Get Email Updates!

Ma Nishma - JRF News for October 2008

September 17, 2008 - 12:28pm -- 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]October 2008 / Tishri - Heshvan 5769

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

[b]In This Issue[/b]

  • Registration Now Open for the 42nd JRF Convention - Boston, Nov. 13-16
  • Place a Greeting or Ad in the Convention Program Guide
  • Shabbat and Havdallah Portions of Shabbat Prayerbook Now in Braille
  • Save the Date: JRF Gala Honoring Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, May 31, 2009
  • Special Offers from JRF’s Reconstructionist Press
  • Calling all Reconstructionist Teens: No’ar Hadash Events
  • Camp JRF is Available for Your Special Events
  • JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative
  • Get Out the Vote: Why American Jews Must Vote
  • Tents of Hope for Darfur Event, November 7-9
  • Birkat HaHammah - The Blessing of the Sun, April 8, 2009
  • NY/NJ Region High Holiday “Open Seats” Campaign
  • Join JRF in Brooklyn for Havdalah and Slichot
  • Effective Leadership: Essential Practices for Board Members, A Leadership Orientation
  • Marketing Your Congregational Message
  • Southern California Congregational School Retreats
  • Save the Date: RRC 40th Anniversary Celebration – December 7
  • Congregational news / Kol HaKavod!


Register for the 42nd JRF Convention
Nov. 13-16, 2008 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel

[img_assist|nid=1711|title=|desc=|link=url|url=|align=left|width=240|height=236][i]“Transformative Judaism for the 21st Century”[/i]

Join the largest gathering of Reconstructionists in North America for four enriching days of learning, building connections, and sharing best practices to strengthen and grow our Reconstructionist communities and ourselves.


[b]A Plenary Session on Identity, Community and Leadership[/b] is a dialogue between the generations — those involved today in creating "emerging communities" and those who were shapers of the Havurah movement in the '60s and '70s, now serving as leaders of the Reconstructionist Movement. [[i]If you're reading this electronically, click on presenters' names throughout to read their bios.[/i]] Participants will include Rabbi David Teutsch, Zachary Teutsch, Rabbi Michael Strassfeld and Sarah Liebman.

[b]Four special Forums[/b] will immediately follow the opening plenary, giving us an opportunity to explore the themes raised as we engage in conversations with leaders in their fields:

[b]Jonathan Sarna[/b], the foremost expert on American Jewish history, will join us on Thursday evening with a talk entitled [b][i]American Judaism at a Crossroads: A Perspective on Reconstructionism from a Jewish Historian[/i][/b]. Read the September 5 interview with Dr. Sarna in the [i]Forward[/i].

[b]Noah Feldman[/b], recently named by New York Magazine as one of "the influentials" in ideas, will be our special guest speaker during Shabbat lunch. Feldman's expertise is on the relationship between law and religion in the West and Middle East.

[b]Shabbat services as you've never experienced them before[/b], filled with ruach (spirit) and kavannah (intention), will bring us together as an extended Reconstructionist family.

[b]Beit Midrash sessions on Shabbat afternoon[/b] include informal text study, creative exploration of Reconstructionist liturgy, and a celebration of the arts.

[b]A special screening of Praying with Lior[/b], an award-winning film by Ilana Trachtman. The film celebrates the Reconstructionist Bar Mitzvah of Lior Liebling, who has Down Syndrome, and explores themes of disability and spirituality.

[b]Networking opportunities[/b] throughout Convention will facilitate connections between our communities, such as break-out sessions, affinity group meetings, and receptions. Come and contribute your questions and your congregation’s best practices to the conversations!

Harmoniyah--the Reconstructionist Music Network and RENA (Reconstructionist Educators of North America) will be participating in our Convention again this year.

[b]Visit sights of Jewish interest in Boston[/b] or participate in a [b]tikkun olam service opportunity[/b] on Sunday.

