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We Made Our Bris Inclusive. Here’s How.

Interfaith - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:00am
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily *

by Sarah Rizzo


At just nine weeks pregnant, my doctor ran a blood test and we waited on the results, full of anticipation. When they came back, we found out our baby was a healthy baby boy! Seeing is believing for me, so I waited until the anatomy scan to be sure we needed to start preparing for a boy. Sure enough, the blood test didn’t lie.

Our first baby was a girl, so after the birth, there was no rush to pull off a Jewish lifecycle event. We had done a simchat bat (also called a brit bat) celebration for her (a Jewish naming ceremony for a baby girl), but it was almost two months after she was born, so we had already started to settle into a routine and we were somewhat rested. This time would be very different. This boy would have a bris on his eighth day of life, no matter when that would fall. For my Type A personality, it was going to be tricky to relinquish control.

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*Photo by Melissa Naclerio, Modern Birdcage Photography

Jewish Prayer for the Sick: Mi Sheberakh

Celebrating-Judaism - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:00am
BY RABBI SIMKHA Y. WEINTRAUB for myjewishlearning.com



A healing prayer for when a loved one is suffering.



One of the central Jewish prayers for those who are ill or recovering from illness or accidents is the Mi Sheberakh. The name is taken from its first two Hebrew words. With a holistic view of humankind, it prays for physical cure as well as spiritual healing, asking for blessing, compassion, restoration, and strength, within the community of others facing illness as well as all Jews, all human beings.


Traditionally, the Mi Sheberakh is said in synagogue when the Torah is read. If the patient herself/himself cannot be at services, a close relative or friend might be called up to the Torah for an honor, and the one leading services will offer this prayer, filling in the name of the one who is ill and her/his parents. Many congregations sing the version of the Mi Sheberakh written by Debbie Friedman, a popular Jewish folk musician who focused on liturgical music. (That version can heard in the video, and its lyrics read, at the top of this article.)


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New Zealand energy firm invests $10m in Iron Dome maker

Going-Green-Jewishly - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:00am
By Brian Blum for Israel21c


mPrest’s technology will allow Vector engineers to manage and predict outages and allow the efficient delivery of energy to and from the grid.


Did a gas and electric company in New Zealand just buy Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to protect its infrastructure? Not quite.

But New Zealand-based energy and communications infrastructure provider Vector did make a $10 million investment in the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome. And some of the technologies that power Israel’s remarkable protection against projectiles will be used by Vector as part of its IoT (Internet of Things) approach to optimizing management and control services.

Vector’s investment in Israel’s mPrest means that the New Zealand company has transitioned from mPrest customer to investor and business partner. The two companies “will to continue to develop and apply a machine learning and artificial intelligence system to better manage Auckland’s changing energy demands.”

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The Kibbutz Movement

Feature-Article - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:00am
BY RACHAEL GELFMAN SCHULTZ for myjewishlearning.com 


The proud and turbulent history of Israel's experiment in communal living.


The kibbutz — a collectively owned and run community — holds a storied place in Israeli culture, and Jews (and non-Jews) from around the world, including 2016 Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, have volunteered on them. Launched in 1909, with the founding of Degania, Israel’s first kibbutz, this unique movement has changed dramatically over its more-than-100-year history.

Degania, in northern Israel, was founded by a group of young Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. They dreamed of working the land and creating a new kind of community, and a new kind of Jew — stronger, more giving, and more rooted in the land.

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What Unites And Divides Israeli Americans And Their Fellow Jews: A Conference Takes A Look

News-in-the-Jewish-World - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
BY RON KAMPEAS for The Jewish Week


Not long ago Yahel Epel, a volunteer with the Israeli American Council, fulfilled her assigned mission: She assembled 200 Jews, half of them Israeli American, in a room in Denver on a Friday evening for a potluck dinner and a Shishi Yisraeli program.

Shishi Yisraeli, a program launched by IAC that means “Israeli Friday evening,” seeks a happy medium between what those with and without Israeli roots or backgrounds would enjoy on a Friday night. The idea: Get them together. Create community.

