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Ma Nishma - JRF News for January 2009

December 17, 2008 - 6:03pm -- Anonymous (not verified)

[img_assist|nid=1353|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=120][img_assist|nid=528|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=240|height=54]Dear [i]Ma Nishma[/i] Subscriber,

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

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

[b]Those who send Weekly Update e-mails:[/b] Please disseminate [i]Ma Nishma[/i] along with your regular posting.

Please forward this to anyone you think would enjoy reading [i]Ma Nishma[/i].

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


Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
JRF Communications Director

[h2]January 2009 / Tevet - Shevat 5769

Ma Nishma
News from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation[/h2]

In This Issue





Experience the JRF's 42nd Convention - Opening Forum "Tikkun Olam: Maximizing the Reconstructionist Impact"

Listen online or download the audios from this Forum / Read Rabbi Fred Scherlinder-Dobb's notes!

Also, listen to audio of the Convention’s opening plenary, Jewish Identity, Community and Leadership: A Dialogue Between the Generations.

[img_assist|nid=2151|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=180]Reconstructionists take very seriously the Torah’s mandate to engage in acts of kindness and repair of the world – defending human rights, working for social and economic justice, protecting and healing the environment, and leading and
partnering with organizations devoted to these issues on a local and global scale. We are a small movement with an enormous reach and our members want to know where and how to best focus their efforts and to have access to approaches that will help them make the biggest difference.

At a popular opening forum at the JRF Convention, entitled Tikkun Olam: Maximizing the Reconstructionist Impact, Rabbis Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Toba Spitzer, and Brant Rosen discussed Reconstructionist approaches to tikkun olam which have the potential to build our movement while building up the world. Topics included values-based decision making or "Reconstructionist process"; congregation-based community organizing; the synergy between service and advocacy; congregational covenants; and coalitions both within the Jewish community and in the wider world. The session was moderated by Valerie Kaplan, chair of the JRF board's External Affiliations committee, with closing responses from Rabbi Shawn Zevit, JRF Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam.

Check for more Convention stories at

JRF Welcomes Dan Cedarbaum as Director of Movement Growth Initiatives and Special Projects

[img_assist|nid=2160|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=175]We are pleased to announce that Daniel Cedarbaum has dramatically changed his relationship to the JRF this fall – stepping down from his volunteer leadership positions and assuming an important role as a full-time member of the professional staff of the JRF. Dan is now the JRF’s Director of Movement Growth Initiatives
and Special Projects.

The centerpiece of Dan’s work will be to build on the innovative work that he began last year in Brooklyn – an initiative in movement growth that is intended to lead to a Reconstructionist presence where there is none currently, but to do so in a creative way. The Brooklyn initiative may result in the seeding of a Reconstructionist synagogue that will eventually be the subject of the wonderful work of our Outreach and Affiliations staff and committee, but it might well lead to the creation of a non-traditional institution or set of programs in response to contemporary realities.

Dan will start a similar initiative in Chicago and support efforts to do the same in the Los Angeles area. We expect that, before long, similar work will be undertaken in the Washington, D.C. area and, over time, in Montreal, Toronto, and other areas. A hallmark of this work will be to enlist some of our strongest congregations as collaborators in growing and strengthening the Reconstructionist presence in their locales.

The work Dan will be doing represents a very significant initiative on the part of JRF – to experiment with new models of outreach and community that, like Reconstructionism itself, involves finding creative ways to build on the past, respect the accomplishments of the present, and adapt to a changing environment.

We expect this work to lead to new insights about building community that will benefit participants, but also benefit our existing congregations, and, indeed, will have relevance to other sectors of Jewish life. Dan’s willingness to devote himself professionally to this enterprise is a tribute to its importance.

Dan can be reached at the JRF’s new Chicago area office:

Daniel G. Cedarbaum
1574 Ashland Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201

Security Resources for JRF Congregations and Havurot

This update follows an exclusive conference call that took place on December 17 for JRF congregations with Paul Goldenberg, Executive Director of the Secure Community Network (SCN).

The recent tragic events in Mumbai are a reminder that Jewish institutions are regarded as attractive targets by terrorist groups. It is also known that during times of political transition there is a need for heightened national security. In light of this unfortunate reality, Dr. Carl Sheingold, JRF’s Executive Vice President, attended a high-level security briefing organized by the Secure Community Network (SCN) in New York, and scheduled an exclusive conference call for JRF congregations with Paul Goldenberg, Executive Director of SCN.

As per the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies: “AT THIS TIME, there is no intelligence asserting any operational specificity concerning a planned attack against the homeland or Jewish interests.” But the key message is that planning is essential. Doing a vulnerability assessment, developing crisis communication plans and other planning actions cannot be undertaken in the midst of a crisis.

