Thursday, March 28, 2013

TIME MAGAZINE: "How Gay Marriage Won" by David von Drehle

3/28/13- Eager to be eyewitnesses to history, people camped for days in the dismal cold, shivering in the slanting shadow of the Capitol dome, to claim tickets for the Supreme Court’s historic oral arguments on same-sex marriage. Some hoped that the Justices would extend marriage rights; others prayed that they would not. 
When at last the doors of the white marble temple swung open on March 26 for the first of two sessions devoted to the subject, the lucky ones found seats in time to hear Justice Anthony Kennedy — author of two important earlier decisions in favor of gay rights and likely a key vote this time as well — turn the tables on the attorney defending the traditionalist view. Charles Cooper was extolling heterosexual marriage as the best arrangement in which to raise children when Kennedy interjected: What about the roughly 40,000 children of gay and lesbian couples living in California? “They want their parents to have full recognition and full status,” Kennedy said. “The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nate Silver: "How Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Is Changing, and What It Means" (FiveThirtyEight)

3/26/13- The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on two cases related to same-sex marriage, the first involving a California referendum that barred gay marriage, the other involving a federal law that prevents the government from recognizing same-sex unions. A variety of outcomes are possible, but it seems prudent to take stock of public opinion on same-sex marriage before the decisions come down.
Support for same-sex marriage is increasing — but is it doing so at a faster rate than in the past? Is it now safe to say that a majority approves it? How much of the shift is because people are changing their minds, as opposed to generational turnover? Is there still a gap between how well same-sex marriage performs in the polls and at the ballot booth? How many states would approve same-sex marriage today, and how many might do so by 2016?

ALERT: March 27th, 2013- Just released! Audio of "UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR" case against DOMA

Facts of the Case 
"The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, states that, for the purposes of federal law, the words “marriage” and “spouse” refer to legal unions between one man and one woman. Since that time, some states have authorized same-sex marriage. In other cases regarding the DOMA, federal courts have ruled it unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment, but the courts have disagreed on the rationale.
Edith Windsor is the widow and sole executor of the estate of her late spouse, Thea Clara Spyer, who died in 2009. The two were married in Toronto, Canada, in 2007, and their marriage was recognized by New York state law. Thea Syper left her estate to her spouse, and because their marriage was not recognized by federal law, the government imposed $363,000 in taxes. Had their marriage been recognized, the estate would have qualified for a marital exemption, and no taxes would have been imposed.
On November 9, 2010 Windsor filed suit in district court seeking a declaration that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. At the time the suit was filed, the government’s position was that DOMA must be defended. On February 23, 2011, the President and the Attorney General announced that they would not defend DOMA. On April 18, 2011, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives filed a petition to intervene in defense of DOMA and motioned to dismiss the case. The district court denied the motion, and later held that DOMA was unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.
Does the executive branch’s agreement with the lower court that the act is unconstitutional deprive the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to decide the case?
Does the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives have standing in the case?
Does the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines the term “marriage” under federal law as a “legal union between one man and one woman” deprive same-sex couples who are legally married under state laws of their Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection under federal law?" (Copied from of Chicago Kent University of Law) 

Link: Audio of "United States v. Windsor" DOMA case ( 
Link: AUDIO & TRANSCRIPT: "United States v. Windsor" Key Moments From the Hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act   (NYTimes)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Full Episode: Golden Girls (1991) talking about Gay Marriage"

"Keeping Safe Spaces Safe" by Jordan Daschow (Tufts U. Hillel)

