The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Last week, as the calendar filled with important occasions for Israel, I thought about the role the country plays in shaping Jewish identity for our movement’s young people. For decades, the URJ has been sending teens to Israel for life-changing experiences. This summer, Sci-Tech Israel, a new specialty trip, will join our family of teen and young adult Israel programs, which includes NFTY in Israel, URJ Heller High, and URJ Kesher, the only Birthright trip associated with Reform Judaism.
On my recent visit with the URJ’s 2017 Board Mission, I had a chance to reflect on my own...Read More
Returning from Israel on the 2017 URJ Board Mission last week, I met a woman giving out mishloach manot, gift baskets of food, at Ben Gurion Airport. This woman was Rachelle Fraenkel, the mother of one of the three young men who were kidnapped and killed by terrorists in the summer of 2014. Rachelle, along with her family, chose to spend Purim at the airport giving out mishloach manot to strangers because she wanted her son’s life to stand for something. She wanted the world to know that Israel was built on the principles of unity, mutual responsibility, and a concern for the weak and the...Read More
“As leaders and as change-makers, we can get so caught up in what we are pursuing individually that we forget the real strength of leadership comes from the love that leads to listening, sharing, working together, and realizing that what we will accomplish together is greater than anything we can ever do alone.”
I got chills down my spine as 17-year-old Joe Lichtenstein read the words above from his winning essay in this year’s Wendy Blickstein Memorial D’var Torah Competition, standing in front of 1,400 peers at NFTY Convention, the largest gathering of Reform Jewish teens in...Read More
Nearly a month ago, I participated in the Women’s March on Washington, DC. On Friday night before the march, I davened at Temple Sinai with clergy from different denominations, beginning services with the song Olam Chesed Yibanei and its powerful refrain “And all this world is built from love,” which framed the entire weekend. The next morning, we joined with the RAC and more than 1,200 Reform Jews, including NFTY President Kathryn Fleisher and NFTY alumni from across the country. Kathryn reflected:
“The sea of pink hat-clad people stretched out seemingly endlessly before me. Every...Read More
As we return from the Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's break, we have a natural opportunity to reflect on what was, celebrate all that is, and dream about what will be. This year's holiday "break" for my family was a staycation. One of the many benefits of staying put, other than the obvious benefit of not having to travel, is having the time to do simple things like watching several of the great feature films that are currently playing in movie theaters. We chose to see "Lion," "Manchester By the Sea," and "Jackie." Each had a unique story to tell, but all three shared a common thread...Read More