Judaism

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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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 16, 1999

Source: Los Angeles Times

On May 16, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an article on the Conservative rabbis ordained in Los Angeles. Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark, president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis, stated: "The signal is obvious. The West Coast, and especially Los Angeles, has become one of the most important centers of Jewish life in America." Many Jewish leaders feel that "a different kind of rabbi willing to break the mold is likely to come out of Los Angeles schools." The Reform movement, whose ordinations in the United States have...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 8, 1999

Source: Omaha World-Herald

On May 8, 1999, the Omaha World-Herald published an article on a talk by historian Jonathan Sarna concerning the changing demographics of Judaism in the United States. According to Sarna, the Jewish population in America in the 1940s was 3.7 percent - now it is 2.2 percent. Israel will soon displace the United States as the largest Jewish community in the world, but American Judaism has spawned many new movements. Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox are "sharing the stage" with Jewish New Age, transdenominational, and other...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

May 7, 1999

Source: The Indianapolis Star

On May 7, 1999, The Indianapolis Star reported on the growing trend of American conversions to Judaism. Rabbi Dennis Sasso of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis stated: "During the last 30 years, pluralism in this country has created a greater social and cultural interaction among people of different faiths and traditions. In that context, Judaism has become a meaningful option for people who are searching." Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, which offers regular classes for those seeking conversion to Judaism, is embracing...

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The Changing Face of Judaism

April 26, 1999

Source: Los Angeles Times

On April 26, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an article on Temple Beth Solomon in Arleta, California, which is the only temple in the United States founded by and for deaf Jews. Established in 1960, Temple Beth Solomon has served the community of 30,000 to 50,000 deaf Jews in this country who want to learn Torah and study Hebrew. Ancient Jewish teachings barred deaf Jews from undertaking bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies because the rabbis could not communicate with them. Now, deaf Jews have the opportunity to undertake bar and...

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Kosovo Coverage

April 9, 1999

Source: Los Angeles Times

On April 9, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an article about the American Jewish response to the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. With images from the region that resonate with 20th century Jewish experience, the crisis in Kosovo has prompted the Jewish community to be outspoken in condemning the violence against the ethnic Albanians. The Anti-Defamation League has sponsored full-page advertisements supporting the NATO bombing campaign and asking for donations to help "innocent victims of hatred." Jewish Federation chapters...

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Passover Coverage

March 27, 1999

Source: The Seattle Times

On March 27, 1999, The Seattle Times published an article on a new book dealing with kabbalism entitled, "A Journey of Awakening: 49 Steps from Enslavement to Freedom." Ted Falcon, author of the book, intends it to be a "meditative guide based on kabbalistic traditions for Jews and others who are counting Omer this spring." Omer is the Jewish religious time from Passover, which commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, to Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah to Moses by God.

Coed Jewish High School in Minnesota

March 27, 1999

Source: Star Tribune

On March 27, 1999, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis published an article on Akiva Academy, the only coeducational Jewish high school in the Twin Cities and one of the few in the country. With only 16 students, the school is trying to attract students from all corners of Judaism, though the large majority of the students have familiarity with Orthodox Judaism. The curriculum is challenging and incorporates a college-level general studies program with Jewish religious education.

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