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Whether we participated in the Community Engagement Fellowship or the Education Fellowship, we have each worn many hats over the past two years: professional schmoozer, educator, Jewish professional, program developer, and community historian, just to name a few. As we wrap up our two years as Fellows at the ISJL, we realized that we had each taken an aspect from our position and developed it into the subsequent step in our professional journeys.
Read on to see where life will take us next and to discover how diverse ISJL Fellowships are.
Gabi Cohn: I began the Education Fellowship knowing full well that my desired next step would be rabbinical school. However, I wasn’t as sure what it was that led me to this desire. I’d spent my college years delving into the history and practice of American Judaism and through this fellowship, was excited to see it in action. I traveled from one community to another, both large and small, I have learned all the different ways that a Jewish community can and does function, something I did not fully understand from my background. Each time I entered a prayer space and community I felt some sort of connection. Leading a service and sharing a new bit of Jewish knowledge quickly became the highlight of my week. I am thrilled to continue my work with the professional Jewish world through the Rabbinical School of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and beyond. A piece of the ISJL will remain with me throughout my journeys ahead.
Rachel Fraade: One of my favorite things about the Education Fellowship has been all the connections I have made, and all of the impromptu deep conversations I have had across the South. This taught me that I want to work on a one-on-one basis with individuals, which combined with my commitment to social justice, makes social work the perfect field for me. I hope to continue working with teens, and to implement my experience volunteering at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization to inform a future in reproductive justice counseling. I look forward to earning my AM (the equivalent of a Masters in Social Work) from the University of Chicago. After six years in the South, I will miss it more than I can describe, but I have a feeling I’ll be back in the future.
Rachel Glazer: I’m told that if you love something, stick with it. So, after two years of empowering Southern Jewish communities to engage in meaningful social justice programs, as well as guiding public school students across the South through becoming confident readers, compassionate listeners, and leaders in the classroom, I feel so blessed to be continuing my work at the ISJL, this time as the Community Engagement Associate. Through our work with families and literacy, I have been reminded of the power of learning together; through our peer mediation program, I have been retaught how to listen to hear and not to respond; through our Jewish social justice initiatives, I have learned how to meet people where they are and how to employ my Jewish values to guide the work I do to benefit all the parts of my community, and not solely the Jewish one.
Leah Wittenberg: When I started the Education Fellowship in June of 2016, I planned to attend rabbinical school after my tenure with the ISJL. I have realized, however, that not only do I want to gain experience outside of the Jewish professional world, I am not yet ready to go to grad school. Through the Fellowship, I furthered my passion for fundraising, taking a grant writing class as part of a professional development opportunity this past year. I also honed my program and curriculum writing skills. I have learned how to talk to anyone, anywhere, of any age, and make them feel at ease. I cannot wait to use all of these skills as I embark on the next chapter in my life. I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay in Jackson and work for an incredible nonprofit organization–Growing Up Knowing–as their Program Specialist starting in August of 2018. And what’s on my plate in the meantime, you might wonder? I’ll be returning to the URJ camping world for the first time since 2009 as the Director of Hospitality and Marketing at Henry S. Jacobs Camp.
Shira Muroff: One of the best parts of the Education Fellowship has been the chance to see how the history of each partner community has impacted the way that they practice Jewishly and interact with their greater community. This, combined with the opportunities to become involved in the larger Jackson history and humanities world throughout my two years has shown me that educational history programming is the piece of the Education Fellowship that I want to develop in my next job. Next year, I’ll be staying in Jackson and working at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as an Education Historian. I look forward to providing access to Mississippi history to people across the state, and I’m hoping that my Google Doc skills gained at the ISJL serve me well in the future.
With our five distinct paths ahead of us, we are excited to be joining the Fellow Alumni Network and starting our new journeys. L’hitraot!
The post After Two Years As Southern Jewish Fellows, Where Are They Going? appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Shakshuka is my ultimate comfort food. Whether you order it at a restaurant or make it at home, there is nothing better than eating it straight out of a bubbling pan of spicy sauciness. There is also something almost sacred about eating food that’s had no pit-stops or interruptions: from flame to table.
