The Yeshivat Chovevei Torah dinner March 23 in New York marked the first time Rav Avi Weiss has ever allowed himself to be publically honored.
I was one of the rabbis lucky enough to learn the rabbinate from him, having served as Rav Avi’s assistant rabbi for six years. Even today, 18 years after I left his professional side, there is not a single day that unaffected by what he taught me. So I’ll try to sneak this in now, alongside the many tributes to him.
For years, the Jewish community and synagogue leaders have fought the trend of dropping membership and attendance. Now the Pew study provides an answer (“Jews Serious When It Comes To Humor,” Oct. 11).
There was undoubtedly more texting in shul this Rosh Hashanah than in past years. In most liberal congregations, texting was likely done as discreetly as possible, often with a cellphone hidden low in one's lap. In some congregations it might have been more overtly outside in the lobby or perhaps outside the synagogue building.
Quite often I get asked to consult synagogues on their Web presence. The first thing I do is take a look at their current Web site and try to determine in which year it was created. I can usually tell its production date within a few years based on several factors. I then explain what a Web site should do today. After I explain its function, I let them know that the look of the site matters less today than its functionality. Today's Web site needs to be an extension of the community the synagogue is trying to create (or in some cases, has already created).
Every synagogue minyan (daily prayer group) has the one person who always seems to be there. In some congregations, this might be the gabbai (a ritual director of sorts). In other shuls it might be the rabbi. And in others it might be a lay person who is very dedicated and wants to ensure there is always a minyan (quorum of 10) so others can say the Mourner's Kaddish. Some minyans have a group of dedicated individuals who make it a point to always attend -- regardless of rain, sleet or snow.