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CCAR on the Road Israel News

Israel Blog: Finding the Israel I Fell in Love With

CCAR Social Justice Mission members at Ayalim village of Adiel near Berrsheba
CCAR Social Justice Mission members at Ayalim village of Adiel near Berrsheba

Shalom from Jerusalem! Late last night I finished a rather intense week of touring, meeting and learning with a group of 17 other Reform rabbinic colleagues from the Central Conference of American Rabbis on a “Social Justice and Solidarity Mission.” Starting with my arrival Monday afternoon, straight through to the end of Shabbat our days were filled with mifgashim(encounters with other people); visits to sites which, for the most part were new to us; visits to show solidarity in various communities, especially with our colleagues in the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (the Israeli Reform movement); actions (such as our freedom ride on Jerusalem’s buses to protest and fight against segregation and discrimination against women; and more.

There’s so much to share, but for now I’ll confine myself to just one piece of our journey. On Wednesday evening, we visited the community of Eshelim, outside of Beersheba. Alongside of Eshelim, a community of some 100 families, sits a “village” associated with the Ayalim movement. I first encountered Ayalim in the summer of 2010 on a day-long tour entitled “Start-Up Nation” (led by Saul Singer, one of the authors of the book by the same name.) during my studies at the Shalom Hartman Institute. “The Ayalim Association was founded in 2002 with the goal to strengthen existing communities and social involvement in the Negev and Galilee. TheAssociation’s role is to revive and renew the Zionist idea in the 21st century. Ayalim achieves this goal through the establishment of student and entrepreneur villages. This is young social entrepreneurship fosters the connection between people and land, and between the individual and society.” (from the Ayalim website)

The young people of Ayalim whom I met in 2010 were literally building their new community, Yachini (near the Gaza Strip) from the ground up. They were building their future homes, their community meeting center, studying at universities, and devoting 500 hours of annual community or social service in one of a number of

Some of the homes built by the Ayalim students at Adiel in which they now live.
Some of the homes built by the Ayalim students at Adiel in which they now live.

ways to the communities around them. At the end of that visit toYachini, I remember remarking to my dear friend and colleague, Arnie Gluck, “This is the Israel I fell in love with back in 1976!”

During last Wednesday’s visit to Adiel, the first Ayalim village (now 10 years old), I found myself inspired yet again. We toured the village, met with Ayalim students and leadership, and learned of some of the vision this remarkable program is trying to realize:

1. Creating new communities in Israel to help settle parts of Israel (within the Green Line) which are as yet uninhabited.
2. Creating student villages in difficult neighborhoods in cities wherein the students can help address difficult social problems (such as in Kiriyat Shemona where theAyalim community has helped clean up a derelict neighborhood, driving our drug dealers, crime and other challenges to the community while creating a youth center for children where they can engage in productive after-school activities.)

Ten years into the program, there are some 1000 Ayalim participants in 14 villages with the vision of adding at least two more sites per year. At the outset, students at Ben Gurion University distributed flyers hoping that maybe 25-50 students would come to hear about their dream. Over 500 turned up, and now, there are 5000 applicants each year for the approximately 800 spots available.

However, what inspires me is more than the statistics, which by themselves are impressive. What truly inspires is the passion of the Ayalim participants. These are the new chalutzim, the new pioneers, who are taking up David Ben Gurion’s call to settle the Land of Israel and build the Jewish State, based on Jewish values, concern for the other, and a commitment to social justice. Ayalim is an apolitical organization, and it sets its sights only on communities and sites within Israel. In a time when we are so often challenged by the political and geo-political challenges faced by Israel and within Israel, these young people are the living embodiment of what I believe is the true dream of Israel’s founders, and the values enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The young visionaries/activists I have met in my two Ayalim visits are committed to the Israel of which so many of us dream. And they are building it, brick by brick, and relation ship by relationship. Their commitment and tenacity is infectious. And, theirs is a story which must be told! Surely Israel faces numerous challenges, both from within and beyond her borders. This week’s elections, while surprising, do not indicate any certainty about Israel’s directions in the months and years-to-come.

