Judaism

Minyans, Synagogues In New Dynamic

Once at odds, the two groups now seen reinforcing each other.

04/27/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

His students have left, and Steven Exler is taking a moment to reflect. He’s just finished his session, presented to representatives of independent prayer minyanim, on how to comfort mourners. It’s a pastoral role that Exler, associate rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has performed countless times.

Now, he wonders what’s next.

“There’s sort of a moment of fear,” said Exler, 29. “Am I teaching people to make myself obsolete? I struggle with that question.”

Hadar’s Elie Kaunfer: Cross-fertilization with synagogues.

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

RCA Finds Consensus For Deepening Women’s Roles

But many questions left unanswered.

04/27/2010
Editor and Publisher

After much debate and despite predictions of a schism, the Rabbinical Council of America, the nation’s largest group of Orthodox rabbis, this week approved without dissent a carefully balanced resolution on women’s communal roles in Orthodox Jewish life.

The statement affirms a longstanding prohibition of women rabbis but allows congregational rabbis flexibility in determining appropriate roles for women in their synagogues and communities.

J Street Ad Responds To Wiesel

04/27/2010

(JTA) —  J Street is placing full-page ads in Jewish weekly newspapers on the topic of securing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel under a two-state solution.
 
The ad, to be placed in seven newspapers in cities with large Jewish populations, features an Op-Ed written by former Israeli Cabinet minister and political commentator Yossi Sarid. It comes in response to an open letter by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel published in an ad in several newspapers earlier this month.
 

Women Rabbis? Teens Weigh In

04/27/2010

 This letter is being written in support of Rabba Sara Hurwitz. We are two 13-year-old Jewish girls who heard her speak and were extremely moved by her cause (“RCA Set To Rule On Women’s Roles,” April 23).
 

Meet Jews Where They Are

04/27/2010

 I found the article by, and Gary Rosenblatt’s interview of, Elie Kaunfer to be very interesting (April 2). I agreed with a number of Kaunfer’s points but disagree with his de-emphasis on Jewish experiences. In fact, the success of Chabad around the world is an example of meaningful Jewish experience being an important gateway to learning.
 

Selling Synagogues Short

04/27/2010

A young woman looks at me from her hospital bed and confesses that grappling with her illness has helped her understand what her bat mitzvah Torah portion — which concerned isolating people with certain afflictions from their community and welcoming them back in once health was restored — was really all about.

The Bonfire This Time

04/27/2010

 
In Israel, Lag b’Omer — the holiday that occurs this year on Saturday night and Sunday — has many traditions.
 
It’s a day off from school.
 
It’s a time when many 3-year-old boys get their first haircut and adult couples get married.
 
It’s a nationwide celebration of bonfires and picnics, especially a days-long Woodstock-type gathering for an estimated half-million people at Meron, a town in the northern Galilee.
 

Photo by Getty Images

Why Chabad Hebrew Schools Are A Success

04/27/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Last year the Avi Chai Foundation published a watershed study on Hebrew school education. One of the most intriguing findings was the emergence of a new force in this arena: Chabad-Lubavitch. The report, authored by former Jewish Theological Seminary provost Dr. Jack Wertheimer said that Chabad has taken a bold new approach to Hebrew school. Committed teachers, creative curricula, and a new program are infused with excitement and vitality.
 

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