Shakshuka originates from Tunisia and it’s now a staple on Israeli breakfast tables and restaurants, creeping up on menus all over the world. Traditionally, we dip and mop it up with pita bread or sourdough (or in my kitchen, leftover challah bread). It’s the ideal dish if you’re looking for a leisurely breakfast, or any meal for that matter, because with a generous serving of it (and that’s the way it should be) you can continue to spoon and wipe up the sauces long after the coffee has run out.
When I do any kind of tomato sauce-based cooking, I can rarely resist boiling up some pasta to swirl around in it, so in this case, pasta was my vehicle of choice to soak up the tomato-yolk concoction, as well as chickpeas for that extra bite (and fine, protein too). Spaghetti is easily maneuvered to make the perfect little ditches for the eggs to comfortably cook in, and if you haven’t yet tried the combination of salty runny egg yolks with pasta, it’s about time you do! However, don’t let the spaghetti scare you off, there will always be something left to clean up with a good piece of bread.
Our tradition tells us that there is a time for everything. “A time to cry, a time to laugh, a time to eulogize, and a time to dance” — eit livkot v’eit lischok, eit s’fod v’eit r’kod in the words of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 3:4.
The wisdom in these words is essentially this: We need to be present in the moment we are in — be it at a wedding or a funeral. This can be difficult, especially when it requires us to feel the pain, sorrow and emptiness that can accompany the death of someone we love. But acknowledging and experiencing our genuine emotions in the moment is not only psychologically and spiritually beneficial to our grieving process, it also honors those whom we are mourning. Judaism recognizes this.
The Jewish laws around mourning come from a poignant and tragic event in the Torah. Aaron, the head priest who is in the middle of inaugurating and celebrating God’s Tabernacle in the desert, suddenly loses two of his sons, Nadav and Avihu. The sons have offered a burnt sacrifice before the Lord with “a strange fire which [God] had not commanded them.” In so doing, Nadav and Avihu are consumed by a fire from God and are killed.
Our tradition includes much discussion as to why this happened, with some commentaries viewing their deaths as a punishment and others as a reward. The story can be read in full in Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1–11:47). But how Aaron, our spiritual leader, responds to this loss becomes instructive for how we as a Jewish people mourn going forward.
All at once, Aaron has to handle an impossible situation, in which he is straddling his responsibilities of leading the Jewish people and his personal emotional reality of mourning his sons. The text tells us that Aaron completes the sacrifices, but he does not eat from the sin offering. Moses expresses concern, worried that this will invalidate the offering. Aaron responds, “Were I to partake of a sin offering today, would it find favor in God’s eyes?” (Leviticus 10:20).
From this story, Judaism requires that we honor and respect our grief in the moment. For if the head priest managed to authentically mourn the tragic loss of his children in the midst of his service of God, we must do the same when our loved ones die.
There is profound wisdom in Aaron’s story being the foundational text for the laws of mourning. It embodies a tension with which we all struggle, but which we often do not talk about: How do we mourn and also keep living? How do we celebrate life for years to come without a beloved parent or child, spouse or friend?
Judaism answers with a balance. Initially, we remove ourselves from societal norms so we can be present with our loss — recognizing that life is forever altered. But after a year of removing oneself from normalcy to honor a parent (or after a month to honor another close relative), Jewish law propels us to move forward. Maimonides codifies this sentiment in his Mishneh Torah: “A person should not become excessively broken-hearted because of a person’s death.” (Mishneh Torah Hilchot Aveilut 13:11).
Like Aaron, we are commanded to mourn, authentically — eit livkot, eit s’fod — and still continue in our service of God. I think of a son or daughter who mourns a parent and also cares for his or her newborn baby; so often life demands the impossible of us, and we wonder how we can keep going. We face the challenge of finding a balance that allows us to live honestly in each eit, each moment.
Thankfully, we are not alone in the endeavor to be present. Aaron joins us and guides us, as do our loved ones whom we honor and remember. This is the message of our verse from Ecclesiastes. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh, and our job is to make sure that we are not only present for both, but that we do not allow one to overshadow the other. Because in us, our lost loved ones live on.
