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Ma Nishma - JRF News for May/June 2008

May 19, 2008 - 8:25am -- 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 email 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.

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


Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
JRF Communications Director

May-June 2008 / Nisan - Sivan 5768

Ma Nishma
News from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

In This Issue

[b]National and Regional JRF News[/b]

  • JRF Welcomes Temple Shalom of the South Bay
  • JRF Leadership Institute: Strengthening Rabbi-President Teams
  • JRF Signs Letter to United Methodist Church
  • Experience Camp JRF Family Camp!
  • Tikkun JRF Teen-Parent Week of Service
  • Announcing … The Challenge for Camp JRF
  • Join 42nd JRF Convention on Nov. 13-16 in Boston
  • Special Offers from JRF’s Reconstructionist Press
  • Camp JRF is Available for Your Special Events
  • Register for the No’ar Hadash Israel Experience
  • JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative
  • Make a Difference for Myanmar Cyclone Victims
  • Share Shabbat in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on May 30

[b]Congregational News[/b]

  • RSNS Celebrating Its 50th Anniversary Year
  • Oseh Shalom to Host Shabbat Iyyun
  • Beth Israel Honors Tina Johnson of Chester
  • Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller Concert
  • Mishkan Ha’am Celebrates 10th year
  • Rabbi Susan Falk Joins Kehilat Shalom of NJ
  • Rabbi Sarah Rubin Joins Congregation Ahavas Achim of NH

[b]Kol HaKavod![/b]


JRF Welcomes Newest Affiliate: Temple Shalom of the South Bay

JRF is delighted to welcome [b]Temple Shalom of the South Bay[/b] as its newest member community, and the 12th Reconstructionist-affiliated congregation in California, serving Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach, Calif., and the outer lying South Bay region. With the spirited leadership of student rabbi Lori Schneide, the 70-household congregation is excited about joining the Reconstructionist movement.

The story of the congregation’s founding began with the question, “If you build it – will they come?” asked by three friends, Lani Zaun, Roz Bliss and Shereen Lavi one cold winter afternoon in December of 2004. The women, each with very diverse Jewish backgrounds and experiences, started sharing their ideas and dreams for the South Bay Jewish community.

By the winter of 2005, their community had outgrown the founders’ homes and each put in money to rent a facility to have services. By October of that year, the religious school opened with an astounding 108 students, held at the St. Cross Church in Hermosa Beach where they continue to sublet space.

Please join us in greeting members of this dynamic, thriving community at the JRF Convention this November!

Learn more about our newest JRF congregation at

JRF Leadership Institute: Strengthening Rabbi-President Teams

For three enriching days, May 4-6, rabbi-president pairs from Reconstructionist congregations across North America took part in the JRF Leadership Institute for Rabbis and Presidents. The seminar, utilizing a systems approach to help congregational rabbis and their presidents maximize their effectiveness as a leadership team, was facilitated by JRF Executive Vice President Dr. Carl A. Sheingold, and Esther Perel, a therapist and author whose innovative strategies and models for leadership have won her an international clientele of nonprofit organizations, foundations, schools, community groups and corporations.

[b]Participating congregations included:[/b] Adat Shalom in Bethesda, Md.; Oseh Shalom in Laurel, Md.; Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Summit, N.J.; Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, Wash.; B'nai Havurah in Denver; Congregation Kehilat Shalom in Belle Mead, N.J.; Congregation Agudas Achim, in Attleboro, Mass.; and Kehillat Israel in Lansing, Mich.

JRF Signs Multi-Agency Letter to United Methodist Church

Twenty one Jewish agencies, including JRF, have joined together in a letter of thanks to the United Methodist Church for sincere strides made in areas of concern to the Jewish community, including Jewish-Christian relations, and peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. The recent work with the church is an example of one of the many coalitions and cross-agency initiatives for which JRF represents our member communities.

Read the full letter at

Experience Camp JRF Family Camp!

[b]When:[/b] 5 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 13 - Noon on Sunday, Aug. 17
[b]Where:[/b] Camp JRF, South Sterling, Pa.

Experience as a family the joy, fun and community of Reconstructionist camping this summer at Camp JRF Family Camp. There’s something for everyone: activities for adults, teens, children and families!

Participants in Family Camp will enjoy all of JRF’s camp facilities and staff, including professional Jewish educators, rabbis, musicians, art and sports instructors, counselors, and our fantastic food.

Register now at Space is limited! For more information contact or call 1-877-226-7573.

