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Reconstructionist Judaism, November 2016
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In this Issue:
Raising Ethical Children: 10 Keys to Leading Your Children to Ethical Choices in Everyday Life
By Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D., Rabbi Emeritus at Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
 
The details and discussion of these 10 keys form the content of his book, Children of Character - A Parent's Guide.
 
After thousands of years of human experiences, there is still no job in the world with less agreement and clarity about what constitutes success and how to get there, than parenting. Here are my guidelines that might help raise ethical children with values to guide them through the unforeseen ups and downs of life. My personal ten keys to leading your children to ethical choices in everyday life:
 
  1. Set ethical parenting goals – Ask yourself, “What are the most important values I want to pass on to my child?”
  2. Be a moral model - Be the kind of adult you want your children to become.
  3. Have age-appropriate expectations – Pay as much attention to moral development as physical.
  4. Demonstrate unconditional love – You can love your children without always loving their behavior.
  5. Discipline with consequences, not punishments – An 8-year old once said, “A punishment is something a parent does to you, a consequence is something you do to yourself.”
  6. Look for teachable moments – Become the moral mediator of your child’s experiences.
  7. Share moral aphorisms – Wisdom from parents or grandparents, from Jewish tradition or popular culture.
  8. Have the kind of friends you want your kids to have – Your friendships teach more than you realize.
  9. Make ethical behavior a family affair – Family mitzvah activities become lifelong memories.
  10. Teach your children that life has meaning – Teach your children that what they say, what they do and who they are really matters.           
 
Rabbi Reuben is a nationally recognized expert in the field of moral education and is the recipient of numerous community awards, including the Micah Award for founding the largest full-service homeless shelter in Los Angeles. For more information about Rabbi Reuben and his work, visit his website.
.Homeless But Not Hopeless
You may have passed by her sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, or walked by him sitting on the steps going down to the subway. Maybe you noticed, but perhaps you did not.
 
You had somewhere to go. Unfortunately, they did not.
 
Former member of Congregation RRC (later to become Or Hadash in Fort Washington, Pa.) and longtime friend to the Reconstructionist movement, Diana Myers, spent most of her working life helping the homeless. As an undergraduate, she became interested in city planning and, later in her professional life, she worked to create affordable housing options for people with special needs.
 
Always the artist, Myers dabbled in many mediums from sketching, sculpture, welding, to collage and printmaking. But her art, while a major part of her life, was used as a mental break from her professional life. In 2013, Myers and Genny O'Donnell, Director of the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) in Norristown, Pa., collaborated on a new project called “Homeless But Not Hopeless.”
 
“This exhibit was important to me because it was the first time I combined my art and my career,” Myers said.
 
O’Donnell photographed 18 residents of the CHOC. Most of these people had been homeless for at least six months or longer. Myers printed a series of monoprints on paper that she then tore into strips and wove together. This process represents how Jewish values and ethics are formed, interwoven and passed down from one generation to the next—each generation adding its own spirit to the tapestry.
 
Each person photographed had selected a weaving for the background of his or her portrait. O’Donnell then superimposed the portraits on each individual’s chosen background.
 
Since 2013, Myers has made sure to stage the exhibit every November for Homeless Awareness Month. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is thrilled to have these images on display this year in RRC’s Ziegelman Hall, outside of Philadelphia.
 
“One of the things that has been important to me is to show that homelessness can affect anybody,” Myers said. “Especially after the crash in 2008, there are a lot of people who became homeless who had not been before because they lost their jobs. Sometimes people have an illness that wipes out their savings and they lose their home. Homelessness touches people of all ages, genders, religions and races without discrimination.”
 
You can see the artwork if you come to RRC’s office building in Wyncote, Pa. during the month of November. You can also view these images on our website. For information on the exhibit or how to purchase a print, please contact Diana Myers at diana@dma-housing.com.
 
Use these images as inspiration to make a difference. You can volunteer your time at a shelter or serve on a board of a local affordable housing organization. You can also donate food, toiletries or money to your local shelter.
The Chosen People? A Film about Jewish Identity
What does it mean to say the Jews are God’s Chosen People? Chosen for what purpose? Are all Jews inherently chosen, or does it depend on forming a personal covenant with God, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai? For those Jews who reject the notion that we are God's Chosen People, a core principle of Reconstructionism...what are we?
 