The Ayalim motto at Adiel – and they believe it!
The Ayalim motto at Adiel – and they believe it!

During the past week I was reminded, both by the elections and more importantly by the various people I met, both Jews and Arabs, that Israel is a place which continues to surprise me. The students of Adiel — the Ayalim village near Beersheba, along with the many other people and places I visited, rekindled that spark which was lit so powerfully when I lived here in 1976-77. The Israel of which we dream is completely possible in the eyes of the Ayalim students. They are not starry-eyed. They are tenacious and they are committed to a better tomorrow for Israel and all who live here. May they continue to go “from strength to strength!”

More to come . . .

Shalom from Jerusalem!

Rabbi Eric Gurvis

Rabbi Eric Gurvis the Senior Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Newton, MA. 

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CCAR on the Road General CCAR Israel News Reform Judaism

Our Day of Solidarity: CCAR Leadership Trip to Israel

To meet people who live in the area surrounding Gaza and to hear the personal stories reinforces the complexity of the situation demonstrated through their real life experiences.  Our mission visited Moshav Netiv HaAsarah, Kibbutz Kfar Aza and the town of Sderot on Election Day. AlanKatz1

Raz Shmilovitz, a tour educator and farmer from Netiv HaAsarah spoke of his parents being part of this community when it was established in 1975 in the Sinai. The uprooting of the moshav after the peace treaty with Egypt led to their present location on the northern border of Gaza within the original boundaries of Israel. They chose this locale so that no one would dispute their right to live on that land.  He used an expression based on two Hebrew words which have similar pronunciation but different spelling.  “If you don’t work (eebeyd with an ayin) the land, you will lose (eebeyd with an alef) the land.  Another member, Roni, spoke of her participation in The Other Voice, continues to believe that they must dialogue with Gazans.  During Pillar of Defense a friend from Gaza called her to ask how she and her family were doing.  She calls herself a realist and not a dreamer.  According to her the dreamers are those who think they can continue in the present state of affairs.

At Kfar Aza, Chen Avraham, who works for the IMPJ, came back to the Kibbutz to raise her son in this wonderful environment.  Now her challenge is to keep his perspective to not hate all Arabs.  During the war a rocket landed just outside of her grandmother’s home who was safe with her caretaker in the shelter but found her bed covered with ash and broken glass. From both of these places we were able to look out across the border, a few hundred yards away, even seeing a few Gazans who were chased away from approaching too closely.

In both communities many of the women and children were evacuated but others remained.  We witnessed people of tremendous resilience as many continue to suffer from traumatic stress disorders.  And yet on this sunny day we saw children and adults seemingly living a normal life.  At Netiv HaAsarah an artist designed a peace mosaic to which we able to add pieces of ceramics.

 AlanKatz2

In Sderot, a town most heavily bombarded in the area we met with Noam Bedin of the Sderot Media Center.  His message was to get out the truth on what he called the “rocket reality.”  Not only has the greater area had over 12,000 rockets shot during the past 7 years since the disengagement from Gaza, but 97% were shot from civilian areas.  He also spoke of the many dilemmas such as the mother who hears the alert while in a car and has to decide which child to pull out first to bring them to a shelter.  Anat, who works with Noam, was evacuated from a community just across the border from Netiv HaAsarah, which now lieAlanKatz3s entirely in ruins.  She loves the area but spoke of the anxiety and fears that she and others have at such minor things as a clicking sound which reminds them of the tzevah adom (Red Alert) warnings.

Noam summed up his feeling as we looked at a playground and soccer field surrounded by bomb shelters.  His claim is that those images together are in and of themselves an abomination.

Rabbi Alan Katz is the Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Rochester, NY.  He is currently traveling in Irsael with the CCAR Israel Solidarity and Social Action Mission, part of the CCAR Leadership Travel series.