Tikkun JRF Teen-Parent Week of Service

Post-B’nai Mitzvah teens and their parents are invited to share a week working together to make a difference. Tikkun JRF is a tikkun olam project for teams of post-B’nai Mitzvah teens and parents, Aug. 10-15, at Camp JRF in South Sterling, Pa.

Space is limited! Enrollment is currently open for 20-30 adult and teen pairs, post-B’nai Mitzvah ages 13+ (teams may include one or two parents). You will live for a week in active, participatory community, connecting to local communities and providing much needed support and building work. We welcome your diverse skills and talents, including: carpentry, painting, meal planning, photography, team playing. Worker bees, educators, musicians and all others are welcome!

Download the registration form online at To learn more, contact Eve Maslin at (215) 885-5601 or e-mail For project information, contact Clifford Goldsmith at (617) 965-7323 or e-mail

Announcing The Challenge for Camp JRF

Camp JRF has set a goal to raise $1 million over the next 12 months as part of its new The Challenge for Camp JRF fundraising campaign. The first $500,000 contributed will be matched dollar-for-dollar, thanks to the auspices of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Gottesman Family.

The campaign has been organized by Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, director of Camp JRF; David Nerenberg, president of the Jewish Reconstructionist Camping Corp.; and Archie Gottesman, chairman of the Camp Capital Campaign.

Program guidelines for The Challenge include:

  • Minimum gift of $3,600 payable over three years (first gift installment payable within two months of the pledge commitment);
  • Gifts from both new and previous donors to Camp JRF are eligible;
  • Gifts can be used for scholarship, annual, capital, or endowment needs;
  • Challenge concludes Dec. 31.

For further information, please contact Marla Friedenberg, Camp JRF development associate, at (215) 885-5601, ext. 28 or

Join 42nd JRF Convention on Nov. 13-16 in Boston

[b] “Transformative Judaism for the 21st Century”[/b]

What exciting innovations are on the horizon for Jewish life in the 21st century?

What are the most pressing issues facing our Reconstructionist communities?

Are you seeking new ideas and solutions? Do you have ideas to share?

Hundreds of Reconstructionists and likeminded friends will gather at the 42nd Convention of the JRF to learn, dialogue, and celebrate Shabbat together in beautiful, historic Boston, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Hear from leaders across the spectrum of Judaism, including Jonathan Sarna, Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, Dr. David Teutsch, Jonathan Woocher, Jerry Silverman, Amy Sales, Rabbi Toba Spitzer, Rabbi Hayim Herring, Rabbi Sid Schwarz and Rabbi Joy Levitt.

Workshops at convention will address a broad range of topics, including:

  • Arts and Spirituality
  • Congregational Schools
  • Effective Decision Making Models
  • Fundraising
  • Growth and Finance
  • Israel
  • Leadership
  • Next Generation
  • Sustainability
  • Text Study and Divrei Torah
  • Tikkun Olam

More details soon at

Special Offers from JRF’s Reconstructionist Press

It is traditional to study the [i]Megillat Shir HaShirim[/i] (Song of Songs) during Passover, and JRF’s Reconstructionist Press is delighted to announce a newly revised edition of [i]Etz Hayim We: Megillat Shir HaShirim,[/i] just in time for Pesach.

And have you experienced [i]Siddur Kol Hano’ar,[/i] the wonderful, colorful Shabbat siddur for children? Whether for your synagogue, for friends and family, or for your own home, it makes a great gift!

Rabbi Jeffrey Schein, Project Director
Rabbi Erin Hirsh, Curriculum Writer
This richly detailed, hands-on resource for Reconstructionist teen and adult exploration of Song of Songs during spring is chock full of innovative approaches to biblical study, and particularly the themes of divine and human love. Spiral-bound soft cover, 100 pp., $15 each.

[i]Transliterated edition available now![/i]
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!

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).

No’ar Hadash Israel Experience – Make a Difference!

This summer over 30 Reconstructionist teens from across North America will share an amazing month exploring Israel together. Your donation can help defray the cost for this year’s participants and will make a difference for next year’s group.

Please visit and click on the Donate Now button. Please consider either making your donation to the Leonard and Phyllis Friend Memorial Scholarship Fund or the general scholarship fund for No’ar Hadash.

For more information visit or contact Jessica Shimberg at or (215) 885-5601 x 47.

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, recognizing those JRF communities who excel at sustainable practices at the JRF Convention in Boston this November.

