|Volume 11 Number 83||Mon Feb 25 23:55:01 US/Pacific 2002|
From: rkaiser1 <email@example.com> Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 10:26:30 -0500 Subject: News from the Conservative movement A lot of new things are happening in the Masorti (Conservative) movement: (1) The new "Tefilla-Zine" is now on the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) website; It is an on-line magazine about Jewish prayer, from the joint USCJ-Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Commitment and Observance. Tefilah-Zine seeks to help Jews better understand and connect to Shabbat and weekday liturgy. "By discussing the history of our liturgy and delving deeper into the meaning of particular prayers, Tefilah-Zine hopes to encourage readers to deepen their habits of and engagement in personal and communal prayer...The magazine is putting out a call for a variety of articles: children's writings, research, opinion, reflective and experiential. They would like to include articles on new and innovative programs for Shabbat, holiday and weekday davening; pieces reflecting best practices for your synagogue, school or minyan; personal reflections of experiences; and suggestions for encouraging spontaneous prayer. Articles do not have to be written expressly for Tefilah-Zine." "Introducing tefillah-Zine!" http://www.uscj.org/item19_761.html (2) This spring the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism will introduce a second project devoted to daily Jewish learning. Mishnah Yomit, or "the daily mishnah," will build on the success of Perek Yomi, which continues to involve over 8,000 Conservative Jews in ongoing Bible study. Beginning in April 2002, participants will learn one or two passages in the Mishnah each day, with the goal of learning an entire "order" of Mishnah in the course of a year. For those who would prefer to study Tanakh, a second cycle of Perek Yomi will begin in April as well. For more info, see the website. (3) There is a new woman leader of USCJ http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=10917&intcategoryid=4 The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) has just elected its first woman Predident, Judy Yudof. An article on the JTA website states, in part, that: "Yudof, 56, who was installed this week at the groupssss convention here, is the first woman to hold such a lofty post in a large American Jewish denomination. The smaller Jewish Reconstructionist Federation has had a female president, but neither the synagogue arms nor rabbinic associations of Conservative, Reform or Orthodoxy have had one. Rabbi Janet Marder will become the first female president of the Reform movementssss Central Conference of American Rabbis next year....Yudof downplayed the significance of being a trailblazer for women, describing herself as 'a leader whos also a woman, not a leader because Im a woman.' With the movements decisions in the 1980s to ordain women rabbis and allow egalitarian worship services, the 'barriers are pretty much gone,' Yudof said." Shalom, Robert Kaiser
From: rkaiser1 <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 10:22:55 -0500 Subject: Ugandan Jews formally convert to Judaism An article about this story is available online at the Jewish Telegraphic Association (JTA) website. http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=10930&intcategoryid=2 An excerpt from the JTA article: "Capping a Jewish story of struggle and survival, Uganda's Jews just got dunked in the mikvah. Four Conservative rabbis from the United States and one from Israel joined the communityssss spiritual leader, Gershom Sizomu, in supervising the conversion of most of Ugandassss 600 Jews, a several-day affair that concluded Tuesday....After several intense days, two-thirds of the Abayudaya - some 400 people in all - were converted. Most of those who chose not to undergo the conversion cited sickness or travel complications. A few claimed their Jewishness didn't need an outside stamp of approval. For most, though, the conversion went off without a hitch. Neither the neighboring Muslims nor the ABC televison reporter who trailed behind the group made problems. 