Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’

‘Control’ Alternating With ‘Delete’

July 10, 2014

This article first appeared in June/July 2014 issue of Hadassah Magazine.

Illustration by Davide Bonazzi

Illustration by Davide Bonazzi

Lisa Samick was 35 when she watched her younger sister, a new mother, die of metastatic breast cancer.

Judah Schiller was 35 when he was left to raise three kids alone when his wife suddenly died of massive internal bleeding three days after giving birth to their third child.

Gabrielle Birkner was 24 when she got a call at work informing her that her father and stepmother had been murdered in a home invasion.

We all contend with loss, mourning and grief. Everyone confronts the death of a loved one at some point. But for some of us it comes sooner rather than later. While no one is truly prepared for loss, young adults in their twenties and thirties feel even less prepared. With few—if any—of their peers having gone through a similar experience, they are left charting their own course through the emotional and practical challenges that come in the wake of an immediate family member’s death.

Some young Jews find comfort in age-old Jewish rituals and in their local Jewish community. However, in the Internet age, when we live so much of our lives online, those experiencing loss often turn to Google in search of relevant and resonant resources. They may sit shiva but also reach out to their social media circles for support.

Click here to read more.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 

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US Teens Win Contest to Pray With Women of the Wall

January 1, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Members of Women of the Wall perform their monthly Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall, on December 4, 2013. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Members of Women of the Wall perform their monthly Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall, on December 4, 2013. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

There will be three new faces among the members and supporters ofWomen of the Wall as they celebrate the new Hebrew month, Rosh Hodesh Shevat, at the Western Wall on January 2. Lucy Sattler, Alexandra Schwartz and Eliza Moss-Horwitz are winners of a contest for Jewish teens sponsored by Moving Traditions, a Philadelphia-based organization advocating for a more expansive view of gender in Jewish learning and practice.

The contest, called “One Moon, One Wall, One People,” was launched last May. It challenged the 4,000 members of Moving Traditions’ Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! andShevet Achim: The Brotherhood groups all over North America to speak out creatively in support of Women of the Wall. In the first stage of the competition, the teens had to come up with a clever tweeted slogan supporting the organization and its mission.

Twenty finalists chosen from among 151 tweeters were asked to tape one-minute videos of themselves making the case for why the Western Wall should be a place where all Jewish men and women – Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, or Independent – should be allowed to pray in full freedom.

Sattler, Schwartz and Moss-Horwitz’s messages were outstanding, winning the teens free trips to Israel for them and one of their parents. In addition to joining Women of the Wall for the Rosh Hodesh service, they will also meet with chairwoman Anat Hoffman and the rest the group’s leadership at a lunch afterwards.

“Many of us have celebrated Rosh Hodesh with Women of the Wall, or have tracked their struggle over the years, and it has made us enraged, saddened, and hopeful,” Moving Traditions executive director Deborah Meyer tells The Times of Israel.

“I was talking to one of our board members, and we cooked up this campaign to bring the issue to the attention of the teens in our programs,” she says.

“It’s part of our agenda to expose kids to a whole spectrum of gender issues in religious and secular life, and also to give them a forum to connect with and contribute to Israel,” Meyer continues. “We are not afraid of turning kids off Israel by exposing them to the complexity of what life is really like there. You can love a country and still be concerned about what is happening in it.”

The Times of Israel caught up with the three winners either en route to Israel or shortly after they arrived, to learn a bit more about them and find out what winning the “One Moon, One Wall, One People” contest means to them.

 Click here to read about each of the girls and watch their winning videos.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

To Convert to Judaism, Click Here

December 13, 2013

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

PunkTorah's Rabbi Patrick 'Aleph' Beaulier is considering starting an online conversion to Judaism program. (Courtesy of Patrick "Aleph" Beaulier)

PunkTorah’s Rabbi Patrick ‘Aleph’ Beaulier is considering starting an online conversion to Judaism program. (Courtesy of Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier)

It seems there’s nothing a person can’t do online these days — including converting to Judaism.

 PunkTorah, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization and online community, is investigating the possibility of launching a digital distance learning conversion to Judaism program. It claims that the conversions will be valid and that anyone who says otherwise would be ignoring halacha, or Jewish law.

“People have been begging us to do this,” says Rabbi Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier, PunkTorah’s founder and director and rosh yeshiva of its associated Darshan Yeshiva, an online Jewish spiritual leadership school.

Beaulier, 30, is also the spiritual leader ofOneShul, the online pluralistic synagogue that is an outgrowth of PunkTorah. He reports 250,000 individuals interact in varying ways and degrees with the organization’s network every year.

“Our community is for people who have fallen through the cracks of Jewish life,” Beaulier explains. “A large portion of those who use our resources are Jews-by-choice or are interested in converting.”

Those seeking conversion tell Beaulier they either don’t have a synagogue or Jewish community where they live, or they don’t want to go outside the PunkTorah community to go through the process.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.