Filmmaker Joshua Gippin looks to answer these questions in a feature-length documentary to be released in 2017 called The Chosen People? A Film about Jewish Identity.
 
The film features RRC / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities president Rabbi Deborah Waxman, RRC ‘99, Ph.D., former RRC president Rabbi Arthur Green, Ph.D., Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, RRC ‘82, Ph.D., Rabbi Jacob Staub, RRC ‘77, Ph.D., Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Mel Scult, Ph.D., and dozens of others who represent a broad spectrum of beliefs, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
 
"This documentary is about much more than just Jewish identity. I hope one of the big takeaways is that no religious or ethnic group can claim to be 'God's Chosen People' to the exclusion of all other religious and ethnic groups,” Gippin said. “We humans are all made in God's image, each with our own unique purpose for being alive."
 
Visit the film’s website for more information about the film.
Reconstructionist Ritualwell
.PPrayer for Drivers
In a world where speed limit signs are decorations, turn signals are optional, and commuters are spending hours in traffic every day, getting into a car feels like an unavoidable game of Russian roulette.
 
If you’re worried about traveling on the roads this winter, you may want to center yourself and read this Driver’s Prayer written and submitted to Ritualwell by Rabbi Michael Graetz at Mercaz Shiluv Educational Center of the Negev.
 
As you and your loved ones travel this holiday season, may…

Our God and God of our ancestors,
God of Abraham and Sarah,
God of Isaac and Rebecka,
God of JacobRachel and Leah,
Enable us to reach our destination safely,
And bring us back to our home in shalom.
 
For prayers, blogs, rituals and resources for finding holiness in your everyday life, visit Ritualwell.org.
.Reconstructionists in the News
 
Rabbi Rachel Weiss, RRC ‘09, has joined Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill. as the community’s rabbi and their first female and openly gay rabbi. You can read more about her new role in the Chicago Tribune and the Windy City Times. Mazal tov to Rabbi Weiss and JRC!
 
We were excited to learn about Kol Ami’s four-year Tanach course taught by Marcel Infeld in northern Virginia. We were also intrigued by the community’s adaptation of the Simchat Torah siyum service to commemorate the completion of their study of Nevi’im (the books of the Prophets). Last September, the class finished studying Ketuvim (the books of the Writings) and celebrated with a siyum ceremony. As Rabbi Deborah Waxman points out in an article written about the class in the Washington Jewish Week, “[the class] engaged in a fundamental way in what I call God-wrestling and tradition-wrestling,” she said. “They saw how our ancestors answered questions in ways that can be challenging, and they didn’t look away.” Yasher koakh to the Tanach class of Kol Ami!
 
Mazal tov to Rabbis Dennis C. Sasso, RRC ‘74, and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, RRC ‘74, who were recognized by the Indiana Jewish Historical Society as “Hoosier Jewish Legends,” Indiana residents who have made a significant impact on Indiana’s Jewish community. Read Rabbi Sandy and Rabbi Dennis’s remarks from the October 23 ceremony.
 
Mazal tov and yasher koakh to Rabbi Arthur Waskow on the occasion of his second bar mitzvah! Rabbi Waskow has been a strong influencer in the Reconstructionist community, especially in social justice.

As a Future Rabbi, I’m Standing With Native People Against the Dakota Pipeline
Forward

Jewish Nasty Women: We must claim our history to repudiate Trump
Times of Israel

A Rabbi’s Enduring Sermon on Living Your Last Five Minutes
New York Times

Bet Haverim Celebrating 18 Years With Lesser
Atlanta Jewish Times

Parents As Partners In Disability Inclusion
New York Jewish Week
.Coming Up

Reconstructionist Birthright Israel
(Planned for) December 18-29, 2016
Israel
Camp JRF, Jewish Reconstructionist Communities and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College are teaming up with Israel Experts to lead a uniquely Reconstructionist Israel trip for young adults ages 21 to 26. Our participants will see the major sites and also visit the more out-of-the-way places to learn about Israeli culture. Whether they’ve visited before or this is the first time, we know it’ll be an incredible experience!
 
