Prayer

A 'Jewish visionary': singer Debbie Friedman mourned

By Jennifer Lipman, January 10, 2011

An influential American singer-songwriter who led a guitar session at Limmud last month has died after being hospitalised with pneumonia.

Debbie Friedman, who was in her late 50s, was considered a key figure in the revival of music within prayer and credited with "reminding Jewish people how to sing”.

In a career spanning more than three decades, Ms Friedman released more than 20 albums, a host of awards and played to vast audiences at venues around the world, including at several Limmud conferences in Britain.

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Maidenhead feels at home with tapestry

September 16, 2010

Maidenhead Reform Synagogue has solved a long-time problem - thanks to 13 kilometres of gold thread.

For many years, the synagogue has been unable to accommodate its 800 families for High Holy Day services in its own building.

To keep the community together, they are instead held in a local community centre. However, Rabbi Jonathan Romain acknowledges that the atmosphere has not been the same as in the synagogue proper.

To address the problem, he commissioned one of the community's artistic talents, Karen Broude, to produce a giant tapestry depicting a shofar.

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Jerusalem prepares for Pop Idol clashes

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

Major clashes are expected next month in Jerusalem around the broadcast of the A Star is Born finale from the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

The final of Israel's equivalent to Pop Idol is scheduled for Saturday night and strictly Orthodox rabbis object to it for fear that the preparations for the broadcast will take place on Shabbat, and that the heavy traffic expected will block the road for those planning to get to the Western Wall for the first night of selichot (penitential prayers said before the High Holy Days).

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New York schools shun special needs kids

By Paul Berger, August 5, 2010

Manhattan offers the Jewish parent everything: gleaming community centres, world-class Jewish day schools, and a synagogue on just about every corner. But when it comes to raising children with special needs, New York's glitziest borough is, apparently, lacking.

One recent Monday evening, about 150 people crowded into the basement of Congregation Shearith Israel, on Central Park West, to discuss "The Jewish Community's Obligation to Special Needs Children."

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New York schools shun special needs kids

By Paul Berger, August 5, 2010

Manhattan offers the Jewish parent everything: gleaming community centres, world-class Jewish day schools, and a synagogue on just about every corner. But when it comes to raising children with special needs, New York's glitziest borough is, apparently, lacking.

One recent Monday evening, about 150 people crowded into the basement of Congregation Shearith Israel, on Central Park West, to discuss "The Jewish Community's Obligation to Special Needs Children."

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Outrage over church Israeli 'war crimes' show

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 30, 2010

Manchester's Jewish communal leaders have raised serious concerns with the Church of England's senior churchman in the city this week after its principal cathedral hosted an exhibition which its organisers claim is evidence of Israeli war crimes.

Manchester Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of Manchester, is hosting the Loss of Innocence exhibition, 50 drawings by Palestinian children which include gruesome depictions of Israel's 2009 Gaza operation.

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Singing rabbis 'banned'

By Nathan Jeffay, July 22, 2010

Israel's chief rabbinate is threatening to withdraw licences to perform marriages from rabbis who sing under the chuppah.

Wedding ceremonies in Israel tend to be generic, performed by a rabbi allocated by the rabbinate. But in the last decade, Israeli couples have begun turning to charismatic rabbis, who liven up ceremonies by singing parts of it.

"It's like a performance, like a theatre," said Ana Prashizky, a Bar Ilan University sociologist who has studied the trend.

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A shivah is not the time for a tea party

By Rabbi Barry Marcus, July 22, 2010

A colleague once told me about a call he received from a congregant informing him of the death of a family member. Before the rabbi could even offer his condolences, he was asked if he could recommend a good caterer for the one-night shivah.

All communal rabbis face a daily challenge in dealing with the lifecycle events in their communities, whether births, bar/batmitzvahs, weddings or sadly, bereavements. All these events are charged with various levels of emotion which demand sensitive handling.

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Prayers you can say when times get tough

By Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, October 15, 2009

The problem with Jewish prayer books is that they are full of the statutory prayers, such as the Amidah and Alenu. To be fair, that is their job. But most Jews come to synagogue with other matters weighing on their minds, whether business, family or health issues. It is to fill this vacuum that a book of specially-written prayers has been produced by the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK to cover specific everyday situations from miscarriage to bankruptcy, insomnia to retirement, suicide attempt to drug addiction. They offer words to say when you don’t know what to say, or pray.

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Why it’s a disgrace if you don’t say Grace

By Rabbi Pete Tobias, July 2, 2009

When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall praise the Eternal One, your God, for the good land you have been given” (Deuteronomy 8:10). This is the biblical instruction on which is based the obligation to give thanks after a meal.

Jewish tradition has developed numerous variations on the blessings to be said, based on the type of food eaten, the number of people who have eaten it and the context in which it has been eaten. That same tradition even ascribes authorship of the different blessings to Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Rabban Gamliel.

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