Jordan Daschow, Tufts student
and Keshet intern, and
Joanna Ware, Keshet’s Lead Organizer
 and Training Coordinator,
 at Keshet’s LGBTQ Teen and
Ally Shabbaton, January, 2013
3/25/13 Keshet- The date was October 13, 2010, and I was at Tufts University’s Coming Out Day Rally. At the rally, Tufts University’s Jewish Chaplain, Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, spoke about the importance of not just tolerating people’s differences but embracing them and told the crowd the statement quoted above. This message was so simple, yet so powerful — and so powerfully different from what I expected a religious leader speaking about LGBTQ issues to say.
Growing up, I attended a Conservative Jewish Day School from kindergarten until 12th grade. Throughout high school, I struggled to come to terms with my sexual orientation and my religious beliefs. I was forced to grapple with these issues alone, as my high school did not offer any support for queer students and in general ignored their existence. As far as I know, no one has ever come out in my high school (though one student who was already out transferred in) and homophobiccomments, including the commonly repeated phrase “that’s so gay,” went unchallenged. Consequently, I never felt safe coming out in high school.
I decided to come out at the beginning of my time at Tufts University and within my first few days atTufts Hillel, it was clear that my identity as a queer Jew would not be viewed as a contradiction but rather something to be embraced. The welcoming and accepting environment that I discovered at Hillel was the result of the amazing individuals who were involved, the welcoming staff, and the institutionalized inclusivity created by a permanent Hillel programming board position for Jewish Queer programming. Throughout my three years involved in the Tufts Hillel community, I have always felt that my Jewish and queer identities complement each other.

"AUDIO and TRANSCRIPT of Arguments in California’s Gay Marriage Case" March 26th, 2013

The Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Prop 8, a ban on same-sex marriage on March 26th, 2013- 
Hollingsworth v. Perry
Link: Full Transcript of Arguments in California’s Gay Marriage Case
Link: Audio of the arguments made to the Supreme Court about Prop 8-on March 26th, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

YOUTUBE Video: "Barbra Streisand Sings Hatikvah and Talks to Golda Meir"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"N.J. Senate panel approves bill outlawing anti-gay conversion therapy"- The Star Ledger

3/18/13 by Susan K. Livio-  First there were the “flirting classes” designed to teach the gay teenage boy how to socialize with members of the opposite sex.
Then came the orders to masturbate to women’s images.
And — with his parents’ consent — there were electric shock treatments twice a week and medicine to induce vomiting when a therapist flashed a photo of two men holding hands.

That young teen, now Brielle Sophia Goldani, a transgender woman from Toms River, told a packed hearing room in Trenton Monday that this is what she went through during “conversion therapy” at a camp in Ohio where counselors tried to change her sexual orientation. "I live with the psychological damage this program did to me every day," Goldani said. She told lawmakers she had tried to kill herself — three times.

After a tense-three hour hearing in Trenton, the Senate’s health committee approved a bill that would ban licensed counselors from using “conversion therapy” on gays. Supporters called the practice damaging and demoralizing, while bill opponents accused state lawmakers of interfering with the counselor-patient relationship and intruding on parents' rights. Only California has enacted a ban on the practice, which sponsors say is opposed by the American Psychological and American Psychiatric associations. The bill’s Assembly sponsor, Tim Eustace (D-Bergen), said he introduced the measure after “several constituents — young people — came to our office complaining that this still exists."

Last fall, four men sued a Jersey City-based gay conversion therapy group, claiming they suffered psychological abuse during treatment sessions. “It constitutes child abuse," said Eustace, who is openly gay. Troy Stevenson, executive director for Garden State Equality, recounted a tragedy from his high school days in Oklahoma. He and boy from a rival school exchanged a kiss witnessed by members of the football team after practice. "We ran for what felt like our lives," he said. "When we made it to our homes safely, my first call was to my friend to make sure he was OK. He told me he 'couldn't go back,' then described the camp his parents sent him to when he told them he was gay," Stevenson said. The next day his friend committed suicide.

Mordechai Levovitz, co-director for Jewish Queer Youth, a support group for about 700 people from the orthodox Jewish community, said his parents started his conversion therapy when he six years old because he wanted to play with dolls.
"There was one message made clear to me as a child ... there was something very wrong with who I was," he said. Supporters of the therapy, however, said it helps thousands of people happily live as heterosexuals.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"In Praise of Priestly Marriage"- NYTimes

