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Barry Freundel Continues to Violate Women's Privacy

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 05:00
Even in his defense, Rabbi Barry Freundel continues to violate the privacy of women says Bethany Mandel.

Rabbi Barry Freundel Taped Sex Encounters With 'Several' Women

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 18:33
In addition to secretly recording women undressing for the mikvah ritual bath, Rabbi Barry Freundel engaged in sexual encounters with several women, according to prosecutors.

Rabbi Barry Freundel Seeks No Jail Time for Mikveh Peeping

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 15:39
An attorney for the prominent Washington rabbi who pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping dozens of women naked during ritual baths asked a judge to sentence him to community service, not prison, according to court records.

Seeing is Believing: Visual T’filot and the Future of Jewish Worship

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 15:33

Rabbi Lance Sussman, the senior rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA,  wrote a piece published today in eJewish Philanthropy titled “Seeing is Believing: Visual T’filot and the Future of Jewish Worship.” He begins,

Three years ago, my synagogue agreed to install large retractable screens on either side of the Ark and mounted projectors on the back wall of our 900 seat sanctuary. With almost no resistance, we quickly transitioned from late 15th century technology to early 21th century modalities of communicating.

It was a relatively easy process. In addition to her musical talents, our Cantor discovered she had an inherent talent for developing liturgical power point. What size font, which colors, Hebrew versus transliteration, translation versus epitomes of the text, iconic images versus new art and still life versus video instantly presented themselves as questions we needed to address. One by one, we worked our way through the various technological and philosophical issues.

Keep reading at eJewishPhilanthropy.com.

Rabbi Pinto Gets 1 Year in Bribery Scheme

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 09:11
Yoshiyahu Pinto, an Israeli rabbi who has counseled such celebrities as LeBron James, was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to bribing a senior police official.

Is It Sexist To Call Ayelet Shaked the 'Israeli Sarah Palin'?

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 16:01
And there is plenty of legitimate concern as to what she will do with that power, based on her record. In the past, Shaked has publicly stated that she would like to reduce the power of the Supreme Court, promoted the controversial “Jewish state” law, which would enshrine Israel’s status as a Jewish state into legislation as well as a law which would financially punish leftist non-profit organizations, was the driving force behind an effort to pass a bill that would allow judges to close off the option of a presidential pardon for terrorists, designed to prevent the early release of Israeli Arab and Palestinian murderers as part of negotiations with Palestinian entities, as well as legislation that would bypass Supreme Court human rights objections to the detention and deportation of African asylum-seekers. But the substantive criticism of her politics has undeniably been laced with a healthy dose of sexism. Shortly after her appointment was announced, former cabinet minister and Knesset member Joseph Paritsky sneered on Facebook that, “finally, we have a justice minister worthy of being featured on a calendar in an auto repair shop.” When criticized for the remark, Paritsky’s reportedly dug himself in deeper in a radio interview, arguing that the fact that she has posed for fashion photos in the past justified his observation - capping it off with a Nazi comparison, saying, “I mean, this is not a person who avoids presenting herself before the camera. It’s not like I took someone who had never struck a model’s pose to exhibit her beauty, and she is very beautiful – like many of the Reich’s women.” Such comments caused at least one feminist activist, Peggy Cidor from the group Women of the Wall, to post plaintively on that Facebook “Paritzsky’s sexist comments are going to force me to defend Ayelet Shaked!!” In fact, Shaked’s left-wing feminist counterparts in the Knesset were already coming to her defense. Meretz MK Rozin said that remarks like Paritzsky’s “show contempt for women, but also hurt the legitimacy of the important criticism being leveled against Shaked’s appointment.” A day later, leader of the Meretz party Zehava Galon joined the protest after an item was published in a newspaper gossip column reporting on weekend celebration of Shaked’s 39th birthday at a luxury hotel, noting that “on Friday morning, Shaked showed up at the pool, but to the disappointment of hotel guests, she kept her clothes on.” Galon declared on Facebook that she was officially “fed up with all of the sexist and misogynist comments regarding Ayelet Shaked. Shaked is an intelligent and hard-working politician with nationalist anti-democratic views. I won’t spare her tough criticism when and where she takes advantage of her position to damage our legal system, but I have no intention of remaining silent when every few days someone pollutes the public arena with these miserable statements about her.” It all “sends a message to women and girls that it doesn’t matter how much they succeed, even when they receive a top ministerial post in the government - they will be judged first and foremost on their physical appearance … I intend to stand against Ayelet Shaked in every effort she makes to weaken the Supreme court and harm Israeli democracy. But when it comes to how she is treated as a woman and when it comes to remarks that diminish and insult her that she is forced to endure, I will stand beside her.” Galon’s post received more than 18,000 “likes.” Being defended so vehemently - by left-wing Meretz, no less - is much more of a novelty for Shaked than being attacked. Resentment is regularly aimed at her, and not only by the secular left - she has no shortage of it from across the political spectrum, starting at the very top. Shaked famously served as office director for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he was opposition leader, where she met her ally Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett. The pair are sworn enemies of both Netanyahu and his wife Sara, leaving their jobs under a cloud in 2008, that start of a personal loathing that continues to this day, which both sides refuse to discuss, but is undeniable. At the ceremonial announcement of the agreement that included Shaked’s appointment as Justice Minister, Netanyahu pointedly refrained from shaking her hand. Rounding out her enemies list now are embittered Likud members who coveted the post - as well as ultra-Orthodox party members who won’t let her forget the fact that she spearheaded the legislative effort to force yeshiva students into army service and have ideological religious objections to the Jewish State bill that she promotes. Neither is the attention that is paid to her good looks particularly new. In what probably qualifies as the stupidest poll ever, the Israeli Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery quizzed 300 women, asking them to rank Knesset lawmakers according to their attractiveness. Shaked came out on top for the female lawmakers (Yair Lapid topped the male list.) But Shaked has proven time and time again that she is no shrinking violet and knows how to fire back in her own defense, whether the topic is her political positions or her image. Last year, Haaretz’s Ravit Hecht opened a column about Shaked with: “She first appeared as a curiosity – a young and pretty secular woman from an upscale north Tel Aviv neighborhood … much more attractive and elegant than the caricatures of crazed right-wingers with their bushy beards, skullcaps askew and Uzis dangling from their shoulders.” and concluded the piece: “The riddle of Shaked remains unsolved. Is it unbridled teenage-style enthusiasm, limited binary thinking that includes childish worship of one-dimensional nationalist ideas, or are we witnessing a sophisticated, mathematical talent for harnessing the soul of the nation for the benefit of the settlers?” The column, headlined “A Knesset member whose irresponsible violence belies her appearance” drew an angry response from Shaked, who criticized what she called Hecht’s cheap shot against her. Shaked wrote: “I’ve had it with those women – women! – who seek to undermine the serious work of women in Israeli politics by describing them as “attractive and elegant” but utterly vacant.” In her column, Shaked defended her political positions against what she called “the delusional left, which has lost every vestige of self-control.” Her combative - and often aggressive - style on the Knesset floor, in media appearances has demonstrated that while she may enjoy having defenders - she certainly doesn’t need them. She has shown in her legislative career that she can can hold her own - and has even indulged in some of her own gender-based trash talking. Last December, disgusted in the middle of a heated budget debate, she scornfully turned to a Labor Party member and complained that “you people are doing nothing, just sitting there scratching your balls.” The remark might have played better as sexism payback, however, if she’d said it to a male legislator, instead of to MK Stav Shaffir - who is just as tough and combative and - (dare one say it?) - attractive as Shaked herself.