(Alissa Thomas-Newborn is a member of the spiritual leadership at B’nai David-Judea Congregation in Los Angeles. She graduated from Brandeis University and received her ordination from Yeshivat Maharat. She is also a board certified chaplain through Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains, with specialties in psychiatric care, palliative care, and end of life are.)
I was saying goodbye to a man who had met with me to discuss some things. It had been an uncomfortable meeting for me in many ways. He stood too close, he was too familiar with me, too complimentary. It is hard to pinpoint the discomfort, but the sense of the whole encounter left me feeling nauseated and like I needed to put on a heavy coat despite the eighty-degree temperatures outside. Well goodbye then, I said and I offered my hand for a goodbye shake.
Really, Rabbi? A handshake? I thought we were better friends than that. How about a hug?
It seems so easy on paper to know what to do. “NO!” It’s simple. But in real time, with real people in real life, saying “No” is not that easy. I think many people, specifically men, do not understand that this is true or why. We are socialized to behave a certain way based on any number of overlapping identities; gender being one of them. From day one, we are taught certain rules based on the meat-suit we happen to be born into. If your body is female this is some of your training that begins with your first breath.
Rule #1: ALWAYS be polite: My mother tells this incredible story of my birth. In July of 1976 as they wheeled my mother on a gurney through The Lying Inn, now Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, she screamed out with the intensity of the pangs of childbirth. Family legend holds that I was two weeks past my due date but was making my entry into the world so quickly that there was not even enough time for the epidural to kick in. The nurse leaned down to my mother’s ear and said, “Now dear, you don’t want your husband to hear you making that much noise now, do you?” Even in the throes of labor, as women, we are expected to behave demurely, quietly, obediently, politely, cleanly, and nicely.
Rule #2: It’s your job to make everyone else happy. A dear friend tells the following story about her young daughter. While playing with one of her friends, the girls had a disagreement and the friend began to cry. My friend began to say to her daughter, ‘Look what you did! You made her cry! You need to make her feel better!’ When suddenly she realized what she was telling her child was You’re responsible for that person’s feelings. You MADE her feel bad (heaven forbid someone should feel bad!) and now, it is your job to MAKE her feel better. The truth is, we all feel what we feel. As a society, we seem to be phobic of unhappiness, discomfort, sadness or pain-even when these emotions are healthy normal and incredibly USEFUL. We train women and girls, especially that if someone in the room feels bad it is probably because of something we did and it is definitely up to us to make it better. Instead, we would be better served if everyone learned to respond to feelings by offering a listening ear and asking what the person in distress needs-including being left alone to just feel their feelings.
Rule #3: It’s your job to BE happy. In reading countless #MeToo articles, one of the examples of harassment that comes up over and over again is of a woman walking down the street and someone steps in her way and says, “Smile so you’ll be pretty.” The message here is that anything other than a happy face is ugly. All people have a wide-range of feelings and emotions. And yet, if a woman is walking around with a flat or frowning face, this is some kind of social infraction-that she is breaking the rules. Women must smile, be, and look happy. Expressing an air that everything is fine at all times. Case and point, Barbie.
Rule #4: Winning means being liked. When I was in kindergarten, the girls played house and the boys played T-ball. In their game, there were clear winners and clear losers. No one has to teach you that you don’t want to be a loser. If you are, you are a target for teasing and other schoolyard harassment. In the girl game, you win by going along with the play. Being creative is rewarded if the idea is liked by everyone else. If your idea for the imaginary play is not accepted or if you try to play in a scene that is different than what everyone else is doing, then you have lost. Again, no one wants to be a loser. The consequences for losing is exclusion, being pushed to the side
Rule #5: Be powerful and successful! But not too much. The 2000 Harvard Business School (HBS) study of H. Roizen shows us that if you break the rules you pay the price. Students at HBS were given an identical case study about a real-life entrepreneur and described how this person became a very successful venture capitalist by using their outgoing personality and networking skills. The case studies were identical except one was about a Heidi Roizen and the other about Howard Roizen. Both candidates were seen as infinitely qualified for the job. However, Heidi was seen as unlikeable. The HBS students saw Heidi as selfish and not the type of person you would want to work with. What do we learn from this? Those women who break the norms, or are too powerful, too successful are also unlikeable. Remember rule #3…being likable means you win. Being unlikeable means you lose.
