Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What does Reform mean to you?

Okay - at this point, I can actually say I've been involved with the Reform Movement in Judaism for well more than 40 yrs (born into it, and having played some active role as a Reform Jew the entire time since). Reform - the preeminent progressive presence in Judaism - remains the most vital, relevant and ever-expanding Jewish response to modern times (to somewhat quote a beloved teacher, Michael Meyer of HUC-JIR). A great deal has been said and written lately about this being a very significant time of change and transformation for Reform, and especially its leading institutional body - the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). And yet - as a dynamically evolving element of Jewish tradition, Reform is ALWAYS at a time of transition; perhaps this is its defining notion (some of you will remember the ol' booklet Reform is a Verb).
In about two weeks, literally thousands of Reform Jews will join together from around North America and the world for the URJ's Biennial Convention, the largest gathering of Jewish professional and lay leaders (for more on Biennial, go to Highlight of this convention will be the Education Summit focusing on the Campaign for Youth Engagement. I'm extra proud that Debra has a significant role in all this...
Each Biennial I've attended has become a favorite experience of mine - and I am very much looking forward to this edition of the "family gathering" of our denomination. As I get ready to attend (and yes, think about the programs, the people, and even what to wear) - I ask myself - what does Reform mean to me? As a contemporary American I have the privilege of considering this question; as a progressive Jew, I also have the obligation to continue seeking a meaningful response.

Monday, November 14, 2011

JamesBrownthehardestworkingmaninrock'n'roll (and Jewish life)

OKAY - so the month following the fall Holy Days (mostly coinciding with the Hebrew month of Cheshvan - called by the sages mar cheshvan - "poor cheshvan" because of the lack of holidays) has been entirely too busy. Thank goodness it's mainly been with wonderful, positive, uplifting stuff: we had the opportunity (along with the local Muslim community) to sponsor the re-broadcast of Robert Satloff's Among the Righteous on WNIT, followed by an in-studio town hall discussion among leaders of our local religious community (for more, see
Then, we had our wonderful scholar-in-residence weekend with culinary author and teacher Tina Wasserman - proving once again that entree into Judaism is often through the stomach. Find Tina's work at
We then hosted author, historian and filmmaker Satloff as our annual Kristallnacht commemoration speaker...after which I had the honor to serve as a guest artist for a URJ program on adult learning through the arts. Conducting tefilah and sharing materials on using music in the Jewish educational setting was both challenging and uplifting...though tired after these 36 hours, it's totally worth it.
d this isn't even to mention the upcoming United Religious Community pre-Thanksgiving event next weekend! Busy is blessed...