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  • Transforming’ the synagogue

    NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (JTA) — Will “synagogue transformation” join “Jewish renaissance” in replacing “continuity” as the communal buzzwords of the next century? The powerhouse philanthropy triumvirate of Edgar Bronfman, Charles Schusterman and Michael Steinhardt intends to make it so with a new endeavor they have named STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal. The threesome is…

  • Reform urge gun control activism

    ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 20 (JTA) — Reform movement congregations are throwing their full weight behind gun control with what they hope will be action, and not just rhetoric. A resolution, titled “Ending gun violence,” passed overwhelmingly and without debate at the convention of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The vote occurred Sunday, the final…

  • Reform Jews on a spiritual quest

    ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 20 (JTA) — When Rabbi Eric Yoffie and other Reform movement leaders walked through the doors of Walt Disney World’s Dolphin Hotel about a week before Christmas last year, they were greeted by a garishly lit, outsized Christmas Tree and the sound of caroling. When they checked out the meeting rooms that…

  • Reform Jews on a spiritual quest

    Reform Jews are grappling with the pull between traditional Judaism, whose foundation is a system of commandments, and the individual autonomy that is a Reform movement hallmark. Deeply rooted in general American culture, while at the same time yearning f

  • FOCUS ON ISSUES Reconstructionist movement `buoyed’ by survey findings

    NEW YORK, Nov. 26 (JTA) – In this age of free-market religious choice and surging assimilation, the organized Jewish community has had legitimate cause for concern: The number of people who identify and marry as Jews and are raising their children as engaged Jews is shrinking. A new survey of Reconstructionist Jews, however, finds that…

  • FOCUS ON ISSUES Court case raises questions about rabbinic confidentiality

    NEW YORK, Nov. 25 (JTA) – When is a rabbi supposed to keep as confidential information someone tells him during counseling, and when should it be divulged? It is a complicated ethical question, Jewishly speaking, according to several experts on Judaism, legal issues and rabbinic practices. A new, precedent-setting ruling by a New York state…

  • Orthodox youth group keeps kids more Jewish, study finds

    NEW YORK, Nov. 23 (JTA) – As a debate rages on about the most effective type of Jewish education – formal or informal – a new study provides evidence that participation in an Orthodox teen youth group spurs people to lead more Jewishly committed lives, even if they don’t come from observant homes. The study…

  • FOCUS ON ISSUES Orthodox groups attack 2 rabbis who set up court to end marriages

    NEW YORK, Nov. 17 (JTA) – The fireworks aren”t ending for a 2-year-old religious court that annuls marriages to free Orthodox women whose husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce. Denunciation of the court, which to date has dissolved the marriages of 216 couples, has come from almost every major Orthodox organization, making it…

  • Survey of U.S. lay leaders shows preference for funding local needs

    NEW YORK, Nov. 17 (JTA) – It’s not just the average American Jew who is feeling less connected to Israel these days – the leadership of American Jewish organizations is as well. A growing sense of estrangement from Israel, which has been well documented in recent surveys of randomly selected American Jews, is also true…

  • Reform movement to develop ethics curriculum for children

    NEW YORK, Nov. 9 (JTA) – A year ago Rabbi Eric Yoffie, addressing some 4,000 Reform movement leaders gathered at their biennial conference, called for a new code of ethics to be developed and taught to children. He said in his first address as president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations that the Reform…