3/20/13 by Peter Manseau- GROWING up in New England around a community of former priests who considered themselves in exile from the Roman Catholic Church, I often heard of a mythical-sounding place where ecclesiastic strictures like celibacy were more flexible than they were in parishes closer to home: South America.
My father, ordained as a priest by the Archdiocese of Boston in 1961, served the church for eight years before he left to marry my mother, a teaching sister at a parochial school near his parish in Roxbury. Though their marriage caused a local stir, they did not venture far from the city in their post-clerical lives, wanting to start a family in the same state, and faith, in which they had been raised.
It was once understood that men who left the priesthood would relocate at least 500 miles from where anyone might recognize them as priests. How would it look to see a man with the power of transubstantiation in his hands pushing a stroller down Beacon Street or kissing his wife while on line at the Coolidge Corner Theater? Such a blurring of boundaries was the kind of thing that could, it was said, “give scandal to the faithful.” To remain in the diocese that had made him a priest was a way for my father to show that he was not ashamed of the choices he had made — neither of being ordained, nor of being married. 

"Fighting Same-Sex Marriage With Zeal and Strategy" - NYTimes

3/22/13 by Sheryl Gay Stolberg— As gay couples fight for the right to wed, a little-known but determined force is working to stop them: Brian S. Brown, a 39-year-old father of eight who has raised millions of dollars from religious conservatives — especially his fellow Roman Catholics — to become the nation’s leading opponent of same-sex marriage.

Mr. Brown, president of the nonprofit National Organization for Marriage here, was instrumental in passing Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, and is working in a host of states (and, more recently, in France) to defeat gay-friendly candidates and outlaw what he calls “the redefinition of marriage.”
Now his views are facing the ultimate American test: a hearing before the Supreme Court, which is considering whether to overturn Proposition 8 and perhaps declare it unconstitutional.
When the justices hear oral arguments in the case next Tuesday, Mr. Brown — unfazed by polls showing that a majority of Americans disagree with him — will be on the court’s marble steps, leading a march that he hopes will draw thousands who believe, as he does, that gay unions hurt children and threaten religious freedom.
“The notion that somehow we are on a one-way elevator to gay marriage, and that no matter what anyone does that it’s going to happen, is false,” he said in a recent interview, in his sparsely decorated suite on K Street, the capital’s lobbying corridor. “That is the myth of inevitability.”

Video: "Halachic Organ Donor Society"- Register for your organ donor card

H.O.D. Mission: save lives by encouraging organ donation from Jews to the general public.

"Israel's health ministry to recognize gay couples as parents"

A committee of Israel's health ministry adopted court recommendation to recognize both members of gay couples as parents of children born with the aid of overseas surrogacy.

Israel’s new minister of Health,
Yael German
by Dan Littauer  Israel’s Health ministry's Implementation Committee adopted a recommendation to recognize surrogacy procedures undertaken overseas, including those of same-sex couples.
The committee a decreed that  a non-biological parent in a same-sex parent couple should be legally recognized as a parent, without undergoing the complex procedure of adoption, as is currently required.
The health ministry's decision today (20 March) was a result of several cases filed with Israel’s high court against the interior ministry that refused to register both parents involved in overseas surrogacy, even if they were registered as such abroad.

"For Israeli Gays, It’s Not About the Ring" by Zvika Krieger

In a country where raising kids is the ultimate value, marriage become less  urgent than adoption and surrogacy. 
A refugee lawyer, a transgender specialist, and six other people sit in a circle in an empty classroom on the second floor of Tel Aviv’s Gay Center. They are here for the inauguration of Israel’s first-ever LGBT legal clinic. The evening’s keynote speaker is Frederick Hertz, an American legal expert who specializes in gay marriage. He describes a recent case he handled, in which a gay couple, one of them transgender, got married in Las Vegas as a man and a woman. Then they moved to California and wanted their respective healthcare benefits. “So the question,” Hertz says, “was how to register that same-sex couple when they had been married as an opposite-sex couple.”

