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Contemporary Jewish Life

  1. Communities of Meaning

    Communities of Meaning

    Communities of Meaning: 

    Conversations on Modern Jewish Life Inspired by Rabbi Larry Hoffman 


    Coming January 2024


    Larry Hoffman has had a singular impact on contemporary Jewish life in North America. He has taught us that Judaism is an unending conversation and as a tribute, 36 leading thinkers have engaged him in dialogue about the big questions in American Jewish life. The resulting book invites us into that conversation and challenges us to think creatively about the ideas and institutions that will shape Jewish life in the twenty-first century.  

    This book takes stock of the century of transformation in American Jewish communal life and celebrates the diversity of expressions and ideas that define modern Judaism. It is thus a fitting guide for Jewish communal leaders engaged in organizational transformation and for observers of American religious

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  2. A Meaningful New Way to Commemorate the Holocaust

    A Meaningful New Way to Commemorate the Holocaust

    Yom HaShoah begins this year on April 17. 

    Each passing year brings on a greater urgency to recall this dark time in our history. With fewer living witnesses able to tell their stories firsthand, we need a new way to fulfill the responsibility that Holocaust survivors have entrusted to us - to remember, to tell the story, and to act. 

    Plan now using a powerful new approach.

    Light from the Darkness: A Ritual for Holocaust Remembrance is a 45-minute, structured seder-like experience that helps the next generations remember and honor the Holocaust. It can be done either in-person or virtually. And it is deeply moving.

    “It’s out

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  3. Helping Teens Find Power in Their Own Voices

    For all of us, the past few pandemic years have been scary and disorienting. For teens in a hunkered-down society, it’s also meant losing opportunities to develop independence.  

    What our teens need in this moment is support for finding their voice and finding their autonomy. Then we’ll slowly see the pain and fear untangle,” says Michelle Shapiro-Abraham, an award-winning teen educator and director of strategic innovation and youth programs at the Union for Reform Judaism. 

    She points to two new resources that are committed to lifting up teen voices and showing them that they can “claim their power.”

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  4. Apples & Honey Press: Jewish . . . with a Point

    It's not enough to teach our children HOW to be Jewish. Apples & Honey Press books also seek to show them WHY the values and the teachings of our tradition are important.
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  5. Clear Through the Parenting Clutter to Recapture a Sense of Wonder

    Clear Through the Parenting Clutter to Recapture a Sense of Wonder

    New parents get overwhelmed, regularly pushed to their limits and confused by contradictory feelings of elation and near-despair.

    A recent New York Times article shared parenting advice you really need. One parent contributed this gem: "You're allowed to feel overwhelmed and overjoyed. You can be both. Feeling it all doesn't make you a bad parent. It makes you human." 

    This is the premise behind the new book from Alicia Jo Rabins. Humorous, self-reflective, and comforting, Rabin’s musings on both heartening and cringe-worthy biblical examples of parenting can help any caregiver see beyond the detritus of day-today living with young children and recapture a sense of wonder at the process of raising small humans.

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  6. The Awakening Vibrancy of American Judaism

    The Awakening Vibrancy of American Judaism

    Is Judaism in North America dying?  Is religious life in general on the wane?

    Or is Judaism thriving, but simply doing so outside those legacy institutions that have so far resisted change?

    In their new book, Awakenings: American Jewish Transformations in Identity, Leadership, and Belonging, Rabbis Joshua Stanton and Benjamin Spratt invite debate about the future of Jewish communal life in North America, and claim that inspired, nimble religious organizations of all kinds are now retooling to meet the very different needs of today’s congregants.

    They show us new organizations now being created and argue that we are already witnessing the early stages of renewal i

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  7. Salt and Honey: Can You See God in a Grapefruit?

    Salt and Honey: Can You See God in a Grapefruit?

    Can You See God in a Grapefruit?

    by Aliza Abusch-Magder

    from Salt & Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, and Tradition


    Thousands of juice packets. Sweet, tangy, sour. Packed so closely together in communities commonly called "pieces," and when you hand me a piece of your grapefruit, you hand me a little collection of individuals held together by a thin, opaque, fibrous skin.

    When I passed the grapefruit tree on the way to the bank, I effortlessly plucked the ripe, perfumed, leathered teardrop slowly falling from its tired branch.

    I casually held a world in my hand, a real-life Horton Hears a Who! 

    Don't you see God in Dr. Seuss? Wasn't it divine?

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  8. Celebrate and Explore Jewish Teen Voices

    Celebrate and Explore Jewish Teen Voices
    Celebrate the sprawling, complicated, glorious nature of being a teen today.
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  9. Social-Emotional Learning Embedded in Jewish Materials for Every Age

    Social and emotional learning is at the heart of Jewish education.

    According to educators Jeff Kress and Nancy Parkes in a recent article, there is substantial research evidence linking social and emotional competence and academic achievement.

    “Educators in Jewish settings are not only concerned with what our learners know, but also in the sort of people they become. A goal of Jewish education, regardless of where or how it takes place, is for learning to inform practice and shape how one lives that learning in the world,” they write.

    “Educators in every setting (day school teacher, bunk counselor, etc.) always shape the social and emotional growth of their learners (students, campers, etc.). SEL aims to do this in a more goal-directed, structured, and powerful way. In fact, many educators are already “doing” SEL as part of their everyday practice.” 

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  10. Celebrating 50 Years of Women in the Rabbinate

    Celebrating 50 Years of Women in the Rabbinate

    It was the 1970s. and doors were opening for women all across America. They could be doctors, lawyers, even pilots. But two thousand years of tradition said they couldn't be rabbis.  Until Sally.

    Sally Priesand wanted not just to learn Torah, but to teach it; not just to listen to a sermon, but give one; not just sit in the congregation, but lead it.

    In rabbinical school, people whispered, "She is only here to find a husband."

    "She will never finish."

    "No congregation will hire her."

    But Sally didn't listen. She finished her studies and became the first women rabbi in America. She opened the door for the many women who followed, and her story inspires us all to reach for our dreams.

    Sally Opened Doors - coming June 7


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