Progressive Judaism in Israel Affirmed by Supreme Court

May 20, 2009

By Rabbi Jill Maderer

This week, Progressive Judaism celebrates a ground-breaking success of Jewish pluralism in Israel!  Since the inception of the modern State of Israel, the religious authority of the government has lain with the leadership of Orthodox Judaism.  The Israel Movement for Progresive Judaism and the Israeli Religious Action Center, won a precedent-setting case in the Israeli Supreme Court.  The ruling requires the State to provide equal funding for Reform and Conservative conversion classes.  The implications are tremendous: this is the first time the Court has declared that the government must fund non-Orthodox religious services in Israel.  The High Court’s statement inspires hope that someday, the Israeli government will recognize marriages by Reform Rabbis and will support religious freedom.

Read more  about the recent ruling.

Emma and Jacob: Baby Names and Our Jewish Roots

May 14, 2009

By Rabbi Jill Maderer

What do you think of the current trends for baby names, and in particular, Jewish baby names?  My passion for Jewish community naturally leads me to wonder: Why do so many new and recent babies (and we are blessed with lots of them at RS!) have the same names as my grandparents and great-grandparents?  Are new parents in my generation simply influenced by a character on the popular television show, “Friends,” who named her daughter, Emma?  Perhaps.  Or maybe there’s more to it.  Much of my generation is characterized by a challenge to create true connections with friends and neighbors.  We don’t necessarily live near where we grew up, and we are likely to hold several jobs throughout our careers and live in several different neighborhoods, if not cities, throughout our adult lives.  Our communities, our routines, even our identities, are in flux.  Sometimes, the complicated opportunities of modern life are exciting, but sometimes they are unsettling.  Many of us yearn to feel grounded, and to be a part of a greater, consistent whole. Read the rest of this entry »