Ex-Met Council Boss Gets 1 Year for Fraud

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:55
David Cohen, the former executive director of New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, was sentenced to one year in jail for his role in a $9 million embezzlement scheme against the Jewish nonprofit.

This Month in The Tent: Engaging Families with Young Children

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 09:00

“Sooner. Stronger. Deeper. Longer.” That’s the motto that guides Nancy Bossov through her work as an early childhood education and engagement professional. Now the director of early childhood education at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, N.Y., Nancy came up with this motto while serving as the director of early childhood education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York. In practice, it means that engaging families in congregational life sooner rather than later fosters stronger connections to the congregation. This leads to a deeper experience for members, which translates into longer member-synagogue relationships.

Almost all synagogue leaders are concerned with their congregations’ membership numbers, and those same leaders report drastic drop-off rates for families whose children have completed their formal religious education. Although there isn’t a magical cure-all for membership retention, early engagement has proven to be a successful tactic.

Knowing this, the URJ gathered leaders from 28 congregations to participate in two early childhood-related Communities of Practice, Successfully Engaging Families with Young Children and Pursuing Excellence in Your Early Childhood Center. For 18 months, these leaders explored strategies and programs for achieving that “sooner, stronger, deeper, longer” member connection.

The findings from those Communities of Practice have just been published and are available in The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum. The guide includes best principles; a syllabus and workbook pages to help you strategize about your engagement efforts; additional research; and helpful articles and other resources.

Because learning together is so important, the URJ just launched seven new Communities of Practice, including two designed to help leaders with early engagement: Building a Brand: Excellence in Reform Movement Early Childhood Engagement (for congregations that have an early childhood center) and Creating Connected Communities for Families with Young Children (for congregations that do not have an early childhood center). Visit the Communities of Practice group to read about these learning opportunities, and see this ongoing conversation for answers to frequently asked questions. Applications for the new Communities of Practice will be accepted through June 15th.

For more conversations and resources about early childhood education and engagement, visit the Early Childhood group or search #EarlyChildhood and #EarlyEngagement.

Seasonal Info: We invite you to join us at the 2015 URJ Biennial, taking place November 4-8 in Orlando, FL. Registration will open later this month. In the meantime, visit urj.org/biennial to learn more.

