With the Kentucky Derby in the news this weekend (not that I, a sports-phobe, will be watching), I can’t help reflecting more on my recent visit to Louisville and Congregation Keneseth Israel.
I was really struck by how different things can look from the “inside” versus the “outside” of a congregation. "Sara," a Catholic woman who attends services regularly with her Jewish husband and children, was one of the volunteers who helped plan my visit. When we first spoke over the phone, she marveled, “This is the first time they’ve ever invited me to get involved on a project!”
Still basking in the warmth from my weekend in Kentucky.
The weather was perfect, with blossoms at their peak of loveliness and wildflowers everywhere. And the folks at Keneseth Israel outdid themselves with their Southern hospitality — lavishing attention upon me, putting me up in a luxurious bed and breakfast, serving a home-cooked Shabbat dinner and Kiddush lunch, taking me out on Saturday night and giving me a full tour of Louisville on Sunday. One congregant even bought me a lottery ticket (I’ll find out if I win on Wednesday)!
This weekend I am heading south to Louisville, Ky., where I will be the Dave and Reva Kahn scholar-in-residence at Keneseth Israel Congregation, a Conservative synagogue.
It’s my first “scholar-in-residence” gig, and the fact that a Conservative shul sought me out for this honor is significant. While the Reform movement has for decades promoted outreach to interfaith families, the Conservative movement long held to a traditional, anti-intermarriage stance. As recently as two years ago, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism had a policy barring intermarried Jews and their spouses from publicly addressing its conventions.
Plane grounded after flight crew
mistakes davening teen for a terrorist.
Philadelphia — If there’s any upshot to the misunderstanding that grounded a small aircraft last week in Philadelphia — and scared the wits out of two Jewish teenagers — it’s that the general public might now know a bit more about tefillin.
David Grubin’s epic documentary about Jewish life and accommodation in the United States begins and ends with scenes of the ship that brought 23 Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Brazil to safety in New Amsterdam. In between, over the six hours of "The Jewish Americans," are such staples of American-Jewish history as Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan, the immigrant experience on the Lower East Side and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
But it’s more than New York City.