[i]And much more![/i]

Get all the details and register now at

Place a Greeting or Ad in the Convention Program Guide

Honor your rabbi, fellow congregant, or loved one or promote your business by placing a personal greeting or professional/business advertisement in the Program Guide for the upcoming 42nd JRF Convention. Options include:

  • Business card (allowable text space 3.5” w x 2” h): $180
  • Quarter page (allowable text space 3.25” w x 4.5” h): $250
  • Half page (allowable text space 7.5” w x 4.5” h): $500
  • Full-page (allowable text space 7.5” w x 10” h): $1,000

To place your greeting or ad or for more information please contact Marla Friedenberg at 215-885-5601, ext 28 or

Shabbat and Havdallah Portions of Kol Haneshamah Shabbat Vehagim Prayerbook Now Available in Braille

[img_assist|nid=2031|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=159]Since its publication in 1994, Kol Haneshamah Shabbat Vehagim, the Reconstructionist Shabbat and Festival Prayerbook, has been used by thousands and thousands of Reconstructionist and non-Reconstructionist Jews for worship, prayer, and study in the synagogue and at home.

Shortly after the publication of the prayerbook, Braille Hebrew translator Caryn Navy and John Riehl, president of JRF's Chesapeake Region, began the arduous, complex, and ultimately rewarding task of taking an electronic version of the prayerbook and creating a Braille version which would be fully usable and accessible to visually-impaired Jews. The Reconstructionist movement fully supported this work, as did the Jewish Braille Institute (JBI International), which enthusiastically agreed to make copies of the prayerbook available to anyone requesting a copy, at no charge, once a "blind-user-friendly" version of the prayerbook had been produced.

In December, 2006, we announced that the Erev Shabbat portion of Shabbat Vehagim was available in Braille from the Jewish Braille Institute. Since that time, Caryn and John have continued their work on producing a fully accessible Braille prayerbook. Now, at last, the complete English and Hebrew text of all of the Shabbat and Havdallah Services (pages 1-527) are available in Braille at no charge from JBI International. The Erev Shabbat service is in Volumes 1 and 2; Shabbat Morning, Afternoon and Havdallah services are in Volumes 3 through 6.

To obtain all or a portion of the six volumes, at no charge, please call Pearl Lam at JBI at 800-433-1531 or e-mail Pearl at

Save the Date for a JRF Gala Honoring Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat

Join us on Sunday May 31st, 2009 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan as we gather to celebrate Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, innovative congregational rabbi and Founding Director of Camp JRF and No'ar Hadash, for his unique contributions to the Reconstructionist movement and learn of his exciting present and future work building the next generation of Reconstructionist youth. This will be an all-out gala event you will not want to miss.

Everyone will be offered the opportunity to place a personal greeting in honor of Jeff in the tribute journal for this occasion. More details will be available soon.

Special Offers from JRF’s Reconstructionist Press

1250 pages, hardcover $42.00 ($33.60)

The Reconstructionist [i]Kol Haneshamah Mahzor Leyamim Nora’im[/i] (prayer book for the Days of Awe) is an inclusive, comprehensive volume for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services; one that is rooted in the traditional Hebrew liturgy, yet fully contemporary. Some of the most prominent features of this volume are:

  • All readings appear within the text, simplifying the selection of material for services.
  • Constructed with a special strong, reinforced library quality binding.
  • Printed on very thin, lightweight opaque paper.
  • A new section, Kabbalat Hashanah, has been created to begin the erev Rosh Hashanah service.
  • For Rosh Hashanah, the Mahzor can be used for a traditional shofar service and full Musaf, or combining the two in several different ways.
  • On Yom Kippur, the Musaf service and Martyrology are integrated with the Avodah service creating a powerful, seamless whole.

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!

