Nov 30, 2010

israelnationalnews.com: "Cabinet OKs 85M Shekel Kotel Development Plan"

israelnationalnews.com: "Cabinet OKs 85M Shekel Kotel Development Plan"

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/news.aspx/140759

by Gil Ronen

The Cabinet approved on Sunday a plan for the continued development of the Kotel (Western Wall) plaza and its environs, and the implementation of construction work at an investment of 85 million shekels over five years. The goal of the plan is to preserve – and improve accessibility to – archaeological findings, upgrade physical and transportation infrastructures, and hold educational activities for students and soldiers.

The plan, for 2011-2015, is a direct continuation of the five-year plan that was approved by the Cabinet in 2004.  These investments have led to a major increase in the annual number of visitors to the Kotel, which according to Israel Police estimates, has grown from two million people to eight million in 2009.
 
The government explained in a press statement that the Kotel is the most visited site in Israel. In addition to those who visit it in order to pray, it also serves as an historical site for visitors and a heritage focus for educating students and soldiers. "Thus, it is necessary to meet the traffic needs of private vehicles and public transportation, create access routes for emergency vehicles, increase access for the handicapped and provide for the flow of visitors on weekdays and holidays," the statement said.
 
The plan will be administered by the Prime Minister's Office and will be implemented through the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. It will be financed by the Interior, Transportation, Tourism, Public Security and Education ministries, as well as by the Israel Land Administration.
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "The Western Wall is the Jewish People's most important heritage site. We are committed to developing and maintaining it so that it may continue to the focus of visits and a source of inspiration for millions of visitors, tourists, young and old, from Israel and around the world."

The wall is a part of the external wall that surrounded the Temple Mount in ancient times. The Mount was liberated by the Israeli Defense Force in 1967, 19 centuries after a Roman army sacked the Second Jewish Temple. 


---
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  || Bay Area Masorti  ||  ShefaNetwork.org 
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
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Masorti Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs Wins Coveted Award


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the masorti (conservative) movement in israel - promoting religious pluralism and building community through inclusive, traditional, egalitarian Judaism
Signage for the Shalem Foundation Excellence Prize at the awards ceremony in November.

Genia, on the bima at a Masorti kehilla, is one youngster who celebrated his bar mitzvah, thanks to the Masorti movement and its Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs. 

 
 

 

 
Venerable Israeli Social Service Organization Awards Prize to Masorti's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs
 
Masorti's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs has been recognized by one of Israel's foremost national social service organizations working to support and highlight the needs of individuals with disabilities. The Masorti program – unique in Israel – has won the coveted 2010 Shalem Foundation Excellence Prize, awarded each year to a project, program or staff benefiting this population. The Shalem Foundation was established in 1983 by the Center of Local Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Welfare.
 
In accordance with the Shalem Foundation's vision to integrate those with cognitive challenges and disabilities into mainstream life, the Masorti program offers Israeli special needs youngsters and their families the only avenue to celebrate this Jewish lifecycle event and thus experience the joy of full acceptance by Jewish community. Within Orthodox congregations, there is an absence of any formal bar/bat mitzvah preparation for children with special needs, and they are marginalized by Orthodox religious authorities.
 
The Shalem Foundation described the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs as an innovative model and a break-through, citing its role in pioneering the development and utilization of state-of-the-art alternative communications devices, such as computerized sound kits; sign language for Torah reading; and visual pedagogy. In addition to readying youngsters for group bnai mitzvah, which take place in Masorti kehillot, the program also provides a course of Jewish enrichment, lasting three to six months, through the special needs schools the children attend. Eligible children are identified by their schools, and the Masorti movement provides all services, including teacher training, at no cost to the schools or to the families.
 
What began as a partnership with one special needs school has spread to 30 to 40 special needs schools throughout Israel, making it possible each year for as many as 300 Israeli children with special needs to connect to Israel, Jewish values and religious heritage. 
 
