Sim Shalom, the online synagogue, and founder, Rabbi Steve Blane, announce a new High Holiday CD that fuses the raw emotion of jazz and the traditional liturgy of ancient High Holiday prayer and...
(PRWeb June 19, 2015)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12797015.htm
Recognized for leading Rabbinical school focused on “promotion of Jewish expression that transcends denominational boundaries”
(PRWeb May 27, 2015)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12746600.htm
Urban activist and Christian community developer Bob Lupton challenges common conceptions about modern charitable work by arguing that most charity is ineffective and does more harm than good. He advocates letting the poor learn to help themselves and encouraging the well-off to live alongside the poor. Lupton is the founder and president of FCS (Focused Community Strategies) Urban Ministries and the author, most recently, of “Charity Detox: What Charity Would Look Like If We Cared About Results.” Writes Lupton: “We cannot serve people out of poverty.”Read an excerpt from Charity Detox: What Charity Would Look Like If We Cared About Results by Robert D. Lupton (HarperOne, 2015):
Do we really want the poor to thrive?
Conducting tours for concerned suburbanites through my inner-city neighborhood is a routine part of my PR and fundraising responsibilities for our nonprofit organization. Visitors expect to see boarded-up houses, trash-strewn vacant lots, dangerous-looking drug dealers hanging out on street corners. So when I drive visitors down attractive streets with nicely landscaped bungalows, past my house with rockers on the wide front porch, I frequently hear comments such as, “Wow, this is pretty nice—not what I expected in a poor community.” To which I reply, “It should look nice after thirty years of community development work.” My temptation, of course, is to show them the roughest blocks so that they will be moved to become involved with our ministry. The streets that are thriving don’t seem to touch hearts in the same way.
We are moved by need. Volunteerism, so huge in our culture, is propelled by meeting need. Does this mean, then, that we have a subliminal motivation to perpetuate poverty so that we always have someone to serve? No, I would never suggest such a thing. It would be unfair, cruel even, to question the motives of caring volunteers who sincerely desire to make a difference in the world. Yet there is some reason that we seem content to invest our billions in aid and millions in volunteer work-hours year after year despite seeing almost no positive change in poverty rates. I choose to believe that the reason is a lack of knowledge rather than a lack of heart.
We have been led to believe that our volunteer service alleviates poverty. We have accepted this as fact. This is wrong. If there is one message that this book attempts to drive home, it is that we cannot serve people out of poverty. And yet our massive service industry is based upon this false premise. If we truly do want to see the poor thrive, our entire way of thinking, of believing, must change.
So again: Do we really want to see the poor thrive? If we can honestly answer yes to that question, if we can affirm that it is God’s desire that all people share in the abundance of our world, that shalom (peace, prosperity, well-being) is the divine design for humanity, then we can embark with confidence on a mission to transform the highly popular yet tragically flawed compassion industry.
This is the time of year when many congregations prepare to welcome new rabbis and other senior staff members to the temple family. With this period of change comes many emotions – excitement, anxiety, curiosity, sadness at the departure of a long-time beloved rabbi or other staff member…
In our work with the URJ’s Strengthening Congregations team, Rabbi David Fine and I interact with Reform congregations all around North America that are in the midst of change. Whether it be a clergy or senior staffing change, a synagogue merger, an emerging collaboration between multiple synagogues, or any of the other myriad changes that are so much a part of today’s world, the only constant seems to be change.
As congregational families, how do we manage feelings of disruption and discomfort in this world of constant change?
We are all familiar with stories from the secular world in which new corporate CEOs have failed spectacularly and of corporate mergers that were deemed to be disasters within weeks of their announcement (think AOL-Time Warner). William Bridges, who in 1991 published the first edition of his groundbreaking book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, says that in most of these cases, the problem isn’t the change itself but the way people react to it. He calls these reactions “the human side of change.”
Bridges notes that a change in one’s own world can lead to feelings of disrupted expectations, a threatened sense of security, and fears of looking foolish, awkward, or embarrassed. In a synagogue setting, these feelings may occur among b’nai mitzvah families who were looking forward to the soon-to-be-former rabbi officiating at their children’s service. Other congregants may wonder: Will the new rabbi “get” and understand my family and me? Members often feel they are missing key information that might help them understand the implications of the change: Why have so many senior staff members left our synagogue in the last couple of years? What will that mean for our synagogue’s future and my own place in it? In Bridges’ lexicon, the psychological reorientation that we go through in coming to terms with a change is called “transition management.”
In other words, the change is the new rabbi’s arrival or the completion of the merger of two congregations. The transition is the process of letting go of old ways and getting comfortable with the new rabbi’s personality and behavior, or with the congregational minhagim (customs) that new leaders institute.