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General CCAR News Prayer Reform Judaism

An Interfaith Prayer for an Interfaith Crowd

Rabbis Steve Foster & Steve Fox at the National Prayer Service 2013
Rabbis Steve Foster & Steve Fox
at the National Prayer Service 2013

 

This week I attended the National Prayer Service in the Washington National Cathedral on the day after the Inauguration. The service was beautiful and moving, a dignified end to a whirlwind of parades and inaugural galas.  However, as we sat in the pews of the National Cathedral, with its soaring vaulting and stained-glass windows, I couldn’t help my mind from racing with questions around the issue as to whether a national prayer service is appropriate?

Can you gather together a room full of rabbis, priests, pastors and imams to actually pray together for a national leader?  Are we being disingenuous to sit together in a church as prayers are offered for our country that do not reflect our own beliefs?  Can we pray together without leaving each other out?  Does prayer even belong in a national setting?

On the National Cathedral website, the spokeswoman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee said, “President Obama’s own faith has played an integral role in his life, his commitment to service and his presidency, and this important tradition will celebrate the values and diversity that make us strong”.

That statement, and for that matter most of the press covering the National Prayer Service, seems to mix a multitude of issues.  President Obama, a person of faith, wants to worship in his “own faith” with his ministers in his tradition; so, how do we respect his tradition?   How do the faith leaders of the National Prayer Service decide on appropriate prayer to respect Mr. Obama’s traditions, while still “celebrating the values and diversity that make us strong”?

The issue of appropriate prayer in interfaith settings has been the subject of discussion recently among CCAR members, with colleagues and scholars sharing many thoughts on all sides of the questions:

Do we try and find a common prayer?  Or do we pray in parallel, each along the lines of our own traditions? 

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For me the answer is simple—we each pray in our own tradition.  The opportunity to gather with religious people of many faiths in the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (the National Cathedral’s actual name) requires us to open our ears, minds and hearts to respect someone else’s tradition, to allow each to pray in his/her own way, and to appreciate the celebration of diversity and inclusiveness.  The success of inclusivity at the National Prayer Service from the diverse group of clergy and other religious leaders comes from the commitment to gather together in support of something harmonious and peaceful.

In this instance, as President Obama’s tradition involves his belief in Jesus, we respect this tradition and do not expect him and his clergy to expunge the name of Jesus from their prayers, just as we do not expect clergy of other faiths to pray from our traditions.  When there is a Jewish president, the rabbis leading the service should expect and deliver the same—a service guided in Jewish tradition, with clarity as to our expectations of other clergy.

You can call it a National Prayer Service or a joint prayer service or whatever you like.  But as each of us sit in the National Cathedral or in our churches, or synagogues, or mosques, or even in our own living rooms, we each invoke our own prayers in our hearts to guide President Obama through his second term.

Categories
Ethics General CCAR News Reform Judaism Statements

Arming Rabbis? Not in My Time, I Pray.

Yes, I have fired a gun on more than one occasion; most recently at a training range on a Kibbutz in Israel* in 2009 and early on as a teenager at target practice with a friend and his dad.  The experiences unnerved me; the echoing boom, the kick of the weapon and even more, the thought that the gun I fired, no matter how small, had the potential to take a human life.

Mourning in Newtown, CT
Mourning in Newtown, CT

My limited experience with weapons affirms for me the sentiments I have been hearing these past two weeks from my colleagues, friends and so many grieving families across the nation.  Guns are far too easy to use — and misuse — and we must continue to demand from Congress reasonable regulations for guns and assault weapons.

The “solution” suggested last week by the NRA- placing armed guards in schools- is beyond absurd. Even since Newtown there have been other mass shootings, including in a church, to which Gail Collins of the NY Times said in context of the NRA’s comment, “We will await the next grand plan for arming ministers.”

Not in my time, I pray- may we not see armed ministers, rabbis or school security guards.

For decades the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) has decried “the power of the NRA in controlling the debate on gun control” (2000) and called upon “the U.S. Congress to eschew the support of the NRA and to vote their support of stringent gun-control legislation”(1987).

Our resolution has not changed; we continue to support meaningful gun control legislation that will stem these senseless episodes of mass violence.  In the CCAR’s recent public statement about the Newtown shootings, we expressed our condolences to whose who suffered losses, sympathies for those wounded, and fear that the NRA will continue to thwart not just legislation, but even conversation, about the need to stop the gun violence.

