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Double Booked: Men on the Tightrope

By Hadar Susskind

I was looking for that picture of me checking email on my phone while talking in the direction of my pre-teen son who is plugged in to his Ipad and totally ignoring me, as my daughter bounds singing through the room and my wife tries to hear the conference call that she is on.  Somehow, we forget to memorialize that all too common moment, so instead you get to see this beautiful, if slightly old, photo of us on vacation looking tanned and relaxed.

That is of course, because no one records those regular moments of mayhem. And, while we might talk about them with a friend as we complain, it is the tanned and relaxed picture that goes on Facebook, gets emailed to the in-laws, and is the public face of our family lives.

Not that I have any desire to see pictures of crying kids (or parents for that matter) but it is important that, as we seek to balance the personal and the professional in our lives, we can be honest about our successes and failures in that arena.

As a husband and father, one of the challenges that I encounter is the assumption, often but not always from older male executives, that men should be less concerned with a “work-life balance” and less focused on the needs of their families. I once canceled a meeting to stay home with a sick child, and got an email back saying, with no joke intended, “can’t your wife do that, this is important?”.  I won’t name the Jewish community professional who sent that email, but I believe he did so because the idea of staying home with a sick child, instead of your wife doing so, was totally foreign to him.

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Israel at URJ Biennial

Israel at URJ Biennial

Prime Minister Netanyahu  is only one of a wide variety of Israel-related programmatic and experiential opportunities at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial next week in San Diego. From the exhibit hall to the plenary stage, the URJ invites you to a wide variety of Israel-centered features:

Israel Engagement Intensive – Forging a New Relationship with Israel
Join Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, to discuss the Jewish State through the lens of Jewish values, exploring what concepts such as peoplehood, sovereignty, and democracy mean to us, to Israel, and to Jewish thinkers from across our tradition. Dr. Kurtzer will be joined by a number of Reform Movement leaders who are Senior Rabbinic Fellows of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Israel Forum – The Torah of Pluralism
For 65 years, Israel has been the nation state of the Jewish people. But does today’s Israel reflect and celebrate the diversity of Jewish life and practice? Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism will moderate Member of Knesset Ruth Calderon and Rabbi Donniel Harman, President, Shalom Hartman Institute, in a discussion about the fight for religious pluralism in Israel and the quest to build a Jewish community that values many equally authentic paths to Jewish commitment and love of Israel.

Israel in the Gaslamp District

Tribute to Rabbi Professor David Hartman z”l
Rabbi Rick Jacobs will open the conference with an acknowledgement of the extraordinary contributions of Shalom Hartman Institute founder Rabbi David Hartman and how he influenced Rabbi Jacobs’ own rabbinic outlook. Rabbi Hartman, z”l, will be posthumously honored with the Alexander M. Schindler Award to World Jewry.

Honoring Anat Hoffman
The Women of Reform Judaism will present the Jane Evans award to Anat Hoffman, Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, for her extensive and passionate work on behalf of religious liberties in Israel.

Unique Israeli Worship Experience with Beit Tefilah Israeli
Experience the vitality of contemporary Israeli culture with Rabbis Lisa Tzur and Esteban Gottfried and the Beit Tefilah Israeli musicians. This Thursday morning service will integrate Israeli and pop music, poetry, and the ancient words of our people.

Israel on Stage: The Big Blue Tent
MAKOM, a division of the Jewish Agency for Israel, will present an original piece of theater, written especially for the Biennial. The piece explores a community in crisis over Israel. The community leader struggles between silencing public debate about Israel and losing the support of a major donor. After the 30 minute play, the audience will be invited to give their opinion to the actors, who will replay the scenes according to the audience’s advice. Can you unite the community around Israel in a healthy way? Be part of the solution!

Learning Sessions About Israel

City of Albuquerque New Mexico on map

Pursuing Choice in the States: Victory in Albuquerque

Too often in the fight to maintain or expand reproductive rights, we are on the defensive, trying to prevent the passage of a restrictive bill or a judicial decision that limits access, with scattered successes. At this juncture, we can take a moment to appreciate the hard work done to prevent another extreme law from passing. Yesterday, the citizens of Albuquerque, New Mexico voted down a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

The ban was defeated by a 10% margin, with 55% voting against, and 45% voting in favor. This is a resounding victory for the reproductive choice community, the interfaith partners that participated and the rights of women and families in New Mexico. Read more…

Woman Coddling Baby with the text "WIC"

Protect the Vulnerable During the Holidays: Women at Risk

As we enter the holiday season, Congress continues to work in conference committees to find a compromise in funding levels for numerous government programs in the Farm Bill and the FY2014 budget . This post is the first in a series highlighting the effects of sequestration cuts and potential funding cuts that could come out of conference. Read more…

dollar bill puzzle pieces

Webinar Wednesday!

Join us on Wednesday for an update the fiscal policy battles taking place over the budget, debt ceiling and Farm Bill. These three pieces of legislation are some of the most important for the lives America’s most vulnerable. Tune into Understanding our Fiscal Future,” a webinar presented by the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs, this Wednesday from 2:30-3:30pm EST and find out how you can get involved to help protect our anti-poverty programs.

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dollar bill puzzle pieces

Economic Update (So Much To Discuss!)

With so much news coming out of Congress on every slight movement in the economic debate, it can be hard to keep up with the latest news.  And so, we are here for you with a brief explanation of all the important economic deadlines coming up, whether we are to passing a bill and the implications of all of this. Read more…


Standing Idly By as Our Neighbors Bleed

Like many Massachusetts families, the Boston Marathon is very much part of my family’s lives. Every year we gather to watch, volunteer, or run, as my wife and I did in 2008. Drawing thousands of diverse souls from all over the world, the event represents the best of American civil society.

This year, all that was shattered with the murderous blasts of two terrorists’ crazed cruelty. What you saw on television only begins to depict the horror of the tragedy. Scores of victims were maimed, families’ lives forever changed. Amidst the suffering and chaos, people rose to the occasion and story after story emerged about simple acts of courage and risk amidst terror and lives saved. Bystanders, first responders, faith leaders, diverse, and others all heeded the call we read in Leviticus 19: “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.”

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Flooding in Colorado

Sukkot Inspires Awareness of Climate Refugees

Sukkot is one of the most festive holidays we observe in the Jewish religion. Sukkot often involves the enjoyable and often communal activity of decorating a sukkah, the song and dance of shaking the lulav and etrog, and of course, the delicious and serene experience of eating a meal under the stars. However, in the jovial feeling of the season, it’s easy to forget the more significant themes we can learn from the holiday, including the importance of shelter and housing, the notion of welcoming others into our homes, and the environment and sustainability. Read more…