Gabrielle Birkner

The Glass Pulpit

08/06/2004
Staff Writer

Female rabbis in the Conservative movement face obstacles to career advancement not unlike those encountered by women in other historically male-dominated professions.

A new report shows that women rabbis earn $77,000 annually on average, while men make about 50 percent more, earning an average of $119,000 per year.
The study also found that women tend to lead smaller and less populous congregations, and hold fewer influential non-pulpit positions than do their male counterparts.

Revival By The Sea

07/30/2004
Staff Writer

In 2000 Rabbi Shohama Wiener was invited to lead High Holy Days services at Kona Beth Shalom, a synagogue on the Big Island of Hawaii, where the congregation’s greeting of choice is “Shaloha.” When she wasn’t conducting services or polishing her sermons, the rabbi swam and snorkeled alongside congregants in the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Terror Victim Provides The Comfort

05/27/2005
Staff Writer

Elad Wassie was working in Netanya’s open-air vegetable market when a suicide bomber detonated a shrapnel-laden explosive nearly three years ago. Wassie awoke in the hospital to learn that a nail lodged in his spine had paralyzed him from the waist down. He refused to utter a word for nearly two months.“I needed time to absorb what happened to me and decide what I was going to do with my life,” said Wassie, 28, who emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel via Sudan in 1985.

Getting Teens To Volunteer

04/15/2005
Staff Writer

For the past three years, Peter Dreyer, a 12th grader at Manhattan’s Trinity School, has visited regularly with homebound seniors. On Sunday, the 18-year-old veteran volunteer will share his experiences with about 125 local high school students taking part in J-Serve, a nationwide service initiative for Jewish teens.“Judaism really embraces community and demands that Jewish people support each other,” said Dreyer, who will lead a J-Serve orientation Sunday.

Hebrew School Reimagined

04/08/2005
Staff Writer

During a recent lesson about biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, fourth-graders at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue Hebrew school watched as role-playing talk show host, “Shecky Bevakasha,” mediated a dispute between Jacob’s two wives, sisters Leah and Rachel. While some students watched the Jerry Springer-like feud play out before them, others observed equally sensational Torah stories, starring Judaism’s forefathers and mothers.

The Fire This Time

04/08/2005
Staff Writer

When 16-year-old Ariella Steinreich heard that four young siblings died in a March 22 house fire in her hometown of Teaneck, N.J., she felt an urgent need to help the three surviving sisters and their still-hospitalized mother, Philyss Seidenfeld.“It wasn’t like ‘Should I do something?’ It was ‘I have to do something,’ ” said Steinreich, a sophomore at Teaneck’s Ma’ayanot High School for Girls, who started the Seidenfeld Chesed Project the day after the fire.

No Religious Strings Attached

04/01/2005
Staff Writer

On Purim eve, as Jews across the city attended megillah readings and costume parties, about 80 Jewish young professionals — dressed in business attire — gathered at the American Jewish Committee headquarters for PR Bootcamp for Israel, a teach-in sandwiched between a sushi dinner and a dance party. Michael Shannon, a conservative public relations guru and an Evangelical Christian, was the drill sergeant of sorts, instructing attendees about how to make a case for Israel to their non-Jewish friends.

Next Year In Jerusalem

03/25/2005
Staff Writer

Last fall, as her peers fanned out to colleges across the country, Dana Feldman made what in the leafy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill., was an unusual choice: She headed for Israel to spend the year studying and volunteering.After taking Jewish studies and ulpan classes at Hebrew University during the fall semester, Feldman is spending the second half of her year abroad working with new immigrants at a Beersheva absorption center.

French Rap Against Jews

03/25/2005
Staff Writer

Jewish groups are questioning the origin of a downloadable anti-Semitic rap song that has recently made its way to e-mail in boxes throughout France, where anti-Jewish sentiments have been on the rise in recent years.Dedicated to “the sons of Jewish whores,” the hateful tune, called “Nique les Juifs,” or “[Expletive] the Jews,” praises Hitler’s determination and compares Jews to cysts that must be removed or burned.

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