Jewels of Elul 5771

The Jewels of Elul is back with this year's theme, The Art of Beginning...Again. Twenty Nine inspired contributors will share a personal story, about how deal with change. It will include pieces by Noah Alper founder of Noah’s Bagels, African-American Rabbi, actress Noa Tishby, Rabbi’s  David Wolpe and Rabbi Naomi Levy, Imam Jihad Turk, Jeremy Ben Ami, Eli Broad, a prisoner in a penitentiary, a Lost Boy of Sudan and medical student Nofrat Frenkel, arrested for wearing a Tallit at the wall. Additionally, Natan Sharansky, Author Alan Lightman, Boxer Yurie Foreman, producer Mia Goldman and Rabbi’s Billy Dreskin, Abraham Twerski and Shlomo Riskin will be writing Jewels this year!

A Passover Question That Keeps Us Up All Night

This year, let's move beyond wasteful seder conversation dedicated solely to nostalgia, boredom and pediatrics. Let's go around the table and ask, "What question might keep us up in productive conversation all night long, if necessary?" We'd better have one; we no longer have a tamid to atone for us, if we don't.

Synagogue Life Should Be Like Handwashing (not hand wringing!)

Our institutions should follow the example of the Temple. They should be enlivening not deadening, to those who, like the priest, work in them.

That is not what boards of Jewish institutions report. Meetings are often desultory at best, litigious at worst - even downright nasty. They can be life-depleting, not life-enhancing. Committee assignments are like life sentences. Volunteers are hard to find.

But that is not the Jewish way. Jewish organizational life should be like the handwashing that characterized the original Jewish institution, the Temple.

Rekindling Tradition as Life Partnerships End

It is somewhat surprising that researchers have paid so little attention to how people experience divorce in congregations. Studies that do address the relationship between religion and divorce are largely quantitative, measuring divorce numbers. Rarely do these reports consider the personal impact and how (or if) communities support those affected by divorce.

Friday Night Live - a research project

Laurie Matzkin's in depth research on the phenomena known as Friday Night Live... it's impact on Jewish worship and how synagogues can learn from its success.

Observations of a Rabbi Who Never Became a Bar Mitzvah

By Jack Stern

From Reform Judaism, Winter 1997

Reprinted with permission from the author and Reform Judaism Magazine --- Published by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Many years ago I was working with one of my bar mitzvah students, who was totally negligent in his preparations. Exasperated, his mother finally turned to the boy and said: ``I'm sure that Rabbi Stern studied hard for his bar mitzvah, and that's what you should be doing!''

The Power of a Prayer Shawl: Exploring Jewish Ritual Objects

by Yael Shuman

Illustration by Nancy Winternight

From Reconstructionism Today, Summer, 1994
Reprinted with Permission.

The Bindings That Tie

by Erik Rosen

Photos by Peter Shefler

From Hadassah Magazine, October 1997
Reprinted With Permission

Do not reprint without permission of author --- contact Hadassah Magazine: 212/556-4521.

The Torah is the soul of the Jewish people, the object and the idea that binds the Jewish people to God.

But what binds the Torah? The wimpel, of course.

The Mikvah as Spiritual Therapy

by Elyse Goldstein

From CCAR Journal: A Reform Jewish Quarterly, Winter/Spring 1995
Reprinted with permission

In recent years the popularity and appeal of traditional ritual in our movement have grown dramatically. On such ritual, which continues to gain acceptance and is being increasingly encouraged, is the use of the mikvah for Jews by choice, both male and female. While in 1893 the CCAR declared tevila unnecessary for conversion, the new Rabbi's manual states,