union for reform judaism

anonymous asked:

Hi! I was wondering if you had suggestions for resources or links, artists, etc. for those of us who for whatever reason never went to summer camp but would still like to listen to/learn the songs. Similarly, do you have any suggestions for ways to learn songs to sing at home, either on Shabbat or just as everyday songs of praise? (I sing a lot when I'm alone and/or when I'm happy, so this would be a good thing to know!) Thanks!

Hi there!


What a fun question!

Here is a list of songs sung in URJ camps, NFTY events, Mitzvah Corps programs, and NFTY programs during Tefilla and song sessions! Any links with an *, you can assume are more popular than the rest! Enjoy!

PJ

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The time is long overdo for equality to reign throughout the state of Israel because of our deep love and commitment the ideals of the Jewish State. We insist on equality, not just at the Western Wall, but in Rabbinical Courts, under the chupah, at funerals, in conversions, in the founding and funding of congregations and in the compensation to our Rabbis.
—  Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism at Biennial 2013
Food Insecurity and the Birkat Hamazon:  Parshat Eikev

Hi all!  Here is the sermon that I gave tonight at my student pulpit.  I hope that you enjoy!


Shabbat Shalom!  This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Eikev, continues Moses’s epic goodbye speech to the Jewish people.   Moses spends much of the parsha reminding the Israelites of the Covenant between us and God, preaching about our devotion to God, and the importance of performing mitzvot… so that bad things won’t happen. It’s as if this is the Jewish version of eternal damnation!  Within those commandments, includes the mitzvah of thanking God for our food.

A few moments ago, I read about the bounty of food that the Jewish people will receive upon entering the Land of Israel.  Just like we did after our beautiful Shabbat dinner as a sacred community, in Parshat Eikev we are commanded to thank God for what we eat.

It’s no secret that I love food.  I love cooking and tasting, and learning how to create new and interesting dishes.  I come by it honestly, it runs in my family.  My brother and I come from a long line of foodies.  Our talented mom passed her love down to us, which was passed down from each generation before her.   I’m sure that you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I love Mahene Yehuda, Jerusalem’s open air market or “shuk”.  You can pick up almost anything in the Jerusalem Shuk from strawberries and cucumbers to halava and the gooiest and delicious rugelach. 

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“The Reform Movement has significant concerns about the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States. As the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Senator Sessions would be responsible for enforcing key civil rights laws that he has demonstrated hostility toward over more than 30 years in public life. On issues of vital importance to the Reform Movement, including voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT equality and immigration, Senator Sessions has a voting record and a history of statements that raise alarm.

"On civil rights in particular, Sen. Session’s record is deeply troubling. The Reform Movement is fiercely committed to protecting the right to vote and reinstating the full strength of the Voting Rights Act, which was partly drafted at our headquarters in 1965. Senator Sessions has called the Voting Rights Act ‘intrusive’ and hailed the Shelby decision that eviscerated it as 'good news.’ As a U.S. Attorney, Senator Sessions was accused of using the power of his office to intimidate activists and impede the civic participation of Black voters in Alabama.

"It is our fervent hope that during his hearings this week, in response to our and others’ questions, Senator Sessions will make clear that he is committed to civil rights, to LGBT equality, to the protection of women from violence, and to upholding our country’s history as nation of immigrants. He must commit that, if confirmed as Attorney General, he will enforce and interpret the law to promote justice and equality for all. If, however, Senator Sessions continues down the path that he has carved out over his many decades in public life, we are prepared to oppose his nomination.”

—  Rabbi Jonah Pesner, President of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and wider Reform Movement:

anonymous asked:

Do you know any sources that I can learn about the subclasses (branches?) of Judaism?

Hi anon,

Each of their respective websites are great resources.  The following organizations I personally consider to be the vibrancy that is Progressive Judaism.

If you have any further questions about the major branches, please do not hesitate to send me a private or direct message.

PJ

anonymous asked:

Can a transgender male become a Rabbi?/are trans people accepted in Judaism?

Hiya!

In Judaism we have several movements- some more traditional and others more progressive.  For many years, transgender men and women have been openly accepted into many Jewish communities.  Two huge supporters of transgender people are the Reconstructionist and Reform Movements.

Just recently, the Union for Reform Judaism at their bi-annual Biennial affirmed their commitment to transgender and also gender-nonconforming people.  This official policy exists in URJ camp and youth programs, Synagogues and communities and is being adopted by other the Reform Movement of other countries (especially in Israel).