Information on the 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,

Make a Difference for Myanmar Cyclone Victims

JRF is an ongoing coalition member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR) during times of natural disaster and human suffering in the world.

As UJC’s overseas partner, the JDC has opened an emergency mailbox to raise relief funds for victims of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated portions of Myanmar (formerly Burma) on May 3.

Read the JCDR Myanmar Cyclone Situation Report at, and click on the map of Cyclone Nargis’s path to donate. Funds are being collected for nonsectarian aid for the several hundred thousand cyclone victims left without shelter and safe drinking water.

Congregations may download Web banners, found in UJC’s central library, for use on their Web sites to help support the JDC efforts. For more information on the Web tools, contact UJC’s Andy Neusner at

Come Share Shabbat in Prospect Park, Brooklyn!

[b]When:[/b] Friday, May 30, 6:30 p.m.
[b]Where: [/b] The Grecian Shelter in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
Please join the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation as we welcome Shabbat in Prospect Park with song, stories, and a catered community dinner. Children of all ages are welcome. The evening will be led by Rabbi Shoshana Leis (RRC ’05) and Avi Fox-Rosen.

Make your e-reservation today at In case of questionable or inclement weather, call JRF NY/NJ at (212) 870-2483 for alternate plans.

[b]For more information, contact:[/b]
Melanie Schneider -
Jayne Roberman -
Dan Cedarbaum -


RSNS Celebrating 50th Anniversary Year

The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore (RSNS) is commemorating its 50th anniversary year with an exciting roster of special events. On May 9, the congregation enjoyed a special musical evening with the RSNS choir, featuring two compositions by Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, daughter of Reconstructionism’s founder Mordecai Kaplan and wife of Ira Eisenstein – RSNS’s first rabbi.

The celebration continues through the fall with a program June 13 with:

  • Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, addressing the topic “Reconstructionist Judaism: Its Evolution in the Past 50 Years”;
  • Rabbi Shawn Zevit, JRF’s director of outreach and tikkun olam, on Oct. 10, speaking on “Reconstructionism and Social Justice”;
  • a special Shabbat service Nov. 11 with Rabbi Jodie Siff and Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, who both grew up with the congregation;
  • a gala dinner dance Nov. 2;
  • and a culminating event on Nov. 7 dedicated to programs for families.

To learn more, visit

Oseh Shalom to Host Shabbat Iyyun

[b]What:[/b] “Faith-based Initiatives and the Perils of Government Funding”
[b]When:[/b] Friday, May 23, 8 p.m.
[b]Where:[/b] Oseh Shalom, 7515 Olive Branch Way, Laurel, Md.
This special evening at Oseh Shalom is third in a series featuring intellectual inquiry woven into the Friday evening service.

Featured speakers from The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) are Ari Geller, director of communications; and Preet Singh, deputy director of public policy. TIA is a nonpartisan organization whose goal is to promote the positive and healing role of religion in public life. The speakers will address the complex and timely issues surrounding faith-based initiatives or charitable choice proposals – legal, ethical and practical ways for faith organizations and government to work together to remedy societal ills.

Services and presentation will run from 8 - 9 p.m. An Oneg/dessert and discussion to follow. For additional information and directions, call (301) 498-5151 or

Beth Israel Honors Co-op Leader of Chester, Pa.

Tina Johnson of Chester has won Congregation Beth Israel’s 2008 Friend of the Community Award. She is being recognized for her vision, creativity and tireless efforts to bring healthy and affordable food to the residents of Chester, Pa.

Working for the Tibetan government in-exile while only 27 years old, Johnson thought she could make a difference for those in poverty and hunger. Little did she know that her calling would bring her 7,500 miles east to Chester – a short drive from where she grew up. And while the landscape has changed, the drive to train and inspire others to create their own sustainable community and defeat hunger is still her passion.

The Friend of the Community Award is given each year by the congregation to celebrate the efforts of volunteers and activists who have made a vital difference in the quality of life in Delaware County. The recipients of the award can be of any faith, but all exemplify the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam, or “repairing the world” through charity, volunteerism and dedication to improving the lives of others.

Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller in Concert on May 18

Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller performed her own compositions at a gala concert at Bet Am Shalom Synagogue in White Plains, NY, on May 18. In addition to serving Bet Am Shalom as chazan, Cantor Schiller is a professor of cantorial arts at the Hebrew Union College. She is a nationally known composer and a frequently featured soprano soloist with the Zamir Chorales of New York and Boston, the Western Wind Ensemble and Sine Nomine.

