Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Twitter Contest

The St. Lou Jew has been no stranger to Twitter. We thought we'd take a page out of the David's Voice play-book and announce a Twitter only contest. Today we are giving away passes to the New Jewish Theatre's production of Conversations with My Father

This is how it works: 1. If aren't already, sign up for an Twitter account. 2. Follow The St. Lou Jew on Twitter by logging in, clicking here and clicking 'Follow'.
3. Send us a message by logging into your account, starting a new status update, and typing @thestloujew followed by the words, "I want a ticket".

Winners will be contacted directly through Twitter. Good luck! Read More......

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Week in St. Louis Life

This is a pretty damn busy week in St. Louis living. Between all of the musical festivals and everything else going on, you might want to get your work out of the way so that you can fully take advantage of everything happening.

Starting with tomorrow night, Science on Tap starts back up at the Schlafly Tap Room with "The Technology of War Reporting... with Tales from the Bunker"
Robert Wiener, world-renowned reporter and senior executive producer at CNN for 20 years, will discuss technological advances in war reporting, whether technology has actually aided the public's understanding of the news, and how technology has increased the risk of reporting from the field.

Thursday night, if you are a Wash U alum, stop by Schlafly Bottle Works for food, drinks, and networking.

And then it's already Friday again (gotta love the 4-day work-week). Michael Franti and Spearhead will be playing at the Pageant. The show is a bit pricey (as STL goes) but the party will be worth the admission charge. After party at Moonrise?

If you are looking for a free alternative, check out the music at Taste of St. Louis:
6:30pm – Bud Light Tasty Band Finalist – Rhyme or Reason
7:45pm Bud Light Tasty Band Finalist – Illphonics
8:45pm – Aldermanic President Lewis Reed Announces Winner
10:00pm – The Presidents Of The United States Of America

Saturday is pretty much jam-packed.
With the Taste of STL swinging into full gear, the music line up looks great:
11:00am – 2009 Yo-Yo & Diablo Battle
1:00pm – Michael Kelsey
2:30pm – Soka Break Dance Competition
4:30pm – Cryin’ Shame Blues Band
6:45pm – Make A Wish – Taste Grants A Wish
7:30pm – Funky Butt Brass Band
9:45pm – Tonic

Beyond that, the Loop in Motion annual festival, on Delmar will feature music food and dancing.
1:00 p.m. Arts In Motion
1:30 p.m. Pazazz - St. Louis Academy of Dance
2:15 p.m. Hui Hula 'O Punahele Hula Halau
2:45 p.m. Ashleyliane Dance Company
3:45 p.m. Motion Express - Dance Force
4:15 p.m. Midwest Dance Theater
4:30 p.m. Clarkson School of Irish Dance
5:15 p.m. Aalim Belly Dance
5:45 p.m. Midwest Dance Theater
6:00 p.m. Desert Moon Dance
6:30 p.m. Shaolin Lohan Pai Lion Dance Troupe
6:50 p.m. Capoeira St. Louis
7:15 p.m. Murder City Players

Sunday, the Taste of St. Louis is still making noise and filling bellies:
11:30am – Saint Louis Symphony Ensemble
12:45 Pm – Brian Owens & Martha Mae Soul Ensemble
1:45pm – Saint Louis Ballet
2:30pm – 2009 Yo-Yo & Diablo Battle Championship
4:45pm – Alvin Jett And Phat Noiz Blues Band
7:00pm – 40oz To Freedom – Sublime Tribute

So do yourself a favor, and leave the house.
Read More......

Friday, September 25, 2009

Barry Rosenberg Gets It

Barry Rosenberg, the Executive Vice President of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, has a lot on his plate. As the United Way of the Jewish community (which actually predates the UW), Federation has an immense number of organizations to which it allocates funds. particularly now, in a time of economic hardship, Rosenberg's job is not an easy one. That's why it was particularly refreshing to see his his piece in the Toward Thriving blog.

