RJ Blog

L’hitraot, for Now...

After four years of bringing you a new episode nearly every week, this podcast is taking a little break. Listen to this episode to learn more about our hiatus and where to find us in the meantime.

The Antidote to Kvetching

Most of us today aren’t tasked with wandering through the desert, like the ancient Israelites were... but we still find plenty to kvetch about! What if, instead of focusing on small annoyances, we turned to community-building and togetherness? This episode first aired in May 2018.

URJ Youth

Growth Means Taking Responsibility

Growth Means Taking Responsibility

D'Var Torah By: Beth Ellen Young

jemerman June 28, 2022
Chapter 20 of the biblical book of Numbers could be renamed "The Transition of Leadership." Approaching this chapter, the leadership triumvirate of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam guide the Israelite people based on God's direction. The chapter begins with Miriam's death. After Miriam dies, the people complain about the lack of water. In God's response, Moses and Aaron are told they will not enter the promised land. The first part of this prophecy is brought to fruition at the end of the chapter when Aaron dies.

Watch Your Tone

Watch Your Tone

D'Var Torah By: Beth Ellen Young

jemerman June 21, 2022
As a teenager, my mom and I couldn't seem to talk to each other without arguments and yelling. My dad tried to help me understand that there were different ways I could speak to my mother. I wasn't very interested in this feedback, but I think Korach, Datan, and Abiram would have benefited from it in this week's Torah portion.

On the Other Hand

Reform Movement Leaders Respond to Tragic Gun Massacre in Highland Park

We mourn the six lives taken today in Highland Park, IL and pray for all those injured, beloved members of our Reform Jewish community among them. On this day celebrating American independence, it is clear that Americans’ ability to live independent of the fear of gun violence is ever more elusive. With each massacre, the freedom to gather, pray, shop, learn, and simply be, free from fear of gun violence, is taken away.

Reform Movement Leaders Denounce the Supreme Court’s Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

“We are outraged that the Supreme Court today has stripped women and others who can become pregnant of the fundamental right to make essential health care decisions free of governmental interference."

RJ Blog Social Justice

Affirming Trans & Non-Binary Youth in Our Jewish Communities

Affirming Trans & Non-Binary Youth in Our Jewish Communities sdolgov July 6, 2022

This Pride Month, NFTY North American Board members Daniella Abbott and Cameron Samuels joined HUC rabbinical student Kelly Whitehead to discuss how their trans and non-binary identities have influenced their attitude toward systems of oppressions in the wake of new legislation aimed at attacking queer identities.

Practicing Democracy

Practicing Democracy jemerman June 28, 2022

As we reflect on the United States' Independence Day, I am mindful that democracy also takes commitment and practice. Democracy takes practice because it still is not accessible to all.

RJ Blog Jewish Life

Two Out of Two

Two Out of Two jemerman February 15, 2022

As a graduate of both Tougaloo College and Jackson State University, the recent bomb threats to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are personal to me. Since January 2022, over a dozen HBCUs have received bomb threats; several of those threats were received on the first day of Black history month. The continuous attacks on institutions of higher learning; places of worship and individual attacks are a direct threat to our everyday existence.

How to Make Your First Tu BiShvat Seder Meaningful and Fun

How to Make Your First Tu BiShvat Seder Meaningful and Fun kbkaput January 3, 2022

As I thought about what would be involved if we did our own Tu BiShvat seder, it seemed interesting and fun. Tasting lots of fruits? Marking a time to appreciate, mindfully and respectfully, trees and the earth? Drinking wines and grape juices? Yes, please.

RJ Blog Practice

Favorite Jewish Teachings from Leaders of Color

Favorite Jewish Teachings from Leaders of Color jemerman June 2, 2022

As Shavuot approaches and we celebrate the Giving of the Torah, I have been spending some time reflecting on some of my favorite teachings from Jewish sacred literature, both those that resonate with me, and those that feel most important or most timely.

The URJ Reflection Project: Go Deeper on “The Spiritual”

The URJ Reflection Project: Go Deeper on “The Spiritual” kbkaput August 15, 2021

As part of the URJ Reflection Project, a new set of offerings and experiences for the High Holidays in a time of social distance, we’ve also developed three short essays that allow you to go deeper into the essence of Jewish wisdom that grounds these rituals.

RJ Blog Learning

Favorite Jewish Teachings from Leaders of Color

Favorite Jewish Teachings from Leaders of Color jemerman June 2, 2022

As Shavuot approaches and we celebrate the Giving of the Torah, I have been spending some time reflecting on some of my favorite teachings from Jewish sacred literature, both those that resonate with me, and those that feel most important or most timely.

What Female Scribes Can Teach Us about Transmitting Torah This Shavuot

What Female Scribes Can Teach Us about Transmitting Torah This Shavuot jemerman May 26, 2022

I first inquired about becoming a soferet in my first year of rabbinical school in Jerusalem. I had come into rabbinical school with the technical expertise of a printmaker and a bookmaker, and I was eager to immerse myself in all things Torah, including its physical creation. Unfortunately, even in 2008, I could not find a sofer in Jerusalem who would train a woman.

RJ Blog Jewish Holidays

Shabbat Message: A Galvanizing Visit to Israel That Fills Me With Encouragement

Shabbat Message: A Galvanizing Visit to Israel That Fills Me With Encouragement urjadmin March 4, 2022

In meetings with the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, and Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, we discussed the crisis in Ukraine, the future of the Kotel, ensuring more funding and rights for non-Orthodox Jews, combatting racism, and stopping extremist violence against Palestinians, in addition to other pressing issues.

Why Israel’s Next Government Gives Me Hope

Why Israel’s Next Government Gives Me Hope jstern June 15, 2021

On Sunday, Israel’s Knesset narrowly voted in Israel’s 36th government with Naftali Bennett as the nation’s 13th prime minister, unseating the incumbant Benjamin Netanyahu.

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