Jan 31, 2010

Picking up nofrat frenkel

The power of driving on a bus and speaking with leaders of the
Conservative Movement from North America and the Masorti Movement in
Israel...from Tel Aviv to Beer Sheva... Trying to take in the air of
Israel, preparing to pick up and learn from Nofrat Frenkel, who is
after all, a medical student and a normal Israeli, not just a
tallit-wearing headline. Truly surreal.

Sent from my mobile device

Announcing ShefaJournal 5770:1 - "The Relationship Between
Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to

Jan 30, 2010

A Note from Rabbi Creditor: "To Israel"

Erev Tu Bishvat 5770
January 29, 201
Dear Chevreh,

This Monday morning, Jeff Rosenbloom and I will step onto the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv.  We are representing Netivot Shalom on a 4-day mission of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel.  We are honored to participate in this journey, during which we will visit almost every Conservative/Masorti community in Israel.  From Kibbutz Hannaton, where Netivot Shalom member Michal Hirshfield moved last Summer, to Moshav Agur, where there is a Winery considering adopting a Kosher certification through the Masorti Movement, to meeting with Minister of Knesset Tzippy Livni - this is going to be a rush of important encounters.  When we return one week from Sunday, we will likely be tired and inspired.

Though the incident involving Nofrat Frenkel, the woman who was detained by Israeli police for the "crime" of wearing a Tallit in the women's section of the Kotel, only occurred after Jeff and I had already committed to joining this mission, it fueled our commitment to sharing the strength of Netivot Shalom, a passionate, egalitarian, Conservative, participatory shul with our sister Masorti communities in Israel.  This isn't tourist visit, not a Jerusalem-focused trip with excursions.  It is an intense sustained encounter, aimed at raising North American awareness about the Masorti communities who continue to struggle for equality in Israel.

When we speak of Israel, here in Berkeley, there is a constant fear of saying something you feel and receiving at best a withering look.  But that's not the reality here at Netivot Shalom.  We're proud to be in relationship with Israel, dream of and work toward more deeply just and free societies for Israelis and Palestinians just as we do for Americans and Iranians.  There is, of course, real tension, but remaining silent when we can make a positive difference is not an option.  But the way to get there requires attention too.  Respectful listening (shmi'at ha'ozen) is definitional for a diverse community such as ours here at Netivot Shalom.  Israel is a core component of our family, and we therefore have strong opinions which belong shared with love and respect.  The work of V'Zot Yisrael, Netivot Shalom's Israel awareness group, demonstrates our commitments to this very aspiration.

And, to learn another unacceptable response to tension through an unrelated recent public moment: comedian Conan O'Brien, the now-former host of The Tonight Show, closed his tenure as host by saying "Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. It's my least-favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let's make an amazing thing happen right now."  Then he picked up his guitar and made some passionate, intense music with a group of friends.  Nothing less should be our goal in relationship and kindness and love with Israel.

f we can steal a moment from the trip's grueling pace, Jeff and I will try to share some short observations while still there.  If we can't find those
moments during the trip, we will certainly come home (from our other home) with much to share.  Additionally, if you'd like to follow short reports I'll be sending out to my "Tisch" email list via PDA, you can sign up by sending a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

With wishes for a week of peace and music in Israel and everywhere else, full of amazing things we've helped make happen through our life as a vibrant, dream-worthy community.

Shabbat Shalom and Tu Bishvat Sameach!
Rabbi Creditor

Announcing ShefaJournal 5770:1 - "The Relationship Between Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement" http://tiny.cc/sj5770
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org

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Jan 28, 2010

This deserves a serious response

A Very Bad WizardReview - A Very Bad Wizard
Morality Behind the Curtain
by Tamler Sommers
McSweeney's, 2009
Review by Joshua May
Dec 29th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 53)