Click here for more information or email us at reconbirthright@campjrf.org.
New York Day of Reconstructionist Learning
January 29, 2017
New York City
Mark your calendars for the New York Day of Reconstructionist Learning to be held at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Join others in the New York area and learn from rabbis and Jewish scholars discussing the day’s theme: Moving Forward in Changing Times.
 
Stay tuned for more details!
No’ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah
March 3-5, 2017
New York City
Save the date for this great experience for 8th-12th graders as they explore New York City.
For more information, email info@campjrf.org or visit www.noarhadash.org/newyork
Chesapeake Day of Learning and Celebration
March 19, 2017
Laurel, Md.
Save the date for the Chesapeake Day of Learning and Celebration! Hosted at Oseh Shalom, we’ll have a day of learning starting at 2:30 p.m. and we’ll be honoring our Chesapeake volunteers at the annual celebration at 4 p.m.
 
Stay tuned for more details!
 
For more information, contact Jackie Land at jland@rrc.edu.
Pacific Northwest Shabbaton
May 5-7, 2017
Camp Solomon Schechter (near Olympia, Wa.)
Register now to celebrate Shabbat with us in the Pacific Northwest!
 
We’ll explore how Judaism gets passed on within communities, specifically who can teach, how do we learn, what is received and why, and what changes are needed to nourish Jewish life. There will be programming for everyone including adults, children and young adults. For infants to age four, childcare will be provided by pre-registration.
 
For more information, visit our website or contact Jackie Land at jland@rrc.edu.
 
.Upcoming Networks

Networks meet three to six times a year online for about an hour each session. At least six people are required for each network. Networks are capped at 12 participants unless otherwise specified, and a waitlist will be created if a network reaches capacity.
 
You can register online at www.jewishrecon.org/networks.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Rory Schonning at rschonning@rrc.edu or 215.576.0800, ext. 131.
 
December
12/1/16 Where is our Shabbat when we work on Shabbat?
12/6/16 Can you hear me now? How can our community’s brand stand out in a busy world?
12/8/16 Where is our Shabbat when we work on Shabbat?
12/13/16 How do we bridge the gap between shul and home?
12/14/16 How can we effectively work for justice, while maintaining our energy and keeping our members involved?
12/14/16 How do we create new rituals for changing times?
12/15/16 Where is our Shabbat when we work on Shabbat?
12/20/16 Can you hear me now? How can our community’s brand stand out in a busy world?
12/20/16 Which model of Jewish education is right for us?

 
.Inspiration and Connection
For the Global Day of Reconstructionist Learning on November 20 focusing on Under The Same Sky: “The Earth is Full of Your Creations,” Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, RRC ‘97, led a workshop on “Eco-Judaism: Is There Any Other Kind?! – How Torah Pushes the Sustainability Envelope.” You can watch the video of his workshop online now!
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Death, dying and mourning are topics that stir up pain and anxiety. But RRC student Ariana Katz wants us to stop ignoring the elephant in the room and discuss death and mourning openly. After winning a $20,000 Maxi-Grant from RRC’s Auerbach Grant Program, Katz is taking to the internet airways and has launched her first podcast called Kaddish: A Podcast on Death and Mourning. You can also follow this project on Facebook and Twitter.
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You can study Torah wherever you are!
 
If you’re ready to wrestle with the weekly Torah parshah, visit Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue’s Rabbi Judith HaLevy’s YouTube channel, Challenging Torah.
 
You can also catch RRC student Sandra Lawson’s Torah Lesson on Snapchat (sandrajlawson) or on YouTube.
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Join members of other Reconstructionist congregations online on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for wisdom, news and special announcements.


1299 Church Road, Wyncote, PA 19095
P: 215.576.0800 | F: 215.576.6143



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The Jewish Reconstructionist Communities in association with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) provides services for more than 100 congregations and havurot where members help create the Judaism they want to live. RRC is a progressive rabbinical school­­ where people of all backgrounds engage intensively with Jewish texts, thought and practice. As a combined organization, RRC / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities make up a unique kind of entity in the contemporary Jewish landscape.
 
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