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Chaveirai n’vareich – Let’s Praise Birkon Mikdash M’at: NFTY’s Bencher



By Jeremy Gimbel That is how a leader begins the Birkat HaMazon, the blessing recited after a meal. When I think about the process that led to the publication of Birkon Mikdash M’at: NFTY’s Bencher, this proclamation resonates like the beautiful walls of sound created by NFTYites and campers as they sing this blessing.

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The Porch: It’s Southern, It’s Open, and It’s Jewish



For the past 18 months, the URJ supported three “Communities of Practice,” cohorts of congregations that came together to learn, discuss, and experiment in a specific field. Members from participating congregations have been asked to reflect about their process. by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas When I was ordained a cantor in 2011, I never imagined […]

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Amidst 5,000 Worshipers, a Sanctuary of Peace



It’s not often that a rabbi gets to sit back off the bimah and lean into inspiring prayer. The constant responsibility for creating T’filah for others, partnering with a cantor and other shlichei tzibur (prayer leaders), draws our attention everywhere but our own spiritual selves. And then there are moments like this morning’s shacharit  service […]

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On Being a Jewish Father



OSRUI’s Father and; Son Kallah provided Neil Rigler the chance to focus exclusively on his boys for the weekend in a dynamic Jewish context. He was also able to connect with other dads and talk about the challenges of being a father in today’s world, and what the Jewish component of that can and should be.

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2013 URJ Biennial

Are You Ready for Biennial Shabbat?



From Friday night song session to diverse, creative options for worship and learning, Shabbat at the URJ Biennial will feature something for everyone. Friday Night Shabbat Services First bring a little bit of the Tel Aviv pier to San Diego and prepare for Shabbat with the innovative leaders of Beit Tefilah Israeli, who bring Kabbalat […]

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The Year That Was: One Congregation’s Prayer Services without a Rabbi



My synagogue, Kehillat Emet VeShalom in Nahariya, Israel, just completed a year of prayer services on our own without a rabbi. We recently met to reflect on the year and to voice our thoughts and opinions. First, to set the mood and remind us of some of the special moments that we shared during the […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs Travels to the Deep South



Summers in New York City are blisteringly hot. To escape, some people head to the Jersey Shore or to other beaches to cool off; others head to the mountains to get away from the humidity. Me? This July, I headed to the Deep South – Tennessee and Mississippi, to be exact – and although I […]

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Back to the Future: An Update on “Unplugging” at Camp



Walk into any cabin at GFC and it’s a scene from Back to Future: campers have taken to the games like fish in water. There is laughter, healthy competition, camaraderie and good old fashioned fun.

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Seven Things to Do When Teens Come Home from Jewish Summer Camp



by Ruth Schapira Soon, thousands of Jewish teens will arrive to their home communities, having spent an amazing immersive experience in a Jewish summer camp. These teens, armed with new enthusiasm for Jewish life, should be able to transition successfully into their Jewish life at home, sharing their experiences with peers, their families, the synagogue, and maybe even […]

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A New Twist on Havdallah



by Rabbi Roger Lerner Havdallah is one of those ceremonies that I have found enriching, fun, and in little need of change. It’s a quick ceremony marking the end of Shabbat, with all of the hallmarks and symbols of a ritual embodying a full sensory experience, allowing the sacredness of Shabbat to flow into the regular week. […]

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Torah in the Cloud



by Pete Bernard Like many other congregations, Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, WA, has a diverse group of Torah readers— young and old—who participate regularly in reading the parashah. A strong and varied group of readers is a key part of our community, and we continually strive to introduce this tradition to new members of […]

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10+ Things I Really Hate about URJ Camp



Now in my third day as faculty member at the URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA (and in my 18th year on faculty), I have been here long enough to clearly articulate all the things I hate about this place. And there are many! Waiting in line for 3-5 minutes for a meal that […]

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Kol Yisrael: Engaging our Human Resources



by Micah Lapidus Jewish day school sustainability is about more than survival. It’s about maintaining a diverse, vibrant, dynamic, healthy, growing school community. The best way to achieve day school sustainability is by ensuring that we’re fully engaging our human resources.  What does it look like to fully engage our human resources? Here’s a case […]

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