But expressing these feelings is not enough.

Reform Rabbis who are on the front lines of Jewish communal life can join together, and with clergy of other faiths, to advocate in support of meaningful gun control nationwide and in their own communities- (studies indicate that “states with strong gun laws and low rates of gun ownership had far lower rates of firearm-related death”).  At the CCAR we remain committed to providing rabbis with resources on ways that they may advocate and organize, such as in partnership with Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center.

Importantly, the CCAR also provides our rabbis personal support and resources as their communities turn to them for religious and pastoral comfort in time of tragedy.  Our volunteer Rabbis on Call and Rabbinic Hotline, as well as CCAR’s Rabbinic Staff, support rabbis who themselves offer prayer and comfort to their communities.  We also provide resources grounded in Jewish text, theology, and philosophy on subjects ranging from the sanctity of life to the abhorrence of violence.

Our rabbis also benefit from the strength of partnership.  At the end of last week, the CCAR joined forces with the Rabbinical Assembly (the Conservative Rabbis), and the Religious Action Center to provide hundreds of rabbis the opportunity to learn from other leaders in our faith; including one of our rabbis who is serving Newtown as the Director of Spiritual Care at Danbury Hospital; a rabbi and advocate for Faiths United Against Gun Violence; and from the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

In the CCAR’s latest statement, we expressed our understanding that comprehensive laws cannot stop all gun violence.  But we must continue to act in the words of our tradition: “one who saves one life saves a whole world.”

*Important footnote:  As to the incorrect statements made last week by the pro-gun lobby, Israel is actually a country with strict control over weapons in the civilian population.

 

 

 

 

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CCAR on the Road Israel

From Kabbalah to Independence: Day 5 of the CCAR Israel Trip

Ari Synagogue in TzfatTuesday started off rainy but still beautiful in the Galil.  After another incredible Israseli breakfast buffet at the Pastoral at Kibbutz Kfar Blum we set off for Tzfat, where we trekked between rain drops to the Karo and Luria synagogues, and had a short visit in an artist’s studio.  Of course Jewish geography played a role as it always does in Israel, and it turned out that the artist is originally from Denver and knew Rabbi Steve Kaye from childhood.

We then headed down to Tel Aviv and grabbed a quick lunch at Aboulafia in Yafo, a nostalgic visit for some members of our group.  From there we had a great tour of the Levinsky Market, where we met with different shopkeepers originally from Salonika, Turkey, and Georgia to name a few.  We heard the stories of their families and their businesses, and happily tasted their wares: pickles, cheeses, burekas, lemonade, a yogurt drink, and spiced couscous.   At one shop we also got to touch and smell ambergris, a form of concentrated whale musk, apparently used as a homeopathic aphrodisiac (who knew?).

From there we went to the newly redone Independence Hall, speaking about the history of Tel Aviv as we walked over there.  Once there we got to sit in the actual At Independence Hall in Tel AvivHall where it all happened, and hear a recording of Ben Gurion reading the Proclamation of Independence in May, 1948, followed by the singing of HaTikvah.  It was a surprisingly moving moment for some of the group.

After we checked into our hotel in Tel Aviv, we met with Gershon Baskin, the co-chair of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (an Israeli- Palestinian public policy think-tank) and columnist for the Jerusalem Post.  He provided an interesting, and at times challenging, perspective on the recent situation in Gaza, including his sense that recent events have only empowered extremists on both sides rather than helping foster moderation, bringing about, in his words, “a mutual hurting stalemate.”  He also spoke about the Area E-1 controversy, and on the interdependent relationship between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians, giving examples of economic partnerships happening beyond the headlines.  He also spoke about his role in the securing the release of Gilad Schalit.

We ended the day with a delicious dinner at the Yemenite restaurant Maganda, and little socializing before crawling into bed, exhausted.

