Since being posted to a United States Marine battalion in Okinawa almost two years ago, my son-in-law, Rabbi Yonatan Warren, a lieutenant in the United States Navy Chaplaincy Corp, has worked hard–- along with my daughter Leora -– to build a community of meaning for the Jewish personnel in Okinawa and its surroundings, as well as for all those men and women who might need his counseling and services.
That I spend a lot of time thinking about community should hardly come as a surprise, since being a congregational rabbi is all about fostering a sense of community. I want the members of my congregation to feel that their synagogue is a second home for them. And, of course, the synagogue itself needs to relate to the larger community as a whole.
When all is said and done, this is my work– my professional responsibility. Yes, of course I teach, and preach, officiate at weddings and funerals, and do all the other things that pulpit rabbis do. That, too, is my work. But it all flows from a larger sense of “belonging” that hopefully is what binds my members to our particular synagogue setting.
Although those who daven (pray) regularly rarely think of it in these terms because they take it so for granted, music plays an irreducibly crucial role in Jewish prayer
On the most basic level, if the proper nusach, or musical mode, is being used by a Hazzan or other prayer leader, a knowledgeable Jew will, immediately upon entering a synagogue prayer service, be able to tell whether it is a Shabbat, holiday, or weekday, or, for that matter, one of the High Holidays. The words that make up our prayer book are not “said,” per se, but chanted, according to traditional customs and melodies that often date back thousands of years.
I've been on the road a lot lately. In addition to traveling to Israel for the Rabbinical Assembly convention in late June, I've spent at few days at the Jersey shore, and as I write this late on Thursday night, I'm actually in Buenos Aires for the second time this year, participating in an international conference of the Masorti/Conservative movement. And while I'm here– the conference was scheduled around this other event– it was my great privilege this evening to participate in the Tekkes Hasmachah, the rabbinical ordination ceremony, of the graduating rabbis at the Seminario Rabbinico Latino Americano, the Conservative Movement's sister seminary in Argentina.
Oceans of ink have already been spilled in commentaries on the death of Trayvon Martin, and on the acquittal of his accused murderer, George Zimmerman. Were oceans more to be spent, we would still be no closer to achieving what all who have cared about this case crave most of all– certainty about what really happened that tragic night when a teenage boy lost his life, and a grown man’s life was changed forever.
I fell in love with Jerusalem in 1971, as a junior-year-abroad student at the Hebrew University. Someone who visits there today for the first time would be hard-pressed to imagine just how different the city was then...
The annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international professional association of Conservative/Masorti rabbis, will take place this coming week in Jerusalem. In my capacity as President of the RA, as it’s commonly referred to, it will be my great honor to formally introduce Shimon Peres, the President of the State of Israel, at a reception that he is hosting for us in his official residence, known as Beit Hannasi.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.