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Polish Culture Ministry Rejects Request To Renovate Historic Synagogue

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 10:42

The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has turned down a request to support the renovation of a historic synagogue in Przysucha in southern Poland.

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Sydney Chabad Rabbi Stripped of Post Over Child Sex Abuse Scandal

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 10:32

A senior Chabad rabbi was delisted as an emissary from the New York-based organization as the fallout continues from Australia’s Royal Commission into the child sex abuse scandal.

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Oslo Synagogue ‘Peace Ring’ Marred by Organizer’s Anti-Jewish Statements

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 10:07

Several hundred people gathered at a Norwegian synagogue to support Jews at an event which drew praise but also criticism because of an organizer’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish statements.

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Can You Pass Down Cultural Judaism Without the Faith?

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 18:00

A secular Jew wonders how she can raise her future children with a Jewish identity even though she doesn’t go to synagogue or believe in God. She asks the Seeesaw for help.

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1,000 Muslims Form 'Human Ring' Around Norway Synagogue

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 16:00

More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

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White House Summit on Extremism; A Conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; Churches in Pubs

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:30

Haris Tarin of the Muslim Public Affairs Council on terrorism, religion, and violent extremism; more of our conversation with the former chief rabbi of the UK; and churches talk theology and worship with beer on tap.

The post White House Summit on Extremism; A Conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; Churches in Pubs appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

White House Summit on Countering Extremism

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:00

Watch our conversation with Haris Tarin, director of the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, about the White House summit on countering violent extremism.

The post White House Summit on Countering Extremism appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

A Conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 13:15

Click here for our February 13th video.

In the second of our two-part discussion, the retired British chief rabbi shares his thoughts on science and religion, belief in God, hope and optimism, and the capacity of Judaism, a religion of deeds, to make the world better.

Also, in this web-only video, watch Rabbi Sacks speak about how he was influenced to become a Jewish leader by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson.


The post A Conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

How Could We Have Trusted Rabbi Barry Freundel?

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:35

Now that Rabbi Barry Freundel has pleaded guilty, we can begin some much-needed soul-searching. Jay Michaelson writes we should start with the powerful people who lionized him.

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Israel Chief Rabbi Vows To Defy Conversion Law

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:46

One of Israel’s two chief rabbis said he would not recognize conversions performed by municipal rabbis despite a government directive validating them.

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'Get-Extort' Rabbis Caught on Tape Plotting To Beat Reluctant Husbands

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 07:43

An undercover FBI agent testified on Thursday in a case involving three Orthodox Jewish rabbis in New Jersey accused of kidnapping and beating husbands to force them to grant divorces under Jewish law to their wives.

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French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia Pushes Back on Israel Immigration Call

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 20:41

France’s chief rabbi rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion that European Jews should flee to Israel.

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Rabbi Barry Freundel Pleads Guilty to Peeping on 52 Women in Mikveh

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 14:52

Rabbi Barry Freundel, the former spiritual leader at a prominent Washington synagogue, pleaded guilty to 52 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism.

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New York Tweaks Pre-K Regulations To Suit Orthodox

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:49

New York City has developed new rules for its universal prekindergarten program in order to bring Orthodox religious schools under its educational umbrella.

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Norway Synagogue Street Closed for Good

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 07:50

The city of Oslo decided to permanently close to traffic the street leading to its main synagogue.

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Slain Copenhagen Guard Recalled as 'Always Ready To Do Part'

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 13:09

Dan Uzan, the Jewish volunteer guard killed in a shooting outside Copenhagen’s central synagogue, was remembered at his funeral as one “who was always ready to do his part.”

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Norway Muslims Plan 'Peace Ring' To Support Synagogue

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:04

Muslims in Norway plan to form what they are calling a “peace ring” around an Oslo synagogue following Sabbath services.

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Extending NFTY’s Tabernacle: A D’var Torah for Parashah T’rumah

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:36

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.