So let’s go back to my doorway and the man who wanted a hug instead of a handshake. Be polite, make someone else happy, appear to like it and don’t assert too much power. Put it all together and you get…
Rule #6: Say yes. Or at least-don’t say no. Growing up I always heard “No means no,” but the message I was left with was everything else meant yes. When faced with a sense of uncertainty over what to do in a situation, the default was clearly to say yes. Being agreeable was praised. Being the one to compromise to make everyone else happy was seen as a virtue even if it came at a cost to yourself. Apply this to school projects, workgroups and to unwanted touching or sexual advances. In 2015, a video on YouTube appeared called Tea and Consent equating the saying of “Yes” or “No” to sex or anything relating to sex to the drinking of a cup of tea. If someone does not explicitly say yes to having a cup of hot tea, you don’t force the hot tea. So unclear is this issue of consent that this video was produced by the Thames Valley Police Department.
In the end, I gave a half-hearted awkward hug because this is what I have been trained to do. And I immediately knew that it was wrong for me. All my training may be what was, but, I believe, we now live in a different era where we no longer need to say yes when we either aren’t sure or outright want to say no.
A few weeks later, I ran into someone I knew as I was running errands around town. I put out my hand to shake it and he opened his arms for a hug. “No thank you,” I said. “I’m a hand-shake, not a hugger.” Turns out, as we rewrite the rules, there is room for great change, room to be polite, likeable, powerful, and happy, and room to say no.
Tema Smith is often mistaken for white, but this mixed-race Jew is proud of both her Bahamian and Ashkenazi roots. She is also one of a growing number of Jews of color who are making careers in the Jewish world. We met up with Smith to learn about her professional life and personal experience and to hear what advice she has for Jewish institutions.
Be’chol Lashon: Tell us about your job.
Smith: I am the Director of Community Engagement at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Canada’s largest Reform congregation. Not only do I ensure that the basics of synagogue life, like becoming a member and connecting with the community, are smooth, but it is also my responsibility to keep the door wide open for prospective members. It also includes creating partnerships in the community and making connections more broadly.
Be’chol Lashon: How did you decide to become a Jewish professional?
Smith: I fell into this work. It was not a career path that I knew existed. I applied for my first synagogue job at another congregation because it seemed like a good fit for my skills and interests. I did not grow up in institutional Judaism and in retrospect, I think it was because institutional Judaism was not accessible to our family because we were interfaith and interracial. But I felt drawn to contribute and felt that I could help other “outsiders” who wanted to find their way in the organized Jewish community.
Be’chol Lashon: Tell us a bit about your background.
Smith: I am Toronto-born and raised. I am third generation Torontonian on my mother’s side. Her family originally came from Eastern Europe in the late teens and twenties. My father’s side is from the Bahamas, but he grew up in New York City. He is a person of African descent. I grew up in downtown Toronto, which was not a particularly Jewish part of the city at the time. I went to public school where I was often the only Jew in my class or even my grade. My mom’s family was not a synagogue or day school family. Judaism for us meant celebrating the major holidays. But I grew up with a strong cultural Jewish identity.
Be’chol Lashon: Does being mixed-race play into the work you do at Holy Blossom?
Smith: Being mixed-race has always given me a broader perspective on the work I do. I came into this work as someone who had only been an observer, and not as someone who grew up in the Jewish community, which has made me attuned to the experiences of those who are new to the community. As I mentioned before, the fact that we were not part of Toronto’s Jewish community had a lot to do with our family’s racial makeup. This makes me especially aware of the barriers to participation that people face and pushes me to work harder on inclusion, which is what we need to do to ensure the Jewish future as the demographics shift and we become more multicultural and multiracial. I find that my position as both an insider and outsider to Jewish life lets people open up to me. I am upfront about my identity, coming from both an interfaith and an interracial family. Because of that, I’ve noticed that it is not uncommon for people to share information about their lives that they are not sure the synagogue would welcome knowing, like their own faith journey or lack of observance.
