Congregation Beth Hatikvah of Summit, NJ, celebrated its first Adult B’nai Mitzvah on Saturday, March 8, 2008 in a joyous service with Rabbi Amy Joy Small.
Guests, family and members celebrated at a festive luncheon given by the congregation. The class studied for two years in preparation for this important day.
In the photo, standing from left, are Carol Sussman-Skalka, Leslie Weber, Arleen Soldati and Connie Seligman. Seated from the left, are Katia Segre Cohen, Rabbi Amy Joy Small, and Gary DeBode.
For the first time ever, Congregation Bnai Keshet in Montclair, NJ, held its summer retreat at Camp JRF, the camp of the Reconstructionist movement, in South Sterling, Pennsylvania, and it couldn’t have been better received. Over 80 BK congregants enjoyed the scenic, wooded grounds, the balance of recreation and hidur-mitzvah-themed programming, and the peaceful spirituality of the Memorial Day weekend spent with the BK community.
Highlights of the weekend included t’fillot by the lake, the instant choir on Shabbat morning, an in-depth story discussion, thought-provoking Torah study, a mosaic craft activity, a blazing campfire with s’mores, spirited games of baseball and basketball, surprisingly tasty food, and a wrap-up program that got us all thinking (see sidebar). For the many kids under 13 who attended, the clear highlights were discovering a love for ga-ga (an Israeli ball game), tie-dying T-shirts, and finding dozens of furry caterpillars just about everywhere. Everyone is saying "Next year in South Sterling!" read more »
More than a dozen national Jewish agencies, including the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, have issued a joint statement strongly criticizing a Presbyterian Church (USA) document that replaces a PCUSA critique of anti-Jewish bias, issued just one month prior. The revised document, according to the Jewish statement, “is infused with the very bias that the original statement condemned.” The Jewish agencies note “with profound hurt” that the “new season of mutual understanding and dialogue” called for by the 2006 Presbyterian General Assembly “has indeed not yet arrived.” The 2008 Presbyterian Church General Assembly opened this week in San Jose, California.
The full statement follows. That statement together with a letter to the Presbyterian Church from leaders of the Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative movements are attached to this story. read more »
Submitted by Rabbi Amy Joy Small
On June 4, 2008, June Walker was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Haifa. The immediate past president of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, June is Chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a member of JRF affiliate Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Summit, NJ. Rabbi Amy Joy Small accompanied June and her husband Barrett to Israel for the ceremony. An article on Ms. Walker's honor appeared in a recent edition of The New Jersey Jewish News, attached to this story. read more »
When I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, I wasn't fully conscious of how much I was impacted by the absolute dearth of female role models available to young Jewish girls like me. But it certainly did impact me. In part, we are all products of our environment and culture at its moment in time. Many aspiring Jewish feminists like myself, even before we could claim the feminist mantle, fought hard to become educated, to achieve positions of leadership that opened access for us to contribute to the world in powerful ways. Many of us adored Golda Meir, a beloved leader of our people, a world leader who was also our "Jewish grandma."
November 13-16, 2008
Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
Come and experience 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.
Get all the details and register now at www.jrf.org/convention.
Photo: Greater Boston Convention & Visitor's Bureau.
A special tikkun olam project of Milwaukee's Congregation Shir Hadash on June 1st drew approximately 75 people working side by side to plant a community garden at the Children's Outing Association's (COA) Goldin Center at 2320 W. Burleigh St. This is one of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas in the city. The project involved community residents as well as volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life from Shir Hadash, Milwaukee’s Reconstructionist congregation. People of all ages came together to plant a community garden and to beautify the grounds of the Center.
This week, as we prepare ourselves for receiving the Torah anew on Shavuot, we travel across the congregational system, from schools to shuls, and then back again...
Included in this week's omer teachings, among other things, we learn the importance of reflection while you pursue social justice, potential suggested ingredients for successful synagogue tikkun olam programs, and discover many education related tikkun olam resources.
In Brachot 63b, the Babylonian Talmud states that the Torah can only be acquired in partnership, while in community with others.
Therefore, this week's omer packet features some of JRF's many collaborative partnerships and formal external affiliations with other organizations, including The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, The Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, The Informed Meetings Exchange (INMEX), The International Association for Religious Freedom, The International Jewish Social Justice Network, The Jewish Coalition Responding to HIV/AIDS in Africa , The Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA), The Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, Mazon – A Jewish Response to Hunger , The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Secure Community Network (SCN), and The World Union for Progressive Judaism.
This week's omer study packet, on service-learning, features the upcoming JRF Teen-Parent Week of Service, happening in August 2008, reflections from service-learning trips taken by congregations Havurah Shalom and JRC-Evanston to Africa, and RRC students to Central America, with the American Jewish World Service, as well as domestic trips to New Orleans with the Jewish Funds for Justice. read more »
Please also save the date for the exciting National Educators’ Institute for Jewish Service-Learning, being held twice this summer, in June and August.
Dear Ma Nishma Subscriber,
I'm happy to deliver to your email doorstep the latest issue of Ma Nishma ("What's Happening?"), featuring news and events from JRF.
Now everyone can subscribe to Ma Nishma. Register at the JRF website at http://jrf.org/user/register then click "Manage your JRF e-newsletter subscriptions" at the top left of the home page to subscribe.
Newsletter editors and webmasters: Please reprint stories and announcements from this issue for a JRF News page in your congregational newsletter and on your website.
Those who send a Weekly Update e-mails: Please disseminate Ma Nishma along with your regular posting.
Feel free to forward this to anyone you think would enjoy reading Ma Nishma.
L'shalom, read more »
Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
JRF Communications Director
Twenty one Jewish agencies, including the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, have joined together in a letter of thanks to the United Methodist Church (UMC) 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 United Methodist Church is an example of one of the many coalitions and cross-agency initiatives for which JRF represents our member communities.
Read more to see the full letter. read more »
This week's omer study packet, on advocacy, features articles on how to make our synagogues into vessels of tikkun olam, and how to make decisions on controversial issues, as well as tachlis policy documents formulated by JRF congregations: Adat Shalom, Mishkan Shalom, and Tzedek v'Shalom. read more »
This topic will also be featured on the last of our tikkun-olam-themed PEARL tele-conference calls, on Wednesday May 14. To register, click here.
JRF is an ongoing coalition member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's (JDC) 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.
Date: Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Time: 12:00 - 1:30 pm, Eastern Daylight Time
Click here to register for this and other PEARL: Providing Education And Resources for Leadership tele-conference sessions.
Processes and Programs in our Congregations; Taking Action in the Larger World; Living our Values of Tikkun Olam Inside and Outside.
This call will explore best practices for creating committees and buy-in for effective social justice work in our congregations, including integrated youth and adult education and tikkun programming, as well as service-learning, decision-making and advocacy outside our communities. read more »
This week's Omer Study Packet on hunger and poverty highlights teachings from the 2006 JRF Omer Study and from our partners at Mazon: A Jewish Repsonse to Hunger and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA).