Judaism

Synagogue Arson in California

June 19, 1999

Source: Los Angeles Times

On June 19, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that three Sacramento synagogues were set on fire about 35 minutes apart on the morning of June 18th. Flyers were left at the synagogue linking Jews and the "Jewsmedia" with profiting from the war in Kosovo through Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who recently discovered her Jewish ancestry. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the arsons, "clearly the worst such attacks in years." Sacramento has been the scene of previous hate crimes, with...

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Synagogue Arson in California

June 19, 1999

Source: Sacramento Bee

On June 19, 1999, the Sacramento Bee reported on the efforts by area temples to help the three congregations. Area congregations have donated prayer books, Torahs, and sanctuary space. Marc Carrel, chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council, stated: "Any incident against one house of worship is an act of violence against the whole community. Every Sacramentan should be outraged." Mosaic Law Congregation, a Conservative synagogue, opened its doors to Congregation Beth Shalom to have Shabbat services and a Bat Mitzvah ceremony...

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Synagogue Arson in California

June 19, 1999

Source: The Buffalo News

On June 19, 1999, The Buffalo News reported on the synagogue arsons in Sacramento. These are being investigated as hate crimes; a hate flier that was recovered from the Knesset Israel Torah Center blamed Jews for the war in Kosovo and the destruction caused by NATO bombing.

Controversy over Conversion to Judaism

June 13, 1999

Source: The New York Times

On June 13, 1999, a The New York Times published an article on issues of conversion in the Jewish religion. Gary A. Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, advocates "a positive, welcoming approach to non-Jews becoming Jews." Approximately 180,000, or 3 percent, of the American Jewish population are converts, who are mostly married or engaged to Jews. Tobin believes that reaching out to non-Jews asserts the American Jewish position in a democratic, religiously pluralistic society: "...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

June 5, 1999

Source: Sacramento Bee

On June 5, 1999, the Sacramento Bee published an article on Rabbi Mendy Cohen, who is affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement and founder of Chabad of Sacramento. Cohen, like his Lubavitch movement, has been a charismatic figure in the Sacramento area and has aggressively made outreach efforts to area Jews with his brand of Orthodox Judaism. Cohen stated: "There is no such thing as Orthodox or Conservative or Reform. There is a Judaism that was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and he gave it over to generation after...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

June 1, 1999

Source: The New York Times

On June 1, 1999, The New York Times published an article of reflections on the Pittsburgh Principles. Rabbis Sheldon Zimmerman, president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, emphasized that since American society reminds Jews of their identity less frequently, the question for American Jews is "'Why be Jewish?' No other generation has had to answer that question." Rabbis Paul J. Menitoff, the executive vice-president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, stated: "I think there's a change in the...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 31, 1999

Source: The Courier-Journal

On May 31, 1999, The Courier-Journal of Louisville published an article on Congregation Keneseth Israel in Louisville, which recently voted to give men and women equal roles in worship services. Women in this Conservative synagogue will now be allowed to read from the Torah during services. Rabbi Shmuel Mann, leader of Keneseth Israel, stated: "I have ambivalent feelings, in the sense that it's tough for a congregation to go through this move, but hundreds of Conservative congregations have done that over the last 25 years. On...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 27, 1999

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

On May 27, 1999, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Central Conference of American Rabbis in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania endorsed a measure by a vote of 324-68 to encourage Reform Judaism toward the observance of more traditional rituals and practices, such as keeping kosher, wearing a yarmulke, and praying in Hebrew. Reform Judaism's founding platform in 1885 eschewed many Jewish traditions because they were viewed as obstacles to "modern spiritual elevation." Rabbi Michael Siegel, the newly elected president of the Chicago...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 27, 1999

Source: The New York Times

On May 27, 1999, The New York Times published an article on the contents of the Pittsburgh Principles. The document is divided into "three broad sections of beliefs, in the worship of God, the observance of the Torah and devotion to Israel." The document specifically addresses for the first time in a declaration of Reform principles the issue of mitzvot, which are sacred obligations that are observed more closely by Conservative and Orthodox Jews. The document states that "some of these mitzvot, sacred obligations, have long been...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 27, 1999

Source: The Times-Picayune

On May 27, 1999, The Times-Picayune reported on the Pittsburgh meeting, mentioning that the Pittsburgh Principles encourage immigration to Israel, welcome marriage to non-Jews who "strive to create a Jewish home," and encourage Jews to be missionaries to those unaffiliated with any faith.

The Changing Face of Judaism

May 27, 1999

Source: New York Daily News

On May 27, 1999, the Daily News of New York reported that the principles laid down in Pittsburgh by the Central Conference of American Rabbis does not mandate actions for Reform Jews, but it offers "guidelines for observing traditional Jewish practices, such as wearing prayer shawls, following kosher dietary laws, studying Hebrew and Observing Shabbat." Cantor Rebecca Garfein of the Bronx's Riverdale Temple stated: "They're looking for meaning and something to hold on to in the age of globalism, this age of technology,...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 24, 1999

Source: The Boston Globe

On May 24, 1999, The Boston Globe published an article on the changes affecting Reform Judaism. Describing the Pittsburgh Principles, Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, stated: "In many ways, it's a little bit like a political platform. It seeks to allow large numbers of people to feel comfortable and tries not to alienate anybody. And in a voluntary religious environment where you want as many members as possible, that's probably wise." Rabbi David Wolfman, executive director of the...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 19, 1999

Source: The Jerusalem Post

On May 19, 1999, The Jerusalem Post reported that Los Angeles' University of Judaism graduated the first group of Conservative rabbis to be ordained outside of New York. Four men and four women made up the graduating class of the four-year-old Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, which is affiliated with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Originally, Jewish Theological Seminary opposed the idea of a second rabbinical school, but now tempers have "cooled down and officials at both schools,...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 17, 1999

Source: The Denver Post

On May 17, 1999, The Denver Post reported that 100 volunteers from the Jewish community in Denver cleaned up the paupers' section of Golden Hill Cemetery, which contains the graves of Jewish tuberculosis victims from the early 1900s who fled from New York to Denver to seek treatment. Historian Ron Sladek stated: "In those times, when people got on the trains to Denver, their families would just kiss them goodbye and basically write them off for dead. They knew they weren't ever going to see them again." The clean-up continues a 10-...

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