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January 6, 2011

Union for Reform Judaism Weekly Briefing
Calendar | Subscribe | Donate | Find a Congregation | Press Room January 6, 2012 | 11 Tevet 5772

Young haredi men clash with police in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, Dec. 26, 2011. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Thoughts on Beit Shemesh

by Rabbi Daniel Allen
The rally at Beit Shemesh at the end of Chanukah must become the starting point for a renewed Zionist vision of Israel that is inclusive of all Jews being able to share in the blessings of a secure, democratic Israel with true religious pluralism. Read more »

See also:


BusinessWeek: Obama's War-Ending Promise Kept as Voters Pay Little Attention

Addressing a national conference of Reform Judaism on Dec. 16, Obama said that "no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel's security than ours. None. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. It is a fact." Read more »

Jerusalem Post: The 'tikkun olam' president

Rabbi Steven Bob, senior rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard IL: "Barack Obama doesn't talk about Jewish values because they make for good speeches. He does it because he believes in them." Read more »

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Jewish groups get most money from federal security grants

Leaders of the Reform movement, the largest stream of Judaism in the United States, with 1.5 million members, have discouraged its congregations from applying or accepting the grants. Read more »

Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman: The Myth of Denominational Demise

Denominational obituaries assume that organized religion in general is a thing of the past, but it is equally arguable that religion is just changing, not disappearing. Read more »


Israelis and Palestinians go to Amman in nod to others

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met this week in Jordan, but observers say that the two sides showed up not so much to talk to one another as to send messages and dispense favors to other players. Read more »

Israeli military bans a dozen settlers from the West Bank

The Israel Defense Forces has issued orders banning 12 settlers from the West Bank. Read more »

Persian Gulf tensions mount as U.S. engages Israel on Iran

The Obama administration is engaged in a full-court press to persuade Israel that Iran’s nuclear threat can be contained short of war. Read more »

In Burmese Chanukah celebration, signs of Myanmar's openness to the West

A Chanukah celebration in Yangon and a visit by Jewish community leaders to Ang San Suu Kyi are signs of the changes taking place in Myanmar, where the last year has seen significant economic and political reforms and new openness to the West. Read more »

Three winners in Iowa and three takeaways for Jews

What do the strong showings by Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul in Iowa mean for Jewish voters? Read more »

The actually Jewish-controlled media tries to make its mark

Three television networks are attempting to succeed where others have failed: creating Jewish television channels. Read more »



Spotlight on: The Campaign for Youth EngagementSpotlight:
The Campaign for Youth Engagement

This month the URJ highlights the Movement's plan to dramatically improve the ability of Reform institutions to involve young people in meaningful Jewish life and strengthen post-b'nei mitzvah engagement and retention in synagogues, day schools, camps, and youth programs throughout North America. Read more»

URJ Launches Campaign for Youth Engagement; Names Rabbi Bradley Solmsen as Director

Read all the news about the launch of the Campaign for Youth Engagement at the 2011 URJ Biennial. Read more »

Planning Guide for Youth Engagement

Use this new guide to assess your congregation's unique strengths and challenges, and set goals to create compelling opportunities for teens beyond b'nei mitzvah. Read more »

Join the Teen Engagement Networking Group!

The URJ encourages all those in your congregation seeking ways to engage youth to sign up now for the Youth Engagement Networking Group. Read more »

Innovative Pilot Projects

Learn about the new and creative programs already in place to engage more youth in Reform Jewish life. Read more »

Synagogue Architecture Question of the Month: Engaging Youth

View this short video from a college student and URJ camp alumni who asks about making synagogues as appealing as camp. Watch the video and share your opinion! »

VIP Status for Your Congregants on Kesher Birthright Israel Trips

Pre-Registration for Returning Applicants Feb. 14; Registration Opens Feb. 15
Recommend 18-26 year olds from your community for VIP status on a KESHER Taglit–Birthright Israel trip! Send their names and email addresses to and we'll grant them priority status. Read more »

Incredible Summer Jobs!

URJ Camps, Mitzvah Corps and Israel Programs have job openings for Summer 2012. Staff will serve as role models for program participants in an exciting and fun hands-on setting. Read more »


Celebrating Civil Rights & Social Justice

Celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on Mon. Jan. 16, and the Reform Movement's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement with resources to weave tikkun olam into your community's observance. Read more »

URJ Books and Music Launches New Book by Rabbi Richard Address

Seekers of Meaning

Rabbi Richard F. Address' Seekers of Meaning explores how caring communities can be transformative for individuals, particularly baby boomers struggling with issues of aging and mortality. Use coupon code SM10 for 10% off! Read more »

Tu BiSh'vat begins Feb. 7th

Learn all about Tu BiSh'vat or the "New Year of the Trees" and find creative ways to celebrate in your community. Read more »

Social Media Bootcamp for Congregations

This year-long program will train synagogue lay and professional leaders on social media tools and strategy. A benefit of URJ membership, this program will consist of webinars, collaborative learning and coaching. Learn more and sign up »

Dream Big! URJ Incubator Grants for Innovative Projects

URJ Incubator Grants provide seed funding for innovative new projects designed to actively engage more people in Reform synagogue life. 20 Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded. Applications due February 28, 2012. Read more »


Hineni Biennial: The Enduring
Legacy of Seth Erlebacher

Rabbi Rick Jacobs: "Though we are a Movement of 1.5 million people, we are really a large family. And our family is in mourning for a truly inspiring leader, Seth Erlebacher...Seth embodied the best of Reform Judaism." Read more »

D'var Torah Va'Y'chi:
She Died Unto Me

Elizabeth Dunsker discusses how this week's parashah relates to the difficult conversations we must have with loved ones as they prepare for death. Read more »

Becoming a Jewish Family

Pat Whitlock reflects on how she found a home at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Read more »

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