How did it go?

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Toldot

Weekly-Torah-Portion - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am

Genesis 25:19-28:9

D'var Torah By: Edwin C. Goldberg for ReformJudaism.org

 

What Would You Hold Onto - At Any Price?

The show, Pawn Stars, is a runaway hit on the History Channel. It tells the story of three generations of the Harrison family and their Las Vegas pawnshop. There's Richard, the patriarch (affectionately known as the "old man"); Rick, the son (who really runs the business); and Rick's adult son, Corey (who wants to become a tough businessman like his father and grandfather).

The setup is simple: Every customer who walks through the door, intending to pawn or sell some family heirloom, has a tale. Sometimes the item is worthless, other times priceless. Rick can always tell the difference.

When he does pronounce that the medieval knight's helmet is really a 19th-century reproduction, the item's owner must make a choice: Sell it for less than the asking price or call the whole deal off. Often, customers call off the deal because the item's sentimental value has just exceeded its actual value.
 
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Confessions from the Edge of a Cliff: My Teen Mental Health Journey

Young-Adults - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
By Dani, an 11th grader on eJewishPhilanthropy


Talk loudly and talk a lot, because communication is first step on the path to healing.


Hope is a powerful thing. Hope inspires change. Hope – hatikva – is the reason our Jewish people have survived and thrived in this hostile world for so long. Hope is the ability to look past the darkness of the present and see a brighter future. But when a person loses hope, loses that ability to imagine an eventuality in which anything could ever be alright, it becomes difficult to go on.

I know this because I barely survived four years living without hope. For those four years, I was stuck alone in a dark, empty room, seriously contemplating just getting up and checking out before I realized that those who loved me – my friends, my parents, my rabbis – were only a phone call away. It is an experience I would not wish on anyone, and one I wish never to repeat.

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The Nazi Trifecta

LGBTQ - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
Kenny Fries for Jewish Book Council


At a dinner party soon after I moved to Berlin, a German guest recounted the story of his struggle to restore the bomb-battered grave of his grandfather at the Jewish Cemetery in Weissensee. He regaled the dinner guests, telling us about his phone call to the cemetery administrator, who told him the requirement that all new gravestones are required to quote scripture.

“But my father wasn’t a believer,” he complained to the administrator. “He wouldn’t have wanted scripture, Jewish or otherwise, on his tombstone. He was a Communist.”

“Make up your mind,” demanded the administrator. “Was your grandfather a Jew or a Communist?”

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The Parashot in Watercolor

Jewish-Arts-and-Media - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
By Gabriela Geselowitz for Jewcy


Starr Weems is a Jewish teacher and artist in Alabama who’s taken on the mission of creating a piece of art for every parsha of the year. These watercolors are dreamlike and ethereal (and a little bit psychedelic), visual midrashim, of sorts.

“This project started two years ago with my personal sketchbook,” Weems told Jewcy. “I had decided to spend time studying the parsha each week and translating it into my own visual language. It was sometimes a challenge to keep up with it on top of my regular painting and illustration jobs, but I managed to get through the cycle of an entire year… I had been wanting to rework my sketchbook ideas into finished pieces for a while, and when a venue contacted me to book a spring exhibit, I decided that now is a good time.”

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Updating Old World Foods for the Modern Cook and Eater

Jewish-Food - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am

Sarah Rich for Jewish Book Council



Sarah Rich is the co-editor of Leave Me Alone with the Recipes: The Life, Art, and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles. Cipe (pronounced “C. P.”) was one of the most influential graphic designers of the twentieth century, and the first female art director at Condé Nast.


When I first flipped through Cipe Pineles’s hand-painted recipe book from 1945, it felt deeply familiar. This was my family’s food—not the food we ate for dinner on an average evening during my childhood, but the food we kept in our cultural pantry.