A Very Bad Wizard is a collection of delightful interviews or conversations conducted by philosopher Tamler Sommers.  Sommers interviews an array of researchers--from psychologists to primatologists to philosophers--who all have one thing in common: their work has direct implications for the study of morality.  The distinguished interviewees are Galen Strawson, Philip Zimabrdo, Franz De Waal, Michael Ruse, Joseph Henrich, Joshua Greene, Liane Young, Jonathan Haidt, Stephen Stich, and William Ian Miller.  I read the book on my flights back to the West Coast after picking it up a few days prior in Massachusetts.  I simply couldn't put it down!  It truly is--as Steven Pinker states in his blurb--both thought-provoking and entertaining.  It is a lively way into some of the most fascinating interdisciplinary research on ethics--what often now goes under the heading "moral psychology." 

As Sommers notes in the acknowledgements, the interview format of the book may seem fairly non-academic.  And so it may seem fit for something only the novice should pick up.  But while it does provide a rather informal presentation of the thinkers' ideas, there's plenty of material sure to interest even the specialist.  In particular, the book's format provides a rare glimpse into these academics' motivations for carrying out their research and their broader views about its implications.  Even more than seeing morality behind the curtain, as the book's subtitle promises, the reader sees these researchers behind their respective curtains. 

Many topics are discussed in the book's interviews, but some highlights come up in conversations with Zimbardo, Greene and Young, and Haidt.  Zimbardo, a social psychologist, talks about his famous Stanford Prison Experiment in which a group of ordinary young men assumed either a guard or prisoner role in a simulated prison at Stanford University in 1971.  The experiment was shut down after only six days due to the inhumane behavior the guards began to display.  This is one of the many classic experiments indicating that situations can affect our behavior more than we ordinarily think.  Simply because of a nasty situation, a generally good person can end up doing quite horrible things. 

Greene and Young, neuroscientists at Harvard and MIT respectively, get right down to the human brain.  Their work suggests that certain intuitions about some important cases in moral theory (the famous "trolley cases") are influenced by emotional reactions while others aren't, or at least not as much.  Scan a person's brain while she's reading the scenario and providing the judgment, and the areas of the brain associated with emotion show much higher levels of activity.  Greene in particular uses these results to argue that one moral theory--the utilitarian one not based on the faulty intuitions--is preferable over the other.  While the research program is still developing, Greene is certainly pioneering exciting ways in which brain imaging can be quite relevant to ethics.

Haidt, also a social psychologist, talks primarily about his recent work on "moral dumbfounding."  Haidt conducted a series of interesting experiments in which subjects read stories involving actions that don't cause anyone harm but violate certain other societal norms, such as protected and consensual incest between adults or eating the family dog after it has been run over.  Subjects tend to emphatically label the acts immoral, but they can't come up with a good reason why.  Haidt argues that these sorts of findings support a model according to which moral judgments are primarily driven by emotional reactions, as opposed to reasoning, in much the same way judgments of taste (presumably) are.

Though various issues arise throughout the book, one over-arching theme revolves around the question:  What is the status of morality once we subject it to empirical scrutiny?  While Sommers (p. 3) thinks we "shouldn't be scared about what we'll find" by pulling back morality's curtain, the resulting impression the reader attains is a rather dismal one.  Moral realism--roughly the view that there are in some sense objective facts about what's right and wrong--is quickly put off the table by most in the book.  This is largely based on empirical evidence indicating that the psychological mechanisms involved in moral judgment and behavior are merely evolutionary adaptations triggered largely by flimsy emotional responses which vary dramatically across cultures and situations.  This often leads to a thorough-going cultural relativism.  Henrich, for example, says:  "My view is that it's wrong to beat your wife, but that there's no objective standard.  It's just wrong for me to do it" (p. 119).  Others, such as Greene, espouse some version of error theory according to which our moral beliefs are systematically false.  Even more extreme perhaps is a full-blown non-cognitivism--the view that moral judgments are not even capable of being true or false (see Stich, p. 188, for example).  On such a view, there aren't any moral facts at all, not even culturally relative ones!

