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September 2, 2014 | 7th Elul 5774

July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

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Diaspora leaders, lawmakers fear that recurring 'Who is a Jew' controversies undermine and change the pro-Israel base.

Conversion Crises Could Threaten Pro-Israel Effort

By James D. Besser

Recurring "who is a Jew" crises pitting many American Jews against fervently Orthodox leaders in Israel and their Knesset friends may be contributing to a seismic shift in the base of the pro-Israel movement in America. Read more »

This Week's Top News from JTA

A commercially sized oil field has been identified in central Israel, an oil prospecting firm said.

A baptism site in the lower Jordan River is in danger of being closed due to pollution.

A museum in Austria will pay $19 million to keep a painting looted during the Holocaust.

More than 80 countries signed an agreement to cooperate in the fight against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Israel's military has implemented operational changes designed to further minimize future civilian casualties, according to an update on Israel's investigation into the Gaza war.

A Russian university has established a department for Jewish culture.

Americans opposed to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip are organizing a ship from the United States to take part in an international flotilla.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court in a vote mostly along party lines.

Gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France were vandalized.

Elsewhere in the Media

Rabbi Saperstein Op-Ed: In Bill, Dangerous Precedent Given To Chief Rabbinate

We cannot force the Orthodox to accept and legitimize Reform and Conservative Judaism. But we do expect the government of Israel, the government of the Jewish state for all Jews, to cease being the only democratic government that formally discriminates against the streams of Judaism that represent the majority of world Jewry. Passage of this legislation will escalate that discrimination, drive a wedge through the Jewish people, tarnish Israel's image and hurt Russian olim. Time to go back to the drawing board and really help Russian Jews without selling our birthright of religious freedom. Read more »

American Jews Battle Israeli Conversion Bill

"We do not want to see a schism among the Jews of the United States and Israel," said Rabbi Daniel Allen, director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America. "This will say to the Jews of the United States that they don't have a serious place in this country, and that is unacceptable to us." Allen said American Jewish groups are in crisis mode. "This would be an affirmative act of the Knesset to create a second class of Jewry," he said. "And therefore it is a much more important moment in time in terms of the sweep of Jewish history." Read more »

US Jews thankful conversion bill delayed

"Ultimately, [the bill]'s a blow -- a blow to the State of Israel, and to good relations between the State of Israel and American Jews," Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, told The Jerusalem Post. "What comes across is religious fundamentalism delegitimizing Diaspora religious movements, and people using Torah for their own narrow purposes, without concern for the broader welfare of the Jewish people," Yoffie said. Read more »

The Sisterhood 50: America's Influential Women Rabbis

These women span generations and the denominational spectrum; they are pulpit rabbis, teachers, academics, pastoral caregivers and organizational leaders. All of them have made it their life's work to put Jewish values into action -- and, as a result, are changing lives in and beyond their communities. This alphabetical list contains a lot of "firsts," which is evidence of just how much ground there's been to break in recent years. Read more »

Union News

Update from Israel: Success in Stopping the Vote

No issue in recent memory has so mobilized Jews from all streams and all parts of Israel and the Diaspora as has the bill proposed by MK David Rotem to vest authority for conversions in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate. The Knesset has now adjourned until October. While a vote on the bill was prevented this week, there is more to be done. Over the next few months, we will continue to work with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jewish Agency Chairman Sharansky, and MK Rotem to craft a bill that addresses the problems that currently characterize the conversion process in Israel and that respects all streams of world Jewry. Read more »
Send PM Netanyahu a Thank You Letter»

Networking and Learning at North American Forum

Starting November 5th-7th in Chicago (Central District), each Union district will host a North American Forum, a three-day intensive full of learning and networking opportunities. Forum participants can expect to engage in workshops as they learn from and with Jewish professionals and active leaders and congregants from across North America. Read more »

URJ Books and Music: Nigun Anthology Volume II

Nigun Anthology is a diverse, dynamic and distinctive compilation of wordless Jewish melodies and liturgical settings. Featuring a CD with 32 songs, Nigun Anthology is an ongoing supply of both new and old worded and wordless melodies: In the same volume, you will find that great Chasidic tune that you've been looking for and discover a newly-composed nigun by one of a distinguished cast of Jewish composers. Read more »

Beyond Lanyards and Popsicle Sticks: Interpretive Art and Music at URJ Camps

With professional instructors, state-of-the-art studio facilities, and no shortage of inspirational environments, our camps provide a unique setting to engage in artistic expression. From landscape painting to digital media, songleading to recording arts, or pottery to Israeli folk dance, campers get to express themselves and their Jewish heritage through a plethora of artistic media. Read more »

From the RJ.org Blog

Rabbi Eric Yoffie: Funeral Fiascos: Should Jews Rethink How We Honor the Dead?

A friend of mine recently attended the funeral of someone he had known for many years. About a dozen people got up to speak. Most of them spoke badly. Often the eulogizers ended up talking not about the deceased but about themselves. When the funeral was finally over, at least an hour and a half later, my friend was frustrated and angry. "I cared about this person," he said, "and she deserved a more fitting farewell." Read more »

Rabbi Dan Moskowitz: There is No Jewish Pope

The [Rotem] bill however is not the real problem, it is just the tip of a much more frightening and dangerous iceberg that Israel and the Jewish people are hurling toward yet again with reckless abandon. The underlying problem is the real question: will Israel remain a democratic pluralistic state, or will it fall into the hands of extreme groups who run the government? Read more »

North American News

AJCongress demise a tale of money, shifting priorities

The demise of the 90-year-old American Jewish Congress is a story not just about cash-flow problems but about the changing of priorities of the American Jewish community. Read more »

Around the Globe

Tourists flocking to Israel at record pace

Despite the hand-wringing over Israel's image overseas, visitors are continuing to flock to the Jewish state -- in record numbers. Read more »

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