I’m a big fan of Jewschool, though until today my name hasn’t graced it’s fine pages. Back in 2005, when I was working for B’nai Jeshurun, reading it made me feel connected to a rising cohort of committed activists in the Jewish world. Secret agent activists, working to change what they could with an inside/outside strategy. Sure, y’all were a bit clannish, and I still didn’t get all the UWS or Park Slope references, but I remember feeling part of something important.
That’s one of the ways that online communities function when they work - they create strong bonds and lasting impact even among participants who aren’t even contributing or making themselves known. Jewschool might have a smaller readership at this moment than at its peak, but the foundations laid by Mobius/Orthodox Anarchist/Daniel Sieradski have led to great things.
Enter RepairLabs. Created by Repair the World, it represents a particular kind of online community in formation; a community of practice. Where Repair’s overall mission is to support and expand the role of service in Jewish life, RepairLabs is to support the staff at Jewish nonprofits that actually operate service programs. As editor of the site, my job is to contribute to the formation of what might be a new identity: the Jewish Service or Jewish Service Learning professional.
To accomplish this, a little bit of identity surgery is required. In my years interacting with the Jewish world, I’ve met many staff members who only identified with a particular organization, not with employment in the Jewish ‘sector.’ Contrast that with many Federation executives who move around with some frequency, and know full well that they are ‘Federation executives.’
A similar instance might be with Jews doing environmental work (Adama, Hazon, COEJL, Teva, etc.) My impression is that they see themselves as working in the Jewish environmental world, a somewhat developed niche. Many of those staff people engage in Jewish Service Learning, or Immersive Jewish Service Learning. Do they see themselves as ‘JSL professionals’ who might someday be working for another JSL program?
I hope that someday RepairLabs can function as a community hub for a sector of the Jewish professional world. We’re trying to entice folks with resources, articles, and info about upcoming events in the sector. Consider this an initial effort to crowdsource some of our thinking. But the most important offering has yet to come: the wisdom and enthusiasm of a real community.
Are you a JSL or IJSL professional? Is that designation even helpful? What resources can a capacity building effort like RepairLabs provide? Do you have any experiences with cultivating a community of practice that might be useful here?
(Full disclosure: Dan S. currently works for Repair the World, and he introduced me to that fine organization, leading to my current gig at RepairLabs. RepairLabs wouldn’t exist without all the amazing content from Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Rabbi Brent Spodek, Amy Schrager, Perry Teicher, and Beth Steinhorn.)
…it is not Islam per sebut the very restraints on print and the idolization of language, among other factors, that are responsible for the benighted state of intellectual achievement in that orbit.
Peretz has mastered the art of turning a seemingly highly culturally-aware observation into a complete non-fact uninformed by, well, anything (and certainly lacking any understanding of basic cultural relativism). Perhaps he’s forgotten that the Islamic world gave us, you know, the foundations of algebra and chemistry. Those are kind of important.
The rest of the article is similar. Peretz says lots of things I agree with, lots I don’t, and still manages to come off sounding like a pretentious Western intellectual supremacist.
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.
Let’s set aside their missing hyphen and the fact that their list of categories goes far beyond morals and ethics. Let’s check out their panel of 71 experts:
First of all, they’re all rabbis. There are no Jewish scholars of any other sort of training, no cantors nor any academics.
Second–and more egregiously–the rabbis are listed as being in one of three categories: Conservative, Orthodox and Reform. There are no Reconstructionist, Renewal or unaffiliated rabbis on the panel of experts.
Aside from the exclusion of Jewish voices that don’t fit into the trichotomy, it may also make some people cling to one panelist’s answer, ignoring other answers because they’re from another denomination.
I took a look at a few questions on the site and found that, in many cases, I would have been unable to determine which rabbis were from which denomination based on the answers they gave.
Hazon has created an amazing resource for Tu Bi’Shvat where anyone can register for free and download a haggadah or customize your own, a leader’s guide and even a song book! It’s an incredible source for information and resources for running your own Tu Bi’Shvat seder or supplementing one which has become a tradition. Definitely head over and check it out because it really is something special. It’s all digital and it’s all free!
For those in NYC, you can join Hazon and Romemu for a Tu Bi’Shvat Seder and see this amazing resource in action!
Wednesday, January 19th
JCC Manhattan – 76th and Amsterdam
Doors open at 7:00pm, Seder begins promptly at 7:30pm
Celebrate Tu B’Shvat with the Hazon and Romemu communities as we experience the “new year for the trees” with song, spirit, and supper. This seder will be a kosher dairy meal including seasonal, gluten-free and vegan options.