 

 

 

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CCAR on the Road Israel News

From South to North – Days 3 & 4 of CCAR Israel Trip

The last two days have been border-filled, nothing surprising of course when traveling in Israel.  After a short tiyul in Jerusalem yesterday morning, starting at the City of David excavations and ending up at the Robinson’s Arch area and the Southern Wall excavations, we got on the bus and headed south, to the area near the Gaza border.

Rabbi Jonathan Stein, weeding at Moshav Netiv HaAsarah.

Our first stop was at Moshav Netiv HaAsarah, where we met with Raz.  He is a second generation moshavnik who grows tomatoes and works in genetic engineering of vegetables – in his free time he is also a guide with ARZA/Da’at.  We toured the moshav, which is right up against the Gaza border near the Erez Checkpoint.  We stood on a hill overlooking the border and looked into Gaza.  Raz spoke of the hardships the moshav has suffered in the long drawn-out “situation” that so many of the communities in the south have faced, in which they never know when a missile is going to come down from the sky.  He showed us how they have reinforced the roofs and walls of the preschool, and pointed out the many bomb shelters and safe rooms that dot the otherwise pastoral landscape.

He spoke of growing up knowing people in Gaza, and spending time there, explaining that when he was a child, it was the nearest big city, a place that they often went for a meal or to go to the sea.  We ended our visit there by helping him weed in one of his greenhouses – because of the barrage of missiles over the last weeks, he and his workers have not been able to go into the greenhouses and are very behind schedule with their work.  So there we were, a group of CCAR rabbis, on our knees picking weeds among the rows of tomato vines.

From there we traveled to Kibbutz Kfar Aza, also on the border, where we met with  Chen, a second generation kibbutz member who works in the IMPJ in The border with GazaJerusalem.  We toured the kibbutz as Chen spoke about the emotional and psychological toll of living in that area with the constant trauma of missiles, especially on the children.  She described a life for children in which getting to play outside is too often a rare event, because of the fear of missiles.  She spoke too about living a split existence, in which most of the country goes about their normal daily lives while on the kibbutz they live with constant fear, running in and out of the bomb shelters.  Yet she ended the conversation speaking about hope for a better future some day.

After that we went to Shaar HaNegev Regional High School to meet with Shem and Nati, two members of the newly formed Reform congregation that meets in the school there, where Shem is a teacher.  They spoke about their connection to Reform Judaism – Shem encountered it first while living for several years in Sydney, Australia, where his son became bar mitzvah, and Nati encountered it in her native Argentina, from which she made aliyah 14 years ago.  They are working hard to establish a Reform presence in that area and have great enthusiasm if not tremendous resources.  They spoke of their need for a rabbi even as they try to grow their community and do outreach in the area.  They also spoke about living under constant siege, and how the school in which we were sitting was designed to give the students a sense of emotional safety and security, as well as of course building for physical safety and security, including a bus drop off area which is part communal bomb shelter, should missiles come down as children are getting off the bus on their way to school.  It was, as he explained, “the safest school in the world.”

It was a very long day, but for most of the group it was the first time that we’d really engaged with the communities in the south that have been on the front lines of rocketfire from Gaza.  It was profoundly moving and enabled us to put a human face and real-life experiences to the newspaper headlines.

We began today with a meeting with Anat Hoffman of the IRAC, the Israel Religious Action Center.  She described their current court battles and all the ways that they use the legal system in Israel to fight religious and ethnic discrimination for Reform and Conservative Jews, women, converts, and Arabs, to mention only some of their important work.  She also spoke about her work with Women of the Wall.  In Anat’s own words, “Our mandate is to kick ass in our movement.”

Next we joined HUC students for t’filah, which was a special treat as the students from the Israeli program and the American program were praying together.  We saw some old friends and many of our future leaders.

At Rahel's grave, Kinneret Cemetery We took off after that, leaving Jerusalem and driving along the Jordanian border as we made our way toward the Golan.   Along the way we stop to visit the poet Rahel’s grave at the Kinneret cemetery, and discussed the struggles and aspirations of the early Zionist settlers.  As we continued to climb north, we learned more about the history of the wars in 1967 and 1973, stopping at several key lookout points toward Syria and having a bumpy but exhilarating jeep ride through Golan cattle country.  We ended the day at Kibbutz Kfar Blum in the Galilee, where we had a provocative conversation with Dubi, a member of the kibbutz, about the enormous changes that are transforming the kibbutz movement.