'We are at peace with everybody!' said Sizomu, who described a newfound 'connection between Uganda and the rest of the' Jewish world." According to the article, Orthodox rabbis were originally requested to carry out the conversions and help bring the community to an observant status. However, all Orthodox rabbis asked refused to carry out the conversions. The Uganda Jews thus now have reached out to the Conservative movement, and they have decided to create a halakhic non-Orthodox Judaism, drawing on the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist branches of Judaism. Rabbi Andy Sacks of the Masorti (Conservative) movement issued this clarification on the Forward's newspaper article: "For those who have asked: This was done in conjunction with Kulanu (http://www.kulanu.org). The Reform Movement was not involved in the Giyur. As to the political questions it could raise: these people are not some weird sect with a vague connection to Judaism. They practice normative Judaism. They have suffered greatly as a consequence. The leaders realize the nuanced differen ces between the streams of Judaism and are aware of the difficulties they may face if they should decide on Aliya." An article in the weekly newspaper, "The Forward", states that "Last week a rabbinic court screened over 300 members of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, and the vast majority completed halachic conversions and thus became officially recognized under Jewish law. Provisions are in place for the rest to complete the process in the immediate future. The Abayudaya community embraced Judaism in 1919 and has been practicing - and upgrading its knowledge and observance - ever since. The 600-member community occupies rural villages near Mbale, Uganda. The conversions were conferred February 5 through 13 by three visiting rabbis from the US and one from Israel. Candidates were screened by a beit din (rabbinic court) and males - all of whom had been circumcised - underwent a hatafat dam brit (ritual circumcision). Finally, each successful candidate underwent ritual immersion. Both a nearby river and the community's kosher mikveh were put to use." Shalom, Robert Kaiser
From: Sharon Bolton <email@example.com> Date: Sun Feb 24 08:43:36 PST 2002 Subject: Re: Worshiping intercessionaries BerRotm@aol.com wrote: > It is not my intent to denigrate other people's faith, even though they may > all short of what I consider the Judaic ideal of monotheism. Those women who > come to Rachel's tomb to pray for her intercession do not do so in front of > a statue purporting to be Rachel. That is much of Christianity's uses of > sculpted or painted representations; that is what make it idolatry. Many would disagree with you on this point. Christians are not worshipping the statue, but the idea the statue represents. Human minds need to focus on something the human mind can comprehend. God instructed us to build the Mishkhan not because God needed it, but because humans need the focal point. No Christian that I have EVER met believed that the picture or statue they had in front of them or in their mind was ACTUALLY anything except a picture or statue. They are well aware that it is merely a focal point. Sharon Bolton
From: PDZ99@aol.com Date: Sun Feb 24 8:49:41 US/Pacific 2002 Subject: Re: Worshiping intercessionaries I'm reading the posts regarding the above with a bit of amusement. As I've said before, I've converted to Judaism from Roman Catholicism. In all my time as a Catholic, I never, ever was taught that I was praying TO a statue. I always prayed to God, not the plaster image before me. Was I ahead of my time? I don't think so. I really don't understand, and have never understood, why we Jews believe that Catholics pray to statues. I study with the Chassidim, and in every house that I visit there hangs a picture of the Rebbe. I have to wonder, how is this different from a Catholic who has a picture of Christ or a crucifix in their home? Are not both families using the images in the same way--as a reminder of that person, that event? In both cases, I believe, these IMAGES serve to inspire and/or comfort the religious person. There is nothing wrong with looking into the eyes of goodness and sacrifice. It's much better than looking into the eyes of hatred and evil. If you think about this idea the next time TV flashes images of the "Ten Most Wanted Al-Queda," you'll get a sense of what I'm trying to convey. I will say that Catholicism's involvement with Mary seems so strong as to make one believe that she is like God, but again, I believe she's only used as an intercessionary, just as I sometimes ask my mother-in-law, of blessed memory, to pray for me. I believe that her soul is much closer to God than is mine. Do I think of her as a god? Not at all. I remember an image that the nuns would create for us in Catholic school. That image went something like this: God is on a throne; Jesus sits to the right hand of God, and I believe, Mary sits to the left. A beautiful image for a child, a comforting image for an adult--all in all meant to teach that some souls sit closer to God than others. I will say that never in a Reform home have I found any religious images, so maybe that's why our sect thinks so negatively about it. Just a thought. Sincerely, Patricia Zake
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