Additionally, because I pass as a white Jew, I am able to walk into communal spaces and challenge some of the assumptions of who the Jewish community insiders are. My very existence often breaks down stereotypes of who we imagine to be a committed or engaged Jew.
Be’chol Lashon: Do you think change is happening when it comes to inclusion in Jewish life?
Smith: Change is happening, but it is both fast and slow. Organizations and institutions like mine are aware of the imperative of inclusion. We are committed to making sure that Jews no matter their background find meaning in Judaism. Obviously, as a synagogue, we hope they will find it here. We work hard to signal that we are open and inclusive. For example, in our marketing materials for young families, we made sure to include visuals of many types of Jewish families. Our department of membership, under the leadership of our board and our Senior Rabbi Yael Splansky, has created a task force so that our inclusive values are being considered across all aspects of congregational life. We have racially diverse families within our community and their numbers are growing.
Other kinds of change are slower. Our community, as with most large Jewish communities, has not always been inclusive. We have to ensure that every member of the community, and not just the leadership, learns to demonstrate the values of inclusion. We also need to let people who have felt left out in the past know that we have been making and continue to make changes and that they are welcome here. These kinds of things take time.
Be’chol Lashon: What do you like the most about working in the Jewish community?
Smith: I like that my professional life is an extension of my culture and my values. By being a Jewish professional, I am able to build towards a vision of Judaism that I wish would have existed for me and my family when I was growing up.
Be’chol Lashon: Do you come across a lot of other racially diverse Jews in the professional Jewish world?
Smith: It is a growing number. I’m really privileged that the Reform Movement has made inclusion a priority and that April Baskin, the VP for Audacious Hospitality, is a mixed-race Jew. Here in Toronto, I am fortunate to have Rivka Campbell as a colleague at City Shul. But I am definitely still a minority in Jewish life.
It’s also encouraging to see programs like the innovative Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement Certificate at Hebrew College, in which I was part of the inaugural cohort, dedicate course time to discussing and learning from Jews of color.
Be’chol Lashon: What advice would you have for congregations that are hoping to be more inclusive and welcoming to families like the one in which you grew up?
Smith: I have three pieces of advice:
The post Three Things the Jewish Community Can Do Better, According to a Mixed-Race Jewish Professional appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
These words, commonly known as the Shema, are traditionally recited by Jews as we begin and conclude each day. Bookending not just our days but our lives, the Shema is also commonly the first prayer we are taught as children and is the final prayer we utter on our deathbed as we pass from this world. The Shema is the mantra of Judaism, its message foundational to what it means to live as a Jew of faith in this world.
The Shema begins with an imperative: Listen! Just that word alone is a powerful call. Listening is not an easy thing to do. More than the simple act of hearing, true listening requires us to open ourselves up to another’s experience so that heart touches heart and we are changed. It is — in philosopher Martin Buber’s framework — what allows us to develop an I-thou, rather than an I-it, relationship. Buber describes listening as “something we do with our full selves by sensing and feeling what another is trying to convey so that together we can remove the barrier between us.”
In Judaism, the act of listening is the key to unlocking bounty and blessing. In Deuteronomy, as the Israelites wind down their wandering in the wilderness and prepare to enter the land of Israel, Moses instructs them emphatically using this same word — shema. “If you listen, truly listen,” Moses says, all will be good. If not, curses will follow.
On this verse, the Hasidic commentator the Sefat Emet references a line from the Midrash: “Happy is the one whose listenings are to Me.” Adding his own commentary, he writes: “‘Listenings’ means that one should always be prepared to receive and listen closely to the words of God. The voice of God’s word is in everything, since all were created by God’s utterance.”
Each of us, no matter how seemingly different we are from one another, are created by God. The Shema calls on us not merely to listen, but to remember that despite our differences, there is one force of connection and transformation in the universe that animates and unites us all. “The Lord, our God, the Lord is One,” the Shema continues.