To learn more about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs and other Masorti movement programs and services and how your support can help make a difference for all Israelis, please visit our website, www.masorti.org.
To learn more, please contact:
Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832
New York, NY 10115-0068
(212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414
http://www.masorti.org/; info@masorti.org



---
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  || Bay Area Masorti  ||  ShefaNetwork.org 
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
CNS Blogs:  Shorashim | Preschool | Edah |  Announcements

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MIDRASHA COMES TO CNS TUESDAYS THIS SPRING! & CNS KADIMA KICKOFF EVENT

MIDRASHA COMES TO CNS TUESDAYS THIS SPRING!


JEWISH CINEMA with Shalom Rosenberg, Tuesdays 6-730pm
January 11 - May 17

 What does film mean to you in your life? This class will explore the "Jewish image" on screen. Each week we will watch film clips and discuss various themes (like assimilation, antisemitism, Orthodox Judaism, tradition vs. progression, struggling to fit in, etc.) and genres (comedy, horror, drama, thriller, documentary, animated films, and more). We will work together to make meaning of what we see and figure out how it applies to our lives. We will watch some films that you have probably seen and some that you have probably never heard of. Some films may be funny, sad, weird, awesome, scary, awful, and any other adjective you can think of. We will watch both classic and current movies. You should expect to have fun, to learn about yourself and your Jewish identity and to be open to participating in discussions about what we watch. Screenings will include some of the following: The Jazz Singer, Keeping Up With the Steins, The Hebrew Hammer, Liberty Heights, Fiddler on the Roof, Waltz With Bashir, Walk on Water, Yentl, The Great Dictator, Borat, The Producers, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Keeping the Faith, When Do We Eat?, and more.  Open to 8-12th grade.  Begins Jan. 11.  Class includes dinner. 


===============================================================================================================================



Question: What is the name of Hagrid's mother?
    A. Fudwelfa
    B. We do not know her name.
    C. Fradulfa
    D. Fridwulfa

 CNS KADIMA KICKOFF EVENT: TRIVIA

& ICE CREAM SOCIAL

TWEENS VS. PARENTS!

DEC. 12 @ 4-6PM IN THE SOCIAL HALL

HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS!

SHOW OFF YOUR AWESOME TRIVIA KNOWLEDGE!

BE COOL!

WIN PRIZES!

SHARE IDEAS FOR FUN TWEEN/TEEN EVENTS THIS YEAR!

COME UP WITH A SNAZZY TEAM NAME AND WIN!

PARENTS INVITED TO JOIN AND LEARN MORE ABOUT KADIMA!

RSVP: 510.549.9447 x106 or youth@netivotshalom.org



====================================================================================================



Looking for a fun and exciting program for your kindergartener - 3rd grader on upcoming days off from school?

The Edah program at Netivot Shalom is offering exciting and fun Jewish learning opportunities-- yamim miyuchadim (special days) and mini-machanot (mini-camps)--for kindergarteners - third graders during school days off throughout the school year.

EDAH WINTER MINI-CAMP - December 20-24, 2010 Sign Up Now for all or some of this fun week!

January 17th and 31st (MLK Day and Jan 31 is a Berkeley Unified Day off)  are the next scheduled yamim miyuchadim.  You can sign up for one or both of those days. 

We offer fun and meaningful Jewish learning and activities from 9am-5pm on M-Th and 9am-3pm on Friday.

Program features include:
  • Sports
  • Art
  • Music
  • Hebrew Games
  • Fun Jewish Learning and Experiences
  • Snacks
  • Park Playtime
  • Trips (TBD)
  • much much more!

Feel free to contact Shalom Rosenberg (youth@netivotshalom.org; 510-549-9447 ext. 106) to register, for further information or if you have any questions.  

Please forward this message to all your friends, colleagues, and school-mates (current and past) who you think might be interested.  Hope to see you there!