Rabbi Gail Diamond
Participants’ Text (Parts I & II) - 33 pages, softcover $12.50
Facilitator’s Guide – 62 pages, softcover $12.50

The Reconstructionist Press is proud to introduce [i]Moadim Le’Limud – Seasons for Learning: Mishnah on the Holidays of the Year[/i]. This exciting new course, written by Rabbi Gail Diamond, gives students an introduction to the Mishnah while expanding their knowledge of the laws and customs of various holidays of the Jewish year. The lessons are designed to be suitable for students of all backgrounds. Some of the most prominent features of this volume are:

  • Two ways for facilitators to use the curriculum: Over several sessions taught over a period of two to three months, concentrating on learning Mishnah on the holidays of the year; or presented seasonally over the course of a whole year, ideally beginning in Elul, timing each lesson for two to four weeks before the holiday discussed.
  • Participants’ Text contains texts to be studied at each lesson along with some of the questions for discussion.
  • Facilitators’ Guide has goals for each section and an expanded selection of discussion questions for each section.
  • Part I, comprising the first half of these wonderful lessons, will be ready in time for Rosh Hashanah for communities that would like to present the course
    alongside the High Holy Days. Part II will be ready in late fall – in plenty of time for the spring holidays, and will automatically be sent upon publication.

[i]JRF DIARY FOR 5769 / 2008-2009[/i]
Available now! $8.25 (U.S.)

  • Comprehensive calendar for the Jewish and secular year, including explanations of all Jewish holidays and important shabbatot
  • Ample space to jot down appointments, with blank pages for notes and addresses
  • Current listing of all JRF synagogues and havurot
  • The platform and program of the Reconstructionist movement

Order by mail with a check payable to JRF and send to JRF, Beit Devora, 101 Greenwood Avenue, Suite 430, Jenkintown, PA 19046, or order by credit card by calling 877-JRF-PUBS. This unique, pocket-size Jewish calendar makes a great gift so order while supplies last!

The Reconstructionist Press is looking forward to seeing you at the 42nd JRF Convention in Boston this November—come to our table and see the new commemorative 10th Anniversary edition of [i]A Night of Questions Reconstructionist Haggadah[/i] available for the first time there!

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

Get excited for fun, friends, singing, hanging out, and so much more at the [b]No’ar Hadash Eastern Teen Kallah[/b], October 24-26 at Camp JRF in South Sterling, PA.

This event is open to 8th-12th graders from Florida all the way up to Montreal, so if you’re on the East coast, this is the Kallah for you! 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 there!


  • Eastern Teen Kallah - October 24-26[/b] at Camp JRF, South Sterling, PA
  • [b]Western Teen Kallah - January 9-11[/b] at BB Camp, Portland, OR
  • [b]Midwest Youth Kallah - February 13-15[/b] at Camp Henry Horner, Ingleside, IL
  • [b]North American Teen Kallah - April 17-19[/b], Location TBD

and also . . .

  • [b]No'ar Hadash Goes to Panim el Panim - March 15-18[/b] 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!

Applications and information are coming soon at

JRF Southern California Congregational School Retreats

[b]At Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu, CA, October 24-26[/b]

A special retreat facilitated by Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, JRF’s Founding Director of Camp JRF and No’ar Hadash, will take place the weekend of October 24-26 for all 7th graders from the five Reconstructionist congregations in Southern California: Kehillat Israel of Pacific Palisades, Malibu Jewish Center, Temple Shalom of the South Bay, University Synagogue in Irvine, and Dor Hadash of San Diego. Retreats for students in grades 3 through 6 will follow in the spring, and a Tikkun Olam project for 8th through 12th graders is scheduled for May, 2009.

For more information contact Rabbi Eisenstat at 215-885-5601, ext 22 or

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, 2008.

A full listing of the 7 weeks of teaching packets 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 [i]tikkun olam[/i]:

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,

Get Out the Vote: Why American Jews Must Vote

[i]Rabbi Yitzhak taught, "A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted.” —Talmud, B’rachot 55a[/i]

[img_assist|nid=1481|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=90]A crucial election day is only months away. At stake are vital political, economic and moral issues of concern to all Americans, in addition to issues of special concern to American Jews.

During the next four years, there will be important debates about the way our government does business. Legislation on significant issues such as health care, foreign aid, civil rights and support for Israel is likely to be considered by the next Congress and Administration. In addition, over the next four years, the President and Senate will confirm judges who will make crucial decisions affecting our lives. With the stakes so high, we must work to reverse the trend toward declining percentages of voters.