The force that we call Adonai, others call by other names. Each of us has our own particular path, but ultimately they lead to the same place. Beginning with listening and ending with oneness, the Shema invites us to deepen our capacity to listen — to ourselves, to the Divine, and to those around us, to develop an I-thou relationship with the rest of humanity. Its daily recitation reminds us to build bridges rather than barriers so that we may touch upon — even if only for brief moments at a time — that place in which we all are one.
(Rabbi Adina Allen is co-founder and creative director of the Jewish Studio Project, a Bay Area start-up that utilizes the creative arts as a tool for self-discovery, social change and inspiring a Judaism that is vibrant, connective and hopeful.)
I grew up in a home where almost every meal was made from scratch. In retrospect, I’m grateful for the delicious healthy food I grew up eating, but at the time, I coveted my friends’ fruit roll-ups, Capri Suns, and Happy Meals. Even though I wasn’t allowed to eat sugar cereals or drink most kinds of juice boxes, there were a few processed food items that inexplicably got a pass and were welcome in our kitchen.
In fact, with a fair degree of regularity my father would come home with a white and blue rectangular box in his hand, the cursive “Entenmann’s” logo comfortingly visible. After spotting the box, a wave of anticipation would follow. Was it crumb coffee cake? Donuts? Cheese danish (please no, not this time)? Was it a really good day? Did he get a raspberry danish twist?
Maybe Entenmann’s got the junk food pass for its affordability (my father’s claim), or maybe it was because of its kosher dairy status. Price and kashrut may have been the reason my dad first bought an Entenmann’s cake, but it’s unlikely the sole reason we kept eating their pastries.
Entenmann’s was founded in 1898 in Brooklyn by a German immigrant. Later, the company moved to Long Island and expanded its business with a home delivery service. Frank Sinatra was even known to be a regular customer. In 1959, the Entenmann family notably invented the now ubiquitous see-through cake box. Since then, the company has been bought and sold by multiple large corporations, but continues to make similar products to this day.
As a kid, anything iced and sweet was A-OK by me, but as I got older, Entenmann’s lost its appeal and I all but forgot about its existence. Then one day at work not too long ago, someone brought in a box of Entenmann’s donuts. I felt the excitement of my youth. I opened the box and smelled that familiar cakey vanilla aroma. I took a bite into the waxy chocolate shell, and instantly remembered eating the same kind of donut, standing at the kitchen counter of my childhood home. My next thought was: “This is not quite as good as I remembered.” I looked at the list of ingredients: palm oil, soy, unpronounceable preservatives, food dye, corn syrup, and other ingredients that never found their way into any Bubbe’s kitchen.
I will always maintain a soft spot for Entenmann’s products, and I mean no hate towards them. But it occurred to me that I could capture some of the joy of my youth by making my own homemade version of my favorite flavor of Entenmann’s: the raspberry danish twist. Traditionally danishes are made with puff pastry, but Entenmann’s dough deviates from the norm. Instead of puff pastry with its flaky croissant-like texture, they use an enriched dough more akin to brioche. To get that waft of vanilla from the danish, I use vanilla powder. I generally favor vanilla bean and vanilla extract, but there’s something about the powder that works here. Maybe it’s also because it reminds me of my grandmother; she put vanilla powder in all of her desserts, which made them taste different from anyone else’s cakes. Once the dough is made and has risen, you form the danish and fill it with good raspberry jam. After it has baked and cooled, you top it with a required layer of icing. You can really form this dough into a variety of shapes and sizes, but I prefer to keep mine Entenmann’s-sized: small and rectangular, with a good proportion of filling-to-cake ratio and a generous amount of icing. The only other things this needs is a cup of coffee to go with it — and some lively Jewish banter.
Note: This recipe can be made one day ahead of time, rewarmed, and iced prior to eating. Keeps for 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
The post You Can Make An Entenmann’s Danish at Home (And You’ll Never Look Back) appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
On Monday, May 14, the new American Embassy opened in Jerusalem.
On Monday, May 14, riots broke out on the Gaza border.
On Monday, May 14, some media outlets were praising the United States for moving the embassy.
On Monday, May 14, some media outlets were accusing Israel of needlessly killing Palestinians.
