Singing her way from the Deep South to hipster Williamsburg, Shira Kline is making a name for herself.
Like Dafna Israel-Kotok, Shira Kline — better known by her stage name, ShirLaLa — has been singing her entire life.
The youngest of three children, Kline, 34, was raised in an “incredible Jewish home” infused with art, music and a love of Judaism.
Her dancer mother frequently hosted artists from around the world in their Monroe, La., home. Her father, Rabbi David Kline, who Kline says has “been my main teacher my whole life,” would make up song sheets for every holiday.
Joelle Asaro Berman was born to an Italian-American mother and a Jewish father in 1983, the very same year that Reform rabbis voted to recognize as Jewish the children of such unions, provided they made “appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people.”
The Reform movement admits it has a big youth problem. North American Judaism’s largest denomination (about 1.5 million members) says it has failed over the past 20 years to retain the interest of the majority of its teenagers past the age of 13.
To address the crisis, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations has announced a half-million-dollar youth initiative to help some of its 875 local congregations develop new programs to entice disinterested teens.
The most dramatic moment I’ve ever experienced at a GA (General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America) took place in 1977, in Dallas, on a Shabbat afternoon, when Golda Meir walked onto the stage for what many of the several thousand in the audience suspected might well be her last appearance in the U.S. And it was. She died in Jerusalem less than a year later.
Last year, when Andy Shoenig did a Google search for NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth which he then led as president, what he found shocked him: lots of entries on social networking sites like MySpace and FaceBook that referred to the Reform movement's youth group, and also included gossip and references to drinking and sex at its gatherings.