As Jews and American citizens we have an obligation to participate in the elections to ensure that our country's policies at the local, state and national levels reflect our commitment to social justice. Every vote counts and plays a defining role in setting policy agendas. It is our civic duty to register promptly, educate ourselves about the critical issues and VOTE!

The [i]Get Out the Vote 2008 Guide[/i] provides you with tools, resources and information to help your congregation or community plan a successful voter enngagement effort in advance of Election Day. This guide was designed for use by Jewish congregations and communal organizations wishing to conduct their own voter registration drives. We also encourage participation in voter registration drives in the general community. The same procedures and materials that are suggested here for use in the Jewish community can be adapted for voter registration use in the broader community.

The Guide was prepared by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and the larger Jewish community.

Download the Get Out The Vote Guide free of charge at

Tents of Hope for Darfur Event – November 7-9

The mission of the Tents of Hope project is to support a one-year process in which people respond as communities to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan by creating tents that are both unique works of art and ongoing focal points within communities for learning about, assisting and establishing relationships with the people of Sudan.

The tents are not answers in themselves. Rather, they are points of entry for more concrete forms of Darfur advocacy. Since the launch of Tents of hope in 2004, the American Jewish World Service, the Save Darfur Coalition (of which JRF and the RRA are members) and other faith and non-profit groups have joined as participating organizations.

The structure of the Tents of Hope project is decentralized and temporary. It is a one-year project in which local communities are responsible for taking the initiative to shape the project both through the creation of the tents as works of art and the use of the tents as focal points for education, advocacy and fundraising for humanitarian assistance. National coordination is focused on giving support to these local efforts in such areas as the project website and the national event in Washington, DC, November 7-9, 2008.

For more information and to register for the Tents of hope event in Washington go to
Also see

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

[b]North American Solar and Renewable Energy Campaign in the Jewish Community[/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!

NY/NJ Region Unites in an Effort to Reach Out to Unaffiliated Over the High Holidays with the "Open Seats" Campaign

As part of the Kehillah Kedoshah Synagogue Outreach and Growth initiative, the synagogues of JRF's NY/NJ region have launched the "High Holiday Open Seats Campaign" to let the unaffiliated know they are welcome at our synagogues. Through "Open Seats" each synagogue in the region has set aside a designated number of seats for non-members and posted information about their High Holiday services on the website

The website is being advertised by a regional press-release blitz and through the purchase of domain names and key words on all major search engines. We are excited about our new and unprecedented initiative and will report back about the results.

For more information about Open Seats, please contact Hannah Greenstein, Outreach Coordinator for JRF Metropolitan NY/NJ Region at or at 212-870-2484.

Join JRF in Brooklyn for Havdalah and Selichot

[b]At the Hannah Senesh Community Day School, 342 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Saturday evening, September 20, 2008, 7 pm[/b]

We bid farewell to Shabbat and welcome the High Holiday season with a family-oriented Havdalah ceremony and Selichot (forgiveness) service, both filled with soulful music. The evening, facilitated by Reconstructionist Rabbi Rachel Gartner, cantor and local Jewish music sensation Galeet Dardashti, and Reconstructionist student rabbi Ezra Weinberg. The Selichot service will begin at 9 pm, preceded by refreshments.

You can get a taste of Galeet Dardashti’s music at For directions to the school, go to

For more information contact Dan Cedarbaum at or 847-492-5200. If you cannot come to this event but would like to be on our e-mail list for future events in Brooklyn, please let Dan know. Share the news with your friends and family in Brooklyn!

Active Leadership: Essential Practices for Board Members, A Leadership Orientation

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008, 5:30 - 8:45 pm - Plan to come as a board group!

At the start of the program year, this program will provide a rich leadership exchange with material for new and returning synagogue board members. Models for decision making, effective meetings, leadership development, program evaluation and assessment, volunteer engagement, financial fitness, staff and clergy professional relationships, will all be on the agenda. Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Senior Congregational Consultant and Director of Tikkun Olam and Outreach, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, will lead the session.