=================================================================================================



--

Shalom Rosenberg

Edah and Youth Director

Congregation Netivot Shalom

1316 University Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94702

510.549.9447, ext. 106 phone

510.549.9448 fax

http://cnsedah.blogspot.com/



Nov 29, 2010

Join the "Phelps-a-thon!" - Westboro Baptist Church is heading to Brandeis University Hillel

Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) are heading to Brandeis University Hillel to picket with their anti-gay and anti-semitic message, scheduled to protest for 45 minutes, from 8:45 AM to 9:30 am, on December 3.  We are collecting donations For every minute WBC protests to benefit Keshet, the premier national organization that offers support, training, and resources to create a Jewish community that welcomes and affirms GLBT Jews.

Join the "Phelps-a-thon!"  -- http://phelps-a-thon.com/hillel.html


---
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  ||  CNS Blogs:  Shorashim | Preschool | Edah |  Announcements
Bay Area Masorti  ||  ShefaNetwork.org  || Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
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JTA: "Reform looking at ways to reinvent the movement"

JTA: "Reform looking at ways to reinvent the movement"
By Sue Fishkoff · November 28, 2010
http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/11/28/2741890/reform-think-tank-looks-to-reinvent-the-movement

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- After the Reform movement broadcast online its first session devoted to reassessing itself, in mid-November, the comments poured in.

One viewer suggested that the movement create a network of schools, camps, shuls and seminaries focused on "tikkun olam," the Jewish injunction to repair the world. Another said the movement should train five times as many rabbis and cantors to provide more entryways into Judaism through music, social action and prayer.

Another wrote to express concern about the lack of civility in Jewish discourse, particularly concerning Israel. One asked how Jews could use media and technology to create community.

It is exactly the sort of grass-roots input that members of the reassessment team, called the Reform Think Tank, want as they take a hard look at where American Jewry's largest religious denomination is today and where it ought to go in the future.

"Five years from now, congregations won't look like they do today," said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the longtime president of the Union for Reform Judaism, told JTA in an interview.

Yoffie, who plans to retire in mid-2012, is one of the major players in the movement's reassessment project.

The project is online and offline, top down and bottom up. Each of the three major Reform institutions -- the synagogue movement, rabbinical association and seminary -- nominated 10 members to lead the 18-month discussion, which will be punctuated by four live streaming forums devoted to specific topics. Each is being archived online at urj.org/thinktank.

The first, held Nov. 21 in Los Angeles, dealt with the impact of social media on religious life. About 300 individual viewers watched in addition to about 50 watching parties at Reform congregations. They could follow a blog and Twitter feed along with the broadcast, and sent in comments and questions to help direct the conversation. The team received more than 200 comments and questions even before the first forum, an organizer said.

The second forum is scheduled for April in Cincinnati, a third for December 2011, and the final for March 2012.

"We've never done anything like this before," Yoffie said.

"It's kind of scary," said  Steven Windmueller, a professor at the School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and one of the co-organizers of the project. "Everything's on the table. If we reinvent this whole thing, what will it look like? We're not moving from one place to another in linear fashion -- we're experimenting."

Demographic changes, financial challenges, new family structures and the changing nature of social media and how people connect to each other are just some of the pressures forcing change upon a movement founded 200 years ago in Germany but that developed its institutions in North America following World War II, Yoffie said.

Back then, the world and American Jewry had different needs and interests, he said.

"We are primarily a suburban, family-oriented movement," Yoffie told JTA.

That's one thing that must change if Reform Judaism is to appeal to the next generation, according to Yoffie.

"We need more synagogues in the major metropolitan centers," he said.

The recent economic downturn already has forced changes, including the dismantling of much of the Union for Reform Judaism itself, where consultants have replaced many staff departments. That was in the works already, Reform leaders insist; the recession just advanced the move quicker and gives a greater urgency to the reassessment project.

"This is not an ivory tower think tank," said Rachel Tasch, president of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, Calif., and one of the 33 leaders selected for the Reform Think Tank. "We're trying to make it a grass-roots thing, so people have a voice, a way to have real input."

