Reform movement leader blasts money to outlying communities.
The Israeli cabinet’s vote Sunday to pour money into 91 outlying West Bank settlements has touched off a fierce debate here about the propriety of funneling resources into settlements that may be abandoned in a peace treaty.
Next time, it could be a Sefer Torah with elephant dung dabbed on it.
That vision is what the head of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations says motivated him to denounce the “Sensation” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art this week and, as he said in a press release, “support those civic leaders who have questioned whether public funds should support this exhibition.”
International businessman Ronald Lauder told American Jewish leaders unequivocally last week that he had never given material support — directly or indirectly — to the political campaigns of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
The assurance, coming in the wake of a Jewish Week story that renewed questions about such ties, abruptly aborted a brewing movement to postpone voting Lauder in to lead organized Jewry’s most prominent umbrella group.
Beneath the surge of Jewish unity, as a broad spectrum of pro-Israel groups back Israel’s Gaza military surge, are differences over tactics, growing uncertainty over exactly how to express support for the embattled Jewish state and some of the sharpest skirmishes yet between “mainstream” Jewish organizations and the peace camp.
Admitting that his Reform movement's controversial 20-year-old outreach program has failed to reach its potential, Rabbi Eric Yoffie has called for new efforts to bring Reform Judaism to tens of thousands of unaffiliated North American Jews and intermarried couples.
"We have not accomplished all that we should have," Rabbi Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), told about 75 Reform officials at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue last Sunday, while addressing a 20th anniversary celebration of the denomination's outreach program.
When Fan Wiener read in her local daily newspaper that the nation's Reform rabbis had voted to push for more Jewish tradition (including eating kosher) the 79-year-old Dallas grandmother thought of bolting Reform Judaism.
"She called me and threatened to quit the two major Reform temples she belongs to," says her son Thomas, a Philadelphia attorney. "She said she didn't intend to become a Conservative or Orthodox Jew."
America's largest Christian evangelical group has launched a national prayer campaign to get Jews to accept Jesus during the High Holy Days. The Southern Baptist International Mission Board, which coordinates proselytization activities, issued a prayer pamphlet last week to guide its members on how to pray to God so that Jews will convert during the 10 days of reflection between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
Randy Sprinkle, director of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board's prayer strategy office, denied the campaign was hostile to Jews.
Rabbi Ronald Sobel, who has led Manhattan’s majestic Temple Emanu-El — thought to be the largest synagogue in the world — for 28 years and became a leading figure in New York City religious life, will retire this summer.
“I wanted to take my departure at a time when my congregants would say they are so sad and that’s exactly what I’m hearing,” a laughing Rabbi Sobel told the Jewish Week Wednesday. “If they said they were not sad, I would be profoundly sad.
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.
For the first time since the Six-Day War in 1967, Jewish leaders are calling for an emergency national Israel Solidarity rally in Washington to take place Monday.
With the decision to hold the rally made just a week before the event, dozens of national Jewish groups — from Reform to Orthodox, from right wing to left — were working feverishly to mobilize their members.