In this week’s parashah, T’rumah, Moses receives detailed instructions from God about how to build the Tabernacle and various objects to go inside it. Each Israelite is encouraged to bring something to contribute to the Tabernacle, which will be built so that they can easily take it apart and bring it along on their journey through the desert. God tells Moses to “speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering” so that everyone can be involved in this community effort (Exodus 25:2)

What’s key in this situation is that God doesn’t just ask Moses and the priests to make contributions to the Tabernacle. “Every person whose heart inspires him to generosity” is asked to bring an offering to help build the Tabernacle as a community (Exodus 25:2). Today we may not be accepting gifts of copper, oil, and ram skins to build a physical tabernacle, but we must accept each individual’s gifts and talents to build a stronger kehilah kedoshah. In NFTY, we bring our voices to join together in prayer, our shoulders for friends to lean on, and our smiles to brighten each other’s days. We build a tabernacle every time we come together by sharing whatever we can to build up a strong, welcoming community.

This strong, welcoming, inclusive community is something we strive to achieve in NFTY on every level from small temple youth groups to the larger North American community. As teens, we stereotypically have trouble accepting others, especially if they’re not seen as “cool” or “popular.” For me, NFTY is a break from this world. At NFTY events I’m my true self and never feel like I have to hide my quirks or act a certain way to be accepted. I can be loudly and proudly Jewish, and I’m surrounded by others who feel comfortable being loudly and proudly Jewish too. Just like the Tabernacle contained many different materials within its structure, NFTY is inclusive of many different types of teens.

NFTY has done an amazing job over its 75 years of existence fostering this community. But now we have the perfect opportunity to extend our tabernacle. This year at NFTY Convention, we set a precedent with programming that brings together teens from both NFTY Convention and BBYO International Convention across the street. Teens in BBYO are just some of the thousands of Jewish teens around the world involved in Jewish life through dozens of youth organizations like ours. Why not connect with them and invite them to be a part of our kehilah kedoshah? When we partner with movements like BBYO, we can make our tabernacle even larger by involving Jewish teens worldwide to join us.

Take a moment to look around you. These people sitting next to you are the future of the Jewish people. In this room, sitting amongst us, are future rabbis, educators, NFTY advisors, and leaders. In a few years, it won’t matter that we were a part of a specific region in NFTY, or even that we were a part of NFTY versus BBYO, USY, or NCSY. In a few years, the names of the youth movements we belonged to won’t divide us as clearly as they do today. What will matter is that teens from these movements will all be part of the same Jewish communities. We will all reside within the same tabernacle. We will be one big Jewish community, and there’s no reason we cannot or should not invite that to happen now.

In this week’s parashah, God is very specific with the instructions to build the Tabernacle and the things that go inside it. Almost 90 verses are dedicated to specifying everything from exactly what size the Ark of the Covenant should be to how to connect the intricate curtains in the Tabernacle. Today it’s not quite so easy. There’s no step-by-step guidebook for how to make a welcoming community of Jewish teens. We each have to choose how we welcome others into the holy communities we’ve created. In addition, as a larger NFTY community, we have to figure out how best to include teens from other youth movements within our tabernacle.

It’s now our responsibility to make these decisions. Just like the Israelites “whose heart[s] inspire[d them] to generosity” in the desert, we as NFTYites are being called upon to enhance our communal tabernacle by including other Jewish teens within it. Like our ancestors in the desert, we need to respond to that call with generous and open hearts.

Shabbat shalom.

Logan Kramer is the NFTY Convention 2015 d’var Torah competition winner; this d’var was delivered to a live audience at NFTY Convention. Logan is a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Austin, TX, and North American Federation of Temple Youth’s Texas Oklahoma Region (NFTY-TOR).

Temple Mount Bathrooms Spark Feud With Muslims

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:11

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, condemned as “incitement” attempts by the Muslim Wakf to politicize the expansion of restrooms at the site.

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Where Are All The Non-Orthodox Rabbis?

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:00

Non-Orthodox rabbinical seminaries are facing enrollment declines, a Forward analysis shows. But non-denominational schools like Hebrew College are bucking the trend.

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