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  • RETHINKING HEBREW SCHOOL [Part 2] Synagogues devise new curricula to make Jewish learning more fun

    NEW YORK, Sept. 30 (JTA) — On any given school day at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, students are scattered all over the building. They are in the stairway, painting Expressionist-influenced murals on biblical themes. They are in the classroom, building temples out of blocks, reading along with…

  • RETHINKING HEBREW SCHOOL [Part 5] Congregations find themselves behind day schools on list of fun

    NEW YORK, Sept. 30 (JTA) — In recent years, supplemental, or congregational, schools — dismissed by many as failures — have been low on the list of philanthropic priorities for Jewish education. “With the elevation of informal education to a high status, Israel trips and campus life are far more likely to garner communal funding…

  • Agunot advocate urges prayer day as path to unbinding ‘chained wives

    NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (JTA) — Mattie Klein is a strong believer in the power of prayer. Three years ago she asked Rabbi Mordechai Tendler of Monsey, N.Y., to write a prayer for agunot, women unable to obtain Jewish divorces. Klein’s daughter recited the prayer under the chupah when she got married, and as a…

  • Two Turkish Jews killed in quake, community helps countrymen rebuild

    NEW YORK, Aug. 24 (JTA) — Two vacationing Jews from Istanbul and 25 Israeli tourists were killed in last week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey, according to the World Jewish Congress. Despite the deaths and scope of the tragedy, most Jewish citizens of Turkey emerged largely unscathed. But the Jewish community — which numbers about 23,000…

  • BACK TO THE BOOKS Opening of new Reform day schools signals growth along with ambivalence

    NEW YORK, Aug. 19 (JTA) — In many ways, Rodeph Sholom School looks like any other elite Manhattan private school. Walls are covered with colorful student art and the small courtyard playground is meticulously maintained. Dressed-for-success, cellphone-toting parents clamor into the kindergarten classroom for a special program where their children show off what they have…

  • Reconstructionist Jews receive new prayer book for High Holidays

    NEW YORK, Aug. 23 (JTA) — As they gather for the High Holidays this year, Reconstructionist Jews will be following a new prayer book. According to spokespersons for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the 1,275-page Machzor’s “user-friendly and inclusive” liturgy balances “deep respect for 3,000 years of Jewish tradition and the honest struggles which contemporary Jews…

  • BACK TO THE BOOKS Bringing Jews in through the nursery: Educators rethink the teaching of the tots

    NEW YORK, Aug. 19 (JTA) — The Jerusalem Talmud recounts the story of Rabbi Joshua, whose mother carried him in his cradle to the Beit Midrash, or house of study, so that “his ears would become accustomed to the sounds of the Torah.” Early childhood Jewish education has changed a bit since then, and though…

  • FOCUS ON ISSUES Jewish institutions balance security with openness before High Holidays

    NEW YORK, Aug. 19 (JTA) — Armed security guards, doors locked during business hours, mandatory parking decals, name tags for visitors, staff trained in responding to bomb threats and regular security audits by the police. Such measures have long been routine at large Jewish organizations, particularly ones related to Israel, but smaller institutions are now…

  • PROFILE A ‘prophetess’ in adult education attributes success to perseverance

    COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 17 (JTA) — What do removable shoulder pads, foam-lined slippers and a popular two-year program of adult Jewish learning have in common? All are the creations of Florence Melton, an indomitable 87-year-old inventor/businesswoman/philanthropist described by her admirers as a “prophetess.” In 1946, Melton’s foam-lined slippers revolutionized the footwear industry and jump-started a…

  • Three Israeli families trapped after deadly earthquake in Turkey

    NEW YORK, Aug. 18 (JTA) — Three Israeli families — between 10 and 14 people, including children — are trapped in a collapsed building approximately 75 miles from Istanbul, Turkey as a result of a massive earthquake this week that claimed more than 3,500 lives. In addition, at least six other Israeli tourists are missing…