Stewart Ain

Liberal-Branch Shuls Aiming For A More Perfect Union

Reform-Conservative merger in Miami provides glimpse of the future
of non-Orthodox Judaism.

04/27/2010
Staff Writer

Miami — The banner in front of the synagogue here says it all: “One Synagogue — Two Traditions, Embracing Reform and Conservative Judaism.”

It has been nearly a year since this Reform congregation of about 325 families, Temple Bet Breira, merged with a neighboring Conservative synagogue of 250 families, Congregation Samu-El Or Olom. The union is still being tweaked, and while officials at both congregations are proclaiming it a success thus far, questions linger about the long-term viability of such an arrangement.

The merged synagogues are now in Bet Breira’s building. Inset: Rabbis David Schonblum and Jaime Klein Aklepi.

Israel Conversion Bill A Hard Sell To U.S. Jews

Legislation would end the Orthodox hegemony over conversions in Israel, but liberal leaders worry about Law of Return provision.

04/27/2010
Staff Writer

The Israeli lawmaker who authored the proposed controversial conversion bill flew to New York this week to convince Reform and Conservative Jewish leaders to support it, promising to withdraw the bill if they do not.

“I want them to say we read the bill, we don’t love it but we accept it,” the Israeli Knesset member, David Rotem, told The Jewish Week.

Israel Beiteinu’s David Rotem. MICHAEL DATIKASH

Left Out

04/27/2010

I was delighted to be contacted by Stewart Ain for his article, “U.S.-Israel Tensions Now Hitting Pulpits” (April 23), since I do not believe in the 12 years I have served as rabbi at West End Synagogue: A Reconstructionist Congregation, I have ever been asked to comment on current issues for a piece in the paper.
 

OK To Pressure Israel

04/27/2010

Stewart Ain’s article “U.S.-Israel Tensions Now Hitting Pulpits” (April 23), illustrates a high degree of ambivalence among American rabbis over President Barack Obama’s unprecedented serious, forthright and evenhanded efforts to achieve a lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is entirely understandable after eight years of totally laissez-faire U.S. diplomacy, which left the parties to their own devices, resulting in today’s virtually intractable stalemate, with the positions of both sides moving even further apart.

U.S.-Israel Tensions Now Hitting Pulpits

N.Y. area rabbis, some feeling ‘forced,’ wading into rocky political waters; anxiety seen in pews.

04/20/2010
Staff Writer

As the strain in U.S.-Israel relations continues, some area rabbis who generally don’t mix religion and politics on the pulpit are setting aside those constraints.

“People were asking me and my hand was sort of forced,” said Rabbi Perry Rank, spiritual leader of the Midway Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue in Syosset, L.I. “My sense is that Mr. [Barack] Obama has unnerved the American Jewish community and people are looking for a perspective on the issue.

Rabbis Andrew Bachman and Perry Rank: Taking to pulpit, with differing views of Obama’s policies.

New Wallenberg Information Debunks Russian Account

04/07/2010

Information disclosed last week suggesting that Soviet authorities may have interrogated Raoul Wallenberg six days after his reported execution in 1947 has revived the search to learn the heroic Swedish diplomat’s fate.

“If that information is true, it’s a miracle,” said Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim, chairman emeritus of the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. “We have never given up finding out what happened to him. We have never put a nail in Wallenberg’s coffin.”

Knesset Bill Would Expose Foreign Backers Of NGOs

Human rights groups say they are being unfairly targeted

04/07/2010
Staff writer

Concerned that some nonprofit groups in Israel are quietly being bankrolled by foreign political entities, seven Knesset members have introduced a bill to require that they immediately report receipt of such funds and publicly announce it in all written and oral political presentations.

Fayyad’s Call For Statehood Seen Muddying Peace Efforts

In absence of talks, Palestinian prime minister’s move could trigger violence, experts warn.

04/07/2010
Staff Writer

‘Next year in Jerusalem.”

With that renewed cry from Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad about the creation of a Palestinian state as early as next summer — with east Jerusalem as its capital — several analysts feared this week that Fayyad has built up Palestinian expectations  to a point that could spark violence.

Salam Fayyad: Wants UN recognition for state. getty images

Supporting Sofia’s Renaissance

Five Towns, Suffolk JCCs partner with
emerging Bulgarian Jewish community.

04/07/2010
Staff Writer

A letter two years ago from the president of the re-emerging Jewish community of Sofia, Bulgaria, to officials at UJA-Federation of New York has opened a new world for them and two Jewish community centers here.

“We would love and feel a need for collaboration with the global Jewish community that New York and Israel represent,” wrote Alexander Oscar. “The needs of my community are Jewish education, staff training, the building of a nursery school, as well as being connected to the global Jewish community.”

Five Towns JCC Director Rina Shkolnick visits a Holocast memorial in Bulgaria during a December mission.
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