When Isa Aron considers b’nai mitzvah today, she gets the impression that parents — and sometimes synagogues — care more about their son or daughter performing flawlessly when on the bimah than they do about their forming lasting connections to Judaism.
A writer walks into a room full of rabbis. This sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s not. In the words of Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose,” “It’s the emes.”
The Reform movement's international arm is supporting social justice protesters in Israel.
The Reform movement is seeking clarification from the Pentagon on the treatment of the soldier accused in a massive leaks case. The letter sent Tuesday by Reform's Religious Action Center to Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted "incomplete" reports in the media about the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, 22, who allegedly is behind leaks of classified documents last year to WikiLeaks.
In April 2009, the Los Angeles wing of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) looked like it might shut down. The leading school for training Reform rabbis, cantors, Jewish educators and others had been badly hurt by the financial crisis, and its leaders were entertaining the possibility of closing two of its four campuses in order to eliminate a $3 million budget shortfall.
In his new book, "A Vision of Holiness: The Future of American Judaism" (URJ Press, 2005), Rabbi Richard N. Levy explains The Pittsburgh Principles
There's been a Jewish community in Muskogee, Okla., since 1867, when furrier Joseph Sonderheim opened his import-export business.
In 1916 the first synagogue was dedicated, Congregation Beth Ahaba, a lay-led Reform congregation that served a tight-knit Jewish community of merchants and professionals.
"As Oklahoma grew and prospered through the 1920s, so did our congregation," said Nancy Stolper, 77, who moved to Muskogee 50 years ago.
Beth Ahaba reached its height of 75 families in 1929 but dwindled to 40 families during the Depression, as stores shut down and people moved away to find work.
Since then, Beth Ahaba's fortunes have declined steadily. Its young people, including the Stolpers' four children, grew up and moved away.
Its last student rabbi left 15 years ago.
"We're now just a group of frail senior citizens," said Stolper, noting that only eight to 10 members are still able to get to synagogue.
Three months ago they gave up their monthly Friday night services, and this High Holiday season, she fears, will be their last.
Contemporary Judaism cannot spare any of its competing components. Each one, from Charedi to Reform, has a unique contribution to make.
I recently spent some time with the Helsinki Jewish community and learned something about Judaism I didn't know. First, I learned that the community of Judaism needs the Reform movement and cannot survive without it.
Second, I learned that the community of Judaism needs the Chabad movement and cannot build a future without its unique contribution.
When the Reform movement published its new "Mishkan T'filah" last November, the prayer book looked comfortably familiar to Reform rabbinic students in Los Angeles. It was clear to them that a homemade siddur they had created for their own use had influenced the first official prayer book published by the Union for Reform Judaism since 1975.
Once again, the L.A. branch of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) had made its mark on the Reform movement. The new, official prayer book, like the homemade siddur, includes traditional prayers in Hebrew, as well as new alternative readings and meditations -- changes in keeping with Reform's adoption of more traditional practices.
Rabbi Janet Marder has a surprising confession for someone who is making history as the first woman president of the Reform movement's 1,800-member Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).
She's seriously shy.
"I had years of stage fright before I had to stand up in a crowd," said Marder, senior rabbi at Reform Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, near San Jose. "I still get pretty nervous."
David and Lori Melman, former Santa Ana residents, look out their window to see a mountaintop covered with scrub oak and bay leaves that could be mistaken for coastal California foothills. The idyllic country lifestyle and its neighborhood feeling is what lured them to Har Halutz, a Galilee community established by the Reform movement, in 1985. "When I compare life in the U.S. to life in Israel, Israel always wins," Lori says.
Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the longtime leader of the Reform movement best known for his support of outreach to intermarried couples and recognition of patrilineal descent, has died at the age of 75.He died early Wednesday morning from heart failure at his home in Westport, Conn. As president of Reform Judaism's Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) from 1973 to 1996, Schindler - who viewed Judaism as a dynamic faith - championed a number of dramatic changes.
About 1,000 people crammed into Jerusalem's Kol Haneshama Reform synagogue for Yom Kippur services, while another 500 or so listened in the courtyard outside.