Just in time for the New Year, Rabbi David Lazar has started a new blog, creatively titled Rabbi David Lazar’s blog. David is a Masorti Rabbi who founded and served a Masorti synagogue in Israel, was active in the creation of the LGBT center in Jerusalem, served as the Rabbi in Stockholm, and on and on. Google him. Really. (Okay, I’ve done it for you. Just go here.)
Israel’s Documented Story started posting last June and it’s been an interesting read. It’s an English language blog run by The Israel State Archives. They’ve been posting and commenting on documents, including recently declassified documents in the archvies. Here are some highlights:
They have British Mandate immigration records from 1920-1947, much of which were recently put online. While some records were destroyed or removed, the remaining documents have a lot of details, including pictures–and they are indexed by family: Immigrants to the British Mandate (Record Group 11)
There’s a great series on documents relating to Anwar Sadat’s 1977 visit to Jerusalem and the subsequent Israel/Egypt peace process. The primary documents are here and I think all posts are tagged at: israelsdocuments.blogspot.com/search/label/1977 Here are some nice segments from that series:
Principles sometimes change: They document Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s guiding princples to negotiating with Egypt, how much these seemingly nonnegotiable principles deviated from the final peace agreement, and why.
“Over a period of 29 years all six of Israel’s prime ministers, including myself, have stated their readiness to go anywhere and at any time to meet the Arab rulers to talk about peace. These offers have remained without response apart from certain clandestine meetings subsequently publicly denied by both sides.” Huh? Run that by me again? Never ever any meetings except for the ones we’ve all denied?
The Spook’s Report: A Mossad agent’s perspective on the then top secret meeting in Morocco of Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Tuhami.
Jewschool founder Mobius aka Dan Sieradski is part of the panel at this very interesting event at the 14th Street Y on “The Future of Jewish Culture.” A full press kit is here. A quick look at the panel shows it covers not only various sectors but geographies and aims to address a significant amount of ground in an evening:
“After a decade of flourishing Jewish creativity, major Jewish cultural enterprises are being forced to scale
back operations or close entirely. Using recent funding cuts as a springboard to examine the most pressing
issues facing new Jewish arts and culture, “Now What?” addresses:
New perspectives on American Jewish identity
Waning support for quality Jewish art and culture
Strategies for cultivating Jewish art and culture in the future”
May 15, 2012 7pm, 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave.), New York, NY 10003
If you’re in the area and are interested, sign up here. Naturally, this is a subject that deserves and requires significantly more time than a single evening. The need to advocate for, plan and implement a national Jewish Cultural Policy could be the focus of a week long conference with representatives from major communal institutions and umbrella organizations, local presenting arms and various elements from artists and performers to independent organizations. It could also be a great panel to recreate at the General Assembly because the message points need to be heard by people who hold the purse strings and those who put the money in that purse
As someone who runs a Jewish cultural initiative, I’m very interested in this and am excited that its taking place. I’d be interested to know who’s attending and if any funders or folks from the institutional community will be within earshot. And of course, as a non-New Yorker, I’m glad to see there’s three other regional centers represented on the panel.
Above, the Chilean Federation of Jewish Students protests discrimination.
Over at New Voices Magazine (my day job), we launched a new blog this week that Jewschoolers might be interested in. It’s called the Global Jewish Voiceand it’s a way to jump-start a wider conversation that we normally have at New Voices. While New Voices is normally American or Israeli (and occasionally Canadian) in scope, the Global Jewish Voice is a fully international conversation about the lives of Jewish students and young adults.
The blog is staffed by 10 writers reporting on their lives on campus, in the workplace and at home. They are writing in from every corner of the globe, including Israel, the US, Chile, Spain, China, Canada, the UK and–no joke–Serbia. The blog’s student editor is based in Portland, Ore. There’s also an open submission policy.
This could quickly turn to riots – we need to get the hell out of here. We don’t even have bulletproof vests – any jerk in the street can knife me and disappear. I started to walk toward the trucks and my phone blinks again, this time from a Facebook message: “Shlomo gave us grades! I got a 91! I think he is good after all, he probably didn’t even check that well… how much did you get?”
