Clal nurtures new skills in leaders, helping them to prepare for the civic, spiritual, intellectual and ethical challenges in American life.
"It is like clockwork. You can expect someone to raise the following argument every single time anything new is being discussed in the context of traditional Jewish life: But what about Jewish values? Isn’t this [insert new thing] really just a manifestation of [insert external value]? We need to be true to our eternal, timeless and unchanging Jewish values!..."
"...In a potentially bold stroke, Rabbis Irwin Kula and Brad Hirschfield of Clal – the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, think they have a way to unite academia and the wider Jewish community. The goal: to bring the ideas uncovered by those postdoc fellows to Jews in the pews, and those beyond the synagogue. And in that way to ‘reimagine Judaism on the ground,’ according to Rabbi Kula.
"Each year, a group of the world’s leading Judaic studies scholars gather at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania to study a topic that has the potential to shape not only their chosen field, but also contemporary Jewish culture.
"When I was ordained as a rabbi, a little under two years ago, my husband hosted a lovely party at which he and friends and colleagues and teachers and one of my daughters offered poignant tributes and blessings. But my own mother, the only member of my family of origin in attendance, was not expected to speak. A descendant of European Orthodoxy, she had been lukewarm about my ambition. So we were surprised when my eldering mother rose to take the floor...."
"...The goal of the one-week writing intensive program was to teach dozens of rabbis, priests, ministers and other clergy members to be more expressive and authentic while writing skillfully in media as diverse as op-eds, blogs, personal essays and social media. When the director of the Kenyon Institute was looking for a religious leader who could teach clergy to be better writers when it comes to social media and blogs, Clal’s Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, an adviser to the institute, recommended me for that role.
"...the Jewish community (or more accurately, our multiple Jewish communities since we are not monolithic) must hold candid conversations about whether we want to prioritize a Judaism where Jews identify culturally or morally but not necessarily religiously. The Pew Study makes clear that this is the reality for the vast majority of non-Orthodox Jews in America. But this is NOT a new conversation, despite what demographers might claim.
"...Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel asked a rhetorical question during his last interview, 10 days before he passed away. ‘Should the Metropolitan Museum try to introduce [a rule] that all paintings should look alike?’ He continued, ‘I should like to suggest that all human faces should look alike – how would you respond to my proposal?’ Of course, we would be dissatisfied in such a homogenized world.
"Last week Rabbi Heidi Hoover wrote on this blog:
"I believe that intermarriage has become a scapegoat for the American Jewish community. If we have failed to raise Jews who love Judaism and can’t imagine their lives without some kind of Jewish practice, then it doesn’t matter who they marry — their commitment to the practice of Judaism will not be strong. If we have succeeded at raising Jews who love Judaism and can’t imagine their lives without some kind of Jewish practice, then it doesn’t matter who they marry — Jewish practice will be part of their lives and that of their families."
I think she is 100 percent correct...."
"...We live in a culture of busy. I hate it that when people ask me how I am, I often answer "busy." In 2012, Tim Krieder wrote a much-circulated piece in The New York Times about "The ‘Busy’ Trap" – and why we fall into it. He suggested there that being busy all the time "serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness." So, am I actually busy? Or is feeling busy serving another purpose? Or is busyness simply trendy these days?..."
"...What I experienced that evening though was beyond expectation – it changed my own preconceived notions of what it meant to be part of a local Jewish congregation in New England.