Most of the group is exhausted but excited about our learning and experiences, trying to take it all in as we write blogs, tweet, facebook and email to friends, family and congregations back home.  There is something truly unique and powerful about experiencing Israel with colleagues.  Time for sleep, as tomorrow is another day of learning….

For another perspective, see Rabbi Danny Burkeman’s blog post about the trip: http://t.co/XGvar9js

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CCAR on the Road Israel News

Shabbat in Jerusalem with the CCAR

Israel Museum
At the entrance to the Israel Museum

A great day of learning and being in Jerusalem.  The weather here is glorious – sunny and warm.  After a slow morning of t’filah adventures and lunch on our own, we set off together for the Israel Museum which is conveniently open on Shabbat.  Most of us had not been there since it was redone.  We had a fascinating walk through select sections, including the Israeli art wing and a permanent exhibit devoted to Jewish life.  We had some stimulating conversations along the way about Jewish identity, Israeli identity, the purpose and design of museums, just to name a few of the ideas discussed.  Since one of the goals of this trip is to teach rabbis how to lead groups in Israel, many good ideas were presented about how to take different kinds of groups through the museum.  Coincidentally, as we entered the museum, we coincidentally ran into our colleague from Mevasseret, Rabbi Maya Leibovich.

From there we went to a beautiful site near the Tayelet, overlooking Jerusalem.  Instead of the regular tourist discussion of what’s where, we focused on the security wall barrier, visible from where we stood, and discussed the geopolitics of Jerusalem specifically and Israel in general.  Our guide was a great model of how to lead a sophisticated, nuanced conversation about these issues, in all their complexity, with our groups.

Overlooking Jerusalem

Next we went back to the hotel for an interesting program led by David Leichman, from ARZA, in which he modeled the kind of mifgashim he leads for groups.  Along the way he made us do some thinking about identity and other issues related to Israel.  That was followed by Havdalah, led by Rabbi Miri Gold.  As Rabbi Leah Berkowitz tweeted earlier this evening, Rabbi Gold was the third of the first generation of Israeli women rabbis we’d met over the course of 24 hours.

Our final program for the evening was a meeting with Tali Levanon, from the Israel Trauma Coalition.  She gave a disturbing but powerful presentation about trauma in Israeli society, focusing on what has been happening in the S’derot and other southern areas but also talking about the impact of terror and war in general on the population.  It was interesting to learn that in addition to the important work she and her colleagues are doing within Israel in terms of educating the government,  the medical system, and the education system about treating the needs of those who experience trauma, they also take their knowledge abroad and share it in other crises. She spoke of traveling to Haiti after the earthquake, Japan after the recent events there, and most recently to New York after Hurricane Sandy to help train first responders and community leaders about how to respond to trauma.

It was hard to transition after that presentation, but we know we will speaking much more about this tomorrow as we head down south.  With a great deal of new information and questions to think about, we set off to experience Motzei Shabbat in a reawakening Jerusalem.  Lilah tov!

 

 

 

 

 

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Books CCAR on the Road Israel News

Greetings from CCAR Trip to Israel!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://ccarravblog.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/hp_photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Rabbi Hara Person is the Publisher & Director of CCAR Press. [/author_info] [/author] No matter how many times I travel to Israel, the actual entry into the country never ceases to move me.  From the moment we enter Israeli air space, to the actual landing on Israeli soil, I am still filled with a sense of awe at what it means in the scope of Jewish history to arrive in the State in Israel.

Today is officially the first day of the CCAR Israel Fam Trip and Solidarity Mission.  The original purpose of this trip was to teach rabbis ordained in the last ten years how to lead a congregational or community trip to Israel (hence “Fam”, short for familiarization).  Because of the events of the last two weeks, we also opened up the trip to colleagues who wanted to come and support Israel at this challenging time.