There are some representative exceptions to the bleak view, of course.  De Waal (a primatologist), Miller (a law professor), and Haidt are notable examples.  At one point, De Waal firmly objects to those who argue, for example, that human empathy is "some sort of afterthought of evolution or something contrived" or that "we are never truly empathic and kind" (p. 74).  According to De Waal, the apparently moral behavior and emotions of primates provide key "building blocks" or "prerequisites" for human morality.  Haidt, also in a more positive vein, is quite attune to the fact that one can deny strong forms of moral realism while still holding that there are important facts of the matter, though they may be in some sense relative to something or other:  "[W]ith morality, we build a castle in the air and then we live in it, but it is a real castle.  It has no objective foundation, a foundation outside of our fantasy--but that's true about money, that's true about music, that's true about most of the things that we care about" (p. 161).  But even here Haidt seems to put an unnecessarily gloomy spin on this picture.  Does morality have "no objective foundation" whatsoever even if it's grounded in human nature, for example, in the empathic responses we have to the needs of others?  Likewise, though we play a large role in the creation of money and its significance, is its existence really just a "fantasy"?

Of course, Sommers can't be faulted for the arguably excessive and potentially misleading pessimism of some of the interviewees.  However, he does sometimes join in on partitioning the space of reasonable views in an overly restrictive way.  For example, in his introduction to his conversation with Ruse, Sommers seems to characterizes the two main positions here as either realist and anti-scientific or anti-realist and empirically-informed (pp. 85-6).  Surely any empirically-informed view must admit that morality is intimately bound up with our own concerns and natures.  But the idea that our natural, evolved mechanisms for moral judgment and behavior are doing something more like detection than capricious fabrication could be given some more consideration.

Nevertheless, as one commentator has already put it, A Very Bad Wizard is a very good book.  It's an easy read while at the same time informative and amusing.  I highly recommend it to anyone, expert or novice, interested in modern research on morality--or in just seeing academics cuss.

Hannaton Happenings

ShefaJournal 5770:1 - "The Relationship Between Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement" http://tiny.cc/sj5770

flowerkalanit.jpgIt's Happening at the... 
HANNATON       Educational and Spiritual Center
January 2010, Shvat 5770                                                                             Volume 1, Issue 1

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Welcome to the first e-newsletter from the Hannaton Educational and Spiritual Center.  We have been busy during the past few months hosting groupsmaking light renovations,  and planning for exciting upcoming retreats and future programming.  We look forward to continue updating you on such activities.  Our vision is that the Hannaton Educational and Spiritual Center will be recognized and respected as a meaningful and essential link the in the chain of Jewish revival and survival through its efforts in strengthening the Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist identities as individuals, as a society, and as a people.

Wishing you a Happy Tu B'Shvat from the Galilee!

|Upcoming Retreats


Groups We Hosted this Past Month!          


Meet our Staff    

yoavheadshot.jpg(Each month we will feature another staff member from the Hannaton Educational and Spiritual Center.) 

Rabbi Yoav Ende, ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem in 2008, is the director of the Hannaton Educational and Spiritual Center and is spearheading the revival at  Kibbutz Hannaton.  He and his wife, Shira, are the proud parents of three children, Tomer, Elah and Itai. Read more...

In This Newsletter


Upcoming Retreats 

Groups We Hosted 

Facelift at Hannaton 

In the News 

Meet our Staff 


Facelift at Hannaton

The ONLY mikveh in the State of Israel not under the auspices of the Orthodox rabbinate is located on Kibbutz Hannaton. 

Light renovations are being made at the mikveh, including demolishing some walls in order to expand the building for educational programming.


 The dream is to turn this building into a pluralistic Life Cycle Center for all Israelis and visiting Diaspora Jews. 


Much more work needs to be done and we are looking for your support.

(Please, e-mail Shira Taylor Gura, Resource Development coordinator, for more information).

In the Press

A number of articles have recently been published about Kibbutz Hannaton. 