Meanwhile in Chile, sometimes the struggle is more symbolic of living Jewishly in a non-Jewish world. University student Maxamilliano Grass is on the vanguard of Jewish student activism and pro-Israel work in a country with 75,000 Jews—and over 400,000 Palestinians: More »
My first post at Jewschool was about being a Jew from Texas. Finally–now that I’ve lived in New Jersey for nearly four years and I’m getting ready to graduate and move somewhere other than my hometown of Austin–it seems that Jewish life in Austin is beginning to diversify.
I started thinking about this when I got an email from Mike Wachs, founder of Austin’s very own, brand-spanking-new local jewblog, Git Nu. It’s got a pretty daring design. Each post has an image. Mouse-over and of the images and the text of the post displays, and click on the image and you go through to the post.
So far, there aren’t so many posts. With the help of a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin, Mike is just getting Git Nu off the ground. Here’s part of what he said in his email:
I’ve started a small, alternative outlet for Jewish Culture in Austin and just wanted to say hi. The site is called Git Nu and while there have only been a few outside contributions so far, the initial response seems to be one of excitement.
If you have any advice on soliciting content, building community, leading the discussion–in a general sense–or any other topics, any help would be much appreciated.
According to my mom’s boyfriend–he’s on the board of the Austin fed–Austin is the fastest-growing city in American for 20- and 30-somethings. He says that’s not a percentage, but in sheer numbers. So more people means more Jews. And more young Jews means more diverse offerings in the Jewish community in Austin.
At least, in theory. I haven’t seen a whole of evidence of it yet, but Git Nu looks like an indicator.
That’s right, folks. You heard it here first. (Well, actually, you heard it at JTA first.)
Birthright Israel said it has received a record-breaking number of North American applicants for its free, 10-day trips to Israel.
The organization, which provides all-expense-paid trips to Israel for Diaspora Jews aged 18 to 26, received 40,108 applicants during the seven-day registration period ending Tuesday
Israel’s Minister For Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, called it “the most successful project in the Jewish world.”
[Emphasis mine, obviously.] JTA’s full story is here.
That’s quite a claim. I dunno how the actual founding of the state doesn’t take top honors there, but I’ll leave it to the bloviation specialists at Birthright and in the Israeli government to duke it out over that.
To explain the “big-deal-ness” of this to non-Jews: just mention that Vice President Biden spoke, and they raise their eyebrows, as if they are impressed, and then squint, saying, “Is he Jewish?”
To stay awake during a session: count the number of times you hear the word “Delegitimization”–you won’t fall asleep, ever.
To be hypocritical: pretend you are an “older” delegate and don’t directly answer any of the questions that students ask during the sessions or workshop.
To sound like everyone else: use the following catchphrases–”delegitimization,” “conflict,” “framing,” “giving,” “development,” “social media,” “nolaga,” “Israel advocacy,” “Jewish identity,” “generation,” “future.”
All of this had me re-reading all of HP. Re-reading it, combined with my slightly unsatisfactoryrecent experiences in a couple of different New York City prayer communities had me giving serious consideration to a big new project. I’ve also been thinking about less than a year from now when my NJ chavurah is not going to be an option for me every week.
HP paints such a perfect picture for me. The only place I’ve ever been (not that I don’t know of others) that lives up to BZ’s vision of Stage 3 pluralism is Kol Zimrah. KZ meets once a month and only on Friday nights. But I want what is on offer at KZ every Friday night. And then I want it again in the morning. And I want it in a daily minyan. And I want it on holidays. This is a tall order.
So this week, I began starting to think toward creating one more element of this.
For some, like me, what draws them to KZ is the pluralism. I like the singing, but I like the ideas more. However, most of the people who come are probably more drawn in by the singing and spirited atmosphere. The spirited singing is thanks to two liturgical developments. First, we can thank some Medieval Kabbalists for giving us Kabbalat Shabbat. And second, we can thank Shlomo Carelbach for giving us some great tunes to make Kabbalat Shabbat a fun, engaging prayer experience. In essence, KZ without a Carelbach Kabbalat Shabbat would be a shell of itself.
So maybe what we need to create is the same kind of big singing, big fun prayer experience on Shabbat morning.
