAR, and Amy Sales, Director of the Fisher-Bernstein Institute for Jewish Philanthropy and Leadership at Brandeis University, also spoke. I want to share the thoughts I presented to the convention with you who have been my teachers and fellow explorers in the work of congregational transformation.” Read more and download the article at

What’s Up from the Reconstructionist Press

Having sold through our stock of two of our most popular prayerbooks from our Kol Haneshamah prayer book series, we are excited about our next printing! We will begin taking preorders soon, so if you would like to get on the list of those interested in purchasing the Mahzor Leyamim Nora'im Prayerbook for the Days of Awe and Shabbat Vehagim Sabbath and Festival prayerbook while they are hot off the press, please give the Reconstructionist Press a call at 1-877-JRF-PUBS.

Meanwhile, we are very close to launching out brand new Reconstructionist Press Webstore! The store will allow our customers to be able to scroll through our titles and purchase them online, just as they would on or another online retailer. Look for the webstore link on JRF’s main page in the coming weeks.

The Reconstructionist Press wishes all of its customers a Happy New Year and looks forward to the excitement that the year will bring!

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:

Information on JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative can be found on the JRF website’s environment pages at

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

News from Camp JRF for Summer 2009

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 is Filling Up - Register Now!

There are just a few spots left in our oldest age group, Harim (9th-10th graders). 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 Seeks Talented Staff

Staff applications are being accepted for counselors, program specialists, and support staff. If you know a talented young person looking for a rewarding summer leadership experience, have him or her 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).

Calling all Reconstructionist Teens: No’ar Hadash Events for 8th-12th Graders


  • NYC Mini Kallah – Jan 24-25 at West End Synagogue, New York, NY. This event, co-sponsored by West End Synagogue, The Society for the Advancement of Judaism, and Bet Am Shalom, is a sleepover for teens in grades 8-12 from Reconstructionist congregations all over the east coast and beyond, featuring:
    o Havdallah and ‘camp fire’ style song session
    o Concert and dance party for all ages, followed by an exclusive teen-only set
    o Late night movies and games
    o A special NYC outing, including the top-notch NYC pizza
    o Catching up with old friends and making new ones
    o Our team of dedicated Reconstructionist youth advisors including Education directors and teachers from JRF congregations, local youth workers, and Camp JRF Counselors
  • Midwest Youth Kallah - February 13-15 at Camp Henry Horner, Ingleside, IL
  • North American Teen Kallah - April 17-19, Chicago, IL

For more information on the NYC Mini Kallah, please contact Sarah Chandler, West End Synagogue Education Director, 212-579-0777, ext. 222, Download and complete the registration form at and mail them to West End Synagogue.

To register for the Midwest Youth Kallah or the North American Teen Kallah 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!


Save the Date! JRF Chesapeake Annual Celebration – Sunday, March 22, 2009

[img_assist|nid=2158|title=Historic Savage Mill|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=183]Plan to join us on Sunday, March 22nd for the JRF’s Chesapeake Annual Celebration in support of Reconstructionist Judaism, our congregations and the JRF.
Tzadik Award and Ira & Judith Eisenstein Service Award
Special honoree Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, Founding Director of Youth and Camping - Yehudit Award for Leadership and Creativity

The Chesapeake region's Afternoon of Honor and Celebration will take place this year at Savage Mill, a 19th century textile mill between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington DC, at 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009. Special honorees will be Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, Founding Director of Youth and Camping, Avi West, and campers and staff from the Chesapeake Region.

Our Afternoon of Honor this year is honoring Master Educators, and we are thrilled to be honoring Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, the founding Director of Camp JRF, with the Yehudit Award for Leadership and Creativity. As part of our event we will also be doing a special tribute for all campers and staff from Chesapeake JRF that have attended Camp JRF since its' inception in 2002. There will be a special fee structure for campers, and more information will follow as soon as it is finalized.

In addition to honoring Rabbi Jeff and campers, we will also be honoring Avi West, our teacher, consultant and friend with the Tzadik Award, and we will be honoring representatives from each congregation with Ira and Judith Eisenstein Service Award. Please plan to attend this great event, and plan to put tributes in the Regional Tribute Journal for the Regional honorees and the National Tribute Journal for Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat to show your support for our honorees and the movement. Watch for invitations in early February!