* Ben Harris
, of JTA, recently visited Hannaton and
wrote in his blog about the revitalization of the kibbutz. 
* Rabbi Haviva Ner-David is
writing a monthly column in the Jerusalem Post about her move to Kibbutz Hannaton. 
NPR recently wrote an article about the revitilization of kibbutzim in Israel, including Hannaton. 

Tax deductible donations can be made to:
The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832 
New York, New York 10115
Please EARMARK your checks
for the Hannaton Educational Center!
OR, for secure website donations, please, click here. 
Designate "The Hannaton Educational Center" in the "kehilot designation" field.

We thank you for helping us continue our important work!


The Educational and Spiritual Center at Hannaton
D.N. Ha-movil

(Website under construction)

Announcing ShefaJournal 5770:1 - "The Relationship Between Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement" http://tiny.cc/sj5770
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org 

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Jan 27, 2010

[Shefa] Announcing ShefaJournal 5770:1 - "HaNefesh v'HaGuf: The Relationship Between Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement"

  Announcing ShefaJournal 5770:1

"HaNefesh v'HaGuf: The Relationship Between Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement" 

available at http://shefanetwork.org/shefajournal5770a.pdf


This, the newest ShefaJournal, focuses on both the current states of Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement as well as their relationship past, present and future. It includes an edited version of the discussion inspired by Rabbi Menachem Creditor's Shmirat HaGuf: Caring for the Body of Conservative Judaism which took place between November 4 and November 16, 2009 as well as views on the relationship between ideology and institutions, inspired by related ideas developed in previous ShefaJournals.



"Shefa: The Conservative Movement Dreaming from Within" is a forum for
passionate Conservative Jews to reflect together as they increase creative
energy within within the culture and environment of the Conservative
Movement in an effort to bring a renewed and revitalized perspective to
Conservative Jews.

We belong to the Conservative Movement and commit ourselves to working
towards its revitalization. Be a part of this community of visionary
thinkers and builders. To join the conversation, email

Visit our home page at http://www.shefanetwork.org

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Forward.com: "Embassy Letter on Kotel Rubs Salt in the Wound"

Embassy Letter on Kotel Rubs Salt in the Wound

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

An Israeli embassy effort to address the concerns of non-Orthodox Jewish leaders regarding the treatment of some worshippers at Jerusalem's Western Wall has instead inflamed many of them.

The embassy's response — to a letter-writing campaign by Conservative Jews and others protesting the treatment of female worshippers who don't abide by the strictures of the Orthodox authorities controlling the site — stressed the need for compromise at the Western Wall. In the December 21 letter e-mailed to many who wrote, the embassy's office of public affairs cited the existence of Robinson's Arch, an alternative prayer site designated for egalitarian prayer in an archaeological park adjacent to the Western Wall Plaza.

But David Lissy, executive director and CEO of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, reflected the views of many who were contacted, dismissing the communiqué as "largely a non-response."

"It doesn't deal head-on with any of the critical issues which need to be addressed," he said. "I think the government of Israel is failing to appreciate the degree to which the majority of Jews around the world care about these kinds of things."

Conservative Jewish leaders called for the letter-writing campaign to Ambassador Michael Oren after Nofrat Frenkel, an Israeli medical student and observant Conservative Jew, was detained and interrogated by Israeli police in November while wearing a prayer shawl and carrying a Torah during a prayer service held by Women of the Wall, an activist group, in the women's section of the Wall.

In January, Anat Hoffman, director of Reform Judaism's Israel Religious Action Center and leader of Women of the Wall, was taken to a Jerusalem police station, where she was interrogated and fingerprinted, and informed that she might be charged with a felony for violating rules of conduct at the Western Wall.

The two incidents sparked angry reactions from liberal Jewish movements in America and Israel. In a joint communiqué, leaders of the Conservative movement accused Oren and his government of "permitting ultra-Orthodox extremists to control public life and block other caring and devoted Jews from fully realizing their spiritual quest."