Luckily, much like Kabbalat Shabbat, we have hefty section of psalms to sing in the morning too! P’sukei D’zimrah usually gets shafted in shul. Most people don’t even show up until its over. It’s also long, so if we actually sang all of it, we wouldn’t be done with services until it’s time for Minchah.
We’ve got tunes for all of these psalms, but some may not work for the kind of spirited experience I’m talking about here. Especially if Carlebach (or Carlebach-esque) music is what is needed, we’re in trouble. For Psalm 150 and for 92 and a few others, we’ve got no problem.
But for some pslams, this will take some work. I chatted with Russ, our chazan (OK, our JTS student chazan, but he’s our chazan) at Chavurat Lamdeinu here in Jersey, about it this morning. I’m a bit melodically-challenged sometimes, so the obvious hadn’t occurred to me. Russ pointed out that Carlebach (and others) have a gazillion nigunim out there that could be laid on top of some of these psalms. This will take some work, but it’s doable.
Of course, as others have pointed out to me as I’ve rambled about this idea off and on this week, there are also some significant practical challenges here. Getting a minyan together on a Shabbat morning is harder than on a Shabbat evening because you need a Torah. You also need people to read Torah. This stuff is infinitely surmountable, but it’s there nonetheless.
The biggest challenge would be time. At its fullest, by my count, P’sukei D’zimrah includes 16 full psalms, the entire Song of the Sea, two prayers and a whole host of ancillary biblical passages. This is a more than twice as much material as Kabbalat Shabbat, which only has 8 psalms and a few extra piyutim/songs (usually between one and three songs, though it depends on who you talk to).
So there would probably need to be cuts. Personally, I’d probably start with the ancillary biblical passages, but I wouldn’t want to make these decisions alone anyway.
There would also have to be some discussion of how to do the rest of the service, with very careful attention paid to the requirements of Stage 3. Issues like the number of aliyot and the triennial cycle would certainly be up for discussion. Other parts of the service would need discussion too, such as the Amidah, where a Heiche Kedushah (leader does Amidah aloud through the Kedushah, everyone continues silently on their own, no leader’s repetition after) would probably merit discussion. And Birkot Hashacar etc, despite being a favorite of mine, would probably be right out because that can all be done at home before arriving or individually by people who arrive early.
That’s about as far as my thinking on this has taken me so far. Thoughts, anyone? Who’s with me?
Jeeze, a guy gets busy for a few weeks and you turn this site into all Israel, all the time! (Okay, all Israel plus Kyrgyzstan and a touch of Talmud.)
Anyway, while I’ve been gone, I’ve been busy. I mentioned that I graduated from Hebrew College. I was incredibly honored to be asked to speak at graduation, so I naturally took the opportunity to get on my soap box and told the older folks in the room “Don’t Tell Me I’m Next.” Ironically, despite giving a speech against always asking “what’s next,” I was getting ready to embark on my own next adventure: becoming editor of JewishBoston.com. Having been liberated from eight years of (part-time) academia and (full-time) employment as a Jewish educator, I started my new job the following day. And now, here I am, blogging at you from the former chapel of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in downtown Boston. (Seriously, they ripped out the aron kodesh to make me an office. I’ll leave it to the rest of you to interpret that how you will.)
So now that I’m something of a professional blogger, I will probably be spending less time around these here parts except for the occasional cross-post or when the mood takes me to write something that doesn’t fit at my primary residence on the web.
But today I did want to share one of those cross-posts, because this weekend we have a big holiday coming up, and I don’t mean Father’s Day.
June 19th is celebrated across the United States and around the world as Juneteenth, the anniversary of African-American emancipation in this country. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in September and went into effect in January, many slaveholders in the south simply ignored it. The date of Juneteenth commemorates the June 18th and 19th taking of the state of Texas by the Union army under General Gordon Granger, who publicly announced the end of slavery, inspiring public celebrations among the newly freed slaves. Three years ago, Massachusetts became the 25th state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday; 11 more have since followed suit.
