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Women of Wall Splinter Group Reads Torah Scroll at Kotel

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 07:59
For the second time in less than two months, a feminist prayer group has succeeded in bringing a Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Western Wall, in defiance of existing regulations at the Jewish holy site in Jerusalem.

Synagogue Stands by Embattled Rabbi Marc Schneier

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 19:03
A tony New York congregation is standing by its troubled rabbi.

Shlomo Riskin Chided by Sephardic Chief Rabbi for 'Innovations'

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 16:56
Israel’s chief Sephardi rabbi slammed Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, for his liberal “innovations.”

44 Synagogue Members Sign Petition Against Sauna Rabbi

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 16:54
At least 44 members of a New York synagogue are calling for the resignation of their rabbi, whose custom of inviting young men to meet with him naked in a sauna has brought extensive media attention.”

Synagogue Leader 'Aghast' at Sale of $7M Torah Bells

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:54
A long-running dispute over the ownership of the oldest U.S. synagogue played out in court on Monday as leaders of the New York congregation that holds the deed to the historic Rhode Island house of worship said they were horrified that local congregants had tried to sell valuable religious artifacts.

Conservatives Slam Reuven Rivlin for Caving to Orthodox on Disabled Bar Mitzvahs

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 11:31
World leaders of the Conservative/Masorti movement criticized Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s decision to host a joint bar mitzvah for physically disabled boys under the exclusive auspices of an Orthodox rabbi.

Did Hollywood Producers Steal Her Prayer?

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 05:00
On the NBC miniseries ‘A.D.: The Bible Continues,’ one of the prayers sounded familiar to rabbinical student Trisha Arlin. She says the producers didn’t give her credit, and now she wants compensation.

Duddy Kravitz Returns to the Stage, and to Montreal

Sun, 06/07/2015 - 05:00
Mordecai Richler’s iconic character, Duddy Kravitz, returned to Montreal this weekend in a hometown musical with all-star bona fides.

Rabbis Against Climate Change

Sat, 06/06/2015 - 05:00
With the Pope about to present his arguments for fighting climate change, Arthur Waskow and a large group of rabbis have made their own statement of purpose on this global question.

Marc Schneier Booted From Rabbinic Group Over Affair

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 18:16
The spiritual leader of a tony congregation in the Hamptons, has been expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America over allegations of an illicit affair with a congregant, the Forward has learned.

Latino Converts to Islam; John Unger; Shinnyo Lantern Floating

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 16:00

The growing number of Latino converts to Islam face challenges inside and outside their communities; West Virginia state senator John Unger is a legislator and the pastor of three mainline Protestant churches of different denominations; and a Buddhist ritual held in New York City honors people who have dedicated their lives to the cause of peace.

The post Latino Converts to Islam; John Unger; Shinnyo Lantern Floating appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Son of Hasidic Grand Rebbe Dies After Surgery

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 12:00
The eldest son of the Vizhnitz Hasidic sect’s grand rabbi died unexpectedly at age 67.

Why Russian Chief Rabbi Stands By Vladimir Putin

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 06:59
Rabbi Berel Lazar’s mother was eager for grandchildren. So she gave her 25-year-old son an ultimatum: He could return to his beloved Jewish outreach work in Russia if — and only if — he got married.

Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt Denies Wrongdoing in Sauna Chats

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 17:29
Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt asserted his innocence in his first public comment since the publication of a New York Times article about his habit of inviting young males to join him for naked heart-to-heart talks in the sauna.

Don't Blame the Sauna Rabbi — Blame Orthodox Mentality

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:42
The real question isn’t why Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt took boys into the sauna naked, Eliyahu Fink writes. It’s why his Orthodox community did nothing to stop him.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Reintroduced With Bipartisan Support!

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:00

This morning, we welcomed the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, key legislation to ensure pregnant workers have the workplace protections they deserve. Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement to celebrate the bill’s reintroduction:

We applaud the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a critical bill that would allow pregnant women to continue to work and to provide for their families by requiring employers to reasonably accommodate their pregnancy-related health needs. Without these protections, too many women are confronted with the agonizing choice of risking the health of their pregnancy or facing possible forced leave or termination.

Though the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, the recent Supreme Court decision in Young v. United Parcel Service reminds us that existing law is not enough to guarantee true and full protections for pregnant workers. For the three-quarters of women who will be pregnant and employed over the course of their lives, nearly 90 percent of whom continue working into their last month of pregnancy, PWFA is a necessary and long overdue measure that would protect both their physical health and their economic stability.

