Resolution of the Board of Trustees of Congregation Rodeph Shalom concerning Egalitarian Prayer at the Western Wall and Conversion in the State of Israel – June 27, 2017

June 28, 2017

Resolution of the Board of Trustees of Congregation Rodeph Shalom concerning Egalitarian Prayer at the Western Wall and Conversion in the State of Israel – June 27, 2017


This week in Israel, the Netanyahu government made two major decisions affecting most of the Diaspora, decisions which are especially hurtful because, as Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism put it, North American Jews have a “deep and unshakeable commitment to Israel.” Like we see our fellow Rodeph Shalom members as family, we see the Israeli people as family. We feel joy and pride with each Israeli accomplishment and we mourn each Israeli loss. Read the rest of this entry »

Pull the Next Woman Up*: Eager to Welcome Naomi Chazan

June 25, 2017

Have you seen the new Wonder Woman movie?

I have been thinking about Wonder Woman this week, because of some recent news commentary.  The Israeli Woman who sued El Al airlines for sexism won her landmark case.  She had been told to change her seat because an Orthodox man wanted to ensure that he would not inadvertently be touched by a woman.  The Israeli court found the gender-based seat-changing coercion practice, violates Israel’s anti-discrimination codes.

The woman, Renee Rabinowitz, was represented by the Israel Religious Action Center, the public advocacy and legal arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. The head of the Israel Religious Action Center, Anat Hoffman, described the 83-year old plaintiff Renee Rabinowitz as Wonder Woman.  Funny, because Anat Hoffman might herself be called a Wonder Woman.  From the courtroom to the Women of the Wall, Anat Hoffman has for years advocated for civil rights, women’s rights, state separation from Orthodox authority, and democracy in Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Two States for Two Peoples Demands Not BDS, But Empathy

May 15, 2016

16382816688_a64158563e_bThis week, my 10-year old son reflected with me about a wonderful lesson in his class at Berkman Mercaz Limud (our religious school).  The 4th graders learned about the siren that was sounded throughout Israel two weeks ago for Yom HaShaoh—Holocaust Remembrance Day, and just last week for Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.  He showed me the video on YouTube, where you can see Israelis driving on the highway, stop their cars, step outside, and stand quietly in memorial honor for the duration of the one-minute siren. What impressed me about the teacher’s lesson was my son’s readiness to discuss deeper concepts.  He asked about the roots of hatred and why some groups live together peacefully and others do not.

I responded that the world—all of us—have work to do, and that Jews like every other group, need to be careful to take care of our own people and also to take care of others.

Within public discourse and institutional Jewish life, too often we are asked to choose between the two principles: If you care more about taking care of our own people, here’s the right-leaning organization for you.  If you care more about taking care of other groups, here’s the left-leaning organization for you.  The polarization may work for some, especially those who hold extreme positions.  But I believe most of us want a Jewish community who cares about and advocates, for both the interests of the Jewish people and the interests of other groups.  Both, Israelis and Palestinians.  Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking an Israel Filter Bubble: My Conversation with an Israeli Settler

April 17, 2016

5497134432_9c680ecc8f_nTo what degree do you feel like you live in a bubble of people who are just like you?  How often do you encounter people who challenge your assumptions, stretch your understanding?

In his article, “How 26 Tweets Broke My Filter Bubble,” B.J. May writes “I live in a small town in Middle America. My closest coworkers are all men, all heterosexual, all white.

I had never given this filter bubble much thought, really. But as I increased my consumption of Twitter to better keep up on tech topics, I began to feel uneasy. There were clearly lots of diverse voices in the industry. Women talked about the wage gap, about sexism in the workplace. Black developers posted highly upsetting accounts of bias. People all over my industry were sharing stories of injustice and hatred, of unfair treatment and outright abuse.

I struggled to make sense of it all. I didn’t feel like I had experienced or seen any of these terrible things. Read the rest of this entry »

All Attacks are Personal: A Rodeph Shalom Voice from Israel

March 9, 2016

A member of our Rodeph Shalom family, Becca Strober writes this personal blog post in response to the horrifying recent violence in Israel. She made aliyah some years ago and continues to teach us through her writing and activism in Israel.  Our heart is in the East.

“Snow in Jerusalem,” Jerry Mazza

January 23, 2016


Reports the New York Times,
Israeli and Palestinian
children stake out positions
along main roads and rooftops,
wait for the unsuspecting
and cut loose with snowballs. Read the rest of this entry »

As If It’s All Happening on An Airplane: Vulnerability and the High Holy Days

August 30, 2015

I believe there are some of you here who are in the dating world, hoping to meet someone special.  I thought of you when I read a recent column by Emma Court in the NY Times called, “A Millenial’s Guide to Kissing.”

It begins: “When a total stranger kissed me under the artificial lights of an airplane cabin somewhere above international waters, my first thought was of the Orthodox woman sitting to my left…The kiss, coming out of nowhere, had turned me into the heroine of a bad romance novel: heart fluttering…those blue fleece blankets had never been so sexy….Between us sprang the kind of instant intimacy fostered by open personalities in tight quarters. We spoke in spurts of our trips and what we had done during the days spent in Israel…

[Once back on the ground], I hugged him a brisk no-nonsense goodbye. We didn’t exchange numbers…… Would things have been different, if one of us had had the courage, to say something other than goodbye before heading to our trains? I only realized later why it had been such an oddly familiar feeling: My generation treats every liaison as if it is happening on an airplane. Our story wasn’t so different, after all. I wonder what we collectively lose as we try so hard not to care. We pretend that it doesn’t matter, that we have time, that because we are young we are invulnerable.”  Read the rest of this entry »