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.
When Danielle Zeiler began seriously dating her husband-to-be, Scott Greenwood, she made it clear that if they married, their children would be raised Jews.
"He said fine, but then when we became engaged, he said he wanted his religion represented in the marriage also," recalled the 26-year-old. "I said we had a problem."
Another problem surfaced over the question of who would officiate at the marriage.
When it was created more than three years ago, the Trust for Jewish Philanthropy was seen as an innovative endeavor designed to channel significant dollars and creative ideas from some of the largest Jewish foundations into the Jewish federation network. But after achieving only limited success, its end was announced this week, a victim of economic hard times.
The announcement, made in the form of a press release Tuesday evening by its parent organization, the United Jewish Communities, came as a surprise to many.
Local Jewish leaders returned from a 37-hour solidarity trip to Israel this week strengthened in their resolve that, as UJA-Federation executive vice president John Ruskay put it, "We're all in this together."
He added that Israelis seemed committed to "stand firm, particularly after the prime minister had made such an offer for peace" this summer at Camp David. But Ruskay also sensed "an undercurrent of despondency. The choices are difficult and limited, and that's what makes this a crisis."
Holocaust survivors dealing with the sometimes mystifying restitution process now can get help in filling out the forms.
The newly created Holocaust Compensation Assistance Project will offer the assistance on claims for the German Slave and Forced Labor fund and the Swiss bank settlement, as well as other free legal help and support to survivors and their families.
In a synagogue library in northern Westchester, a dozen senior citizens sit around a long table discussing current events. In a temple conference room on the Upper West Side, a young family talks about the tensions raised by a child’s serious illness. In the meeting room of a Long Island JCC, a group of recent widows share photographs and memories of their late husbands.