Tent Tip: The Tent’s powerful search tool can help you find answers to your questions and resources to help manage the sacred. Before posing a question to your fellow Tent members, or if you’re not sure where to find a resource, enter your search term in the search box located at the top of every page. You then can filter search results to more easily find what you need.

Join the conversation and access these and other great resources in The Tent. For additional support, contact the URJ Knowledge Network team.

GOP Presidential Hopeful Scott Walker Leaves for Israel

Sun, 05/10/2015 - 08:30
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely candidate for the GOP nomination for president, left for what he billed as an “educational trip” to Israel.

A Mother's 'Shabbat Love' and the Benefits of a Spiritual Education

Sun, 05/10/2015 - 05:00
Lisa Miller always loved Shabbat with her mother, but it was only when she became a clinical psychologist did she realize that a spiritual education is key to a child’s development.

Rabbi Barry Freundel Facing 17-Year Sentence for Mikveh Peeping

Sat, 05/09/2015 - 06:39
(Reuters) Prosecutors are seeking a 17-year prison sentence for a prominent Washington rabbi who pleaded guilty in February to secretly videotaping dozens of women during ritual baths, court documents filed on Friday showed.

Suspect Arrested for Powder Threat to Colorado Jewish Sites

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 18:36
Police in Colorado have arrested a 32-year-old man suspected of sending envelopes containing white powder, later deemed harmless, and at least one threatening message to a Jewish community center and synagogue, authorities said on Friday.

Anti-Muslim Sentiments; Yale Institute of Sacred Music; Mark Burnett on the Cradle of Christianity Fund

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 17:40

Three North Carolina universities have experienced growing hostility and violence toward Muslims; students and instructors at Yale Institute of Sacred Music speak artistically and spiritually about the power of experiencing religious music; and reality TV producer Mark Burnett describes a project to help refugees fleeing persecution and violence in Syria.

The post Anti-Muslim Sentiments; Yale Institute of Sacred Music; Mark Burnett on the Cradle of Christianity Fund appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Anti-Muslim Sentiments in North Carolina

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 17:00

Three North Carolina universities—Duke, Wake Forest, and UNC-Chapel Hill—have experienced sharp divisions and increased tensions over Islamic teachings and the role of Islam in the US. For Muslims in those communities, there are signs of growing anti-Muslim hostility which in some cases has moved beyond angry rhetoric to actual physical violence, such as in the recent murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill.

The post Anti-Muslim Sentiments in North Carolina appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Yale Institute of Sacred Music

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 15:43

We take viewers to New Haven and New York to hear students and instructors speak artistically and spiritually about the power of experiencing sacred music. Many students who devote themselves to studying religious music and theology at the more-than-40-year-old Yale Institute of Sacred Music feel it deepens their spiritual lives and connects them to a tradition they hope to pass along and make relevant for contemporary audiences. Says institute director Martin Jean: “We exist to integrate theological education and musical education with artistic education.” Institute students study music, art history, the Bible, Christian theology, literature, poetry, architecture, and liturgy—all at the same time.

The post Yale Institute of Sacred Music appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Senate Passes Important Iran Agreement Review Bill

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 12:00

On Thursday, the Senate passed important legislation for the Iran nuclear talks, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (also known as “the Corker bill”), by an overwhelming vote of 98-1. Applauding the vote, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the RAC, released the following statement:

We applaud the passage of a clean Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. The overwhelming support for this important bill makes clear that stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is a bipartisan issue of concern to all Americans.  We call on the House of Representatives to quickly pass the Senate’s version of the bill, so that attention can turn to the issue that really matters: negotiating a deal that ensures that Iran cannot obtain nuclear weapons. To that end, we reiterate our call to the Obama administration to remain firm in its commitment to resolve the negotiations successfully on favorable terms.

The bill, a compromise fashioned by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sets in place a period of up to 52 days for Congress to review an agreement with Iran, during which the President cannot roll back sanctions imposed by Congress. However, the bill does not provide Congress with an up-or-down vote on the Iran deal, which could throw future negotiations into uncertainty.

The Reform Movement has been actively engaged in the effort to pass this legislation. In the lead-up to the vote, Rabbi Jonah Pesner urged Senators to vote in favor of the legislation, provided that there were no further amendments attached to it that would upset the bipartisan compromise. On Tuesday of the Consultation on Conscience, attendees lobbied their elected officials on the bill. Further, hundreds of people from across the Reform Movement have written to their Senators in favor of the legislation with no amendments.

Our concern about nuclear proliferation generally is also rooted in Jewish values and Jewish interests. The biblical commandment to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15) and Jewish rules on warfare, which eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately or create long-term damage to the environment, have inspired decades of Reform Movement activism against nuclear weapons proliferation. Such weapons pose a threat to the life and health of humanity and the earth.

To learn more about our work on the P5+1 negotiations, check out our Iran resource page.