The Value of Challenging Authority

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman

Growing up in the 60’s and early 70’s, I became politically aware at a very young age. The news was filled with images of demonstrations and anti-war rallies, young people taking to the streets, and people of different faiths and races risking – and sometimes losing – their lives to oppose unfair government policies. One particularly inspiring 6th grade religious school teacher insisted we apply Jewish values to the issues of the day. I found myself working on a project about police brutality with a classmate who was, and continues to be, an ardent feminist, activist, and outspoken change agent. We became lifelong friends and in my mind’s eye I will forever see her proudly sporting her motto: “Challenge Authority!”

Reform Rabbis and Pay Equity

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) today released a study on Rabbinic Compensation by Gender. The executive summary provided by the CCAR in many ways states the obvious: there is a salary discrepancy between men and women, and that discrepancy increases as congregational size increases. No great surprise there. What is exceptional about this study is the raw data that it provides to document that disparity and to highlight exactly where that disparity is most noticeable: “Differences in senior/solo base compensation by gender are markedly less among “A” category congregations, which can be served by newly ordained rabbis (female is equal to 93% of male), than among “B” congregations where rabbis must be ordained at least three years (90%) or “C” congregations, minimum ordained five or more years (80%), or even “D” congregations, minimum eight years since ordination (89%).”

The Importance of Challah

By Hilda R. Glazer This week’s Torah portion includes the story of sending the scouts to Canaan and a number of laws about sacrifices and communal and individual wrongs. One of the things that I often wondered about was the origin of the challah. In this week’s portion is the answer. One of the offerings listed in Numbers 15 is that of the first dough – the challah. The Women’s Torah Commentary (p. 882) noted that the word challah is Hebrew for loaf and was derived from the verbal root ch-w-l, “to be round.”

Reflections from Recent Confirmands

Rosanne Selfon

Erev Shabbat Memorial Day weekend found me seated in the 115-year-old sanctuary of my home synagogue Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster, PA, for our confirmation service. Unlike other Reform confirmations, ours marks a conclusion of our students’ religious education from pre-school through twelfth grade. Several years ago, our rabbi, Jack Paskoff, proposed changing Confirmation from tenth to twelfth grades. In all honesty, I was a ‘traditional’ hold-out. “Reform Jews are confirmed in tenth grade!” I whined. But, as often is the case, Jack was absolutely on target.  Today, tenth grade marks a rather insignificant milestone in our kids’ educational pursuits while twelfth grade usually denotes an ending and some sort of beginning.

Answering the Question: "So...What Do You Do?"

By Abigail S. Fisher I will soon be attending a reunion of my high school class (never mind how many years!).  As usual, in these types of situations, I expect to hear that ever-present question, “So, what do you do?” Somehow our employment, career, job, what have you, has become a significant area of small talk. Our society values it so highly, that it is really a defining part of who we are. When I chose to embrace the good fortune of a husband who can support our family, and to stay “at home,” I struggled mightily with my identity. What do I do? Who am I? I will tell you straight out. I work –a lot –but I do not get paid. I am, as was my mom before me, a “professional volunteer.” I spend my time trying to make the world a better place. I fight for social justice, for peace, for women’s rights, for religious pluralism around the world, at home and in Israel and anywhere else I can. I work to help my synagogue and other synagogue communities in their efforts educating our children, and building strong, vibrant Jewish communities. I work to ensure the future of Reform Judaism.  Where do I do this? Women of Reform Judaism.

When I Grow Up, I Want to be a....

By Rabbi Wendi Geffen "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked my four-year old recently. "Well, I'd like to be a rabbi, but I can't because I'm a boy." Given the fact that nearly every rabbi my son has met, including me, is female, his conclusion was not surprising. Contrast that with my three year-old daughter's response when I asked her what she would like to be when she grows up: "I don't want to be a rabbi. I want to be a princess."

YES Fund Donations at Work for NETZER FSU Camps

Elizabeth Rosenblum
As a new(ish) staff member, WRJ’s national board meeting two weeks ago served as an exhilarating experience. I loved meeting everyone and hearing the passionate speeches that recounted where WRJ has been during the past year, and summarized the goals we are working towards for the coming year.

Reserving Judgment

Rosanne Selfon

We’re now in Bemidbar or Numbers, the fourth book of Torah. Naso, the second portion in Bemidbar, is the longest portion in our Torah. Here are some interesting Naso facts:

  1. Naso has 176 verses.
  2. In the diaspora, it is always read on the first Shabbat after Shavuot.
  3. It includes the dedication/consecration of the tabernacle.
  4. Many of the verses are read during Chanukah, which commemorates rededication of the Temple.
  5. It addresses the priestly duties.
  6. It delineates how to purify the camp.
  7. It includes dealing with a wife accused of unfaithfulness, the sotah.

Historic Decision in Israel: Rabbi Miri Gold Recognized by State

By Rabbi Daniel R. Allen
Editor’s Note: The following post was issued as a press release by URJ/ARZA yesterday afternoon following the news today that Rabbi Miri Gold would become the first non-orthodox Rabbi to be paid by the State of Israel.
Israeli Reform Rabbi Miri Gold will be the first non-orthodox Rabbi to be paid by the State of Israel, under a ruling today by the Israel Attorney General. Rabbi Gold, who first heard the news on the radio said, “This is a big step for religious pluralism and democracy in Israel.  Israeli Jews want religious alternatives and with this decision the State is starting to recognize this reality. There is more than one way to be Jewish, even in Israel.”

Why the Campaign for Youth Engagement Matters to Me

By Renee M. Roth I have come full circle, having just returned from the WRJ District President’s Council meeting at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, New York. It was my fifth DP Council at Kutz and I have enjoyed each year. This year was perhaps the most special, and a little bittersweet, because it was my last. During the summers of 1979 and 1980, I was the lifeguard and a resident advisor at Kutz. I loved my positions; interacting with campers, faculty, and staff. I loved the programs, the music, services, and being part of the Reform community 24/7 for both long summers.