Our Jewish Leadership Responding to #MeToo and Time’s Up​

January 16, 2018

How has this sexual harassment and assault season of “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” had an impact on the way you think about our society, your social and professional circles, and your Jewish community?

It has been important to see high profile men held accountable for the abuse of power manifested in their sexual misconduct.  Yet, with so much reckoning occurring in celebrity circles, I believe we need to be cautious against allowing ourselves to respond as if it were their problem.  Sexual harassment and assault, and the imbalance of gender power which is at the root of it all — for these issues are not about sex, they are about power– is all of our problem.  The imbalance of gender power devalues women and robs men as well as women of choices in their work and in their lives.  It is all of our problem– it’s in our own neighborhood, our own school, our own workplace, our own office, our own desk chair.  We all have growth and learning we need to do in order to take steps to dismantle gender power imbalance. Read the rest of this entry »


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

Background:

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 »


Shaping Judaism in the Jewish State: Vote for ARZA in WZO Elections

January 25, 2015

Learn here about voting for progressive Judaism in Israel in the WZO elections!

Since I was a child, I have heard the debate.  Do American Jews have the right to voice our opinions on Israel?  After all, we don’t send our children into the Israeli Army.  (Well, most of us don’t.) Do you think we have the right to speak out about Israel?  Are you unsure?

I suspect there are many in our congregation who are not certain what their relationship with Israel is, or should be.  So many are engaging in Israel study in our Sunday morning sessions; and yet, so few have registered for our congregational trip to Israel, we may need to cancel it.  (You can still sign up!) I know there are barriers of cost and safety concerns for some; but I wonder if there is also a barrier of emotional distance.  Perhaps we are not sure whether Israel is a place for our voice, our passions, for our concerns. We might feel alienated by the state’s sponsorship of Orthodoxy or feel estranged by the occupation of the West Bank.  Perhaps we just don’t know any Israelis, making it hard to relate beyond politics.  We are not sure if Israel is ours. Read the rest of this entry »


The Aisles Are Open: Spiritual Release

September 4, 2014
Last month, a rabbi visiting Camp Harlam Overnight Camp scowled when in the dining hall, he saw the campers banging on tables to the beat of Birkat Hamazon, Grace After Meals.   He missed it.  This rabbi missed the whole point.  He missed the fact that hundreds of campers knew all the words to a very long Hebrew blessing.  He missed the fact that in that moment they were absolutely aware of the connection between eating and gratitude.  He missed the Jewish pride in their eyes as they felt that knowing Hebrew and connecting Jewishly, is cool.  And he missed the spiritual release that was happening for our campers in that dining hall, during Birkat Hamazon and song session.

Read the rest of this entry »


One in Five Jews Say They Have No Religion: Applying Pew’s Lessons to the Future of Rodeph Shalom

February 23, 2014

Add your voice to the discussion: “Pew’s Findings on Jews in America: Hearing the Voices of Our Community” on Wed., Feb. 26 @ 7:00 pm at RS, with a panel featuring Pew Study director Alan Cooperman.

How does Jacob find meaning?  How do you find meaning in our Jewish community?  And how about the person who is connected to no Jewish organization, but might be on a quest for meaning?   How do we listen to what it is that person seeks? Read the rest of this entry »


Would You Stop for Beauty?

February 12, 2014

On a cold January morning during rush hour, at a Washington, DC metro station, a man wearing blue jeans, a tee-shirt and a baseball cap takes out his violin and begins to play.  Although the scene looks much like any street performance, it’s actually a stunt.  This is not just any street musician. This is master violinist, Joshua Bell.

A few years ago, The Washington Post invited Joshua Bell to participate in a social experiment.  They wondered: what would commuters do if they encountered exquisite music during their rush to get to work?  Without realizing that they were listening to a one-time child prodigy whose intricate music was being played on an expensive violin, and who just the evening prior had commanded on average $100 a seat at the symphony hall, would people stop for beauty? Read the rest of this entry »