Internet Round-Up: The Best Jewish Stories on the Web
Here are just a few of the recent stories from across the webosphere that speak directly to (and about) Reform Jews. What Jewish stories have you been reading recently? Leave a comment and let us know!
- “Congregation Needs To Be Involved in Israel To Make a Difference,” The Jewish Daily Forward
Rabbi Andy Bachman, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, writes that the best way to discuss Israel is to convince his congregation to actually visit the country and to insist that people “roll up their sleeves and dig in.”
- “Bar Mitzvahs on the Beach,” Tablet
Destination bar and bat mitzvah celebrations are increasing in popularity. While Israel is the original b’nai mitzvah destination, many teenagers today choose to read from the Torah in places like Costa Rica or Aspen. Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director of Youth Engagement for the URJ, says, “I think the advent of destination bar mitzvahs shows that people are looking for more meaningful experiences. We need to pay attention to this trend.”
- “Does Birthright Stifle Teen Travel?” Jewish Exponent
What factors have led to a 40% drop in 13-18 year olds traveling to Israel since Birthright began in 2000? This article explores the possibilities. While sending high school students to Israel can be financially burdening, allowing teens to experience Israel at a younger age may be worth the price tag; at the same time, Birthright sends young Jews ages 18-26 on a free 10-day trip to Israel. This puts many parents in a dilemma. Should they pay the cost and send their kids to Israel during high school, or wait until they are older and encourage them to participate in Birthright?
- “For parents with BRCA gene mutation that led Angelina Jolie to remove her breasts, the biggest fear is for children,” Daily News
Just like Angelina Jolie, Susan Glucksman (a former board member of URJ Camp Eisner) and her two younger sisters all carry the BRCA gene mutation, which leads to a high risk of break cancer. Because of this, all of their six children have a 50% of having the mutation as well. Faced with the facts, these mothers struggle to decide whether to test their children, especially because medical professionals don’t recommend generic testing until the age of 18.
- “7% of Israeli Jews are Reform or Conservative,” Daily Jewish Forward
Though there are just 110 Reform and Conservative synagogues in Israel, the Israeli Democracy Index for 2013 reports that approximately 7.1% of Israeli Jews define themselves as Reform or Conservative. That said, a majority of Israelis – about 76% – report that identify as secular or declined to respond the survey.
- “National Board of Trustees for URJ elects Edmond teen,” Edmond Sun
Evan Traylor, a sophomore at Kansas University and outgoing president of NFTY, was recently elected as the youngest person to become a full member of the North American Board of Trustees for the Union for Reform Judaism. URJ chairman Steve Sacks said of Evan’s landmark membership, “The voices of our young people are important, not just because our constitution requires it, but because we really do want to hear the voices of our teens represented in the movement’s governing body.”