Conservative leaders dispute the embassy's characterization of Robinson's Arch as a fair compromise, and argue that the embassy's response was too narrow in its focus. Lissy's organization has urged supporters to complain to the embassy about its letter, and other Conservative groups say they are planning their own responses.

Oren has also come under fire for misinforming a December gathering of Conservative leaders about Frenkel's treatment when he assured them that police had simply led her away from the Western Wall. Oren later blamed his government for having given him "incomplete" information about what had happened, and ordered "a full and thorough inquiry" on the matter, which would be forthcoming "within a couple of days." His spokesman said in early January that the inquiry had been completed, but could offer no information on its contents.

Reached January 26, a spokesman for Oren declined to comment on the response to the embassy's communiqué or to provide information on the results of the inquiry Oren ordered.

In its communiqué, the embassy alluded to a 2003 decision by Israel's Supreme Court that disallowed women from reading from the Torah or wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall. In its ruling, the embassy noted, the court ordered the state to prepare Robinson's Arch "to host egalitarian services that encourage both men and women to wear tallit and read from the Torah."

"The current situation provides all Jews with an outlet for religious expression next to Judaism's most sacred site," the embassy statement asserted.

But Conservative leaders noted that the prayer site at the arch is available only until 10:30 each morning, in contrast to the main Western Wall site, which is open for prayer 24 hours a day. Services at the arch must be scheduled beforehand, and anyone arriving or leaving late is charged an $8 entry fee. Unlike the main wall site, Robinson's Arch lacks prayer equipment such as arks, Torah tables, chairs, prayer books and Torahs, which must be brought in by worshippers. It has no indoor facilities.

"The letter implied that, 'Hey, look, there's a perfectly good place for people to go and daven at Robinson's Arch…and the answer is, it's not a perfectly good place," said Andrew Sacks, director of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel, an organization of Masorti rabbis. "It's severely restricted."

"The wall as it's been understood by the Jewish people does not mean Robinson's Arch," said Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. "It just doesn't." Yoffie did not dispute the embassy's explanation of the legal status of Robinson's Arch, but said that he hoped the arrangement would be revisited.

Women of the Wall also disputed the notion of Robinson's Arch as an alternative prayer site for them. In a written response to the embassy's letter, members of the group said, "We do not hold egalitarian services…. Our rights can be realized in the women's section at the Kotel; this is what we have asked and continue to ask…. To deny us this practice at the Kotel is not 'compromise,' as the Embassy response would have it — where is the concession on the part of those who vilify, deny, silence, and banish us?"

Some Conservative leaders thought the embassy's letter focused too narrowly on the issue of the Western Wall — or Kotel, as it's known in Hebrew — and did not respond to the larger concerns that the movement's letter-writing campaign had raised. "Our letter did not exclusively address issues of the Kotel, but rather sees the Kotel as one example of… the increasing haredization of Israel, and the increasing alienation of the majority of the world's Jews from not only religious participation, but from any freedom of religious experience in the State of Israel," said Julie Schonfeld, head of the Rabbinical Assembly, the organization of American Conservative rabbis.

For some, the original slight of Frenkel's detainment still rankles, and the embassy's response simply didn't go far enough. "I can't get my head around the notion of any Jew being arrested… anywhere in the Jewish state for wearing a tallit," said Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. "Even if one were to accept the government's response here fully, there just have to be better ways to handle this kind of civil disobedience… and none of those issues were addressed by this letter."

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com

Visit our home page at http://www.shefanetwork.org


"Shefa: The Conservative Movement Dreaming from Within" is a forum for
passionate Conservative Jews to reflect together as they increase creative
energy within within the culture and environment of the Conservative
Movement in an effort to bring a renewed and revitalized perspective to
Conservative Jews.