The crowd stares blankly, some playing with their telephones. One attendee, wearing skinny jeans and Converse sneakers, breaks the collective yawn by quoting a New Yorker cartoon, republished in the Israeli newspaperHaaretz, to convey how Israelis feel about the American debate over gay marriage: “Gays and lesbians getting married — haven’t they suffered enough?”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Retreat set for parents of LGBT Jews, Event was inspired by local mother’s request"

3/20/13 by Ian Thal,  Jewish Advocate- When Shabbat begins on April 26, Orthodox parents and adult relatives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children will gather for a retreat to discuss their own concerns and challenges, and to formulate strategies for full inclusion of those children and their families in Orthodox life. 

The event was organized by Eshel, an organization that supports LGBT Jews who wish to maintain their commitment to Halachic principles. Though the retreat is being held in Waynesboro, Pa., its genesis began with a request from a mother in the Greater Boston area. In an interview with The Advocate, that mother requested anonymity. While the fact that one of her sons is gay is “an open secret” in her community, she said, “Most of our family … many of our friends … we have not told yet.” 

Coming out is a process not just for LGBT people but also for their families. “My husband and I are at different points in our journey,” said the mother. “My husband is ready to [publically] advocate [for LGBT inclusion in the Orthodox community]; I am not.” 

It was after her son returned from an Eshel retreat that she asked if there was something similar for parents who otherwise may feel isolated. “This retreat is enormously important,” she said. “Parents have shared [similar experiences] with me but are not [yet] ready to go on a retreat.” 

VIDEO: "Accept us the way we are- Haredi ultra orthodox homosexuals" HOD

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"ArtScroll and Sephardic Judaism" by David Shasha

Outside the Orthodox Jewish community, the role of the religious publisher Mesorah Publications, better known as ArtScroll, is not well-known. Those Jews who would not consider themselves Ultra-Orthodox utilize prayer books, Bibles and rabbinic works published under the ArtScroll imprint barely understanding the ideological and socio-cultural provenance of the publisher and its polemical aims.

Without getting into the minute details of the lengthy history and evolution of ArtScroll, it would behoove us to understand its place in the modern Jewish world and how that place has been circumscribed by the contemporary role of the Ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian-style Yeshivah world in this culture.

Many Jews would be surprised to learn that the great European Yeshivahs were endangered in America.  It was by no means a secure fact of the re-emergence of this religious culture.  The giants of the old world Yeshivahs such as Mir, Telz and others were transplanted in the US during the post-War period as fledgling institutions; a far cry from their robust posture in pre-War Europe.  A heroic effort took place among the Orthodox refugees and their heirs here in America to recreate these institutions in a new and often inhospitable home.

"Boiled In Oil"- 7 Convo's on What it means for a Syrian Jewish Woman to become a Rabbi" by Dianne Esses (you need to rotate the pdf upright)

"Choosing one’s losses" by Dianne Esses

After spending most of my youth-until age 18-in a Modem Orthodox Yeshivah, I left Judaism. My rebellion led me far afield. I went as far as to declare myself an atheist-believing that religion was simply “the opiate of the masses. ” Subsequently, however, I felt lonely for my religion-for some system of meaning-and I returned. In my return I at first went back to Modern Orthodoxy and then moved to a traditional egalitarianism-which is where I find myself now.

Wanting to immerse my life in studying and teaching Judaism, I became a Conservative rabbi. There I found a “room of my own” in which I could struggle to integrate my Judaism and being a woman. It was the movement in which, essentially, I did not have to cut off one of those pieces of myself for the other. There I found the most traditional expression of Judaism which still gave women the opportunity to be rabbis-an opportunity I could not have imagined as a child for myself nor, for that matter, for anybody else. Most of the Syrian Jewish community where I grew up saw and still sees non-Orthodox Judaism as invalid; the female rabbinate symbolizes the pinnacle of its heresy.

Now, an ordained rabbi, I often shake my head in disbelief. I-a rabbi? I-count in a minyan? I-called upon to give divrei torah and lectures? I-called rabbi by my students? These are the blessings and gifts made possible for me by the movement which I chose to become part of. They are all the more so blessings because they were not gifts bestowed upon me at birth. Rather, to become a Conservative rabbi was a choice-a choice that cost me much discomfort regarding my family and the community of my youth.

