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Showing posts from April, 2009

Yom Ha’atzma’ut 5769: “Sing from the Heart!”

Yom Ha'atzma'ut 5769: "Sing from the Heart!"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I just wish I were there.

Coming to shul and seeing the Israeli flag in our window is a reminder that the experience of Judaism in even the strongest of Diaspora Jewish communities is just that – dispersed.

That Yom Ha'atzma'ut, the anniversary of Israel's founding, comes one day after Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, is both perfect and traumatic. From memory and loss to release, from mourning to joy, in sudden transition. Visioning the hint of a beautiful future on the heels of commemorating the heroic struggles of a trying past and present.  From surviving to dreaming.

We in the Jewish Diaspora must work to be attuned to the sacrifices of over 23,000 Israeli men and women who have died protecting our home. Only if we struggle to connect to the sirens' calls throughout Israel to stop, to be silent, do we remember that we are one people, one family. But in Israel that is obv…

RHR-NA's "Planting Justice" Video In Honor of Yom H'Atzmaut

View RHR-NA's Planting Justice Video in Honor of
Yom H'Atzmaut
Chag Sameach/Happy Holiday!
In honor of Yom H'Atzmaut/Israel Independence Day, we invite you to view our recently produced video, Planting Justice, at our website.The video shows part of RHR-NA's November, 2008 human rights solidarity trip to Israel and the West Bank, and trip participants talk about why it was important to "see for themselves" the human rights situation there.  The video could be used for educational programs in your community.  We are in the process of producing copies of the video and hope to create an educational resource.   You can view the video online and /or pre-order a DVD copy for $18 by emailing

Below we have copied a Yom Ha'Atzmaut greeting from Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel.  RHR continues to work toward a vision of Israel as articulated in Israel's Declaration of Independence, a state "…

MSNBC: "Survey: Americans switch faiths often"
Survey: Americans switch faiths often 'Religion a la carte' is pervasive, sociology professor says The Associated Press (updated 3:06 p.m. PT,Mon., April 27, 2009)
DENVER - The United States is a nation of religious drifters, with about half of adults switching faith affiliation at least once during their lives, according to a new survey.The reasons behind the swap depend greatly on whether one grows up kneeling at Roman Catholic Mass, praying in a Protestant pew or occupied with nonreligious pursuits, according to a report issued Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.While Catholics are more likely to leave the church because they stopped believing its teachings, many Protestants are driven to trade one Protestant denomination or affiliation for another because of changed life circumstances, the survey found.The ranks of those unaffiliated with any religion, meanwhile, are growing not so much because of a lack of reli…

From Alban: "Bridging the Gap Between Knowing and Doing"

Bridging the Gap between Knowing and Doing
by Larry  Peers

When congregations, with all good intentions, make plans for change but don't seem to get anywhere, they may be experiencing the very common phenomenon that some have called the "knowing and doing gap." You know what you need to do, but can't seem to do it. The situation is not hopeless, however. There are approaches that we, as leaders, can take to get beyond this tendency.First, change that endures mines the best of what has been in the past, responds thoughtfully to the challenges of the present, and discerns wisely and prayerfully a future among possible scenarios. If we attempt to solve present problems myopically—that is, without this broader perspective of the interrelationship between the congregation's past, present, and future—we may be cutting ourselves off from the congregation's enduring strengths. If we focus only on solvin…

excerpt from Chapter 10 of "Getting Our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry"

The following is an excerpt from Chapter X of Getting Our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry
by Mr. Scott A. Shay and published by Devora Publishing (December 1, 2006)

(Numbers in brackets refer to my footnotes ["fn"] at the bottom of the entry.)

The Causes for the Conservative Movement's Decline

Conservative Jews feel that the Movement's lack of effective leadership and institutional failings have caused the Movement's decline. As Professor Susan Hodge writes, "It is a half joking, half bitter catchword among some of us that the Conservative Movement has contempt for Conservative Jews. The Movement also has self-perpetuating bureaucracies that are out of touch with us and don't respect or even welcome us, the ordinary Jews living our lives." Dr. Jacob Ukeles, a consultant to The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism[1], wrote after his involvement in a three-year effort to design a strategic plan to reorganize The United Synagogue's t…

From Alban: "The Art of Governance"

The Art of Governance
by Dan Hotchkiss

Religion transforms people; no one touches holy ground and stays the same. Religious leaders stir the pot by pointing to the contrast between life as it is and life as it should be, and urging us to close the gap. Religious insights provide the handhold that people need to criticize injustice, rise above self-interest, and take risks to achieve healing in a wounded world. Religion at its best is no friend to the status quo.
Organization, on the other hand, conserves. Institutions capture, schematize, and codify persistent patterns of activity. A well-ordered congregation lays down schedules, puts policies on paper, places people in positions, and generally brings order out of chaos. Organizations can be flexible, creative, and iconoclastic, but only by resisting some of their most basic instincts.No wonder "organized religion" is so difficult! Congregations create sanctuaries where people can nurture and inspire each other—with results no…