A Wedding Gift

Jul 29, 2016 by

Like the haggadah’s four children, wedding couples enter my office asking questions in different ways.  Some bring lists and show me photographs of the dress, the venue, the chuppah.  They are organized and take notes furiously.  A few are completely passive, deferring to their partners’ wishes.  Some have a general sense of what they want, and we talk it through together.  Others don’t know what’s possible, and need to be led. I walk them through the steps of the Jewish wedding, explaining what’s required, what can be added or subtracted, and what can be adapted.  I strive to represent the Jewish tradition authentically.  I answer their questions dutifully.  I listen and make suggestions, anticipating complications.  (“It’ll hard to break the glass on sand.  Let’s make sure we have a thick board available.”  “How might...

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A Commitment to the Survival, Resilience, and Creativity of the Jewish People...

Jul 28, 2016 by

“This book is a sacred calling to be committed to the survival and resilience and creativity of the Jewish people. That women are acknowledged as a part of this mainstream commitment is huge.” The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate, newly published by CCAR Press, examines the ways in which the reality of women in the rabbinate has impacted upon all aspects of Jewish life. Rabbi Karen Fox, Rabbi Emerita of Wilshire Boulevard Temple and first woman rabbi to serve the national Reform Jewish Movement as a Regional Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union of Reform Judaism), tells us about her own rabbinical career and why The Sacred Calling is important to her. Q: Growing up, you likely had a vision in your head of what it...

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Creating the Perfect Day

Jul 27, 2016 by

Whether a glitzy, large wedding which requires two wedding planners, or a fully DIY eco- friendly affair, no two weddings, and no two couples, are alike. But when you strip away the crafts, bling, and creativity, all couples are the same: they are seeking a mythical day, and a personalized meaningful ceremony that speaks to who they are. The Jewish wedding ceremony is beautiful, timeless, and can speak to our hearts and souls. If we understand it. I operate on the assumption that most couples grew up with the wedding ceremony of Fiddler on the Roof and have learned little more, except perhaps what they Googled after they got engaged, or what they have seen when attending weddings themselves. Enter Beyond Breaking the Glass: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding, by Rabbi Nancy H....

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The Sacred Calling: Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling of Traditionalism...

Jul 26, 2016 by

“Ultimately, I think that anyone of any level of Jewish literacy can find something in The Sacred Calling that will inspire them to see the possibilities offered by the Reform world to join this fight, and to take this fight out into the world at large.”   The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate, newly published by CCAR Press, examines the ways in which the reality of women in the rabbinate has impacted upon all aspects of Jewish life. Andrue Kahn, rising 4th year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in New York and author of The Sacred Calling Study Guide, talks about the impact that both women rabbis and the book itself have made in his own life. Q: Describe your first encounter with a woman rabbi. A: Growing up, I don’t...

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A Sacred Calling as a Sacred Role...

Jul 25, 2016 by

“My Judaism encourages me to focus on a personal relationship with God, to know myself, and to know God; to use my skills and strengths in making the world a better place. I think it’s a universal mission and has nothing to do with gender. I think Judaism encourages us to think about what everybody’s sacred role is.” The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate, newly published by CCAR Press, examines the ways in which the reality of women in the rabbinate has impacted upon all aspects of Jewish life. Upon the publication of The Sacred Calling, we sat down with (now Rabbi) Toba Schaller, approximately the 760th woman to be ordained by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and 5th year rabbinical student at the time of the...

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Making America Great Again?

Jul 22, 2016 by

With the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, echoes from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are filling the airwaves, including Trump’s campaign tagline and promise to “Make America Great Again.”  It would be fair to say that nearly every presidential candidate has a vision for “making America great;” however, it is this campaign’s use of the word again which is somewhat irksome, especially at this season in the Jewish calendar. This Shabbat is the 17th of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar, and the beginning of a period known as t’lata d’puranuta, “The Three Weeks of Admonition.”  (As the 17th is considered a minor fast day, the fast is delayed until Sunday.) The three weeks that follow are considered a time of mourning, leading to our communal observance of the 9th of Av...

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Aspiring to Shabbat: Gates of Shabbat Revised...

Jul 22, 2016 by

I think Shabbat is an aspiration. I think Shabbat is also a brilliant, healing, gracious gift from our tradition. But for most modern Jews, Shabbat is also not a given.  They/we “aspire” to the possibility of a day set aside.  They/we pretty much know what the world might feel like if we could enter the “Gates of Shabbat,” but it somehow doesn’t quite happen as much as we might wish it to be so. All this is why I’ve taken a journey over the last few years along with several colleagues and friends to revise the book, Gates of Shabbat, which I helped create back in 1991. To be honest, when Rabbi Hara Person first asked if I wanted to revisit Gates of Shabbat, I wasn’t sure what else to say about Shabbat that...

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