Those who want to participate in the project can send in their comments anytime over the next year and a half. Pulpit rabbis involved with the project will take the conversation to their congregations and "take the pulse of the community" before the next forum, Windmueller said. The team also will consult with youth groups, synagogue presidents and other Reform activists.

"Most of the questions we received were in line with the questions we ourselves have," Tasch said after the first forum. "The nature of community in a world where everything is online; the tension between face-to-face communication and technology; the nature of membership; what does it mean to belong in a world where everything is out there and available?"

Yoffie believes that synagogues will continue to be the foundation of Jewish life in North America but must evolve radically to adjust to how people communicate and relate via technology.

"Social media can be contentious," he told JTA, "and congregations are not contentious places. It's where you go for comfort and support. So how do we deal with the contention of modern media while preserving the congregation as a place of menschlikeit and mutual respect?

"The truth is, we have to take risks if we're not going to be irrelevant."


------------------------------------

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Nov 28, 2010

Nov 27, 2010

Rabbi Reuven Hammer: "Male and Female He Created Them"

Male and Female He Created Them

Rabbi Reuven Hammer

 

On an El Al plane waiting to take off from Ben Gurion where I was seated next to a man, I was approached by an ultra-Orthodox fellow who wanted me to give him my seat in exchange for his which was next to a woman. "I can't sit next to a woman," he said to me. "It is forbidden." "If it is forbidden," I asked him, "why do you think it is all right for me to sit next to a woman? Isn't it equally forbidden to me and therefore aren't you asking me to commit a sin?" Puzzled, he went elsewhere to find the answer to his problem. I'm certain that this incident on El Al was not unique. Take offs on El Al are frequently delayed while this scramble for kosher seats takes place. Of course this is indicative of a much larger problem which now affects Israeli society and public life: the extreme position taken regarding the separation of men and women which is even more extreme than anything known before in Jewish life. It certainly does not reflect normative practice dictated by Jewish Law. Like the demand for glatt kosher everything, even water, it goes far beyond the law.

 

Oddly enough, at the same time that extremist elements in the ultra-Orthodox community are striving for a complete separation between men and women in transportation, shopping centers and even the public streets, the exact opposite is happening in other Orthodox circles, where more and more is being done to encourage greater participation of women in synagogue life and other aspects of Judaism.

 

The last few decades has witnessed a true revolution in the part women play in Judaism. This may be the direct result of greater educational opportunities for girls. Religious high schools no longer take it for granted that girls will not study Talmud, for example. The result has been the flourishing of a population of observant women well educated in Jewish sources and no longer willing to take a back seat in Jewish life. In addition, the struggle for the rights of Agunot, women who cannot obtain a divorce because of recalcitrant husbands, has produced a new sense of militancy among religious women.  

 

Admittedly this has not gone as far in Orthodox circles as in the Masorti Movement or the Reform Movement where women have long had the opportunity to participate fully in services and to become rabbis. Nevertheless even rabbinical ordination for women is beginning to occur one way or another in certain Orthodox circles. There are also congregations that label themselves Orthodox in which an attempt is made to include women as much as possible in the conduct of the service. The mehitzah may still be there but it is less blatant and allows women to be as close to the center of the service as the men are and to participate in leading prayers and reading the Torah. Women's minyanim and Megillah readings are becoming more common. Of course there is resistance to these changes within the modern Orthodox community, but they do exist and there is every reason to believe that this trend will grow in the future.

