Archive by Author

14 Ways to Make Your High Holidays Services Accessible to Everyone



A sweet new year begins with audacious hospitality, making sure everyone feels welcome in the Jewish community. As part of High Holiday preparation, congregations can take a number of simple steps to help create an accessible and sacred space for people of all abilities so that everyone can fully participate. Ask people what they need. […]

Read more
Uncategorized

10 Ways to Celebrate Jewish Disability Awareness Month in Your Synagogue



With the start of February, so too begins Jewish Disability Awareness Month. Of course, there is nothing uniquely Jewish about disabilities, nor is there a greater need for inclusion in February than in any other month. So why observe Jewish Disability Awareness Month 2015 this February? We encourage Reform congregations to observe and participate in […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Coming Together After Tragedy



Our prayers and hearts are with those whose lives have been so tragically altered by the school shooting today in Newtown, CT. In our tradition, immediately following a death we know that no words of comfort can yet be heard, so we offer instead our presence and our empathy as we honor and try to […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Gratitude is Not Silencing Our Hurt



Gathering together with family and friends for a Thanksgiving feast of turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes is a distinctly American way of expressing and experiencing gratitude. Situation comedies, Broadway farces, novels, blog posts and text messages to friends capture and communicate all of the complex emotions that come to the fore when we are […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Everything in Moderation…Except Moderation



Finding a middle path that allows us to savor life fully while also cultivating spiritual, emotional, and physical health is central to Jewish tradition. Perhaps the clearest expression of this Jewish approach to finding balance was articulated by the great Jewish thinker and physician Moses Maimonides (1135–1204), who taught that through study and cultivation of […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Shabbat Shuvah: From Whom Have You Strayed?



Shabbat Shuvah is the Sabbath between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The name is derived from the opening word of the haftarah reading that urges us: Shuvah Yisrael ad Adonai Elohecha, “Return, O Israel, to the Eternal your God.” What does that mean to you? To whom or what might you be returning? Is it […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Caring Communities Fulfill the Mitzvah of Pikuah Nefesh, Saving Lives



Congregations can help reduce the number of suicides and lead people who struggle with depression toward help when we teach our youth, youth group leaders and parents how to monitor and respond to despairing text messages, Facebook postings and tweets. People of all ages can experience severe depression, and probably one in five adults or […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Caring Communities Aren’t Created Just by Caring Committees



Caring Committees are a great beginning but are even more effective when our congregations are communities in which everyone provides care. Some congregations have gotten everyone involved in caring activities by asking each family to volunteer to be available for one or two days each year. They can trade days with another family as necessary, […]

Read more
Uncategorized
Parenting Podcast

Parenting Podcast: Umbrellas and Boulders: Independence vs. Interdependence



“Does she remember it or not, it was not only the first day in her life that she used her umbrella, it was also the first day in her life that she walked alone, without holding either her mother’s or her father’s hand.” –Umbrella by Taro Yashima (1958) This is the conclusion of a book […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Vouchers for Taxis



A “vouchers for taxis” program helps the elderly and disabled get to congregational events. It can also be a tzedakah and teaching opportunity. Many congregations, concerned about liability and volunteer-driver burnout, negotiate with a taxi company to provide transportation to synagogue services and events. This approach allows the elderly and the disabled to participate without […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Disability Awareness: Including Everyone in Our Communities



Within almost every family is a member with a disability. We often think we have few disabled members but that is often because many families and individuals with disabilities feel uncertain about joining a congregation or attending services. These families are more likely to join and stay involved if they are openly welcomed, and if […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Welcoming Newest Members



Baskets to welcome new born babies and newly adopted children delight member families and gently introduce prospective members to our congregations. Baskets can include Jewish children’s books, ritual objects and collections of Jewish lullabies and songs. Donations made to say thank you often cover the expense of creating the baskets. Caring Committee members often create […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Being in a Caring Community Like at Camp, After the Summer is Over… A Youth Campaign Objective



I remember once when a youngster who was a bunkmate at my child’s URJ summer camp was sent home for several weeks for not complying with an important camp rule. The kids had all been together for many years and had ties of friendship that were very strong. They recognized the seriousness of the infraction. […]

Read more
Uncategorized

Delivering Love, Meals, Hope and Support When Cancer Touches Our Lives



“Sure, we can afford to order pizza for the kids for dinner when I am feeling at my lowest from chemotherapy. We could call Domino’s and in no time there would be a pizza on the table. But my kids already know that Domino’s delivers! I am so grateful that the members of my congregation […]

Read more
Uncategorized