URJ

Reform Biennial Opening To Outsiders In Bid To Revitalize Movement

12/03/2013 - 19:00

NEW YORK — First there was the Conservative movement’s October biennial conference, billed as “The conversation of the century” and opened up to presenters from outside the movement.

We Must Help Our Institutions Become More Welcoming - But Not Shame Them

Editor's Note: Below, Reform rabbi and social worker Edythe Mencher writes about how shaming Jewish institutions that aren't welcoming enough to people with disabilities can be painful and non-productive in the way that families suffer when rejected by those very institutions. If this subject interests you, please also read Joanna Dreifus' post, "Raised Reform, A Mom Finds Her Kids' Disabilities Give The Lie To Labels."

The New Normal has featured some powerful stories about how children and families with special needs have been treated in a variety of Jewish settings. We all can learn a lot from these, often painful, and sometimes deeply affirming, experiences in Jewish communal settings. At the same time, we need to be cautious about using labels. Whether they identify our disabilities or our Jewish affiliations, labels can easily emphasize differences and failings, rather than unique possibilities.

Rabbi Edythe Mencher

From Crawling Under Tables To "Youth Person Of Honor:" How Did We Get Here?

It's all too familiar. It's 5 on a Tuesday afternoon. A room full of fidgety fourth graders. A teacher going around the room, student by student, asking each one to practice reading Hebrew. And to make it harder, there is one student in perpetual motion who disrupts everything, by climbing out of his chair and crawling under the desks. Fast forward seven years.

Lisa Friedman

Elsewhere On The Web: URJ Working For More Special Needs Camping Funding

On the eJewishPhilanthropy website, the Union for Reform Judaism's camping arm responded to The Foundation for Jewish Camp's release of its study "Jewish Camp for Children with Disabilities and Special Needs." Click here for the rest of the article, including the movement's committment to put more "human and financial resources" toward special needs programming.

The Foundation for Jewish Camp released preliminary findings last week from their recent research study Jewish Camp for Children with Disabilities and Special Needs, which maps current, potential, and desired camp program opportunities for children with disabilities/special needs. The study paints an encouraging picture of the field of Jewish camping, highlighting a variety of models that successfully provide meaningful Jewish camp experiences to children with diverse needs.

Wheelchair ramps are a necessary but not sufficient condition to creating camping option for children with disabilities. Fotolia

The Eternal Conversation

Rabbi Rick Jacobs: 'I think about God every day. I'm not petitioning. I'm not praising. I'm simply sitting with the One.'
03/11/2013 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Editor’s Note: This article introduces a new column in which Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski, executive director of the Skirball Center for Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-el and founding rabbi of Congregation Sulam Yaakov in Larchmont, asks leading religious figures, thinkers and activists in Jewish life what they think about God? He began with Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Reform Movement Promotes Young Leadership

02/06/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

I  read Rabbi Ashira Konigsburg’s Opinion piece, “Forever Young? Community Relegates Adults to ‘Kids’ Table” (Feb. 1) and was intrigued by her assessment that organizations “must find ways to engage and cultivate genuine new leadership” rather than relegating young leaders to the proverbial “kids’ table.” I couldn’t agree more, which is why I felt inspired to share the very positive experiences I’ve been fortunate to have as a young lay leader in the Reform Movement.

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Camp

07/25/2012 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

All I really need to know, I learned at camp (to borrow a phrase from Robert Fulghum). This may be a slight over-simplification, but it is greatly accurate, to say the least. Just as I did last year, I am writing my current column from Faculty Housing at URJ’s Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, MA. I arrived a few days ago, though it already feels like I’ve been here for weeks. Immediately, you get sucked into camp culture, you add a bit more pep into your step, and you see the possibilities for fun in everything you do.

Rabbi Marci N. Bellows.

URJ Overhauling The Bar/Bat Mitzvah

In bid for relevance and to retain youth, Reform educators are seeking to ‘revolutionize’ the ritual.
06/18/2012 - 20:00
Editor and Publisher

Simon Kuh didn’t chant a Haftorah for his bar mitzvah several Shabbat mornings ago at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Instead, the 13-year-old reported on his recent ride alone on a city bus, the 720 Wilshire, across Los Angeles on a Friday at rush hour “to see my city from a different perspective.”

Gary Rosenblatt

A Brand New Day For The Reform Movement

06/12/2012 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Hundreds of us – Jews of all ages, nationalities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds – moved in unison. Our right arms reached backwards towards the past, then we each moved both hand, reaching forward toward the future, grasping at it, and bringing it close to our hearts. Choreographer Liz Lerman led the group in a symbolic dance that expressed many of the feelings of the group as we celebrated the installation of incoming URJ President, Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

Rabbi Marci N. Bellows.

Jacobs Takes Reins As URJ President

06/11/2012 - 20:00

Rabbi Rick Jacobs in his formal installation as president of the Union for Reform Judaism called on the movement to “chart a new course.”

Saturday’s installation took place at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn.

Scenes from Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ installation last week at Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim. Clark Jones/URJ
Syndicate content