"What the Hell Is a Syrian Jew?" by Dianne Cohler-Esses

“A Common Language between East and West”
Dianne Cohler-Esses
 Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol.19, No. 1(Spring, 2003), pp. 111-118 
"What the Hell Is a Syrian Jew?"
In this multicultural age, I have found it fashionable to be a Syrian Jew. Jews of European descent have been fascinated with stories of my community and especially the fact that I left it to become the first Syrian Jewish female rabbi and the first non-Orthodox Syrian rabbi, male or female. Not knowing how to approach this strange world, they often relate to being Sephardic through a familiar symbol. "That's so exotic!" they exclaim. "Does that mean you eat rice on Passover?" "Yes," I answer, exasperated that the sum of my culture is reduced to the luxury of eating grains on a spring holiday.

My story is one I've used, self-conscious of the status that it has bought me, a status I've enjoyed to a point. That point came when I was walking home with my husband one evening a couple of years ago, reflecting on the lectures I'd given and the story I'd told again and again. "It's old," I said. "I'm kind of sick of it." I began doing a little dance, singing, "I'm the first Syrian Jewish woman rabbi." That's when I knew it was time to move on. The story had be come a tired and overplayed melody. 

"Human Dignity and the Jewish Tradition" by Hershey H. Friedman, PhD  
An excerpt from his article is below:
"There is a classic argument between Rabbi Akiva and Ben Azzai (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:4) as to which is the fundamental principle that summarizes the entire Torah. Rabbi Akiva believed that it was the verse (Leviticus 19:18) “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” Ben Azzai disagreed and felt that it was the verse (Genesis 5:1) “This is the book of the generations of Adam. On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.” From the principle of loving your fellow human being as yourself, one can deduce “that which is hateful to you, do not do to others.” This is Hillel the Elder’s version of the Golden Rule (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a). A lofty ideal, but problematic if one does not much care about his or her own dignity. One who accepts the view that all of mankind was made in the likeness of God must respect all people, regardless of how s/he feels about her/himself (Pnei Moshe, see also Torah Temimah on Genesis 5:1). Indeed, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, one of the great rabbinical leaders of the twentieth century, makes the point that human dignity and social justice “are implicit in the biblical concept that man was created in God’s image” (Besdin, 1979: 190). Clearly, the importance of human dignity is linked to the belief that God created man. In fact, Amsel (1994) quotes the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 24:7) that maintains when you insult another person you have insulted his Creator, because man was created in the image of God."

**Retreat for Orthodox Parents of LGBT Children**

Take the time to understand what your child is going through. This is for you, as much as it is for them. You have spent so much energy, love, caring, understanding and money to make your child's life special; why stop now when they need you the most? Don't wait until it is too late and all you have left are regrets. (Written by Rich Dweck)
Retreat For Orthodox Parents of LGBT Children
April 26-28th, 2013 Waynesboro, PA
Join us at a national Shabbaton for Orthodox parents and adult family members with LGBT children. Create community, share resources, make the world a safer place for your child. For more information go to or contact


Happy Passover!

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Dad's Love Letter to Gay Teenage Son Goes Viral"- Yahoo

3/15/13 by Beth GreenfieldA letter written from a dad to his gay son Nate is going viral on the Internet because of its simple, hopeful message of love.

"Rob Portman and His Brave, Gay Son" -The New Yorker

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio
3/15/13 by Richard Socarides-  The news that Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has become a supporter of equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians because he himself has a gay son was a surprise. That’s because Portman is not only a staunch conservative but also an important member of the Republican Party establishment; he was a key adviser to Mitt Romney during his Presidential campaign, his debate-prep partner, and he was seriously vetted for Vice-President on the G.O.P. ticket. Many people, including myself, predicted that Portman would be the V.P. pick, and some believe that, had Portman been chosen, Romney could have won. Portman, with an interview on CNN and an Op-Ed in the Columbus Dispatch, became the only sitting Republican senator to support marriage equality, as well as the highest-profile conservative currently in government to do so.
Portman told CNN, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over twenty-six years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.” It was interesting that Portman chose to use the same modifier, “personally,” that President Obama used when he first announced his own evolution into a gay-marriage supporter, to Robin Roberts, on ABC news. (Obama: “For me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that.”)

