Reprinted with permission of the New Jersey Jewish News
by Johanna Ginsberg
NJJN Staff Writer
For a complete list of resources for congregations available through JRF see http://www.jrf.org/congregations
January 24, 2008
Bnai Keshet in Montclair has just completed its long-range planning project. It’s a job committee chair Betty Murphy doesn’t think the Reconstructionist synagogue could have accomplished without the expertise of consultant David Teutsch.
“Having an outside arbiter was really great, especially when it came to people’s opinions,” she said. Teutsch also helped committee members keep focused and identify the right areas of concentration, Murphy said. read more »
Dear Ma Nishma Subscriber,
I'm happy to deliver to your email doorstep the latest issue of Ma Nishma in our new format. If you are reading this in an email and it doesn't look right, read it on the web at: http://www.jrf.org/ma-nishma-monthly.
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 are invited to lift content for a JRF News page or to use selected stories and announcements in your congregational newsletter and on your website.
Feel free to forward this to anyone you think would enjoy reading Ma Nishma.
L'shalom, read more »
Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
The JRF North American Leadership Series launches this year with a variety of specially designed events to help congregational leaders build strong, dynamic, and growing communities. The first three initiatives are:
This January the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and United Jewish Communities (UJC) announced a partnership on JEWISH POVERTY month.
Hillel taught "Do not separate yourself from the community." – Pirkei Avot 2:5
"It’s a shonda in our community to be poor . . . people don’t want to self-identify." – Joan Strauss, Director of Programs and Training for the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies
As part of JCPA’s national anti-poverty campaign, “There shall be no needy among you,” the JCPA is partnering with United Jewish Communities (UJC) to provide the information and resources to fulfill this call. Read on to find information on advocacy opportunities, a toolkit of suggested activities and other resources to help you strengthen the connection between direct service and advocacy and enhance and coordinate your anti-poverty activism with other communities across the country. read more »
What are your shul’s Christmas-day traditions? For the past few years, the members of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, Washington, have gathered for a fun-filled Christmas-day Jewish movie night. Their premiere event in 2004, which featured a showing of Fiddler on the Roof, included a sing-along, costume contest, and a potluck, as well as the now-traditional food and blanket drive benefitting the Olympia Food Bank and other local organizations that support the community.
Kehilat HaNahar of New Hope, PA, held a successful Mitzvah Day on Oct. 21. That day, the community:
• Packed 500 lunches for a Trenton-area soup kitchen
• Cooked 65 meals for the Aid for Friends organization
• Sent care packages to 61 members of the New Jersey Air National Guard 108th Air Refueling Wing, stationed in the Middle East
• Signed people up to assist with HOPE (Helping People Every Day) and NOVA (Network of Victims Assistance)
• Enrolled people in the CROP walk in Lambertville
The activities were funded through a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
For additional resources on hunger and poverty see: http://www.jrf.org/hunger
Camp JRF is still accepting applications for scholarships for Summer 2008. One special grant for campers is the Jessica Kaufman Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in Jessica’s memory by her father, Ben Kaufman. Jessica was a committed camper and nurturing counselor whose memory lives on at Camp JRF and whose scholarship enables campers the opportunity to experience the magic of Camp JRF.
Rabbi Ed Feld, Education Director at Rabbis for Human Rights—North America, has recently posted an inspiring excerpt from a chapter of a future book by Rabbi Arthur Green, the former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Currently Rabbi Green is the Rector of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College in Boston. read more »
The piece is an interpretation of Genesis 1:26, "And God said, 'Let us make man in our image.'" He argues that understanding human beings as having been created in the image of God must lead to a profound commitment to treating all human beings with dignity. What follows is an excerpt of that piece. You can read the whole thing on the RHR-NA web site.
Maya Schenwar's piece Reimagining the Tabernacle: America’s First Green Synagogue was featured in Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture's November edition. Here is the beginning of the article:
Chicago’s Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC)—the synagogue of my youth—is about to become the first LEED-certified green synagogue in the United States. Needing new space, the congregation is building a structure out of reused and recycled materials that will employ solar-powered lighting and energy-efficient heating designed to reduce fossil fuel use.
Article on JRC in the JTA
Congregation Bet Am Shalom in Whiteplains, NY, joins the Westchester Darfur Coalition and Jewish World Watch (JWW) in providing and education for children fleeing genocide in Darfur. JWW's Backpack Project will enable children in the Oure Cassoni refugee camp in Chad to attend schools run by the International Rescue Committee. Filled with shoes, books, school supplies, soap and toothpaste (all obtained as locally as possible), the backpack allows each child to make the most of school under the most difficult of circumstances.
In an article in the Jerusalem Post this week, entitled What Jews Believe, Andrew Silow Caroll, editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, posed a question to four rabbi frends that was directed to Republican presidential candidates by an audience member holding up a Bible at their debate: "Do you believe every word of this book? And I mean specifically this book that I'm holding in my hand. Do you believe this book?" read more »
Among Caroll's rabbinic respondents was Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. Read his reply.
On Saturday evening, December 1st, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, a JRF affiliate in Boston, MA, celebrated the 20th anniversary of Rabbi Barbara Penzner’s ordination. Rabbi Penzner, one of four RRC graduates of the class of 1987, has been the spiritual leader of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah for 10 years and is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.
Information is everywhere. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. There's too much. What sources can I trust? read more »
But it's also true that there is more help around than ever before as well. Go to an online forum of the subject of your choice and there are likely people who are willing to help you with what you need, at no cost, and with good spirit!
Some say I just was looking to see some beautiful fall foliage. Others know that I have a soft spot in my heart for carved wood synagogue sanctuaries. Yet others might suppose that as a shul-hopper, I decided to take a few days to check out Congregation Or Hadash in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. In fact, I went to Fort Washington on a mission: to learn from and connect with other education directors of Reconstructionist Congregations. read more »
The theme of the RENA conference was “Experiential Learning” with a focus on how to incorporate the style of programming from Camp JRF into our schools and congregational education models.
Below you'll find a selection which reveals another place in the Kaplan diary where he discusses the problem of evil and the way to cope with it. I noted in the previous selection dealing with Kaplan's reactions to the play on the Diary of Anne Frank that Kaplan's impulse is to always focus on ways to cope with suffering even if we cannot explain it. Here he comments on a sermon by his most brilliant disciple, Rabbi Milton Steinberg. read more »
It was in the middle of the war and Steinberg gave a sermon on Thanksgiving that was astounding to say the least. Steinberg mentions the rabbinic dictum that we should bless the evil along with the good and applies this to the War. Neither Steinberg nor Kaplan knew the full extent of the Holocaust but they knew enough to make the reaction here all the more surprising and provocative.