 

Although the Torah and the rest of the Bible obviously represent a Patriarchal society in which women were usually subordinate to men, as was the case is all societies at that time, there is nothing to indicate that they were ever totally separated from men or that they had no role to play in religious life. Obviously they did not serve as priests or levites, although Exodus 38:8 mentions "women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting," without telling us exactly what they did. Miriam was considered a prophetess and led the women in joyous worship – and there is nothing to indicate that the men were not present when she sang her song. Women as well as men played in the orchestra in the Temple in David's time (1 Chronicles 25:5) and sang in the Temple choir during the post exilic period (Ezra 2:65 and Nehemiah 7:67). Like Miriam, Deborah was not only a judge – the equivalent of being prime minister – but also a prophetess. When King Josiah was told that an unknown scroll had been found in the Temple and needed to know if it was holy, a part of the Torah of Moses, or not, he inquired of a woman prophetess, Hulda, for verification. It was on her word that the book - probably Deuteronomy - was declared sacred. The midrash also ascribes religious roles to women. For example a midrash states that both Abraham and Sarah made it their business to teach about God to anyone coming their way and converted them to their new faith: Abraham converted the men and Sarah converted the women. (Genesis Rabbah 39:5).

 

There is a struggle going on today within traditional Judaism concerning the place of women. One side wishes to separate them from men and keep them not only out of public view but out of public functions as well. The other side wants to bring them in and make use of their talents and their potential. The outcome will be crucial not only for women but for the future of Judaism and the Jewish People as well.



---
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
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haaretz.com: "Destructive 'agnosticism': Missing from JVP pronouncements are any critiques of the BDS movement’s goal of dismantling Israel."

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/destructive-agnosticism-1.326932

Haaretz.com: Destructive 'agnosticism': Missing from JVP pronouncements are any critiques of the BDS movement's goal of dismantling Israel. Not only does JVP defend pro-BDS groups, it partners with them.

By Yitzhak Santis

Published 02:03 26.11.10

In his November 5 opinion piece in Haaretz English Edition, Matthew Taylor ("Just who is misguided?"), of the Jewish Voice for Peace, lodged a complaint against the "older [Jewish] establishment" for being "condescending" to young Jews. His protest included an attack on remarks made by Julie Bernstein, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, who was a panelist in a workshop at the General Assembly earlier this month in New Orleans.

The irony of Bernstein being a young adult and part-time graduate student seems to have been lost on Taylor. The main target of his "j'accuse," though, was the recently launched plan of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs to actively confront the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS ) campaign, a well-funded internationally coordinated movement to isolate and delegitimize Israel. To bolster his argument, Taylor could have tried to demonstrate that BDS does not strive to dismantle the State of Israel. He did not, nor could he had he wanted to - because Israel's demise is the BDS movement's aim.

The leaders of BDS certainly speak plainly about their goals. Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, spoke last March at a church in the San Francisco Bay area, and declared that for the BDS movement the 1967 occupation is "not the most important" issue. Instead, he said, the "foremost" demand of BDS is the right of return. The same Barghouti has also said, "If the refugees were to return you would not have a two-state solution; you'll have a Palestine next to a Palestine rather than a Palestine next to an Israel."

Other BDS advocates are equally explicit. "BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine," said Ronnie Kasrils, the veteran South African political figure and advocate for the Palestinian cause. And Palestinian-American journalist Ahmed Moor writes, "Ending the occupation doesn't mean anything if it doesn't mean upending the Jewish state itself ... BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state."

Some may try to dismiss these comments as merely individual opinions. But that is just more obfuscation. The sum of the BDS movement's central demands (as outlined in its manifesto, the "Palestinian United Call for BDS against Israel" ) - especially the demand for a "right of return" - make it clear that BDS seeks to disassemble the State of Israel. Or, as Barghouti envisions it, a "Palestine next to a Palestine" and no Israel.

While these BDS advocates are clear about their movement's goals, Taylor and Jewish Voice for Peace prefer murkiness. JVP's website declares: "Our mission statement endorses neither a one-state solution, nor a two-state solution ... we have members and supporters on both sides of this question, as well as many others who, like the organization as a whole, are agnostic about it."

In the face of the annihilationist and overtly anti-Semitic ideologies motivating Hamas, Hezbollah and their state sponsor Iran, this agnosticism coming from a Jewish group with respect to Israel's existence, and thus the safety of millions of Israeli Jews, represents a gross moral failure.