"Genocide of the soul: the new Jewish face of anti-Semitism" by Jacob Elijah Goldberg of

I was dismayed to read two days ago about the new Egyptian government’s cancellation of a screening of a documentary film called “Jews of Egypt.” The film, produced by Haytham El-Khamissy, highlights the life of Egypt’s sizeable Jewish community before its coerced departure in the 1950s. When the screening was cancelled by the Egyptian security agency the day before it was due to take place, El-Khamissy reported on Facebook that no reason for the cancellation was given.
In the aftermath of what seems to be a refusal by Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government to recognize the Jews of Egypt’s past, the immediate reaction of many Jews and non-Jews with whom I spoke was to cry anti-Semitism. By refusing to recognize a community that was unjustly pressured and sometimes forced to abandon its homeland, the government of Muhammad Mursi seems to be continuing Nasser’s project of ethnically cleansing Egypt of its Jewish heritage.
In light of this event and the absence of information surrounding it, it is worth re-exploring the various meanings of anti-Semitism in order to determine what this act of censorship can teach us about anti-Semitism in the modern world. Of course, there is a religious form of anti-Semitism. Perpetrators of this anti-Semitism have historically been Christians who either still hold the Jewish people as guilty of deicide or resent the Jews’ rejection of their God, or both. Religious anti-Semitism has also been perpetrated by Muslims, the birth of whose religion Jews also witnessed and rejected. And perhaps the unwillingness of the Egyptian government to celebrate the existence of what was once a proud and relatively well-integrated Jewish community of Egypt stems from the religious concerns of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which current Egyptian president and alleged anti-Semite Muhammad Morsi is a member.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"'Ex-Gay' Therapy Group Loses Tax-Exempt Status"- The Advocate

3/13/13 by Trudy Ring- One of the nation’s leading “gay cure” groups, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, has lost its tax-exempt status due to failure to file proper documentation for the past three years, the Internal Revenue Service announced this week.
It’s a further blow to the largely discredited organization, which purports to assist “those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality,” as its online mission statement says. Cofounder Joseph Nicolosi has claimed gay people wish to normalize pedophilia and spread HIV, and he has been accused of distorting the research of others to support NARTH’s theories. In 2010 the group was the subject of scandal after one of its leaders, psychologist George Rekers, was found to be traveling with a paid male escort. Major medical organizations have recognized NARTH’s brand of therapy, aimed at converting gay people to straight, as both ineffective and abusive, and California last year became the first state to bar licensed practitioners from performing such therapy on minors. 

A Gay Orthodox Jew "Compares Jesus' Crucifixion to Plight of Gay Community" - CP World

3/12/13  by Melissa Barnhart- In the weeks leading up to Easter, the big story in the United States is the History Channel's miniseries, "The Bible," but across the pond, BBC's Radio 4 series, "Lent Talk," is broadcasting six lectures on abandonment, in which journalist Benjamin Cohen compares the gay community's experience to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Cohen, a former Channel 4 News reporter and founder of the gay news website PinkNews and co-founder of, presented a controversial 14-minute lecture on his experience growing up as an Orthodox Jewish boy who attended Christian prep schools and even performed in nativity plays.  
The lecture is honest and introspective, but it's also offensive to Christians who believe that comparing anyone's lot in life to the sacrifice of Jesus, humanity's lord and savior, is blasphemous.

