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The “Wicked” Child of the Pew Study



by Rabbi Danny Burkeman Pesach is coming, and at s’darim across the Jewish community we will once again label four children as wise, wicked, simple, and the one who does not know how to ask. I have always struggled with this part of the seder for two reasons. All of my work with young people […]

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A Passover Social Action Update from the RAC



Every year I look forward to Passover, when we gather with family and friends, share a festive meal, and retell the story of our exodus from Egypt – with all the lessons applied to today’s urgent moral dilemmas and to the struggles for freedom in America and across the globe. At every seder, I am […]

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A Special Worship Service for Jews with Disabilities and Their Families



by Nancy Crown When I was called to meet with a member of my synagogue’s Congregation-Based Community Organizing Committee, I almost declined.  I was asked to think about what the temple could do that it was not already doing. My main reaction was to reflect on the many opportunities for learning, worship, and community that […]

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10 Years of Ten Minutes of Torah

URJ Commemorates Ten Years of Ten Minutes of Torah



The Union of Refom Judaism commemorates 10 years of Ten Minutes of Torah, a daily email that is one of the most successful and innovative distance learning initiatives in the Jewish world.  In 2003, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, then URJ president launched Ten Minutes of Torah at the URJ Biennial convention in Minneapolis: Desperate to keep […]

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Make Miracles Happen This Hanukkah by Helping Ethan Kadish



On June 29, at Goldman Union Camp Institute, a URJ summer camp near Indianapolis, Ethan Kadish was teaching a group of younger children how to play ultimate Frisbee when a bolt of lightning struck him to the ground. Today, Ethan is in the Rehabilitation Unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital preparing for his upcoming discharge to […]

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Sometimes Inclusion Makes Me Nervous



On Yom Kippur morning, an amazing young woman came to our bimah to chant Torah.  She happens to be blind. And while I eagerly anticipated what I knew would be a stunning aliyah, I found myself really nervous. Why would I be nervous?  This should have been a moment of immense pride that the inclusive […]

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What the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution Is (and Is Not)



Last month – on the front page of the New York Times, no less – there was a lengthy article on the state of b’nai mitzvah ceremonies in the United States. This coverage came just days after the latest example of an over-the-top celebration outside Las Vegas, which featured an ostentatious display of dancers, lighting, and more. Perhaps you saw the video on YouTube. The newspaper article questioned – as we all do, I believe – how this rite of passage can become as meaningful and as moving as our ancestors intended. The article proceeds to highlight and applaud what is being termed the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, a program run by the Union for Reform Judaism, which aims to inject thought and scrutiny into the broader process of becoming b’nai mitzvah.

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Let’s Talk Turkey: Thanksgiving Ideas for Congregational Boards



Thanksgiving is next month (or this month for our Canadian friends) and while it is not a Jewish holiday, you and your board can still use the essence of the holiday – giving thanks – as an impetus for recognizing the dedication of folks within your congregational community. Many congregations rely on the hard work […]

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How a Whole Congregation Wrote its Rabbi’s Yom Kippur Sermon



Utilizing a process called the Social Sermon, I developed my Yom Kippur morning sermon this year in partnership with Facebook Friends, TED ,and a group of insightful congregants. To be blunt, this year, the whole Congregation Or Ami wrote its rabbi’s Yom Kippur sermon. Where Great Sermon Ideas Come From Rabbis explore sermon ideas from […]

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Tishah B’Av 5773 in Retrospect: Reflections from a Neo-Classical Reform Jew



by Jordan Friedman This year, I did something I’ve never really done before in my entire life. I observed  Tishah B’Av. I went to the home of a very dear friend who is used to marking the solemn day in semi-traditional fashion: by fasting and contemplating all historic tragedies that have befallen the Jews and, […]

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Debatable: Should We Offer Free High Holy Days Tickets to Non-Members?



by Steve Friedman and Maxine Sukenik One congregational leader says yes; another says no. Each shares their perspective on this age-old congregational debate. What do you think? What does your congregation do? Read Steve and Maxine’s views, below, and chime in with your own. “YES! No Tickets = No Barriers” by Steve Friedman, past president […]

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Congregational Resources for the High Holy Days



Can it already be the second week of July? Unbelievable as it may seem, this week means something big for congregations: The High Holy Days are less than two months away! With Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur quickly approaching, many congregations are already busy preparing. The URJ has a number of resources to help your […]

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Spring Time in Israel



by Loui Dobin As I am writing these words, I am on a plane home from Israel. We took off a couple of hours ago and have just crossed the coast of France. Now that we are “feet-wet” over the North Atlantic, I have had a little time to think about my trip. I landed on the eve […]

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The New Reform Machzor and the Shofar Service



By Rabbi Edwin Goldberg Part One: Don’t “Bury the Lead,” or Why We Have Placed the Shofar Service into Three Parts of the Service The traditional High Holy Day prayer book, as opposed to the Reform versions produced in the last century and more, includes a service, musaf, that evokes the ancient sacrifices.  Reform Judaism abandoned […]

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