Services in Blaustein Hall of Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem

Tisha B’Av and the Nation-State Law

The Nation-State basic law passed by the Knesset this week comes dangerously close to declaring Jewish superiority.  We are grateful to those who lobbied the members of the Knesset, and are relieved by some of the amendments to the original drafts of the law; but we remain concerned that the bill gives special rights to Jews that are not guaranteed to all citizens of the State of Israel. 

Netzer Leadership at Veida Protest Deportation of Refugees from Israel in Tel Aviv, March 2018

[Israel] Making Their Voice Heard, Dayenu: Reform Young Leadership Takes a Stand

The March 24 March for Our Lives coincided with the annual international Netzer Leaders Assemby (Veida), sponsored by ARZENU, KKL and WZO, where teen delegates from over 14 countries gathered to discuss the future of the Progressive Youth Movement. This year’s conference focused on Tikkun olam: As Reform Jews, does it require action or is […]

Vayak’hel-Pikudey: We Have Been Refugees

There seems to be a growing gap between Israeli and Diaspora Jews – whether the issue is controversy over the egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, or over the attempts of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate to gain a monopoly over conversions, or over the growing racism among sectors of the population. Was there ever a time when our people enjoyed unity? And is there a way to achieve that state today? A commentary to our double Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pikudey, suggests that there was indeed such a time.

Reading from an open Torah scroll

Parashat Ki Tisa 5778

This Torah portion is known for its story of the Golden Calf, built when Moshe failed to return from the mountain on exactly the 40th day as expected. The people panicked, thought Moshe was dead, and that God had abandoned them. Aaron, ever the peace-lover, reasoned that the people needed a visible symbolic representation of God to reassure them.  The People were not denying the God of the first commandment, but rather broke the second commandment prohibiting the building of idols.  When Moshe returned with the tablets, he was indignant and smashed the tablets to show that the covenant between God and the Children of Israel had been shattered.

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[St. Thomas] Coming Together in (and for) Reform Communities in the Caribbean

I have just returned from an amazing trip to the Caribbean with the World Union for Progressive Judaism. We visited congregations in San Juan, St. Thomas, Curacao, and Aruba, some of the oldest congregations in the Western hemisphere. We shared our stories, our music, and our prayers with each of these communities. As you know, […]

Thoughts and Prayers: What’s In Those “Prayers,” Anyway?

[On February 14th] the town of Parkland, Florida made the news because of a school shooting that left 17 people dead—most of them teenagers. There are now about 5 such shootings each month in America. Since 20 first graders were killed in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, there have been some 239 school shootings, taking 138 innocent lives, injuring and traumatising countless more. That is, since I’ve been with you here in Sydney, 240 school shootings have taken place in America, and many more at large public venues, like music concerts and night clubs.