Mishkan Ha’am Celebrated 10th year

On March 9, Mishkan Ha’am of New York celebrated its 10-year anniversary. With a membership expanding from Riverdale through Westchester’s Rivertowns, the community has grown to include Shabbat services for all areas, a Hebrew school, adult-ed program, social action activities and innovating programming (including yoga and meditation).

For more information, visit or call (914) 478-4996.

Rabbi Susan Falk Joins Kehilat Shalom of NJ

Congregation Kehilat Shalom of Belle Mead, NJ, officially installed Rabbi Susan Falk at a ceremony on April 25. The service featured Rabbi Jacob Staub of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, as well as the Kol Ahava and Children’s Choir.

Rabbi Falk was appointed to the pulpit of Congregation Kehilat Shalom (formerly the Jewish Community Center of Belle Mead) last August after an extensive search by an internal search committee.

A native of Bergen County, Rabbi Falk received a bachelor’s in English literature from Barnard College, and her rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2005. She worked previously as hospice director for the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia.

For more information about the community, visit or call the temple office at (908) 359-0420.

Rabbi Sarah Rubin Joins Congregation Ahavas Achim of NH

Congregation Ahavas Achim in Keene, NH, officially installed Rabbi Sarah Niebuhr Rubin at a “very special Shabbat Simcha” held April 25.

Rabbi Rubin, a Seattle native, earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and a master’s from Indiana University, both in anthropology. She excavated archaeological sites in Ohio, Israel and Turkey, and has taught courses in religion at Temple University and in biology and anthropology at Indiana University, where she received a Teaching Excellence Recognition Award. She was ordained as a rabbi in 2007 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

While at RRC, Rubin was president of the Reconstructionist Student Association. She also worked as a student rabbi, a hospital chaplain, an education resource specialist and a rabbinic intern at a community residence for seniors.

For more information about Congregation Ahavas Achim, visit or call the temple office at (603) 352-6747.

Kol Hakavod!

Abbey Alpern of congregation [b]Adat Shalom[/b] in Bethesda was featured recently in [i]The Gazette[/i] for her creative work collecting recycled material and making unique pieces of art that include sculptures and masks. She sometimes enlists fellow Adat Shalom members to help collect the materials.

[b]Bet Am Shalom[/b] synagogue in White Plains, NY, is happy to announce its participation in Tuv Ha’Aretz – a Community Supported Agriculture program launched in partnership with [b]Hazon,[/b] a Jewish environmental organization. Tuv Ha’Aretz (which means both “good for the land” and “good from the land”) aims to promote agricultural sustainability by supporting local, organic farmers. The congregation held a Meet the Farmer Night on March 10 to introduce the program to congregants.

[b]Congregation Or Hadash, [/b] in the Philadelphia suburb Fort Washington, unveiled a unique Megillat Esther on March 16, commissioned from a scribe and incorporating drawings made by students in its religious school. The sofer, Reconstructionist Rabbi Kevin Hale, used a computer program to graft the children’s images onto fine rice paper that was then affixed to parchment. Hale, who lives in Leeds, Mass., taught a crash course in scroll writing for the kids, as part of the special event.

[b]Darchei Noam[/b] of Toronto has moved into its new two-story building. For 15 years, the congregation had rented space at the local B’nai Brith headquarters. The official move was celebrated on Jan. 27, when the 300 members of the congregation, led by Rabbi Tina Grimberg, carried the Torah in a procession from their old address to the new synagogue.

Ye’asher koach to [b]Kehillath Shalom[/b] of Cold Spring Harbor, NY, for its work with Project H.O.P.E. (Home Ownership Program for Everyone) to provide low-cost loans to buy and rehabilitate one to four family homes in Huntington, Long Island. After three years of planning, demolition, new house plans, and applying for permits, construction was started on an H.O.P.E. house funded in part through congregants’ contributions.

[b]Temple Beth Hatfiloh[/b] of Olympia, Wash., has completed its $13.5 million renovation. The building, purchased in 2003, is now 18,000 square feet and includes seismic and accessibility upgrades; and added office, classroom and meeting space. A dedication celebration for the new wing is planned for June 22.

The members of [b]Temple Beth Israel[/b] of Eugene, Ore., are not only counting the Omer—they are also counting the days to the dedication of their new building. On June 8, the final day of the Omer, the congregation will joyfully escort its Torah scrolls from their old home on Portland Street to their new synagogue at 29th and University. All are invited to share memories, blessings, and good wishes.

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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