We belong to the Conservative Movement and commit ourselves to working
towards its revitalization. Be a part of this community of visionary
thinkers and builders. To join the conversation, email

Visit our home page at http://www.shefanetwork.org


Tu Bishvat from Masorti AmLat office in Buenos Aires



Jan 25, 2010

Op-ed by CEO of the Masorti Movement (translation)

Original Hebrew at: http://www.masorti.org.il/page.php?pageId=306 


Yediot Achronot, Jan. 24th 2010


Prevent the Schism

By Yizhar Hess


It was some two months ago that Nofrat Frenkel was arrested at the Western Wall (Kotel) Plaza for the "transgression" of wearing a Tallit. Nofrat, an Israeli born medical student at Ben Gurion University, a member of the Masorti Movement (the Israeli name for the Conservative Movement), is active in Women of the Wall (WOW), a group of Orthodox, Reform and Masorti women who have gathered each Rosh Hodesh (new month) to pray in the women's section of the Kotel.


Two weeks ago, the head of the organization, Anat Hoffman, was called in by the police for questioning. She was finger-printed and interrogated. She was then released. The possible charge: inciting a rebellion.


These incidents, which reflect an internal problem in Israel – yet another sign of Haredi dominance of the Kotel, touch a raw nerve with North American Jewry. The events were deeply insulting and nearly every American Jewish newspaper reported these events. Even the venerable New York Times devoted significant space to the story. Last week, in San Francisco's Union Square, hundreds of men and women, draped in Tallitot, called on the Israeli authorities to wake up.


Yet here in Israel – a near deafening silence.


In recent days the leadership of the organizations of the Conservative Movement produced a statement, unprecedented in its scathing nature, aimed at the Israeli government.


One must keep in mind that the Conservative Movement is the central stream of Judaism in North America. Its membership fills the ranks of leadership in most all important Jewish organizations.


"We feel that the arrest of Nofrat Frankel and the interrogation of Anat Hoffman drives a wedge between our communities at a time when working for unity within Israel and enhancing the connection between Diaspora Jewish communities and Israel should be a primary concern," said the statement.


These words come from Jews who hold Israel dear, who have visited Israel time and again, whose support for the State is all but automatic. They feel as though they are being given the cold shoulder by Israel. They are being scorned by the country they so love. They are not valued for who and what they are.


American Jews do not live in a cultural vacuum. This is the single most affluent community in Jewish history. They have built public institutions for research, culture, and religion. They carry significant influence in the American public sphere.


Yet in recent years there has been a shift. Statistics published by Dr. Steven Cohen, one of America's foremost Jewish sociologists, demonstrate that the strong connection of American Jewry to Israel has been weakening. Now, with the events surrounding the Kotel, American Jewry feels as though they have been spit upon.


Have Israelis heard of the biting reaction of American Jewry? Of the public outcry and demonstrations? Of the many letters sent to Israel's ambassador to the United States? Of the numerous essays and opinion articles published in Jewish newspapers? Of the sermons preached in synagogues?


The sad answer is that most Israelis are unaware of this response and thus our politicians have been able to avoid the issue.


This is a dangerous trend. Not simply because of the Kotel events. The Kotel is but a metaphor for a larger picture.  In our haste, our incompetence, and sometimes even our insidiousness, we drive American Jewry even further away from Israel. Only a minority of American Jewry identifies as Orthodox (10%). The majority of affiliated Jews identify with the Conservative and the Reform Movements.  Yet when they visit here, in the Jewish State, they encounter systemized discrimination aimed at all who are not Orthodox.


Orthodox public institutions receive generous governmental funding, taking advantage of carefully crafted rules and criteria that deny the non-Orthodox the ability to even apply for such allocations. Not forgetting the Orthodox monopoly over marriage, conversion and burial. Occasionally the courts have succeeded in correcting an injustice – but this is but a drop in the ocean.


We must not lose one of our most valuable assets - the sense of partnership between Israel and  Diaspora Jewry. The bridge must be rebuilt. If we fail to value their Judaism and their contribution – then let us not complain when Israel no longer serves as an inspiration.

