For the last quarter-century, Jewish Renewal has been a grassroots, anti-establishment movement embraced by Jews searching for spirituality in their lives. Now, itís becoming mainstream.
One of the four pillars of the new United Jewish Communities is being called Jewish Renaissance and Renewal. Its 36-member committee is slated to meet in Washington next month to develop ways to make Jewish life more meaningful. Because it is to be the committee's first meeting, it is unclear which areas it plans to address.
Birthright Israel, the unprecedented offer of a free 10-day trip to Israel for 6,000 Jewish college students worldwide, has met with such a huge response that three of the 14 organizations sponsoring trips have stopped taking applications.
Funding for the January trip is available for 5,000 students from North America but Moshe Margolin, vice president of educational services for Birthright Israel, North America, said that based on the response to date, "we will significantly exceed 15,000 applications."
Grand Central Station will be turned into an Israel showcase during a week in April to demonstrate to New Yorkers the attractions of the Jewish state: its products, its technical know-how, its business opportunities and travel destinations.
"Half a million people move through Grand Central Station each day," said Israel's consul general in New York, Shmuel Sisso. "They spend three to eight minutes in the station and we have to attract their attention" through innovative and interesting exhibits.
As the Labor Party reaffirmed its intention to stay out of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government, the chairman of the secular Shinui Party spoke of joining: and for the first time softened his demand that government handouts end for fervently Orthodox men who don't work.
"You have to do it gradually," Shinui leader Tommy Lapid told The Jewish Week. "We don't want to cause unnecessary suffering to large families. But people who are able-bodied men should go and work.
When Natan Sharansky, the ex-Soviet refusenik turned hard-line Israeli cabinet minister, visited several local universities here last month, he brought a pointed message: Yasir Arafat, he told students at Columbia University and New York University, is an unrepentant ìdictatorî who is an ominous presence dooming peace and must be removed.
The lack of sustainability of what is now a $2 billion educational system that caters primarily to middle-class and lower-class students should have been anticipated long ago, when the number of kids in private Jewish schools began to skyrocket, as far back as the 1950s.
After all the years my wife and I have carried the burden of yeshiva tuition, we never thought we’d see the day we pull one of our children out because of an issue not related to money. But sure enough, because of learning issues that were impeding the progress of one of my kids, we decided an unusual mid-year shift was in order.