The program will be held on Thursday, October 23rd, 5:30pm - 8:45pm at the JRF NY/NJ offices, 475 Riverside Drive, NYC. Complimentary parking is provided.

Board members are encouraged to come as teams from their congregations. Registration is required. Please contact

Marketing Your Congregational Message

Thursday, November 6th, 2008, 6:00 - 8:45 pm.

Congregations in the New York-New Jersey region will meet to consider what makes them unique, and will learn how to communicate this message to the greater community. Participants will discuss marketing strategies tailored to different audiences.

For more information contact

Save the Date for RRC’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

[b][i]RRC at 40 – Building the Future[/i] - Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 12 pm[/b]

2008 Annual Event honoring Howard and Maureen Blitman
Event Chairs: Harry and Karen Waizer, Jesse and Maris Krasnow
Honorary Chairs: Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman, Rabbi Lester Bronstein and Cantor Benjie Schiller
Bet Am Shalom Synagogue, 295 Soundview Avenue, White Plains, NY 10606

For more information contact Nancy Bernstein at 215-576-0800, ext 143 or at

Congregational News / Kol HaKavod!

In preparation for the High Holy Days, [b]Mishkan Shalom[/b] in Philadelphia invites members of Reconstructionist congregations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and their friends to attend a special adult education course "Fasting and Cleansing Your Diet" facilitated by Nancy Post, Ph.D., M.Ac. Fasting is an essential part of spiritual development, intended to purify the body, allowing non-material concerns to emerge. In the best sense, “we rise from the earth to meet the consciousness of the heavens,” yet many people who fast are plagued with headaches, nausea and dizziness, rather than enjoying an ascendant moment. This two-part class will cover how to prepare for and break fasts, and how to let fasting springboard into healthier eating. Part 1, Sunday September 28 from 10 am to noon; Part 2, November 16 from 10 am to noon; at Mishkan Shalom, 4101 Freeland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141. Get all the details at To register call the Mishkan Shalom office at 215-508-0226, ext. "0".

Vicki Wilson of [b]Kehillath Shalom[/b] in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, is one of this year’s recipients of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Vicki has been teaching at Kehillath Shalom for over 10 years. She is the head teacher, and family educator. Vicki teaches from pre K–seventh grade. According to Dahlia Rosenthal, Education Director, Vicki is a kind and nurturing teacher whose dedication to the children and their families is embodied in her teaching. Vicki also teaches English in middle school in the Huntington school district. We wish her much success. [i]Ye’asher koach[/i] and [i]mazal tov[/i]!

On Sunday, September 21, from 9am to 12:15 pm, [b]Bet Am Shalom Synagogue[/b] is holding its first ever "Torah Fest", an intergenerational learning experience. Two special guests are coming: Torah scribe, Rabbi Gedalia Druin, who will repair the BAS Torahs and teach congregants the process so they can help with the repairs; and Professor Michael Fishbane, Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago, who will speak about "The Canonization of the Tanakh-- What Got In, What Didn't Make the Cut and Why?" There will be learning for all ages including a class on Torah music taught by Cantor Benjie Schiller, a Torah text study class by Roz Schulman and a lesson on Aliyah etiquette. And there will be fun activities for children such as Torah personalities to meet, a quiz show and a trip to Mount Sinai. All will enjoy some foods of the Torah. The program was conceived and organized by the BAS Ritual Committee, Visioning Committee and Hebrew School Board.

On Saturday November 8, [b]Mishkan Shalom[/b] in Philadelphia will celebrate the one-year anniversary of senior Rabbi Linda Holtzman with a community installation ceremony and a festive evening of cabaret. Merriment and surprises are in store! For more details, contact the synagogue office at 215-508-0226.

Tell us about it!

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

Contact Communications Director Lisa Tuttle at today.

Microsoft Office document icon Ma Nishma October 08.doc153 KB
Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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

For the new site, please visit