On Monday, May 14, we saw pictures of happy politicians and Israelis.
On Monday, May 14, we saw pictures of children and youth with blood and being shot.
On Monday, May 14, we heard from the Left and from the Right, in America and in Israel.
On Monday, May 14, the truth became blurred and the pictures were sharing only half a story.
On Monday, May 14, many Jews and non-Jews across the world became confused about what to think, what to feel and how to respond.
So on Tuesday, May 15, I jumped into the Deep End. While I still didn’t know exactly what to believe or what to feel, I knew I had to begin the conversation with those around me; even close friends were reaching out, asking what to believe, what to follow, what to think.
So on Tuesday, I started a conversation with our tween and teen students.
I gathered multiple pictures from various different news sources and threw them into a power point. These pictures depicted the good and the challenge, Jerusalem and Gaza, Americans and Israelis, the left and the right. I added pictures of some of the speakers at the ceremony, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ambassador David Friedman, Special Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, Evangelical Pastor Robert Jeffress and Rabbi Zalman Wolowik, director of Chabad of the Five Towns in Cedarhurst, NY, just to name a few. I put up maps of Israel on the wall, and then we jumped right in.
The conversation began around media and news and quickly moved to everything from embassies and ambassadors to the outline of Israel’s modern history, to Jerusalem, territories, rights, treatment of others and so much more. We discussed the speakers, why there are questions about certain participants, why some people feel one way, others another, and how important it is to read, listen, ask questions and dig deep for the truth.
What is my ultimate goal? To teach my students to love Israel, but more than that, to teach them that we can struggle with Israel, and still love Israel. Teaching to struggle is much harder than teaching to love.
As a teacher, I don’t always know how much is sinking in with my students. Yet when I returned home Tuesday evening, I knew those conversations had made a difference. Every child was finding their curiosity, embracing perspectives and was trying to balance kindness, love, hope, and fairness. One student sent me a video she saw on Snapchat about the very issues we were discussing, Snapchat being the language these students speak.
I simply asked: “Did you understand it?”
And she responded: “Yes, and thanks.“
The post Jumping into the Deep End: Why Yesterday’s News Must Be Taught Today appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Pickles are delicious, so it’s no surprise that pickle-flavored foods are seriously trending. Of course, you could always save your pickle juice and create delicious dishes with the salty, briny deliciousness. But there’s a whole world of pickle-flavored snacks you are going to want to devour if pickles are your thing.
We found pickle-flavored potato chips from Zapp’s and Whole Foods (among many other brands). And they are salty, addictive snacking at its best.
And if you like pickle potato chips, you’ll also love Trader Joe’s pickle-flavored popcorn.
Pickle-flavored soft serve exists. Yes, NYC’s Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. is serving up pickle soft-serve (and matcha and chocolate dip). I remain skeptical, but intrigued.
Speaking of cool, refreshing pickle treats, how about Bob’s Pickle Pops? (I’m not entirely sold on these, either.) But apparently they are good for replenishing electrolytes post-workout.
But these dill pickle sunflower seeds from Walmart don’t seem too crazy.
When you just need to go classic, lots of stores including Target sell individually wrapped pickles for grab-and-go salty fun.
And my personal favorite is (of course) a pickle-inspired challah flavor. A little more work than grabbing a bag of chips, but totally worth it.
The post These Snacks That Taste Like Pickles Are Kind of a Big Dill appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Heidi Hoover is the rabbi of Beth Shalom v’Emeth, a Reform synagogue in Brooklyn. And while her journey to the pulpit might have been natural, the rabbinate was anything but.
Hoover was raised outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her father, the Rev. B. Penrose Hoover, was a pastor in a Lutheran church, and later a bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, overseeing about 250 congregations.
Heidi Hoover’s journey to the rabbinate began with her boyfriend, now husband, Michael Rose, who is Jewish. Hoover began attending synagogue with him and discovered a love of Jewish traditions.
Her decision to convert didn’t go over well with her father at first. But her father eventually came around and even delivered a blessing at Hoover’s installation. The family joke is that Hoover has continued in the family business — just in a different division.
See more of her story in this video.