Our Jewish tradition demands the fair treatment of all workers as a matter of justice. We fight for strong protections for pregnant workers so that they can continue to contribute to their companies’ well-being throughout their pregnancy, while also ensuring their personal well-being. That PWFA has bipartisan support for the first time in its history demonstrates that the issue of pregnancy accommodations transcends politics and embodies shared values across a diverse range of beliefs.

We urge all Members of Congress to co-sponsor, support and vote for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Together, we can ensure that our country’s workplaces are productive, healthy, and just places of employment.

As Rachel highlights, this is the first time PWFA has gained bipartisan support—meaning the bill has a much stronger chance of moving forward in this Congress. To keep up the momentum, take action today to urge your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!


How Adam Levy Channels His Grief Through Music

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:00
Three years ago, Daniel Levy committed suicide at the age of 21. Now, his father Adam Levy, front man for the Minnesota indie rock band The Honey Dogs, is trying to use music as a way to erase the stigma associated with mental illness.

5 Great Deals and Discounts Your Congregation Can Only Get Through the URJ

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 13:58

When talking about congregational life to members and prospective members, one of the questions that invariably comes up is, “Well, what do I get for my dues?” We talk about access to a sacred community, access to clergy for lifecycle events, and access to a Jewish education for ourselves and our children. We talk about perpetuating our heritage, and we talk about the intangible benefits of synagogue membership that aren’t found anywhere else.

When talking about the Union for Reform Judaism to our member and prospective member congregations, we often hear the same question: “What does our temple get for our dues?” We, too, talk about community, education, and heritage. We talk about our camps, which impact thousands of kids every summer; we talk about the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, which educates students to become our rabbis, cantors, educators, and Jewish professionals; we talk about being a connected and networked movement of Reform congregations.

But in many ways – in addition to being a sacred community for your congregants – your congregation is also a business, and a business wants to know that any investment it makes, sacred or not, is providing tangible benefits to its bottom line.

There’s more to membership with the URJ. Through our Congregational Benefits and Services program, URJ member congregations have access to meaningful discounts on a number of products and services at prices that are available only to congregations affiliated with the URJ. These deals, arranged with our congregations’ needs in mind, are yet another wonderful benefit of membership with the URJ.

Learn more about these benefits in the URJ Benefits and Services discussion group in The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum.

  1. Cloud Computing with Adar IT: When moving to the cloud, your congregation will never need to buy new servers or desktop computers again. Adar IT will keep software current, maintain virus protection, make daily backups, and provide access to friendly help desk staff who can support all your computer operations. When signing up with ADAR IT though the URJ, take advantage of significant discounts on network setup and storage.
  1. Hi-Speed Internet with Comcast: Whether your congregation is large or small, Comcast offers reduced pricing on Internet packages that will increase your access speeds at affordable rates. With speeds ranging from 16 MPBS Down/3 MBPS Up to 150 MPBS Down/20 MBPS Up, you’re sure to find a package that works for your congregation.
  1. Criminal Background Checks with Intellicorp: It is critically important that congregations protect themselves when hiring new staff. By taking advantage of the URJ’s arrangement with Intellicorp, affiliated congregations can hire with confidence, knowing that every candidate will undergo a rigorous series of background checks that include motor vehicle reports, credit reports, and more.
  1. Internet Video Streaming from Streamspot: More and more congregations now stream worship and programming online, which can be costly and complicated. Through the URJ’s reduced pricing arrangement with Streamspot, affiliated congregations can stream simply and affordably.
  1. Computer Network Managed Services with Solus IT: Spend time on what’s most important to your congregation, and let Solus IT monitor and maintain your computer network. Enjoy discounts on workstation and network monitoring, application and software patch maintenance, asset and anti-virus management, and more.

Affiliation with the Union for Reform Judaism is a serious investment for Reform congregations, and URJ-affiliated congregations have every right to expect a meaningful return on that investment. That return is evident when our kids joyfully sing around a camp bonfire. It’s evident when well-educated and inspired clergy and educators lead our congregations. And, when needed, it’s evident in the meaningful discounts on products and services you use in the day-to-day operations of your sacred institution

And this is only the beginning! We continually work to offer our communities discounts that relate to the work they do, helping to increase the return on the investment they make as URJ-affiliated congregations. Please visit the URJ Benefits and Services group in The Tent for more details and to join the conversation about other deals you might like to see made available.

Reconstructionists Shake Up Boring Annual Report With Web, Video — and Even a Christian!

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 11:00
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College has released what may be the quirkiest annual report in the mundane history of annual reports.

URJ's Michelle Shapiro Abraham Receives Prestigious Covenant Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewish Education

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 09:19
Reform Jewish Educator Recognized for Extraordinary Work in Synagogues, Classrooms, Camps, Conferences, NFTY and More