Reform Jewish officials announced plans this week to raise $50 million over the next decade to build synagogues and community centers throughout Israel as part of an aggressive and ambitious new strategy to boost the movement worldwide.
The announcement by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, executive director of Reform's Zionist and international arm called ARZA/World Union, comes as North America's largest Jewish denomination begins its biennial convention in Orlando, Fla.
by Lawrence Cohler-Esses |
Chasidic leaders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, were scrambling this week to find homes for some 40 residents evicted from their apartments Monday night: the latest, and most ironic victims of an expanding, politically charged probe of alleged safety violations by local developer Chaim Ostreicher.
The homeless chasidim, from seven families, were doubled up in the homes of other families and sheltered in local synagogues on an emergency basis. But community leaders stressed this was only temporary.
On the morning after Kristallnacht, 8-year-old Alfred Gottschalk walked with his grandfather, Gustav Gerson, to the Oberwesel synagogue. The building, located near Germans’ homes in the Rhineland village, had escaped the fires that destroyed thousands of Jewish sites in Germany and Austria the night of Nov. 9, 1938. Instead, it was trashed and tarred.
At-risk Orthodox Jewish teenagers in Brooklyn (involved in everything from credit card fraud to sexual promiscuity and drug abuse) have created their own informal support network that attracts similarly troubled youngsters from across the city and seeks to recruit "regular youngsters" to their ranks.
The heir of a French Holocaust victim went to a Swiss bank seeking the money from his relative’s account. Although the bank had a handwritten note stating that the account had been drained dry by bank fees in 1972, the bank turned the heir away by saying no such account then existed.
Gone are the days when Jewish federations portrayed themselves as synonymous with and fully representative of the communities they served.
Reflecting a scaled-down sense of hubris and heightened notion of Jewish peoplehood, the new executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York is calling for more linkages between the federation and such “gateway” institutions as synagogues, JCCs, camps and Hillels to create “caring, inspired” communities.