JVP's website also states, "JVP defends activists' right to use the full range of BDS tactics without being persecuted or demonized." Missing from this statement, and from any JVP public pronouncements, are any critiques of the BDS movement's explicit goal of dismantling Israel. Further, JVP not only defends pro-BDS groups, it also partners with them. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, JVP for years has repeatedly co-sponsored scores of events and demonstrations with anti-Israel and explicitly anti-Zionist organizations that overtly support the full range of BDS. These include the Al Awda Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Students for Justice in Palestine, Sabeel, Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid and the International Solidarity Movement, among many others.

It is important to draw a stark line between BDS supporters like the JVP and critics of specific Israeli government policies. In the American and Israeli Jewish communities, there is ample space for wide-ranging debate - from left to right - about specific policies. However, "agnosticism" on Israel's right to exist as an independent Jewish and democratic state within secure borders is, in fact, anti-Israel. Delegitimizing Israel and thereby promoting its isolation and destabilization is, in fact, anti-Israel. Applying harsher criteria for and imposing harsher punishment on Israel than are applied to any other country whose policies are considered objectionable, is, in fact, anti-Israel.

The time has come - particularly after JVP's behavior at the General Assembly and the subsequent gloating about its outbursts there - to remove the cloak of respectability that JVP has tried to place over its positions and ask all reasonable people to examine the organization's real record.

Yitzhak A. Santis is director of the Middle East Project of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council. In January he and his family will be making aliyah.

Destructive 'agnosticism'

Missing from JVP pronouncements are any critiques of the BDS movement's goal of dismantling Israel. Not only does JVP defend pro-BDS groups, it partners with them.

By Yitzhak Santis

In his November 5 opinion piece in Haaretz English Edition, Matthew Taylor ("Just who is misguided?"), of the Jewish Voice for Peace, lodged a complaint against the "older [Jewish] establishment" for being "condescending" to young Jews. His protest included an attack on remarks made by Julie Bernstein, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, who was a panelist in a workshop at the General Assembly earlier this month in New Orleans.

The irony of Bernstein being a young adult and part-time graduate student seems to have been lost on Taylor. The main target of his "j'accuse," though, was the recently launched plan of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs to actively confront the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS ) campaign, a well-funded internationally coordinated movement to isolate and delegitimize Israel. To bolster his argument, Taylor could have tried to demonstrate that BDS does not strive to dismantle the State of Israel. He did not, nor could he had he wanted to - because Israel's demise is the BDS movement's aim.

The leaders of BDS certainly speak plainly about their goals. Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, spoke last March at a church in the San Francisco Bay area, and declared that for the BDS movement the 1967 occupation is "not the most important" issue. Instead, he said, the "foremost" demand of BDS is the right of return. The same Barghouti has also said, "If the refugees were to return you would not have a two-state solution; you'll have a Palestine next to a Palestine rather than a Palestine next to an Israel."

Other BDS advocates are equally explicit. "BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine," said Ronnie Kasrils, the veteran South African political figure and advocate for the Palestinian cause. And Palestinian-American journalist Ahmed Moor writes, "Ending the occupation doesn't mean anything if it doesn't mean upending the Jewish state itself ... BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state."

Some may try to dismiss these comments as merely individual opinions. But that is just more obfuscation. The sum of the BDS movement's central demands (as outlined in its manifesto, the "Palestinian United Call for BDS against Israel" ) - especially the demand for a "right of return" - make it clear that BDS seeks to disassemble the State of Israel. Or, as Barghouti envisions it, a "Palestine next to a Palestine" and no Israel.

While these BDS advocates are clear about their movement's goals, Taylor and Jewish Voice for Peace prefer murkiness. JVP's website declares: "Our mission statement endorses neither a one-state solution, nor a two-state solution ... we have members and supporters on both sides of this question, as well as many others who, like the organization as a whole, are agnostic about it."

