Sarah and Michelle aren't getting married this summer; they're having a commitment ceremony. They are specifically not calling it a wedding and there will be no ketubah, marriage contract.
Instead, they will participate in a Talmudic ritual that establishes business partnerships and outline their mutual responsibilities and commitment in a shtar, a Jewish legal document.
Being the first isn't a new experience for Rabbi Janet Ross Marder, the newly elected president of the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis. Twenty years ago, just four years after being ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, she became the first rabbi to lead Los Angeles' predominantly gay and lesbian congregation, Beth Chayim Chadashim. While there, she established a federation-funded AIDS education program for the Jewish community.
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.
Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
(Here’s a press release for the great Debbie Friedman and an honorable cause. — JM)
“DEBBIE & FRIENDS:” CONCERT TO BENEFIT HUC-JIR AND ITS SCHOOL OF SACRED MUSIC
- Launching of National Cantorial Scholarship Initiative
As growing numbers of non-Orthodox Jews flock to the mikveh — a trend that has spread over the last decade — an inevitable clash between the traditional and the modern is beginning to emerge, with progressive Jews seeking to recast an ancient ritual in their own image.
The current interest in mikveh was evidenced by the more than 200 people, men and women, from across the Jewish spectrum, who attended the conference “Reclaiming Mikveh: Pouring Ancient Waters into a Contemporary Vessel,” held last month in the Boston suburb of Newton, Mass.
An independent analysis of United Jewish Communities’ first five years of existence, authored by two experts in American Jewish organizations, finds serious problems with the ways the umbrella and headquarters agency for 153 local Jewish federations does business. The report, titled “Predictability to Chaos? How Jewish Leaders Reinvented Their National Communal System,” includes a list of provocative recommendations intended to improve — some might say fix — one of the largest philanthropic networks in the United States.
Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, a Holocaust refugee who as a longtime leader of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion oversaw the growth of the rabbinical school’s four campuses and strengthened the Reform movement’s ties with Israel, died Sept. 12 in his Cincinnati home following a recent automobile accident. He was 79.
If they’d met a generation ago, Shayna Peavey, a cantor, and Melissa De Lowe, a first-grade Judaic studies teacher, might very well have fallen in love. They might have waltzed across Israel together, setting off for little-known destinations in their leisure time — as they did when they first met as Hebrew Union College students abroad in Jerusalem. They might have regrouped in New York City, where Peavey, now 30, finished her cantorial studies, and De Lowe, 27, moved after dating Peavey for three months in Israel.
Richard Scheuer, a real estate executive and philanthropist who spent his retirement years in Jewish communal affairs, as an active supporter of several Reform institutions, Israeli archaeology and The Jewish Museum, died on Nov. 7. A resident of Larchmont, he was 91, and succumbed to heart failure after surgery.