I had never really contemplated Juneteenth from a Jewish perspective before this year. A few months ago, my friend Ingrid phoned me excitedly from her home in LA. “Juneteenth falls on Shabbat this year,” she told me, “so I’m going to host a Jewnteenth seder!” As someone who is both Jewish and African-American, Ingrid was thrilled to carve some space into the calendar that spoke to both elements of her identity. Modeling her Shabbat dinner after the Passover seder seemed natural, since both Passover and Juneteenth celebrate freedom from slavery.
So whether you’re part of an organized celebration or not, this weekend is a great opportunity to reflect on the freedoms we share as well as the work still left to do to ensure equal rights for all. And if you’re not already familiar with the racial diversity within the Jewish community, you can check out the work done by such organizations as The Jewish Multiracial Network and Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue).
“There are many ways to have intelligent interfaith conversation, and they don’t always have to take place in a boardroom or office. Sometimes they’re with people you run into on the sidewalk and interact with for five minutes.” — Lilit Marcus
I don’t remember exactly when I actually met Lilit for the first time, though it could possibly have been at that very meetup nearly four (gah!) years ago, at a Kol Zimrah, or other random Jew-y stuff here in NYC. Always was impressed with her wit, her knowledge, her openness, and her writing. Always fun to snarkily break down a stupid argument or to get her clear-eyed insights, especially on faith, religion, spirituality, and a Jewish world she could see with fresh eyes, having not been drowned in NYC Jewyness her whole life. A blast to have a bourbon with as well.
In any case, the J-blogs just got a little less smart last week as Lilit, friend of the blog and former contributor here at Jewschool, parted ways with Jewcy. After helming it through its near-death experience and keeping it alive until it could join forces with our friends at JDub, she was recruited to start something new on the internets. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be smart and snappy. We wish her all the best!
Her last post as big cheese of Jewcy is here. Good luck finding a replacement, Jewcy, you have some awesome shoes to fill.
Vaguely interested in Jewish innovation but not committed enough to read an entire blog post each day? Have no fear, Jewschoolers, we’re reading Dan Sieradski’s 31 Days, 31 Ideas blog so you don’t have to! Missed our first two summaries? Start here and continue here. Today, I bring you our final round-up. More »
I’ve been a little quiet here lately (although not in the comments section!). I’ve been busy with work and school and life and jet-setting (if a day trip to Cherry Hill to teach attendees of the USCJ Biennial Convention how to be nicer to gay people counts as jet-setting). But I’ve also found some time to do a bit of reading. My secret? Google reader and the Barnes & Noble e-reader on my phone make multi-tasking while I poop loads of fun, no pun intended. And audiobooks enliven even my minuscule 15-minute commute.
Anyway, dear Jewschool readers, I figure if you’re here, reading this very blog, then you might also enjoy reading (or listening) to the self-same things I am reading (and listening to). So here’s dlevy’s list of recommended reading (and listening) for the moment.
First, let’s talk about Philip Roth. Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that his window into the behavior of American Jews in the twentieth century is unique and provocative. I fall into the love him category, although I admit I haven’t read a ton of his work. However, I recently reacquainted myself with the shorts collected in Goodbye, Columbus and Other Stories. I took the audiobook out of the library and have been listening in the car all week. The stories are fantastic, but we know that. The performances here are all equally phenomenal. John “Pippin” Rubinstein, Jerry “I Made Nathan Lane a Star” Zaks, Elliot “I Shtupped Barbra Streisand” Gould, and Theodore “Topol Who?” Bikel each bring their own particular charm to some of Roth’s best. But Harlan Ellison’s rendition of “Defenders of the Faith” elevates the story to new heights. I was totally blown away by his performance, and the way this story of soldiers during WWII came alive through it. I won’t say much more in case some of our readers aren’t familiar with the story, but despite its setting, the issues it raises are still relevant in Jewish communities today. Fantastic.
Outside the world of literature, I’ve found myself visiting and revisiting a bunch of blogs that are worth plugging here.
