torah

torah

Rabbi Rick Jacobs on stage with the Torah during Shabbat morning services at the URJ Biennial

This d'var Torah for Parashah Vayeishev was presented before the 74th Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention on Saturday, December 9. 

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

At my congregation, Temple Solel in Fort Mill, S.C., a Torah read for the first time on Rosh HaShanah made its way to us thanks to the generosity of Temple Hadar Israel in Newcastle, PA.

Shelley D. Pawlyk

During a crisis, we collaborated with Reform leadership on aspects of our response from diplomacy and communications to social media and public relations. Every one of the 900 North American Reform congregations should recognize and value the range of expertise and resources available within the URJ’s congregational network.

Rabbi Mona Alfi

by Logan Kramer

Over the past three years, NFTY has taken me to plenty of random places. I’ve held events with my temple youth group in public parks, enjoyed extensive layovers in airports across the country, gone to socials at amusement parks, and visited more congregations than I can count. As I’ve traveled to all of these places, one thing seems to stay the same. I consistently attract confused looks from strangers and passersby, whether I’m chanting the blessing over a Havdalah candle or dancing with friends to NFTY-TOR’s signature “Every Time We Touch” dance.

Surprisingly enough, the moments that attract weird stares are some of my favorite things about NFTY. It’s not that I like the stares themselves, but I appreciate that NFTYites have the amazing capability of turning any space into a holy one, moving our kehilah kedoshah, our holy community, from sanctuaries to parks to airports no matter what stares we might receive along the way. What each person brings to this community is far more important than where we are located on a map.

By Rabbi Josh Weinberg

"All the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place that was before the water gate; and they spoke unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Law of Moses, which Adonai had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the Law before the congregation, both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the broad place that was before the water gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women, and of those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the Law… 8 And they read in the book, in the Law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people: 'This day is holy unto Adonai your God; mourn not, nor weep.' For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law." (Nehemiah Ch. 8:1-3; 8-9)

The Journal of Youth Engagement is an online forum of ideas and dialogue for those committed to engaging youth in vibrant Jewish life and living. Join the discussion and become a contributor.

By Rabbi Jack P. Paskoff

(While this article reflects the experience of my congregation, proper credit should be given to Rabbi Bennett Miller at the Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple. The model my congregation uses is based on what I learned as Rabbi Miller’s assistant and associate from 1988-1993.)

“I’m not sure I see myself being involved Jewishly in college.”

“I’m not sure I believe in God.”

“Should I have children when I get older, I know I’ll raise them as Jews.”

“The first time I left for Camp Harlam/went to Israel/went to a NFTY event/attended a L’Taken seminar/confronted anti-Semitism/dealt with the death of a peer, I felt a deeper attachment to my faith.”

The first time I suggested changing Confirmation to 12th grade, it seemed as if I had thrown down the first set of tablets received at Sinai. There were those concerned about my tampering with tradition and others who were convinced that we would see a huge drop off in enrollment after Bar/Bat Mitzvah. At the beginning of 12th grade Confirmation, I ask our students to write an essay addressing two basic questions:

  1. What have been the most meaningful milestones in your Jewish life to date?
  2. What exactly are you “confirming” for your Jewish future?