In the face of the annihilationist and overtly anti-Semitic ideologies motivating Hamas, Hezbollah and their state sponsor Iran, this agnosticism coming from a Jewish group with respect to Israel's existence, and thus the safety of millions of Israeli Jews, represents a gross moral failure.

JVP's website also states, "JVP defends activists' right to use the full range of BDS tactics without being persecuted or demonized." Missing from this statement, and from any JVP public pronouncements, are any critiques of the BDS movement's explicit goal of dismantling Israel. Further, JVP not only defends pro-BDS groups, it also partners with them. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, JVP for years has repeatedly co-sponsored scores of events and demonstrations with anti-Israel and explicitly anti-Zionist organizations that overtly support the full range of BDS. These include the Al Awda Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Students for Justice in Palestine, Sabeel, Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid and the International Solidarity Movement, among many others.

It is important to draw a stark line between BDS supporters like the JVP and critics of specific Israeli government policies. In the American and Israeli Jewish communities, there is ample space for wide-ranging debate - from left to right - about specific policies. However, "agnosticism" on Israel's right to exist as an independent Jewish and democratic state within secure borders is, in fact, anti-Israel. Delegitimizing Israel and thereby promoting its isolation and destabilization is, in fact, anti-Israel. Applying harsher criteria for and imposing harsher punishment on Israel than are applied to any other country whose policies are considered objectionable, is, in fact, anti-Israel.

The time has come - particularly after JVP's behavior at the General Assembly and the subsequent gloating about its outbursts there - to remove the cloak of respectability that JVP has tried to place over its positions and ask all reasonable people to examine the organization's real record.

Yitzhak A. Santis is director of the Middle East Project of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council. In January he and his family will be making aliyah.


---
CNS Blogs: Shorashim Hebrew School | CNS Preschool | Edah |  Announcements
---
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  ||  Bay Area Masorti  ||  ShefaNetwork.org  
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Nov 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 1 - "Adapting Zionism for the 21st Century" with Micah Goodman


"Adapting Zionism for the 21st Century"
with
Micah Goodman
Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
12:30 - Lunch
1:00-2:00 - Discussion  
Congregation Beth Israel
1630 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Lunch will be served

Micah will discuss his vision for a new group of thinkers and doers who will tell a new story, the story of the rekindling of the Zionist spirit and its embodiment of humanist values.

All events are sponsored by
American Zionist Movement
and the Dorothy and Harold Greenwald Foundation

Berkeley


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JTA.org: "Conservative movement tipping toward openness to children of intermarried"

JTA.org: "Conservative movement tipping toward openness to children of intermarried"

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- What should a Jewish teacher say to a child who talks about helping grandma decorate the Christmas tree?

"What the teacher should not say is, 'You're not supposed to do that -- you're Jewish,' " says Rachel Glaser, education director of the religious school at Beth Israel Congregation, a Conservative synagogue in Owings Mills, Md. "That hurts the child and shuts a door."

That was among the lessons Glaser and 70 other Conservative educators in the Baltimore area learned during a "keruv," or outreach workshop, held last month focused on sensitizing Conservative educators to the needs of children who have non-Jewish family members -- a population that is growing in Conservative preschools and religious schools as intermarried couples fill more of the pews in the movement's synagogues.

It was the first such seminar for religious school teachers organized by the Conservative movement's Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs. 

The movement has been divided on the issue in recent years, with the Men's Clubs as the voice of openness toward intermarried families and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism coming out more forcefully for conversion.

At its 2005 biennial conference, the Conservative movement's leadership asked its congregations, schools and summer camps to be more welcoming to the children of non-Jewish parents even as it urged rabbis and lay leaders to "encourage conversion" of the non-Jewish spouse.