Visit our home page at http://www.shefanetwork.org


"Shefa: The Conservative Movement Dreaming from Within" is a forum for
passionate Conservative Jews to reflect together as they increase creative
energy within within the culture and environment of the Conservative
Movement in an effort to bring a renewed and revitalized perspective to
Conservative Jews.

We belong to the Conservative Movement and commit ourselves to working
towards its revitalization. Be a part of this community of visionary
thinkers and builders. To join the conversation, email

Visit our home page at http://www.shefanetwork.org


Announcing: The Jewish Educators' Network


Welcome to the Jewish Educators' Network

What is the Jewish Educators' Network?

The Jewish Educators' Network is an exciting new initiative for Jewish educators. Wherever you teach - at a Jewish day school or cheder, at informal gatherings or discussion groups - the Jewish Educators' Network will have something for you.

The Jewish Educators' Network is open to educators of all denominations and aims to reflect the diversity of Jewish teaching across the community.

Take a look through this newsletter, and at our website, to see what the Jewish Educators' Network has to offer.

  • An on-line resource centre for teachers and educators. Find out more
  • Detailed lesson plans on a range of topics for learners of all ages. Find out more
  • A growing text bank, collating resources on a variety of subjects.Find out more
  • Face to face consultancy and training. Find out more

Tu B'Shvat on the Jewish Educators' Network!

Sample what JEN has to offer:

  • Tu B'Shvat Seder - a collection of the best Tu B'Shvat Seder material from across the web. Take me there

  • Activities - bring the fun and excitement of Tu B'Shvat to your classroom. Take me there

  • Lesson Plans - detailed plans for classes of all ages and sizes - built around exciting and challenging texts. Take me there

  • Resources for Educators - stories, articles, ideas and inspiring texts. Take me there

  • Links to relevant websites - we've trawled the web, so you don't have to. The best material - all in one place! Take me there


On-line resource centre

In time for Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish Educators' Network is proud to announce the launch of its on-line resource centre.
This unique centre brings together:

  • Detailed lesson plans for classes of all ages and sizes
  • Activities for a variety of educational settings
  • Information and resources for teachers and educators
  • A growing text bank – built around themes and topics relevant to the modern classroom
  • Links to all the major Jewish educational websites that a Jewish teacher needs

Training and Resource Development

The Jewish Educators' Network offers in-service educator training, from individual sessions to entire courses, in a wide range of Jewish fields. These can be tailored to the specific needs of your teachers and your educational setting. For more information, visit our website or contact a member of our team at info@jewisheducators.org.uk


Jewish Educators' Network - Meet the Team

The Jewish Educators' Network has a core team of professional educators, led by Matt Plen and Rina Wolfson. The educators contributing to the Jewish Educators' Network reflect the diversity of Jewish teaching across the community. This ensures that the network remains open and welcoming to teachers across the spectrum of Jewish life.

Matt Plen is the Movement Director of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues. Living in Israel from 1998-2008, he taught and developed educational resources at the Masorti high school, the Conservative Yeshiva and Melitz (Centres for Jewish Zionist Education). He has trained teachers in the areas of Jewish studies, values and identity, and family education. Matt has an MA in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and is pursuing a doctorate in Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Rina Wolfson has an M.Phil in Hebrew and Aramaic from Cambridge University. She is a graduate of Midreshet Lindenbaum, Jerusalem, and is currently studying at the Masorti Kollel. Rina is Education Coordinator of Lishma Jewish Study Centres and heads the Jewish Studies GCSE programme at Gesher, the Masorti teenage centre. She is Director of PAJE: Passionate About Jewish Education, where she teaches children and adults of all ages.


Pass it On!

If you know of someone who might be interested in joining the network, or who might enjoy the services we offer, please feel free to forward this email on to them.

©2010 The Jewish Educators' Network is an initiative of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues | www.jewisheducators.org.uk | info@jewisheducators.org.uk

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Shavuot: The Torah of Tenacious Love