I came to the Jewish world five years ago, when JDub was the big cultural kid on the block and the Six Points Fellowship was starting with close to a million dollars in support for emerging artists.
The Foundation (then NFJC) was struggling for its existence and the Jewish world seemed a place that was all about embracing the innovations of the young. It saddens me that in this short time, when countless studies have shown the power of Jewish culture to engage young people, that JDub is closing its doors. This is a failure of the Jewish philanthropic system.
It seems a long way off, but before we know it, summer swelter will give way to autumn cool, and we will be back in synagogue listening to Kol Nidre. The roots of Kol Nidre lie in this week’s parashah, where Moses cautions the people, “If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he may not break his pledge.”
Does Taglit-Birthright Israel have a political agenda?
Questions about Taglit trip’s content have come to the fore, perhaps a natural consequence of it becoming a rite of passage for diaspora young adults, magnified by the intensity of current debate about Israel. The questions are not new, and from the time the first planeload of participants landed in Israel, observers have been looking for the political agenda. But political agendas are more in the mind of the observers than the program.
Among my most vivid childhood memories is sitting on the floor of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun's majestic sanctuary on the eve of Tisha B'Av, listening to Rabbi Haskel Lookstein preface the reading of the scroll of Eicha with the words, "Tonight is nineteen hundred and …years since the destruction of our holy Temple…" Hundreds of people, gripped by the mix of history and immediacy, would shed tears over a building that went up in flames, each wisp of smoke carrying a memory.
While Israel’s situation in the world arena can sometimes resemble the last moments of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, looking out at the hundreds of Bolivian soldiers, guns-a-ready, the fact is that things are looking up for the Jewish State.
A recent BBC poll measuring opinion in 27 countries, many of them officially hostile to Israel, found a two percent rise in Israel’s popularity since 2010.
Our hearts go out to the members and leadership of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the landmark synagogue on the Upper East Side that suffered serious fire damage this week.
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the venerable spiritual leader of the 140-year-old congregation, expressed gratitude that no one was injured in the four-alarm blaze and that, since the synagogue had been under renovation since May, no Torah scrolls were on site.