Not your burning question upon awakening this morning? I understand. But I would imagine that some might ask this upon learning that I, a rabbi, recently returned from a four-day long canoe trip with a group of Jewish summer campers from URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute. For while I am indeed a water-loving, former-lifeguarding adult, I’m certainly no pro at canoeing or camping - and while it’s always great to have more hands on a camp tiyul (trip), one could argue that there were already four competent counselors accompanying the 17 teenagers heading out onto the Wisconsin River that...Read More
Many of today’s North American Jews can trace their family roots to the vast expanse in between Vitebsk, Belarus, and Khabarovsk, Russia. Today, there are more than 40 Reform Jewish communities in this region, and that number is growing.
After the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, the Reform Jewish community began to established deep roots in this part of the world. A quarter of a century later, Judaism is flourishing in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic States. Today, more than 1,000 youth attend Jewish summer camps in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), and more than...Read More
During my first year as a rabbinical student, which was spent on the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, I began to see my homeland in a new light, a light that sadly wasn’t pleasing to the eye. I was angry and hurt that my own Jewish homeland didn’t accept the type of Jew that I was, and I was inspired to do something about it. For this reason, I became an intern for the organization and multi-denominational prayer group Women of the Wall, a group whose aim is "to achieve the social and legal recognition of [their] right, as women, to wear prayer shawls...Read More
"You know, I was never Christian. I was born Jewish."
"I know, and your momma and your ema and your grandparents were all born Jewish," I said, deep in conversation with my 6-year-old stepdaughter, Shaya.
"I, on the other hand, am the only one in my family that is Jewish," I added.
"Because you turned Jewish," she piped up.
Three years ago – before I knew anything about this amazing child or her mother, who I fell in love with, or her twin brother and the 9-year-old twins – I decided to bicycle...Read More
Let me start by being very clear: I don’t yearn for a return to sacrificial rites, holy priests, or incense-burning in the Temple. I don’t miss the Temple itself, nor is the Western Wall a particular source of inspiration or empowerment for me.
In fact, some of the inspiring figures of Reform Judaism – Isaiah, Amos, and the first generation of rabbis – were prophets who criticized the corruption and evil that came from the Temple culture. Today, every Reform rabbi knows well the words of Isaiah 1:10-17:
“Hear the word of the Eternal, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the...Read More
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