GUESS THE MAGIC WORD!
In the course of our time together, we discussed many issues: security (we are all concerned how to balance openness with safety); social media (what's the best way to get "eyeballs" on our message...answer: everything); how to grow new leadership (provide opportunities to learn and lead); how to grow a spiritually meaning-filled prayer experience (lots of intentionality and experimentation).
However, if there is one lesson we learned from our 36 hours with Rabbi Rick Jacob (president of the URJ), Amy Asin (newly appointed vice-president of the URJ), and a number of the top professional leadership of the Reform movement, it was that change IS coming. The question posed before us? Do we want to lead the change or be forced to react to the change?
Again, we have already made important additions to our staff in order to deepen our sense of community. Rabbi Beryl Padorr, our Shared Vision Coordinator, has the task of helping each/all of us to discover our Jewish journeys and how B'nai Jehudah can be a partner along that path. Cantor Sharon Kohn is growing our Chesed (caring) efforts, to permit B'nai Jehudah to be the loving and supportive family each of us needs at many times in our lives.
A BIG BIG QUESTION
Rabbi Friedman wrote what happened next:
Of the more than 100 women assembled, all mothers, no more than a dozen raised their hand. My mother stood and announced that she would take three children. God has been good to her, she said, giving her three healthy sons; this was her opportunity to repay. She added without embarrassment that her family was living in a small apartment, with only two bedrooms, because their house had been foreclosed by the bank during the Depression. Hence, she could take only boys, who could sleep mixed in with her sons.
Mother came home with the affidavit forms, placed them under my father's nose at the kitchen table, and told him of her commitment. Signing the forms, as far as she was concerned, was only a formality. He saw it differently, because of the legal obligations his signature would impose...
He could not envision for an instant how they could handle the additional expense of food, clothing, school, etc., for three more persons.
My mother answered him quietly, but with great passion. Even though we were poor, how could we refuse to save Jewish lives if we were given the chance to do so? She was ashamed of the other sisterhood members. All of them should have volunteered, and she would not hesitate to tell them so at the next meeting. "If we have enough food for five of us," she asked, "why can't we simply make it enough for eight?" If I must wash shirts for six boys instead of three, what's the difference?"...
The parental argument raged all night-the only time I remember my parents raising their voices in anger and disagreement. She won. In the morning, my father signed the affidavits, and she proudly took them back to the synagogue.
As I mulled over the matter, I decided that my mother's fight with my father symbolized the whole problem, and the only conclusion was therefore to act according to moral Jewish values, without permitting rationalization, delay, or any other diluting factor.
"When history knocks, you answer."
* * *
For whom are we responsible? And how shall we act?
KIM JON UN AND ME
Elections begin on January 13, one week from now. Here is what I am asking you to do:
Help us make Israel into the pluralistic and welcoming Jewish homeland that Theodor Herzl and generations before him imagined. Help us Israel live up to the promise of its founders.
DOES FERGUSON TEACH US ANYTHING?
I do not offer these thoughts to second guess the grand jury's decision to not indict Officer Wilson, over the the death of Michael Brown. Nor are these thoughts meant to support or attack the decision. Rather, it is to speak to the larger issue facing this country...that of racial equality.
Take Ferguson, as one example. It is 60% African-American. Yet, in 2013, 92% of searches and 86% of car stops involved African-Americans. 483 blacks were arrested. 36 arrested were white. It is possible that the black community in Ferguson is more riddled with crime and violence than the white community. But 9 to 1?
Isn't that what our neighbors and fellow citizens deserve?
I wonder if my classmate feels "normal" today? I wonder.
DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ?
Many of us have heard the horrific news coming out of Israel today: four rabbis, praying during Shacharit (morning) services on Friday morning in their neighborhood synagogue, were murdered by two assailants.
The assumption is that this act of violence is but one more expression of either hatred or frustration (or both) on the part of Palestinians. Some have suggested that the escalation of violence (including recent car attacks on pedestrians) is because Israel is suggesting "changing the status quo" regarding who can go up and who can pray on (what Jews call) the Temple Mount and (what Muslims call) the Noble Sanctuary.
Look how some in the international media have chosen to portray the events from this morning in Israel:
CNN states: "Police shot, killed 2 Palestinians"
Did police shoot and kill 2 Palestinians? Absolutely. But the real story - 4 innocentrabbis, praying to God, are murdered for no reason other than the fact that they are Jews living in Israel - that story does not get told in the headlines.
But what we do know is this: Who we listen to...who we read....who we watch... determines what images are formed inside us, determines how we view events that occur beyond our own personal experiences.
ROLLING EYES, ARMS CROSSED...YES, I DO BELIEVE!
Well, consider this research regarding faith. Although written from a Christian perspective, it applies 100% to the Jewish community and to our children:
...82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults. Other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison.
"No other conceivable causal influence ... comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth," University of Notre Dame sociologist, Christan Smith said in a recent talk sharing the findings at Yale Divinity School. "Parents just dominate."
One of the strongest factors associated with older teens keeping their faith as young adults was having parents who talked about religion and spirituality at home, Smith said.
The role of parents is even more critical today as trust in institutions decline and many children with more demanding schedules are spending less time in congregations, Smith noted.
Yet, he said, there are some powerful "cultural scripts" that discourage parents from taking an active role in the spiritual lives of their teens.
Among those scripts:
Pretty amazing? So, if you know a Jewish teen and you hope that s/he will continue to be Jewish and be active in the Jewish community...have the parent(s) model the behavior desired...celebrate Shabbat and holidays, be involved in the congregation, be committed to Jewish values such as tikkun olam, tzedakah, and acts of chesed. Remember what the research discovered: "Parents (and grandparents) set a kind of glass ceiling of religious commitment, about which their children rarely rise."
That's the research. Now...what are YOU going to do?
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03.27.2017 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
03.27.2017 5:45 pm - 6:15 pm
03.28.2017 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
03.28.2017 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
03.28.2017 5:45 pm - 6:15 pm
The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah 12320 Nall Avenue Overland Park, KS 66209 Phone: 913-663-4050 Fax: 913-906-9544