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November 26, 2014 | 4th Kislev 5775

July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010
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Rabbi Eric Yoffie. (Union for Reform Judaism)

Op-Ed: Conversion wars undermine Israel and its image

By Eric Yoffie

The ugly spat between Diaspora Jews and Israel over a controversial conversion bill produced a sorry spectacle that tarnished the image of the Jewish state at a time when Israel hardly needs more bad PR, writes the president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Read more »

This Week's Top News from JTA

A federal judge's injunction of parts of the new Arizona immigration law is being praised by several Jewish organizations.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States remained at a "sustained and troubling" level, according to the Anti-Defamation League's annual audit.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman in an unannounced meeting.

Israeli teens are being blamed for a massive fire near Jerusalem that nearly led to the evacuation of Hadassah Hospital.

Israel's Cabinet agreed to send a group of police officers to Haiti to maintain public order.

The heirs of a Jewish banker sued the Hungarian government demanding the return of artwork valued at $100 million that allegedly was confiscated during World War II.

A nonprofit group that rescues and restores Torah scrolls has agreed that it will only describe the origins of a Torah if it is independently verifiable.

European Union foreign ministers and Canada approved a package of stiffer economic sanctions against Iran.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem has opened after a five-year, $100 million renovation project.

A former American spy chief says the path to U.S. military action against Iran is inescapable.

Israel was tied for eighth among the happiest countries in the world, according to a new survey.

Elsewhere in the Media

Rise of independent groups influencing Judaism

Ten years ago, the United States had two independent minyanim, plural of minyan. Today, there at least 70 involving about 20,000 people, said Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, who wrote a book on the independent minyanim, Empowered Judaism.

"There is a mass of young people, taking hold of their Jewish identity, and willing to put in the volunteer time and effort to build a community that expresses their values," Kaunfer said. "That's extremely hopeful and significant." Read more »

Rabbi Peter Knobel, leading Reform thinker, retires

As members of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston celebrate the congregation's 60th anniversary, they bid farewell to renowned Reform Rabbi Peter Knobel, who has led the 400-family congregation for 30 years. His official retirement date was June 30. Read more »

Local temple perseveres without a full-time rabbi

As a Jewish congregation in the predominantly Protestant South, and in a small town on top of that, the members of Temple Beth El in Anniston have learned to do without some things: a full-time rabbi, weekly worship services, bat and bar mitzvahs for their children. But there are also ways they have learned to adapt, with the help of the broader community. A choir sings prayers and songs at almost every service at Temple Beth El -- but it is not made up of members of the congregation. The choir is made up of members of Christian churches who "have learned and are fluent in Hebrew and can sing our prayers in Hebrew," said Sherry Blanton, president of the congregation. Read more »

Wearing Her Judaism On Her Wrist

The latest fad was all fine and good in her mind ... until she caught sight of a student wearing a Silly Bandz that looked like a Christmas tree. "I got really upset," she says. "It's a shame there are no Jewish shapes, I thought. Jewish Silly Bandz could instill a sense of pride in our heritage. I envisioned my students walking around thinking, 'I've got a Jewish star on my wrist.'"

After a Google search for "Jewish Silly Bandz" came up short, Rabbi Losben-Ostrov decided to create her own. And so Meshuga Bands was born. Read more »

North American News

In races for Congress, some Jewish incumbents at risk

A guide to tight races involving Jewish candidates. Read more »

Claims Conference probes $7 million fraud

After discovering $7 million in fraudulent payments, the Claims Conference faces questions about whether it will recover the money and how extensive the fraud actually was. Read more »

Around the Globe

Israel tries to lure major banks to expand its R&D

With an offer of subsidies and a pitch to U.S. banks, the Israeli government is trying to turn Israel into a research and development hub for the financial services industry. Read more »

Jewish fusion music key to Budapest's 'Jewstock' festival

Budapest is a thriving center of Jewish fusion music that combines Israeli and traditional Jewish songs with reggae, hip hop, rap and funk. The music will be center stage at Budapest's "Jewstock" festival. Read more »