To support the efforts of our congregations and havurot, JRF is a member of SCN on your behalf. We invite you to access the following valuable resources and to check back, as new resources may be available following the conference call:

Learn more at

Special Offers from JRF’s Reconstructionist Press


Rabbi Michael Strassfeld and Rabbi Joy Levitt, Eds.
Illustrated in full color by Jeffrey Schrier

[img_assist|nid=2128|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=227|height=240]The Reconstructionist Press unveiled a commemorative 10th Anniversary hardcover edition of A Night of Questions, the Reconstructionist Passover Haggadah, at the 42nd JRF Convention in Boston this November. This 10” x 10” hardcover gift edition contains all of artist Jeffrey Schrier’s magnificent original artwork from the softcover edition plus a new section, “The Seder as a Spiritual Practice” by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld.

  • Savings on all orders: JRF is offering a 35% savings off the $72 list price on all orders: Final cost is $54 each.
  • Make a difference: 1% of all proceeds will be donated to Hurricane relief efforts.
  • Orders will be shipped after January 1st.

Transliterated edition available now!
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Rabbi Jeffrey Schein
Illustrated in full color by Joani Rothenberg

This beautiful hardcover Shabbat prayer book for children ages 5-9 makes a wonderful gift for the whole family to share at home. $28/$23.80 for JRF members. Consider adding a set of matching note cards for a lovely gift set for just $5 more!

To order, call JRF’s Reconstructionist Press at 877-JRF-PUBS.

ONLINE STORE COMING IN JANUARY! JRF’s Reconstructionist Press will soon offer one-stop shopping for books, resource guides, CDs, Camp JRF apparel and memorabilia, gift certificates and more.

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 and

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

JRF Leadership Workshop on Congregational Growth

[b]“The Dynamics of Congregational Growth: Membership, Outreach, and Financial Resources"[/b]
Sunday, March 29, 2009, 1 pm to 6 pm, at Beth Israel Congregation, Media, PA

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

[b]Goals and Benefits[/b]

  • 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 all those working on congregational growth and development, including board members, membership and development committees, treasurers, planned giving and capital campaign advocates, senior administrators, and education and program directors.

Check for updates at

Register Now for Camp JRF Summer 2009

Make sure that your child has the summer of a lifetime at Camp JRF on the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Campus in the Pocono Mountains.

Here’s how to register: Go to and either register online or print the application and mail to our camp office.

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

Camp JRF is Available for Your Special Events

[img_assist|nid=1617|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=95]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


  • Western Teen Kallah - January 9-11 at BB Camp, Portland, OR
  • Midwest Youth Kallah - February 13-15 at Camp Henry Horner, Ingleside, IL
  • North American Teen Kallah - April 17-19, Chicago, IL

and also . . .

  • No'ar Hadash Goes to Panim el Panim - March 15-18 in Washington, DC.

The Panim el Panim seminar brings together diverse groups of 10th-12th grade students from around the country to explore public policy and social activism through a Jewish lens. Details to follow!

To register for the Eastern 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 Afternoon of Honor and 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 region Afternoon of Honor and 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

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


Reconstructionist Leaders Endorse Interfaith Statement and Letter to President-Elect Obama Calling for Urgent U.S. Leadership for Mid-East Peace

[img_assist|nid=1613|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=211|height=240]In December 2008, Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, including heads of more than 25 national organizations issued a consensus statement, "A Window of Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem," calling for urgent U.S. leadership for peace in the Middle East.

Among the endorsers of the statement were Dr. Carl A. Sheingold, JRF Executive Vice President, Rabbi Toba Spitzer, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Immediate Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. These Reconstructionist leaders signed on to this initiative personally, not as officially representing their organizations.

In the letter to President-Elect Obama, the religious leaders urged him to make Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace an urgent priority of U.S. policy from the start of his Presidency. They assured him that substantial majorities in synagogues, churches and mosques across the country would support active U.S. leadership for peace.

Learn more about the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East at

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

[b]North American Solar and Renewable Energy Campaign in the Jewish Community - Events throughout North American and Israel[/b]

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.
See as it goes live!


Join the Columbia Jewish Congregation, in Columbia, Maryland, will honor Cantor Jan Morrison for her continual service to CJC and the community on Sunday, December 21 at 6:30 p.m. with a buffet dinner and entertainment. $54 per person/$450 for a table of ten. RSVP to Miriam by December 15, 410-730-6044 or

Members of the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore (RSNS), in Plandome, New York, have been devoting time and energy on Monday afternoons in the clothing closet of the Mary Brennan Soup Kitchen run by the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), helping organize, sort and hang clothing for guests to have on another day. All are invited to participate in this mitzvah.

Volunteers from Kehillath Shalom, in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, are making a difference for homeless men in their community at a shelter run by the Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative, providing food and service on the second Wednesday of each month. The project, which runs through March, also helps guests with laundry and overnight hospitality.

The Keddem Congregation in Palo Alto, California will welcome its new rabbi, Elisheva Salamo, at an installation ceremony on Tu B'Shevat, February 8, 2009. 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. JRF members and friends are invited to attend. Details at

Tell us about it!

JRF wants to hear about news and upcoming events at your congregation!

Contact Communications Director Lisa Tuttle at today.

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