Green Ticket- $30 (bring your own plate, bowl, cup and cutlery)
General Ticket- $36 (plate, bowl, cup and cutlery provided)
It seems cynicism is our favorite pill these days, used whenever we get an allergic reaction to the latest “shtut” (ridiculous step or statement) made by our leaders and officials. How else should we react to a call for separate public buses, insisting that women sit in the back? To a legislative attempt to allow communities to discriminate against any newcomers, with the exception of “one non-Jew needed to turn on the light in my refrigerator if it goes off on Shabbat”, as elegantly put by MK David Rotem? To a racist smear-campaign against African asylum-seekers and migrant workers “who are swamping Israel and spreading deceases like HIV”, as the Interior Minister lied to the public?
Our leaders and the press are competing with each other now: Who will speak louder against “disloyal traitors”? Who will do a better job at silencing and pushing aside legitimate criticism? And who will simply stand idle while our country is losing its mind?
Xenophobia and incitement are not the sole actions of the zealous. They are part of an overall scheme by cynical leaders to solve serious problems that should be publicly debated by simply pointing a figure and saying “Look at her! She’s to blame!” This way no one looks at them and holds them accountable. Therefore any time the average “man on the street” is caught on TV cameras speaking out against Africans, voicing racial slurs against Arabs, and explaining that the whole world is against Israel because they are Antisemitic – then the politicians can be satisfied that they have done what they sought out to do. “Am Yisrael” is exactly where they wanted them to be. More »
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.”
Those following along at home know that dlevy and I like to cook. (What, you mean you’re not still dreaming of our Deep-fried Tofutti Cuties? Don’t tell me you forgot about our pancakes too?)
Well, we’ve been at it again. And by “we’ve” I mean “I’ve.” With dlevy’s encouragement, of course.
It all started on Friday when my housemate dlevy, tweeted:
I WANT THIS INSIDE OF ME! RT @mwecker Scary yet oddly enticing! RT @WendyRosenfield: 1st, OMFG. 2nd, who’s in? is.gd/fRvFq
I was oddly mesmerised and horrified by this cake monstrosity. Clearly, I had no choice. Forget the fact that I had planned down to the very last minute until shabbos, and did not have time to bake, essentially, two cakes and two pies before sunset. Forget that our shabbos meals were to be fleishig and this monstrosity would only be milhig. Next thing I knew, I was offering to figure out how to bake it myself in our kitchen.
I dashed to the grocery store on my way home from work, bought the essentials, and somehow, b’ezras haShem!, managed to whip up two cake batters, two pies, drop said pies into two 10″ round cake pans, fill ‘em up with the batters, and bake them – all within an hour. ‘Twas truly a shabbos miracle!
Then there was the frosting. It had to be butter cream. My icing, which I used to hold the two cakes (“layers”) together failed. (Though, it turns out, the bottom vanilla layer absorbed that rum icing in a tasty way.) So motzei shabbos I was off to the store to buy (gasp!) pre-made icing. Yeah, I admit it. (Though I never will again.) Iced, the cake was ready to go.
Now here’s where this post takes a turn: I’m going to tell all you curious yidden out there NOT TO ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME. Read that as a warning. Take it to heart. Because, you see, that one small piece I tried? I got about halfway through it before feeling… ill isn’t a strong enough word. And I’m pretty sure my teeth all instantly rotted before jumping out of my mouth.
Bottom line? While most of our adventures in progressive kashrus are great, tasty fun, this one is a punch in the gut. Leave it for the goyyim.
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?
If you’ve got an opinion on Israel or the not-Ground-Zero not-mosque, head over to The Forward / Berman Jewish Policy Archive survey Facebook page and make it known! As these types of polls go, it’s actually quite good (although not, as one of our contributors lamented on an email thread, illustrated by Eli Valley. Next year in Jerusalem, maybe).
I personally am particularly interested to see how the opinions on Park51 fall among Jews, especially those who describe themselves on the survey as having “followed the issue closely.” We’ll see…
This week our country has finally woken up to the epidemic of gay teen suicide. Don’t be fooled by the media into thinking there’s been a sudden uptick in queer kids killing themselves — this has been going on for far too long. But for whatever reason, now people are starting to notice.
Here’s my video, Jewschool. If you’re making one, please share a link in the comments. And if you’re a queer kid out there who feels alone, maybe Jewschool can be the start of a new community for you. Start making it so by leaving a message in the comments to this post.
Since the explosion of GoogleMaps mashups nearly four years ago, Israeli-Palestinian conflict nerds like me have dreamed of seeing the settlements and sundry occupation data applied in such a visual manner. Most American Jews are idiots when it comes to the basic facts about the conflict because they have a pathetic grasp of the simple geography. Forgive my blunt assertion, but even most Israelis are blithely clueless about where even the Green Line runs.