Eat Me Daily is not a Jewish blog. It is, as you might guess, a food blog. It’s relatively new on the scene – I believe it’s been around for just over a year – but it’s reliably entertaining, with a mixture of original content and links to fun food stories out there in the interwebs. This week two posts in particular caught my Jewy attention: the Cupcake Menorah and Finagle-a-Bagel Webisodes. !בתאבון
Jew Point 0, the blog of Darim Online, features some interesting insights into how Jewish organizations are using internet technology to achieve their goals. The posts can be a little inside baseball, but as I’ve mentioned before, that’s my thing.
jew on this might be best described as the Jewschool of Australia, although that doesn’t really do them justice. Like Jewschool, it’s a group-authored blog from a progressive viewpoint. In their own words, they are “jews who ponder, not just wander. we’re writing about stuff. thinking critically. eating jewishly (because we all know how important food is to jewishness, and we all love that that is so).” Chances are, if you like Jewschool, you’ll like jew on this as well.
Modern Tribe’s Jewish Life and Style has become the blog home of Punk Torah. The blog is a mix of how-to videos (way more entertaining — and accurate — than eHow) and d’vrei Torah on the weekly parsha, with a smattering of other features and the occasional plug for Modern Tribe’s products. Patrick Arthur and friends break down Judaism to make it accessible with a punk rock attitude mixed with southern hospitality. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)
Finally, a blog that I’ve subscribed to with my trusty RSS reader but haven’t had the time to fully explore is The Jewish Writing Project. Envisioned as a place where anyone can share stories about what being Jewish means to them (regardless of how or whether they self-identify as Jewish), the site also has a commitment to quality (that includes an editing process! on the internet! Praise the Lord!) that makes me hopeful.
I’m also gearing up to write my master’s thesis, which looks like it’s going to involve quite a bit of reading about informal Jewish education, technology, modern American-Jewish history, and more, starting real soon. So get ready for some super nerdly over-sharing from me in the coming months.
Today, he posted a video about Sukkot by Globe photographer Joanne Rathe. I don’t think the video will shock anyone here in terms of the information presented, but it was fascinating to me because of the absence of men, despite focusing on an Orthodox family. (I’m making an assumption here based in part on the way the women are dressed.) And I’m pleased that it was presented simply as “a look at the traditions associated with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot as seen through the eyes of a family in Boston” and not “a female perspective on Sukkot.”
The people behind the website have put a lot of effort into community outreach, holding focus groups and open feedback sessions as the plans coalesced. Today, thanks to Twitter, I learned that the Jewish Boston website is live — sort of. While it doesn’t yet feature any of the bells and whistles planned for its proper launch, the folks putting it all together are using the domain for a blog about the process of creating such a gigantic undertaking. So right now, JewishBoston.com is the address for “Building JewishBoston.com – a blog about the development of JewishBoston.com.”
This probably won’t be of interest to many, but for those of us who deal with how Jewish communities communicate and organize information, it’s a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain.
Last night, my Motzei Shabbos plans took me to the cinema, where I saw Julie & Julia. For those of you living outside the world of popular culture, this is a film based on a book based on a blog. The blog was started in late 2002 – just around the time I stopped blogging my first time around – right around the moment when blogging jumped from being a niche phenomenon to a zeitgeist. (Coincidentally, Jewschool launched in December 2002, just a few months later.)
There’s a moment in the film in which Julie’s husband, despairing at the state of their marriage (crumbling under the weight of her cooking/blogging project), asks Julie why she blogs, why this has become so important to her. Julie’s answer had a lot to do with a search for individual identity and voice at a moment in her life when she risked dissolving into her bland, repetitive workaday existence. Last night, listening to this conversation on the big screen, I found myself reflecting on the same question relative to this here blog that you’re reading.
It just so happens that it was the second time in two days that the question had come up for me. On Friday, I had coffee with Ally Berenson, program director of Gesher City Boston. There were two purposes to this meeting. Ally and I were in USY together, so it’s always a pleasure to see each other and catch up. Since we both work in the Jewish community, we inevitably have a lot to talk about, but since I work primarily with teenagers and she works primarily with the 21-35 crowd, our professional lives don’t intersect as often as I might like. However, at the last Jewschool powwow (about a dozen of the editors & contributors got together for a real-life in-person meeting last month), Team Jewschool talked about exploring potential connections Jewschool could and should be making with other organizations out there in the Jewish world. I immediately thought of GesherCity. Now before all you bleeding edge anti-establishment hipsters vomit all over your netbooks, let me explain… More »