"JUSTICE FOR ALL: Staff, campers at Camp Moshava take social justice to heart"- Baltimore Jewish Times

3/10/13 by Simone EllinWhile most Jewish summer camps share a commitment to the transmission of Jewish values such as tikkun olam, sustainable living, social justice and inclusivity, Habonim Dror Camp Moshava may be in a class by itself.
A Jewish Socialist Zionist youth movement founded 78 years ago, Habonim Dror has seven kibbutz-style summer camps across North America. Camp Moshava, affectionately known as “Mosh,” engages youngsters in typical camp activities such as swimming, sports, creative arts, Shabbat programming, Israeli dancing and campfires, but it also immerses them in an environment where they “live” the values of kibbutz life — cooperation, shared labor, pioneering, social justice, Zionism and Judaism. In this spirit, campers take part in dailyavodah (community chores), tzofiut(outdoor living), anafim (projects) andsadnaot (educational programs).
Hebrew language is integrated into the campers’ daily lives, and leadership development is an important part of the camp milieu, with all members of the community encouraged to take on leadership roles. Each individual is valued for his or her unique qualities and talents as well as his or her contributions to the community.

EVENT: 6th Annual National Rainbow Seder in D.C.(GLOE & HRC) 3/31/13

National Rainbow Seder

GLOE's 6th Annual

National Rainbow Seder
Lo Dayeinu (It is Not Enough)
Sunday, March 31, 2013
4:00 pm | Wine & Schmooze
5:00-8:00 pm | Seder
LocationHuman Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
$36 General Admission
$24 Discounted: Member/Student/Senior/Limited Income
FREE: Children (18 and under) and Volunteers

Join GLOE and the HRC's Religion & Faith Programs for this 6th annual national event that is part-ritual, part-celebration, part-feast and part-conversation!

"Haredi students fail as they lack secular studies"- Jerusalem Post

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's daughter says lack of English, Mathematics is a serious obstacle to helping haredim enter higher education.

3/14/13- by Jeremy Sharon- Adina Bar-Shalom, the eldest daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said on Tuesday that the lack of English and Mathematics education in haredi schools was a serious obstacle in increasing the numbers of haredim in higher education. 

Bar-Shalom established the Haredi College in Jerusalem, the first academic college for haredi men and women in Israel, where students can study for degrees in numerous fields such as computer science, medical science, psychology, social work and others.

Speaking at the first meeting of the Knesset Caucus for the Integration of Haredim into the Labor Force and High Tech Sector on Tuesday, she referred to the necessity of providing haredi students with remedial courses in core educational topics before they can begin an academic degree.“It’s not possible to learn English or Math in a one-year pre-college preparatory course,” said Bar Shalom. “More than 50 percent of students who come to us do not succeed in English.” She continued saying that this failure caused many students to drop out of college altogether.

"Conservative Movement Examines Its Future" by Ron Snyder

3/14/13 Baltimore Jewish Times- The problem facing many Conservative Jews today is that they are waiting for respect and approval from the Orthodox community —  respect and approval that never comes —  while remaining envious of Reform Jewry’s ability to embrace modernity.
That was one point made during a seminar last week on the current state and future of the Conservative Jewish movement in Baltimore. The discussion was part of the annual North American Association of Synagogue Executives conference, which was held in Baltimore for the first time in 20 years.
Rabbi Joshua Kalev of Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, Pa., said Conservative Jews often have a difficult time identifying who they are and what they believe. In many cases, he added, Conservatives describe themselves as “not Orthodox” or “not Reform” instead of trying to express who they are in the Jewish landscape.

"Jewish Aleppo, Lost Forever" by Joseph Dana

The Syrian diaspora in Israel watches its once-vibrant ancestral home fall to ruin in the country’s civil war
7/13/12 Tablet Magazine- The northern Syrian city of Aleppo, once a pillar of Jewish existence worldwide, is slowly being destroyed by the fighting that has engulfed Syria for the past 17 months. Last week, a Free Syrian Army rebel warned that soon “there will be nothing left to destroy in Aleppo.” Imagine Rome or Paris destroyed by civil war in the social media age.
Coincidentally, Aleppo had already been in the news thanks to a new book and a lengthy New York Times Magazine article about one of the city’s most famous claims to recognition: the Aleppo Codex of the Hebrew Bible, said to have been complied in Tiberias in the 10th century and ransomed by the Jews of Cairo from the Crusaders after their conquest. After a short but monumental stay in the hands of Maimonides, it wound up in Aleppo, where it was kept hidden in a crypt lining the walls of the city’s great synagogue for the next 600 years. The codex, believed to be the oldest manuscript containing the entire Hebrew Bible, was smuggled out of Syria in the 1950s thanks to the courageous efforts of a handful of Aleppine Jews. Like a segment of Aleppo’s Jewish community, the codex found a home in Jerusalem, where it sits under lock and key at the Israel Museum.