Five years later the balance seems to be tipping in favor of openness. Movement insiders chalk that up to the efforts of the Men's Clubs' Keruv Initiative, which has run workshops on outreach for rabbis and lay leaders for several years and is now branching out to religious school teachers. In January, a second teachers' workshop will be held in San Francisco, and four or five are planned for the coming academic year.

Keruv, which is Hebrew for "bringing closer," is the term used for the act of bringing people closer to Judaism.

"I've evolved a lot," said Rabbi Carl Wolkin of Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook, Ill., who attended one of the early rabbinical keruv think tanks.

Over the past three years, his congregation has developed an active outreach committee, and it now offers worship services and other programs for intermarried couples. Wolkin now makes sure that both parents, Jewish or not, come up to the pulpit at b'nai mitzvahs and baby-naming ceremonies.

It's not about compromising standards, Wolkin says.

Like other Conservative rabbis, Wolkin will not officiate at an interfaith wedding, but he wants the couple to know they are wanted in the congregation as they explore their Jewish future. That message has been blurred too often in the Conservative world, which hurts the movement, he says.

"We've lost a lot of the kids of people who grew up in this congregation because we haven't let them know in an effective way that we want them back," Wolkin told JTA.

The teachers' workshop in October came about because of interest from Conservative schools in the Baltimore area, said Lynne Wolfe, a longtime intermarriage outreach professional who ran the program with two local lay consultants.

"These teachers already have children from interfaith families in their classrooms," said Wolfe, a mentor and communication facilitator for the Men's Clubs. "This was the first opportunity they had to talk about it."

Rabbi Paul Schneider, headmaster of the Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Pikesville, Md., took 30 teachers to the workshop. He says they "came away with a new appreciation" of how to make children from intermarried homes feel welcome.

"There was a time not long ago when I'd tell teachers to steer the conversation in a different direction if a child wanted to talk about Christmas at their grandparents," Schneider said. "Now I see we need a different approach. We need to allow children to talk about their family experiences."

"Things have gotten remarkably better" the past few years, said Rabbi Charles Simon, executive director of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs and the primary force behind the keruv workshops.

Simon notes that he has been working closely with the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly in the past year. The two groups produced an outreach web-based seminar in August calling for greater support for non-Jewish spouses, and they are planning more webinars.

The Rabbinical Assembly this year reconstituted its keruv committee, which had become inactive. Two years ago, a movement-wide keruv subcommittee was created representing the four major Conservative organizations. It produced "principles of outreach" that, among other things, declare that Conservative institutions "welcome interfaith couples" whose "devotion to each other enriches us" -- language not usually associated with Conservative Judaism.

These changes are subtle but noticeable, movement leaders say, and they've come in the past few years.

"Three years ago, the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs was the only one dealing with this issue. Now all four [movement bodies] do," said Rabbi Robert Slosberg of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Louisville, Ky., who chairs the new subcommittee. "Keruv is on everyone's agenda and my colleagues are taking it seriously, more so than 10, even five years ago."

Policies can be changed with the stroke of a pen; attitudes take longer. The traditional ways of dealing with intermarriage are changing, but not everywhere and not at the same pace.

Elaine Cohen, executive of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, the umbrella body for 61 Conservative day schools in North America, says that a general relaxing of guidelines has taken place over the past three or four years. The previous guidelines had stipulated that the child of a non-Jewish mother was expected to convert within a year of entering the school.

"There's been a recognition that it takes longer than that," she said.

Conservative leaders draw a distinction between policies regarding the children of non-Jewish mothers who are not considered Jewish according to halachah, or Jewish law, and the need to make such children feel welcome once they are enrolled in Conservative schools or camps. They must convert before bar or bat mitzvah, and a growing number of Conservative schools are allowing them to wait that long.

Some, however, hew to the old, stricter standards, particularly on the East Coast and in major urban centers "where Conservative synagogues tend to be more traditional," Cohen said, and where parents have more than one day school from which to choose.

"Those in smaller communities, or in regions where intermarriage is more prevalent, have taken a more lenient approach," Cohen said.


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