As a camper, Max Kates was full of energy, soaking up everything Camp Ramah in Ojai offered. He loved sports, singing, his friends and Shabbat. When the summer arrived for him to join the staff, he immediately applied to participate in Ramah's counselor leadership-training program. In his first year as a counselor, Max was placed in a unit I supervised, and I watched with pride as he developed valuable skills in problem solving, public speaking, teamwork, program design and assessment.
The modern-day legal guidelines on how religion fits into the American public square have largely been the creation of one woman: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been fiercely divided for a quarter-century, with four justices opposing religious images in the public square and all federal money to religious organizations, and with four allowing for both.
At the center has been O'Connor, the first woman on the high court, who announced her resignation last week.
For generations, Barbie's hourglass "perfect" figure has confounded experts in anatomy, while giving girls a role model of debatable merit.
Now there's a doll whose appearance is more modest, who looks like kids and whose values are distinctly Jewish.
Created by Aliza Stein of Teaneck, N.J., Gali Girls wear clothes that are not made to accentuate their bodies. Accessories include a matching Magen David bracelet for the owner and the doll, a Hebrew and English birth certificate and a separate wooden Shabbat kit that can be painted.
Gali Girls are designed to encourage girls to bring positive Jewish values, such as kindness, respect, and charity, into their doll play, Stein said.
When Mark Meltzer became executive director of the Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) in 1980, the agency had $800,000 in total assets, the equivalent of three and a half full-time employees and largely made interest-free loans to people for groceries, car repairs and other such emergencies. In the words of JFLA President and long-time board member Jim Kohn, JFLA was "small, unknown and stuck in the corner somewhere."
Ruth Shuken's backyard is a floral wonderland. Shuken, who turns 94 on July 4, strolls through aisles of roses, lilacs and azaleas. Her green thumb has also served her well in cultivating a garden of mitzvahs.
Shuken's Beverlywood manor, which she has called home for 55 years, is a short drive from Vista Del Mar, the place she has served for more than five decades. Vista Del Mar operates on a $32 million annual budget to assist teens from troubled backgrounds.
One day we may look back at the 1998 High Holidays as a bizarre version of "Rosencranz and Gildenstern are Dead"; American history seen through the perspective of minor Jewish characters helping to determine the national fate. Monica Lewinsky! Sen. Joseph Lieberman! As the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal is causing Americans to question matters of private and public morality, Jews are caught up in the tide. Here are two observations from our perilous time:
For many Jewish women, the feminist movement has been the key political event of our lifetimes. It has given us role models, women of great personal power and intellectual agility, and allowed us to venture into unprecedented careers and lifestyles.Arguably, the reason so many Jewish women were drawn to feminism is that it articulated the dream of personal freedom and the mandate of political activism contained within our own spiritual tradition, the pursuit of tikkun olam.