Save the Date! NY/NJ 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
Special honoree Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, Founding Director of Youth and Camping
Geoffrey Chinn, 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

JRF Midwest Region Family Journey to Israel in Summer 2009

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

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 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


The Chapel Hill Kehillah of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was honored recently by the Jewish Funds for Justice for starting a new Congregation Based Community Organizing initiative in Chapel Hill, using its power to create social change and act responsibly on behalf of the community. Chapel Hill Kehillah is a founding member of the Orange County Organizing Committee, which launched a new platform last month. Drawing 300 leaders from 23 faith-based members, they laid out their new action agenda which addressed the need for change in North Carolina in affordable housing, living wages, environmental justice, education, healthcare, and quality of life for immigrant families. Ye’asher koach! Read the story at

Religious school students at University Synagogue in Irvine, California, went to the mall on Sunday, December 8 with cash in their pockets. They were headed for the Mitzvah Mall, set up in the synagogue's social hall! Thirteen seventh graders had set up booths where they were hawking their wares: opportunities for the other children in the school program to donate to the nonprofit organizations where each seventh grader has been volunteering. The charitable opportunities on display included homeless shelters, a program to save the manatees, Heritage Pointe, an organization dedicated to distributing eyeglasses around the world, and programs to help the disabled. At the front of the Mall, a cashier offered change to the younger students, so that they could distribute their donation money to the different charities that caught their interest. Teaching the younger children about their mitzvah projects was its own learning experience for the seventh graders. All in all the two-hour Mitzvah Mall raised $725 from the other religious school students. The seventh grade students will work with their organizations throughout the year leading up to their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

The affiliation of San Francisco’s Or Shalom Jewish Community with the Reconstructionist movement has been met with movement-wide joy and it’s time to hear about it! Or Shalom invites one and all to a Reconstructionist Welcome Shabbat, a special Friday evening service on Friday, February 6 at 7 pm, where the congregation will be officially welcomed by the JRF Western regional director, Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman, to learn together a little more about what it means to be San Francisco’s first and only Reconstructionist congregation. Learn about them at

On Saturday, February 7 at 7 pm Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland will hold its “Midwinter's Night Gala: Jewish Music and All That Jazz,” featuring nationally acclaimed pianist Jon Simon, Hazzan Rachel Hersh Epstein, and The Jazz Project. The concert will be followed by a dessert and wine reception. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. For more information visit

Keddem Congregation, in Palo Alto, California, will welcome its new rabbi, Elisheva Salamo, at an installation ceremony on Tu B'Shevat, February 8. Just as planting a new tree is a hopeful act with long-term aspirations, Keddem hopes that Rabbi Salamo will put down roots in their community and that they will have a long and fruitful relationship. Rabbi Salamo is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and served for many years as the congregational rabbi of Congregation Ner Shalom, in Cotati, California. She aspires to enliven the spiritual life of Keddem, to cultivate its sense of community, and to reach out to the younger generation at Keddem. JRF members and friends are invited to attend the installation at Keddem’s congregational home at Kehillah Jewish High School, 3900 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA; details at

Or Hadash: A Reconstructionist Congregation in Fort Washington, PA, is looking forward to its annual Dickstein Scholar in Residence Program the weekend of February 20 and 21. This year's program features Dr. Rumee Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern and Islamic Civilizations at Colgate University, and Dr. Ayesha Chaudhry, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Friday night's lecture, "Approaching Contemporary Islam" will situate modern Muslim conceptions of Islam and its place in the world in the context of the last three hundred years to provide a backdrop for deeper conversations about Muslims and Islam today. The talk will be preceded by community Shabbat services and followed by oneg. Saturday morning at 9 AM, all are invited for an expanded Torah study, "Reading Difficult Jewish and Muslim Texts," where a passage from the week’s Torah portion will be explored in comparison with analogous passages from the Qur’an as participants strive to make spiritual meaning of difficult sacred texts. RSVP for bagels and coffee provided at no charge. On Saturday evening at 6:30 pm, come for dinner ($20 per person), and then take part in "Intimate Conversations: An Insider’s View of Living as a Muslim in 21st Century America." Participants will sit down for an intimate conversation with Professors Ahmed and Chaudhry to hear their perspectives on issues of concern to Muslims both as they look inward to their own community and outward to the larger community. Rabbi Joshua Waxman will guide the group through a series of topics including perspectives on the Other, attitudes toward violence, and the position of women in Muslim society. Learn the complexity and nuance of Muslim views on these and other pressing issues, with plenty of time for questions and exchange of views. This is an extraordinary opportunity to gain an insider’s perspective on these rich and vital issues. RSVP is required for the optional 6:30 dinner; there is no charge to attend the discussion at 7:30. For more information or to RSVP please contact Laurie Albert, at 215-283-0276 or

Members of Temple Beth Or of Miami will experience a day of history and interfaith dialogue on a Black Miami History Tour, Sunday, March 22. The tour, led by congregant Marvin Dunn, will include stops in historic Coconut Grove, the heart of Miami's Bahamian community, Overtown, formerly called Colored Town and
the black entertainment center of the South in the 20s and 30s. It will also include a riding tour of Liberty City including the site of the catastrophic race riot of 1980. Participants will travel by chartered bus and will leave from Temple Beth Or at 9:00 am and return to the shul at approximately 4:00 pm. The cost for the tour will be $20.00. During a catered lunch with members of St. Johns Baptist Church in Overtown, Rabbi Marc Kram will engage the group in dialogue and will invite several members of that church to join us on the tour as guests of Beth Or. Come on board for a fun and educational day. Choice of lunch entrée ($15.00, paid in advance) must be ordered by February 15. For more information, contact the synagogue office at 305-235-1419.

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