Bridges developed a model for managing transitions in which he defined three phases of the process: ending, neutral zone, and new beginning.
Endings often include emotions that we label as negative: sadness, anger, denial, resentment, fear, anxiety, loss, betrayal, and abandonment. These are predictable, normal emotions when grappling with an ending. Even when the change is positive, there are feelings of ending and loss. Of course, there can also be feelings of excitement and anticipation in the ending zone, but they are often bittersweet and mixed with at least a tinge of sadness and loss.
The neutral zone is often characterized by feelings of confusion, disorientation, apathy, disconnection, and impatience. It is a time in which people complain about a loss of leadership – i.e., the outgoing rabbi seems to have “checked out” and the new rabbi isn’t here yet. Frequently, synagogue leaders ask how many members they should expect to lose when going through the rabbinic placement process. It is because of their own fears of the neutral zone that this becomes such a big worry. A wonderful video titled The Trapeze, based upon the poem by Danaan Parry, is worth watching for a better grasp on this phase. Indeed, the neutral zone is that moment when you have let go of the old trapeze bar but have not yet grabbed the new one, evoking a mix of emotions: fear and excitement, impatience and curiosity, disorientation and openness.
Individuals finally enter the new beginning phase once they become comfortable with the change. At the very least, congregants feel a sense of ease in this phase. When the transition process is carefully managed, fully embracing the new beginning leads to a sense of recommitment and reengagement, and, as a result, a congregational family that is energized, vigorous and renewed.
Here at the URJ, we have gone through many changes and our own transition process in recent years. As such, we are especially committed to offering learning and engagement opportunities to help our congregations focus more fully on their transition processes. For more information about managing your congregation’s transitions, please email me or my colleague Rabbi David Fine.
On Thursday, June 25, I traveled to Roanoke, Virginia with Legislative Assistant Claire Shimberg and other voting rights advocates from the DC metropolitan area. There, we joined with hundreds of concerned Americans to mark the 2 year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and left voters vulnerable to discrimination. Together, we rallied for voting rights and urged Congress, especially House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, to hold a hearing and restore voting rights for all.
It was incredibly exciting to come together with so many passionate and outspoken people of all ages as we advocated for such an important issue. The rally brought together numerous and diverse organizations and reminded me of the power of organizing and working together in coalitions—we are always stronger when we are united. Rabbi Kathy Cohen of Temple Emanuel in Roanoke and I both shared words of Torah and emphasized the Jewish imperative to protect the right to vote for all. My remarks can be found below:
I am Rabbi Michael Namath of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and I am thrilled to stand here today with these leaders, these great activists and advocates for voting rights. I want to thank the Leadership Conference, the local NAACP, and everyone who has worked tirelessly to make this event happen.
I do not stand here alone. I stand here with the many Jews who were Freedom Riders and civil rights lawyers in the South during the Civil Rights Movement.
I stand here today with the 17 Rabbis and Reform Jewish leaders who flew to St. Augustine at the request of Dr. King and were arrested for protesting segregation in 1964.
I stand here with those who drafted significant portions of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Library.
I stand here with those who believed then, and the many who still believe today, that the freedom and protection of our democracy is crucial to the health and well-being of our country.
I stand here with those who believe that the ability to express one’s will at the ballot box is a right no eligible citizen should be denied and is a belief that is reinforced by Jewish tradition. Our texts teach us that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (B’rachot 55a) and to “not separate yourself from the community” (Pirkei Avot 2:4). These texts emphasize the idea that everyone must have a voice in determining how their community is run, and they remind us that voting is a collective responsibility.
I stand here today with the many rabbis – rabbis from Maine to Florida – rabbis from Virginia to California – rabbis from throughout the country – rabbis who have signed a letter to Chairman Goodlatte urging him to move forward a bill and protect voters.
I stand here today with all of you as we say to Congress, “We cannot stand idly by while eligible voters are discriminated against and forced to jump through hoops in order to carry out their constitutional right to vote.
Voting is not a partisan issue; it is not a political issue, it is a deeply religious and moral issue.”
This August will mark 50 years since the signing of the original Voting Rights Act. I pray that by the time we mark that anniversary, we will be celebrating the progress that Congress has made to protect and restore voting rights.
The Supreme Court handed down major victories for same-sex marriage and Obamacare. The Court declared 5-4 on Friday, June 26 that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. It also upheld 6-3 on Thursday, June 25 the nationwide tax subsidies that underpin the Affordable Care Act, rejecting a major challenge to the law. Watch our conversation with correspondent Tim O’Brien about the Supreme Court’s decisions.
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