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

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.

Transforming Trauma

Transforming Trauma

D'Var Torah By: Beth Ellen Young

jemerman June 13, 2022
I was recently introduced to the idea of "Post-Traumatic Growth," (PTG). Originally explored in the mid-1990s, PTG sought to understand "positive outcomes reported by persons who have experienced traumatic events." This theory can help us understand the difference in the reports of the scouts in this week's Torah portion, Sh'lach L'cha, and God's response to the reports.

On the Other Hand

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."

Reform Movement Responds to Supreme Court’s Decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen

“In the aftermath of the unceasing spate of recent mass shootings – including the horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde and recent gun violence at a church in Alabama, a Juneteenth concert in Washington, D.C., and in a neighborhood in New York City – it is incomprehensible that the Supreme Court has once again decided to value guns over the safety of our communities, children, and houses of worship."

RJ Blog Social Justice

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.

Becoming BMitzvah

Becoming BMitzvah jemerman June 27, 2022

I love seeing how our students at Temple Shalom of Newton transform throughout the process of becoming BMitzvah. It's the end of my first year coordinating the BMitzvah program and my colleague Allison Lobron, an experienced leader in inclusion and social emotional learning, and I are hosting an end of year celebration for our BMitzvah students.

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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