Too many other listserves in the constellation of Masorti/Conservative Judaism as full of passionate Jews taking turns listing the faults (of which, of course, there are many) in our institutions. Shefa was and remains committed to being different - in tone and in kind - from many other email lists. The Shefa mission statement is clear, and the very public sharing, in journal form, of "digests" of Shefa posts is part of this. So too must the endless comparisons to other Jewish groups be different here.
Yes, Shefa is a conversation of parity between the rabbis, members, college students, USCJ/JTS/Ziegler/Masorti/FJMC/WLCJ etc... professionals and lay leaders. But we are also an intentional, mentchlich vehicle for influencing the decisions being made right now (eg, Hayom's page on the Shefa site) at all of our institutions by embodying the ways forward. USCJ is clearly working hard to reimagine itself by putting positive messages out there, such as the one distributed today by Rich Moline, Director of Youth and Young Adult Services (see below).
"What if" isn't the best use of our time. Here's what I propose for the next weeks of Shefa's conversation, ending with Rosh Chodesh Elul (Aug 10):
In 200 words or less, answer this question: Why must Masorti/Conservative Judaism thrive? Selected posts to the Shefa network until August 10th will be edited into the next ShefaJournal, to be published during Elul 5770. The passionate emails have deep motivations. Let's get to the heart of why we care, and offer the outpourings of our hearts as quotes usable by any institution of the Global Masorti Movement. That demonstrates what a network like Shefa (or any intentional conversation) can produce.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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USY Israel Pilgrimage 2010Richard S. MolineDirector, Youth and Young Adult Services, USCJAs last Shabbat came to an end, I stood on the balcony of my room at the Fuchsberg Center in Jerusalem, closed my eyes, and listened. The sounds of the heartfelt beautiful melodies marking the end of Shabbat surrounded me.From one part of the building I heard the 23rd psalm, from another, Adon Olam sung to the melody of Sharm El-Sheikh. Those two were meshed with Esa Einai (from Psalm 121) and Naomi Shemer's Al Kol Eileh which were coming from other places in our complex. They were all sounds of our USY Israel Pilgrimage groups ending another Shabbat in Israel.These are the same USYers I saw just a week earlier in Ya'ar Ben Shemen, a forest north of Jerusalem. There, all of our USY Israel Pilgrimage groups gathered for a day of friendly competition, full of incredible energy, group performances and tons of spirit. And in between those two events, these exact same USYers learned from our teachers Danny Siegel, Arnie Draiman and Steve Kerbel about performing acts of hesed (lovingkindness) - helping those less fortunate - before putting those teachings into action.The contrasts and similarities between these three types of behaviors - reverence, unbounded energy and unconditional kindness - sum up my impressions of our USY Israel Pilgrimage. From the start of our recruitment season (which starts now for 2011!) to the administration (medical forms, deposits, interviews, staff recruitment, etc.) to the entire complicated program on the ground, which is directed so smoothly by our staff at the Fuchsberg Center, USY Israel Pilgrimage is an experience that creates lasting ties to Jewish life and the state of Israel, and has long-lasting effects that go well beyond our own local communities and our movement.Kol HaKavod to our youth staff here in North America, led by Jules Gutin, Karen Stein and Aviva Tilles, along with our support staff and the other members of our USY staff at United Synagogue headquarters. Aviva handles the bulk of the Pilgrimage work in the office, including our excellent communications with parents.A very special y'yishar koach to our director of USY programs in Israel, David Keren and his entire staff, who run a well-oiled machine - a program that is sensitive to the needs of USYers and our mission as Conservative Jews. David represents the heart of the experience in Israel. He is concerned with the health, safety and welfare of each one of our USYers and their staff members.There are many fine options for teen summer programs in Israel, but I do believe that few are comparable to Pilgrimage on many different levels. As we begin to recruit for next summer, please help us spread the good word to your congregation and your community, along with your own children, grandchildren and their friends.Enjoy the rest of your summer!RichPS - USY on Wheels is also a tremendous summer experience. More on Wheels will be forthcoming.Richard S. MolineDirector, Youth and Young Adult Services The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 847-714-9130 firstname.lastname@example.org~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Two Minute Torah!USY 60th Annual International Convention!------------------------------------------------------------