I am excited to get to know this diverse group of colleagues, who come from around the country, and represent many different ordination years.  Rabbi Michael Weinberg, of Temple Beth Israel, Skokie, IL, is our group leader and I am honored to be the CCAR staff leader.  We are also joined by Rabbi Jonathan Stein, CCAR President, from Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City.  I am also looking forward to learning from Uri Feinberg, our wonderful madrich from ARZA World/Da’at.

Even though I have been to Israel over thirty times since I first came to Israel with NFTY’s CAY program in 1983, I know from my experience on the previous CCAR Fam Trip that I will learn much and get to see Israel anew.I am also looking forward to using the new CCAR resource for Israel trips, Birkon Artzi: Blessings and Meditations for Travelers to Israeledited by Rabbi Serge Lippe.  This fantastic resource will help deepen and enrich our experience as we travel around the country. As we opened with our first discussion this afternoon, we began with a beautiful reading from the book, which helped set the tone for what will be an intensive, emotional and thought-provking time together.

Now we’re off to Kehilat Yotzma, to pray with our colleagues Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon and Rabbi Nir Barkin, and then to Shabbat dinner at our madrich‘s house.

Shabbat shalom!

 

 

Categories
Israel Statements

The Path to Peace

The CCAR continues to express our long-standing commitment to peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors. We believe that the only way to achieve peace is a negotiated settlement with two states for two peoples.
The path to peace lies between Ramallah and Jerusalem, not in New York or Washington or the Netherlands.

CCAR member rabbis represent a diverse range of opinions as to the best ways to move forward, but we are united in our desire for peace, and our support and love for Israel.

The CCAR’s Mission to Israel begins today, with our rabbis arriving in Jerusalem now. The trip has two core purposes — to express our support for Israel and take provide an opportunity for more recently ordained rabbis to engage in conversations and learning as to how best lead their own communities into an engagement with Israel by visiting Israel.

We are engaging in conversation with other leaders of the Movement in CCAR Board of Trustee discussions and at the URJ Board meeting now in progress as to how best to respond to the myriad of issues presented and we will continue to coordinate our efforts for the benefit of Israel and peace in the Middle East.

Categories
General CCAR News Reform Judaism

Introducing…Ravblog!

Welcome to Ravblog, the blog of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

The world in which we live continues to change rapidly, including shifts in the Reform Movement and broader Jewish community.  This includes changes in demographics, finances and religious practice, as well as the way we gather as communities.

The CCAR itself is changing, as are the 2,000 rabbis who make up our membership, and the 1.5 million Jews we now serve in all walks of life including congregational and community settings. The CCAR’s mission, as it has been since 1889, is to strengthen and enrich the Jewish community.  We do this in many new ways be it through life-long learning, liturgical and Jewish practice publications, as well as cutting edge digital publications and Apps. We are also anchored in tradition as we apply Jewish principles to contemporary issues.

One way we continue to learn and grow is through engagement — engagement with our own rabbis, with other Jewish professionals, lay leadership in the Reform Movement, and with members of the broader Jewish community.

It has been great to hear from you and engage in conversations when we see each other in person at CCAR Conventions, national Biennials, professional conferences, congregational visits, universities, and even on military basis (yes, our rabbis serve Jews in the military).

To talk more often, we¹ve created Ravblog, as an ongoing space for us to interact.  Together we¹ll look at issues facing the CCAR, the Reform Movement, Israel, and the Jewish world as a whole.  We¹ll look at issues of today, and of tomorrow.  What are we all thinking about?  What are we working on?  What challenges are you facing?  What are the big ideas on our minds?

Some of our staff members will blog, as will CCAR leadership, and you¹ll also hear from a number of guest bloggers.  To our members who are great bloggers, and others who participate in this great online Jewish conversation — you have inspired us and set the bar high.

Let us know what you think and keep teaching us.

Koltuv,

Rabbis Steve Fox, Hara Person, Debbie Prinz, Alan Henkin, and Dan Medwin

(The CCAR Rabbinic Staff)