When Reuben Zellman was a girl, he didn't know that he wanted to become a rabbi. But since he began identifying as male four years ago, his Jewish involvement has become more intense and, with the support of his synagogue community, he realized that he wanted to become a leader of the Jewish people.
Zellman has recently been granted his wish with admission to the Reform movement's rabbinical school. He will begin his studies next summer. Sources say that Zellman will be the first transgender individual ever to study in rabbinical school.
The rabbis of the nation's gay and lesbian synagogues gathered this week at a first-of-its kind meeting, held at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in the West Village.
Their goal was to share experiences "and to find out whether there are in fact things unique to us as leaders of gay and lesbian congregations," said one participant, Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Los Angeles' Bet Chayim Chadashim, during a lunch break.
The answer, she and other participants said, is that there are and there aren't.
In Richardson, Texas, they call it “Miriam’s seder.” “Hers Seder” is the term of art in Pennsylvania, at the American Jewish Congress gatherings. And in a diverse cross-section of neighborhoods, towns and cities, from the semi-suburbia of Hollis Hills, Queens, to the flatlands of Canton, Ohio, to the East Bay of San Francisco, to the deep South of Birmingham, Ala., the event is known simply as a women’s seder.
Houston — In a schoolroom of Congregation Emanu-El, a Reform rabbi is leading a seminar on patrilineal descent. Down the hall, a discussion on Jewish mysticism is taking place under the direction of a Conservative rabbi. A few doors away, an Orthodox rabbi is talking about Ahavat Yisrael, love of one’s fellow Jew.
Turin, Italy: Vladimir Prikuptes brought his own Olympic torch to the Winter Games.
Prikupets, a 74-year-old native of Odessa who immigrated to San Francisco in 1975, for the past two weeks here has shlepped in a navy blue pouch a curving, polished silver torch he had bought after serving as a torchbearer before the Athens Olympics in 2004. He held it up, unlit, during the opening ceremonies here as his personal, silent statement in memory of the victims of persecution.
Pundits have warned for decades that water — or the scarcity thereof — may be the issue that brings the Middle East to the brink of war, more than ideology or territory. Israel, Jordan, and Syria and the Palestinians are united by common, fast-disappearing sources of water, and a desire to control those sources.
From deep in the political wilderness, from the “bluest” fringe of America, Rabbi Michael Lerner this week saw the writing on the wall.
“We have a tough fight in front of us” to influence American politics while being outside of many positions of power, Rabbi Lerner, editor of the San Francisco-based Tikkun magazine, told The Jewish Week.
Next week’s release of “Defiance,” the film about the Bielski partisans who fought the Nazis and saved hundreds of Jews in Belarus, will shine a rare spotlight on resistance during the Holocaust. That’s a topic that has long interested Mitchell Braff, 42, founder and executive director of the San Francisco-based Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, which offers a trove of information about resistance to the Nazis and resources to be used with the film at www.jewishpartisans.org/defiance.
A day after the arson fire at a Hauppauge, L.I., synagogue last week, a congregant at the neighboring Dix Hills Jewish Center rushed up to the rabbi to ask about security for the High Holy Days.
"He said security was being beefed up and that there was nothing to be worried about," the congregant, Elaine Greenwald, said later of her conversation with Rabbi Howard Buechler. "I trust that when the rabbi tells me that, we're doing all we can."