Rosh HaShanah Reflections From My Synagogue

The video below includes a few Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) thoughts from my Rabbi, Rabbi Mordecai Miller, at BSKI:

Rosh HaShanah Greetings From MASA Israel to Conservative Leaders

The following message was sent out via email to leaders of the Conservative and Masorti Movement:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This year, thousands of young Jewish adults will begin a personal journey in Israel by celebrating the High Holidays with peers from around the world. As participants of Masa Israel Journey’s more than 180 programs, they will immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere of the chagim in Israel, and create their own meaningful experience.

These young adults are tomorrow’s leaders, the ones who will determine the quality and character of Conservative Judaism in North America and its relationship with Israel for the next generation.

I wanted to share with you the stories of a few young members of the USCJ community whose Jewish lives have been enriched as a result of their semester or year in Israel.

This New Year, help us connect more young Jewish adults to Israel – through a Masa Israel Program, throughout Aliyah and more:

Joel Portman, St. Louis, MO

Synagogue: Brith Sholom Knesseth Israel, St. Louis, Mo

Masa Israel Program: Ben Gurion University of the Negev Year Program

In 2005, I traveled to Poland and Israel with United Synagogue Youth (USY).  The five weeks I spent in Israel were some of the best of my life.  But the experience I’d had wasn’t enough:  I wanted more, and I knew I would have to return. So, in 2008, I spent a semester studying at Masa Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev. And I loved every minute of it. Read more >

Gabi Gordon, Chicago, IL

Synagogue: North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Masa Israel Program: Nativ

Aliyah to Israel: August 2010

Having been raised in a Conservative home in Chicago, Judaism was always a part of my life.  I attended Solomon Schechter for elementary school and then got involved in USY.  While a Junior in high school, I took part in the Alexander Muss semester program in Israel.  It was then that I decided I needed to return for another extended period of time.  After graduation, I enrolled in Masa Israel’s Nativ.  Read more >

Shana Tova u’Metukah.

Naomi Freedman
Shlichat Aliyah, Jewish Agency for Israel

Eicha – Tisha B’Av

Tonight and tomorrow is Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.  It is a fast day, a day of mourning for the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem, the Bar Kochba revolt failing, the siege of Jerusalem, and more.

Two years ago when I was studying in Israel, I spent the eve of Tisha B’Av in Israel.  I went with a friend to Jerusalem and we visited the Kotel (Western Wall) before going to the City of David, the site of the original founding of Jerusalem by King David, to hear the Book of Lamentations, Megillat Eichah, read.  It was a deeply moving and spiritual experience.

Sitting on the ground by custom, thousands of Jews recited the Book of Lamentations in Jerusalem's Old City on Tisha B'Av to commemorate the destruction of the two Holy Temples in ancient Jerusalem, July 19, 2010. (Abir Sultan / Flash90 / JTA)

Tonight I went to Tisha B’Av services at my synagogue.  I was reflecting on the powerful and meaningful words and the thoughts shared by my rabbi.  I enjoyed thinking about some of the older members of my congregation and how they have shared with me as well as my friends and family.  I thought about how lucky I am not to be living through the horrors described by Jeremiah.

The short article below is from the JTA about Tisha B’Av and modern issues in Israel:

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israelis flocked to Jerusalem’s Old City to observe Tisha B’Av, the fast day that commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temple.

A new poll released before Tisha B’Av showed that some 22 percent of Israelis would fast on the day and another 52 percent would refrain from going out with friends.

Israeli law requires that recreational spots be closed on Tisha B’Av; 18 percent of poll respondents called that “religious coercion.”

The Ynet-Gesher poll surveyed 505 Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israelis. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Jewish tradition says that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred; the poll asked which groups are the most hated in Israeli society. Fifty-four percent of respondents answered Arabs, 37 percent named the haredi Orthodox, 8 percent religious and 1 percent Tel Avivians.

Some 42 percent of respondents said they believed that the religious-secular issue is the worst source of tension in Israeli society, while 41 percent said it was the Jewish-Arab situation. Another 9 percent said the worst source of tension is between settlers and the rest of the country, while 8 percent said it was the tension between rich and poor.

“May it be Thy will that the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days”.  Jews say this three times a day in prayers.  TIME offers some interesting thoughts on what it means with the modern State of Israel.

אני מתגעגע לישראל