Union News

Conversion Bill Vote Delayed

The 'Conversion' legislation in the Israeli Knesset has been tabled for action until January. Until then, it is critical that leaders in Israel understand the views of Reform Jews around the world as a compromise is worked out. Please send a 'thank you' letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu for his leadership on this issue and demonstrate the importance of this issue to Reform Jews. Send a letter»

URJ Books and Music: MP3 Downloads of All High Holy Days Parshiyot

URJ Books and Music is proud to announce new offerings and a redesigned and easy-to-use web page for our Torah and Haftarah MP3s. Now available are all Torah portions (down to the individual aliyah) as well as all Haftarah (by parashah and verse) and all blessings. For the first time, all High Holy Day Torah Portions used in Gates of Repentance are available for download, including a free PDF of printed versions both with and without vowels. These resources are perfect for aliyot , volunteer leaders and bar/bat mitzvah students year round. Read more »

Fall Issue of Reform Judaism magazine, now online

Featuring the 5th annual RJ Guide to College Life; Living with Secrets; How to Draw In Generation Y; Lost in Mistranslation; Hungarian cooking, and much more. Read more »

Kutz 45th Reunion

This summer NFTY's Kutz Camp celebrates 45 years of music and magic, and you're invited to join. A remarkable array of alumni from each generation will be on hand to re-create the soundtrack of our collective experiences. Keep the music alive with Dan Nichols, Josh Nelson, Peri Smilow, Kol B'seder, Doug Mishkin, Beth Schafer and more! Read more »

Blow a Social Justice Shofar this Year!

With the celebration of the High Holidays around the corner, the Religious Action Center has made our Days of Awe High Holiday Social Action Guide available to help you and your community make tikkun olam, repair of the world, a part of this year's observance. Read more »

Si to C -- A Cross-Cultural Experience Lands Cuban Madrichim at URJ Camp George

Two Cuban madrichim arrived at Canada's sole URJ Camp with the support of Yaldeinu, an organization that partners with Jewish day schools and camps to provide formal and informal education to Jewish children in various parts of the world. The two madrichim, Monica and Alejandro, are part of a small group of Jewish youth living in Cuba who are trying to connect to their heritage and Israel. Read more »

URJ Webinar: Welcoming Elul: Spiritual Preparations for the Days of Awe

The rabbis teach that Elul is the month when Ani l'dodi v'dodi li: I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. Join us on the first of Elul (August 11) for an hour of interactive study and exploration of how this phrase from the Song of Songs can inform our daily study, practice and reflection as we prepare to enter the Days of Awe and the New Year. Read more »

URJ Camps: Just Do It? We Just Did It!

6 Points Sports Academy is celebrating their last Shabbat of their inaugural season! In just over a year the URJ designed and implemented a very special program where the best of Reform Jewish overnight camping and sports specialty programming were combined to provide the very first Reform Jewish sports specialty camp. This was made possible thanks to the forward-thinking financial support of the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Read more »

From the RJ.org Blog

R. Peter Shapiro: Book Discussion: By Fire and By Water

"Palace intrigue, ethnic cleansing, murder, unrequited love, and the quest for new lands and their riches are all woven together in Michael James Kaplan's novel By Fire and By Water." Read this new Significant Jewish Books selection reviewed in the fall issue of RJ magazine, and join in the discussion in our "virtual book club." Read more »

Larry Kaufman: Praying with Heart

"This past June [we attended] services at a fledgling congregation in downtown Tel Aviv, followed by potluck supper with the congregants… We American visitors were greeted warmly and graciously at T'filat HaLev, and more concessions were made to us English-speakers than I've experienced at other Israeli Progressive congregations. …But the hospitality and spirituality were the least of our take-aways from a remarkable Shabbat." Read more »

Paul Reichenbach: Past, Present, and Future

While having been in the camping/Israel programs "business" for more than 35 years, I remain in awe of my friends and colleagues who willingly take responsibility for other people's children summer after summer. Anyone who has been connected to Jewish camping knows that the job of camp director has changed radically in the last 10+ years. Read more »

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