There are a nice sized handful of transgender men and women who have been ordained Jewish clergy– and these numbers are only growing.  Here is a great article about some of them!  The Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform seminary for Rabbis, Cantors and Jewish Educators, very openly accepts people of all genders, sexualities, romantic identities, ethnicity, shapes and sizes to its programs.  They are looking for Jewish leaders and scholars with a commitment to the Jewish people. 

-PJ

anonymous asked:

Serious question: So, I know in more traditional communities, there are specific halachic rulings on numerous issues, and so even if one follows a minority practice, it's still been sanctioned by some traditional authority somewhere. Since Reform Judaism doesn't do this as far as I'm aware, how does one go about determining their own practices? What does/should that process look like? I know it's more than "do what you want," but I don't understand what it *actually* is.

Hi there,

Thank you for your thoughtful question.

Although at times it might seem like Reform Jewish philosophy dictates that one should do what they would like to do, this phenomenon is not true.  Sadly, it is perpetuated by too many Reform Jews (or secular Jews who argue that they are Reform) believe this lie to be fact.

Reform Jewish theology believes in the concept of gaining meaning in choice in practice based on informed knowledge. According to one of the main leaders in Reform Halachic practice, Rabbi Mark Washofsky argues that “Reform Jews today base their religious choices not so much upon appeals to reason, science, and aesthetics, as upon the language of religious and spiritual meaning.  ‘Meaning,’ as we know, can spring from any number of sources, and one of the most important of these is a tradition.  True, the fact that a particular practice is ‘traditional’ does not guarantee that a Reform Jew will find it meaningful.  Still, an observance can be meaningful simply because it is traditional, because it evokes the religious experience of the Jewish people through the ages, and because we find strength in our identification with that experience” (”Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice, 9).   (I HIGHLY recommend reading this book)

Here is an interesting example of a decision that many Reform Jews have recently made in regard to practice on Passover.  Kitniyot are several kinds of grains that Ashkenazi authorities deemed not Kosher for Passover in Eastern Europe due to their similarities with the original five grains listed in the Torah.  Obviously, this did not affect Mizrachi or Sephardi Jewry.  But Reform and Conservative Jewry both recently declared that one could make the choice to eat these foods- which meant that Progressive Jews had to make a choice.  Is not eating these other grains meaningful to my Passover?  Why should I continue this practice?  What did Maimonides and other scholars have to say about this practice?  (For reference, the Union for Reform Judaism posted a fantastic ‘guide’ to Passover food.) Essentially, in the Reform world, there is no set way to understand the practice.

Reform Jews do not hold Jewish law to be binding.  But as one of my professors says,  “Halacha gets a vote, but not a veto,” meaning that our tradition is important but sometimes we need to understand it from a nuanced perspective.  For instance, traditional Jewish law defines marriage as one man and one woman.  In the Progressive world, the Halacha gets a vote (as we will maintain traditional wedding procedures for same-sex couples) but does not get a veto (because we will marry same-sex couples).  As a Progressive Jew, I use my knowledge of our tradition and intertwine it with our understanding of the world to work to continue the reforming of Judaism for tomorrow.

I hope that this helps!

PJ

anonymous asked:

As someone who has jewish history far back on my fathers side and has been raised as a "messianic" Jew, I am now in my early 20's and want to become a real Jew lol. I've been on this faith journey for years now and only waiting until I get out on my own to start real conversion seeing as my parents would be very disappointed to hear that I "renounced" Jesus as messiah. Which congregations would take a convert tha doesn't have maternal Jewish roots but still wants very much to convert to Judaism?

Hi anon!

Any congregation in the Union for Reform Judaism would love and support your conversion to Judaism.  There are many resources available to begin your journey online which I have listed below.  But to begin, here is a main page from ReformJudaism.org regarding conversion.

If you have any specific questions or just need to talk please feel free to message me on the fancy new Tumblr messenger or a private message.  We can keep conversations as private or as public as you wish!

-PJ


Questions that I’ve answered:

Articles:

i’m all for criticizing the catholic church but i hate when it gets extended to like “all religions are terrible and oppressive” because like religion can be a super positive tool for oppressed people to feel less alone

like the union for reform judaism passed a resolution affirming gay rights back in 1977 and reform judaism even has a specific blessing for SRS and like lumping all abrahamic religions together as all being based around hate is not only antisemitic and islamophobic, it’s also just not accurate