October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in the U.S. This year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) chose the theme of #Every1KnowsSome1 to highlight how common domestic violence is. Each of us may (or likely) knows someone, either in our Jewish community or our secular communities, who has been impacted by or is a survivor of domestic violence.
I remember my visit to Pittsburgh, to the Tree of Life and Dor Hadash Synagogue just hours after the tragic massacre, the worst incident of violence against Jews in American history. It was also weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.
As a part of my work at jHUB, which embraces interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish culture and values in Cleveland, Ohio, I meet with young interfaith couples who are looking for connection, meaning, and guidance. I get to hear their unique stories, which often reflect their desire to deepen their relationship with Judaism and with one another.
Email and other technologies are a huge factor in why employees feel like they're always on the clock. This "always-on" culture accelerated while synagogues began facing declining membership before the pandemic and has only intensified since. Even if clergy or staff are cut, the work demands don't decrease. As a result, remaining clergy or staff or volunteers are even more overwhelmed and are burning out at alarming rates.
In recent years, our synagogues have explored what it means to be 'expanding the tent' and embracing 'audacious hospitality.' Both ideas center around the notion that our Jewish communities ought to be places of belonging - spaces where everyone is welcomed, affirmed, and can feel at home.
A message to anyone who has been subject to abuse or harm within the URJ - or by the URJ as a result - and to the wider URJ communities, from Dr. Guila Benchimol and Dr. Alissa Ackerman.
On the Jewish calendar, the start of the month of Elul signifies the beginning of the High Holiday season. As individuals, it is during this time that we begin the process of cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul), reflecting on the past year. So too, it is important for your leadership and community to reflect on the past year and consider how to do better moving forward.
It is hard to believe that we are entering the third High Holiday season with the words "new normal" ringing in the back of our minds. This year, our leaders - clergy, professionals, and volunteers alike - are leaning into the possibilities and making plans for the new Jewish year of 5783.
Last week, we traveled together to Israel and the Palestinian territories with a remarkable group of Black civil rights leaders and Reform Jewish leaders, including those who sit at the intersection of being Black and Jewish. We imagined that there would likely be bumps along the way, and there were. However, our group knew one another from our ongoing social justice and racial equity work in the United States, so there was a reservoir of goodwill and commonality that served us well.
We are in the third year of High Holidays like no other. As we approach the yamim nora’im (the days of awe) and the festivals that follow, take advantage of the offerings from the URJ to supplement your programming and manage your operations.