"How To Cook Like a Syrian" by Paulette Safdieh

3/13/13- Tablet Magazine- When Irv and I faced each other under the chuppah three years ago, I thought about my role as his wife. I was ready to assume some of the responsibilities that came with the title “Mrs.”—like standing in synagogue when Irv went up to the Torah, and visiting the mikveh every month. But I didn’t want to put on the pink, frilly apron my friends gave me at my bridal shower and spend hours doing what my mother called “kitchen duty.”
Cooking, my mother taught me, was an essential part of being a Syrian Jewish wife. But as a new bride, I discovered a secret life beyond the kitchen—a life my mother never told me about. Instead of schlepping home bags from Syrian grocers in Brooklyn, I spent my evenings with girlfriends at happy hour in Manhattan and ordered takeout dinners on Irv encouraged my rebellious behavior, excited to have an adventurous and independent woman on his arm.

"JCPA Tables Gay Marriage Resolution Striving for consensus, public affairs council honors OU's objection."

3/4/13 by Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week- There are two resolutions up for proposal at the two-day annual policy plenum of theJewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), starting Sunday in Washington, D.C. One advocates for fair pay, and the other for gun control. But the talk among the delegates will be about a third resolution that won’t be on the agenda.
That’s the one that would support same-sex marriage.
The draft of a task force resolution, in the works since last summer, framed the issue as one of protection against the discrimination of same-sex couples, calling for equal treatment under federal and state laws for both same- and opposite-sex couples. It doesn’t mention the words “gay” or “marriage,” but officials of the JCPA, the “common table” for 14 national member agencies and 125 local community relations councils around the country, acknowledge that support for gay marriage could be read into the resolution.

"Kindle Your Judaism: Growing Jewish Literacy Through New Technology"- The Jewish Week

Brown University New Program
3/7/13 by Rabbi Jason Miller- Ask most rabbis what their number one recommendation is for "saving" the Jewish future and they will point to Jewish literacy. Helping young Jews become more literate about Jewish history, culture and religion is a top priority for Jewish leaders on college campuses. 

The way to do this is by getting them to read books about a whole host of Jewish themes and topics. Rather than telling college students to read a history of the Jewish people and having them feel like they have one more 4-credit course to take, innovative Jewish educators are envisioning new ways to encourage Jewish literacy. I was impressed when I learned of a new program being implemented at Brown University to get college students excited about reading books with Jewish themes.

"Rav Ovadia: Women who Wear Talit Are Transgressors" The Jewish Press

2/3/13- by Yori Yanover The spiritual leader of the Shas movement, Rav Ovadia Yosef, on Saturday night attacked the women of the Reform movement who pray at the Kotel.

In his weekly post-Shabbat class, Rav Yosef said that women who wrap themselves in a talit transgress Jewish law: “There are those Reform, they come to the Western Wall clad in a talit. They’re not performing a mitzvah, they’re transgressing, because of ['A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this' (Deut. 22:5)].”

"R.I. gay marriage bill may hinge on religious clause" by David Klepper

3/11/13 PROVIDENCE — Maria Valente and Andrea Bond were married in Massachusetts four years ago by a justice of the peace. The East Providence women insist they are just like any other couple raising three children. But a few years ago, when Bond had surgery in Rhode Island, they found out not everyone agrees.
‘‘I was told I couldn’t be in the room with her,’’ Valente said. ‘‘It was discouraging and hurtful. The children were upset. Why drive a wedge into a family like that?’’

Valente and Bond hope Rhode Island joins the rest of New England this year in allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. But they are concerned that the treatment they received may still be allowed if lawmakers insert a broad exemption allowing religious organizations like churches, hospitals, and schools — or private businesses — to ignore the law and decide for themselves whether to extend benefits and rights to married gay couples.

Other Blogs/Websites