It was a wonder to see these dishes rendered with so much vibrancy and character in Cipe’s art. In my mind, many Eastern European Jewish foods were fairly plain and monotone. You could paint matzo balls, gefilte fish, potato latkes, noodle kugel, kasha and brisket all within a spectrum from beige to brown. Yet here was a rainbow of beets, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes; not to mention the cool blue enamel and warm clay of the cookware. It was a visual celebration of a cuisine that typically feels nostalgic, comforting, old.

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8 Things You Probably Don’t Know About ‘An American Tail’

Children-and-Familes - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
BY JOANNA C. VALENTE for Kveller


Remember Fievel? Fievel is the adorable mouse in the animated series “An American Tail”–and its sequel “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.” How could you forget the whole Mousekewitz family saga? The movie, which chronicled their move to America, may seem eerily like your own family’s story.

There are a ton of things you may not realize about the American Tail series, however, and I’ve compiled them below:

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Jewish Comedy as a Means of Survival

Jewish-Books - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
Jeremy Dauber for Jewish Book Council


Writing a history of Jewish comedy, trying to cover everything—or at least a representative sample of everything—from the Bible to Twitter, was a daunting, though admittedly fun, task. One of the questions I got asked most frequently when I told people what I was working on was, “What is Jewish humor, anyway?” Or, put another way, “What makes comedy Jewish comedy?”

Luckily, now I have a pretty easy answer to that question—“I wrote a book giving my best answer; feel free to purchase on Amazon or at local stores”—but over this week, as a Visiting Scribe™ for the Prosen People, I wanted to try to give three different perspectives on that question. And I wanted to do it through looking at three Jewish jokes: jokes that I find deeply, almost ineffably, Jewish, even though their origins may come from elsewhere, or they could be easily told in other contexts. 

So here goes, with joke number one. It’s set in medieval times.

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Who's behind the coolest new feature on the iPhone X?

Israeli-News - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
by Benyamin Cohen for FromtheGrapevine 


Apple turned to its R&D center in Israel for their new Face ID technology.


The wait is over. Apple unveiled the highly anticipated new iPhone models at an event streamed around the world.

Called the iPhone X, it marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's debut in 2007. While there are many new whiz-bang features on the phone, one in particular caught our attention: Face ID. The new technology is an infrared face scanner that will unlock your iPhone simply by looking at it. (Die-hard From The Grapevine readers will recall that we predicted this back in the summer of 2015. OK, so we were off by two years. We're not perfect.)

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Planning a Japanese, American & Jewish Wedding

Interfaith - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am

This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


By Kristin Posner


As a fourth generation Japanese-American, I’ve often felt my heritage was slipping away from me. I grew up feeling in between the two: not quite Japanese enough or American enough, not really belonging in either category. There have been phases of my life when I’ve embraced being just American or just Japanese. It wasn’t until my conversion and our wedding that I came to realize that there is space for both.

When Bryan and I started dating, I became interested in his Jewish heritage. As things started getting serious, I felt that if we were to spend our lives together I had a responsibility to learn about his heritage too. In many ways, in Judaism I found the sense of belonging, spirituality and sense of community I had been searching for my whole life.

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Do Jews Believe In Angels?

Celebrating-Judaism - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
BY MJL STAFF


These supernatural beings appear widely throughout Jewish texts.


Angels are supernatural beings that appear widely throughout Jewish literature.


The Hebrew word for angel, mal’ach, means messenger, and the angels in early biblical sources deliver specific information or carry out some particular function. In the Torah, an angel prevents Abraham from slaughtering his son Isaac, appears to Moses in the burning bush and gives direction to the Israelites during the desert sojourn following the liberation from Egypt. In later biblical texts, angels are associated with visions and prophesies and are given proper names.

Later rabbinic and kabbalistic sources expand on the concept of angels even further, describing a broad universe of named angels with particular roles in the spiritual realm.

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8 must-have Israeli eco-products to make your life greener

Going-Green-Jewishly - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
By Abigail Klein Leichman for Israel21c


From e-scooters to smart water systems to upcycled accessories, these items consume fewer natural resources and keep the air cleaner.