Now behold! Americans for Peace Now releases much of that database, combined with their own copious Settlement Watch research, in “Facts on the Ground” — also available as an iPhone app! Take a tour via my screencast below:
Abraham Lincoln didn’t go to services on Rosh Hashanah.
But on this Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah 2010, we are asking to be written in the book of life and entering the ten days of teshuvah at a time when our online lives are so intertwined with our real lives that the structure of the world online is inevitably a part of these holy processes. Even though history might be different if Lincoln hadn’t let John Wilkes Booth know where he was by checking into Ford’s Theatre on foursquare that fateful night in 1865, good ole Honest Abe has some useful things as we renew ourselves in a more connected and searchable world.
In December 1862, one month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln spent days toiling over a message to Congress. The concluding paragraph is a rousing call.
“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” -Abraham Lincoln
Now the theme of emancipation is one that we as Jews are familiar with. But Lincoln’s message highlights an important aspect of emancipation that is often overlooked. Emancipation is not just about justice for slaves. As Lincoln says, we must rise to the challenges of our times, and these challenges require us to think and to act in new ways. How can we think and act in new ways if we are stuck in the same social roles that we have inhabited our whole lives? Stuck in roles that we may have even inherited from our parents or even grandparents. Master and slave, employer and employee, rich and poor. The problem with persistent, generationally inherited inequality is not only the injustice for those who get the short end of the stick. It is the erosion of a society’s ability to rise to the occasion when it is piled high with difficulty. How can you think anew and act anew when your role in the world is entirely defined by your past? How can you think in new ways when the world is constantly adapting itself to fit your old ways? More »
The URL is the same, but the look and feel are different. Starting today, jcarrot.org is now a blog at the Forward. Started by Hazon in 2006, the Jew and the Carrot has provided insight, recipes and news covering the spectrum of Jewish related food issues. Hopefully this new move will give the blog more readers, more contributers and more legitimacy.
It’s great to see two Jewish institutions, one historic and one relatively new, working together. This type of collaborative effort embodies exactly the kind of effort Hazon is embarking on by creating their new office space in lower Manhattan (which shares a floor with The Forward), Makom Hadash, which seeks to be “a multi-tenant nonprofit center for second-stage Jewish nonprofits, which will enable member organizations to focus more on their missions, develop more sophisticated organizational infrastructure, and collaborate more effectively together.”
So head on over to the new jcarrot.org and have a look around!
Who says popular culture can’t teach us something valuable about tshuvah, repentance?
As a way to kick off her new-ish release Forgiveness, Sarah McLachlan is launching a forgiveness contest. That’s right, this month, you can enter Sarah McLachlan’s Forgiveness Contest by sending in a postcard that somehow conveys the theme of forgiveness. The deadline, curiously enough, is September 8. Begin the new year with a bang (and maybe even an autographed copy of Laws of Illusion, a tote bag, and a pair of SMcL tickets too). Should you feel compelled to enter, here are the rules.
(This can be confusing though. It’s called the Ground Zero Mosque by people using it as en election wedge issue and by those who buy into their rhetoric. The institution itself, once its built will be called Cordoba House. Park 51 refers to the projects future address and refers to the organization that is raising the funds for construction Cordoba House.)
After their twitter, @Park51, was mentioned in a big article, they’ve been doing quite a lot of back-and-forth with fairly hostile Twitter users. And they’re kicking ass. So here’s a roundup of some of my favorites.
annahandzlik: But Imam Rauf wants more Sharia compliance in the US. He has been open about that. Who are you? #whereisthesharia?
stoning in Iran (regularly), gays executed (Iran & Saudi Arabia), blasphemy law (Pakistan & Muslim world), genocide (Sudan). #mmmk
Park51: we can’t answer for all Muslims or other countries or practice of law overseas
annahandzlik: if u can’t speak for entire world, then what is your version of Sharia law? If we’re supposed to be compliant we need to see it.
Park51: Insults aside, I asked you for clarification on your blanket statements several times. Waiting………..
JordanSekulow (works for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is suing to stop the project): I encourage you to read the lawsuit, here’s the direct link bit.ly/afME66 (can’t make it any easier for you)
Park51: Oy vey, for the fifth time we read it. In 140 char and from you, why are you doing it?
Park51′s twitter has also been kindly informing people who @reply them, but won’t return Park51′s responses that “twitter is about conversations.” And on one occasion, they told one antagonist to get a real profile pic because they look like a bot without one.