 

You don’t have to be a card-carrying tree-hugger to take some simple steps toward a better environment. Whether you care deeply about air and water pollution or just want to cut your energy bills, the things you choose to use can make a difference.


ISRAEL21c looks at eight products designed in Israel that can help make a positive contribution to planet Earth.

 

GREEN HOME

 

Sensibo

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Kabbalah and Mysticism 101

Feature-Article - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
myjewishlearning.com Staff


Jewish mysticism has taken many forms.


The Jewish mystical tradition is rich and diverse, and Jewish mysticism has taken many forms. Scholar Moshe Idel groups the different expressions of Jewish mysticism into two fundamental types: moderate and intensive. Moderate mysticism is intellectual in nature. It is an attempt to understand God and God’s world, and ultimately affect and change the divine realm. This type of mysticism incorporates many aspects of traditional Judaism, including Torah study and the performance of the commandments, infusing these activities with mystical significance. Intensive mysticism, on the other hand, is experiential in nature. Intensive mystics use nontraditional religious activities, including chanting and meditation, in an attempt to commune with God.

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Jews and Non-Jews: Interfaith Relations

Interfaith - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 8:00am
myjewishlearning.com 


Dialogue” is the watchword in defining relations between Jews and peoples of other religions, particularly in North America’s environment of religious pluralism. The emphasis on dialogue comes as a result of years of hard work on the part of religious leaders and a growing concern about religious intolerance that has continued to brew and cause turmoil throughout the world.

Leaders from the Catholic Church, for example, take a proactive role in seeking dialogue with Jewish leaders. Since the Vatican II decision of the 1960s formally ending the Catholic belief that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death, Catholic leaders such as Pope John Paul II have attempted to change their relationship with Jewish people. All major archdiocese include specific offices of interreligious affairs, in which a team of priests, nuns, and educators work with members of clergy from the Jewish (and other) faiths. These offices often play a key role in helping to create annual community-wide Holocaust memorial services on Yom Hashoah (Day of Holocaust commemoration).

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Chayei Sara

Weekly-Torah-Portion - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 7:53am
BY RABBI KERRY M. OLITZKY for myjewishlearning.com 


Was Abraham’s Second Wife Really Hagar?

 

None of the commentaries questioned the legitimacy of the relationship between Abraham and Keturah.


Following the death of his beloved Sarah, Abraham wed a second time. The Torah records it this way, “Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah” (Gen. 25:1). It is the Torah’s style only to add detail when necessary. Otherwise, it is up to the reader to discern the import of the Torah’s cryptic statements. In this case, there is no extensive discussion or lengthy debate. There is no explanation of Keturah’s lineage. Some suggest that she was Hagar. Others say that she was a different woman entirely.

Taking his lead from a variety of rabbinic sources, the great commentator Rashi boldly suggests that Keturah is Hagar: “She was called Keturah because her deeds were as pleasing as incense and because she tied up her opening [explanations emerging from two rabbinic folk etymologies on her name]; from the day she left Abraham, she did not couple with any man.”

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We know where Amazon is building next

News-in-the-Jewish-World - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:00am
by Benyamin Cohen for FromtheGrapevine 


While the tech giant searches for a new home in the U.S., it is already planning two new R&D centers in Israel.


This summer, Amazon announced it would build a second headquarters somewhere in North America. That news set off a parlor game du jour, with everyone weighing in on what city the tech giant would pick. Would it be Atlanta, Boston, Denver? Perhaps a small college town in Texas? Bringing with it jobs and infrastructure, the high-stakes move is sure to be a boon for whichever city gets chosen. One Georgia town made news this week when it offered to change its name to Amazon.

While the quest for a new headquarters in the U.S. continues, it seems Amazon has made some decisions on another front. The Seattle-based e-retailer will be opening two R&D centers in Israel – one will be in Tel Aviv and the other in Haifa. The labs, which will employ about 100 engineers, will work exclusively on the company’s Alexa voice-operated device.

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