In the piece, published Tuesday, Rosenberg asks the following questions:
What is our destination? What is our vision for the future of St. Louis and American Jewish life? What type of Jewish community will our children and grandchildren inherit?

The questions themselves aren't new, but in his answers, we find evidence of a frame of thought that we find ourselves nodding along to.

Take for example, the following:
A St. Louis region that offers high quality education, economic and recreational opportunities, and poses no barriers to our full participation in society. We cannot thrive unless St. Louis thrives. (emphasis mine)

We need to walk the fine line between a focus on the needs of our community and full participation in community and civic life outside of the Jewish community. If St. Louis, as a city, is not a place where people want to be, then god luck attracting and retaining future generations of Jewish community. As Rosenberg notes, "Our region, experiencing sluggish growth and economic vitality, offers limited attraction to young, single Jews – native or those who arrive for University."

Rosenberg goes even further this with point saying we need:
A critical population mass, sufficient to support a broad array of core institutions and services that meet Jewish needs, enrich Jewish life and offer extensive social opportunities.

As much as I support the vision of regionalism, I still believe that there is a need to see a certain population density to start to see things like walkable/bikeable corridors, viable entertainment and cultural areas, and innovative programs.

In the example of Next Dor, while the location in the Central West End is a pretty great one, will people from Chesterfield make the drive? Will there be a time in which the Jewish community is not based around deep suburbs and instead puts its collective resources toward a more efficient and dense city neighborhood?

Thus, as one of the four areas that require priority attention, Rosenberg names, "Creating a vibrant local Jewish community that will retain and attract young Jewish population to St. Louis."

To address this, Rosenberg suggests:
New strategies, institutions and programs are required to develop a more vibrant and inviting community for young people. Professional internships and mentorships, early career support and professional networking, enhanced social and recreational opportunities, reduced membership fees, expanded social action and cultural programs, increased opportunities to take leadership roles and specialized concierge services should be employed to make St. Louis a preferred community for young Jews. The community must support new styles of informal, grass-roots engagement that many young people prefer.

It is interesting to note that Next Dor has already started moving forward (as have groups like YPD and JGrads) on many of these ideas.

In all, Barry Rosenberg's remarks indicate a cognizance of many of our gripes, and some strong statements in support of the type of cultural shift necessary to ensure a thriving Jewish community.

See the full piece here.

Read More......

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Liveable St. Louis: Next American City Event at Left Bank Books Recap

Last night, at Left Bank Books, Next American City hosted an UrbanNexus. What does any of this mean? Read on to find out.

Left Bank Books, an independent book store located at 10th and Locust downtown, played host last night to an UrbanNexus, in which great minds meet great cities.

The event was described as such:

As St. Louis transforms into a more vibrant city, how can it maintain a creative population with talents and energy to contribute to the larger community? Chris King, editorial director of the St. Louis American, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include Washington University adjunct professor, Jasmin Aber; Trailnet program coordinator, Jennifer Allen; Alderman, Antonio French; non-profit community developer, Galen Gondolfi; and Vice President of Metropolis St. Louis, Leslie Proud.

I arrived a bit late, and found the book store to be packed with people. Each speaker was introduced and spoke for a few minutes about what is necessary to retain the creative class in order to make St. Louis a more vibrant city.

Highlights included North City Alderman Antonio French who said, amongst other things, that a more regional approach is needed. That is to say that, instead of focusing on undercutting another municipality by offering lower tax rates in order to get businesses to move a few miles, we need a systematic and regional approach in order to attract individuals from outside of the greater St. Louis metropolitan areas.

Up for debate was whether or not it could be expected that individuals and families living in the deep suburbs like Chesterfield could be convinced to move in to city itself, but what was agreed upon was that St. Louis needs to find a way to attract and retain creative people, either through government tax incentives, programs, or individual organizing.

There are already signs, though, of a movement to connect creative people with opportunities for innovation. Take the Urban Studio Cafe, for example, whose mission is to use, "the creative process to develop individuals' skills, build community assets, promote self-confidence, and strengthen sense of community."

This new art cafe/coffee shop just opened up in North St. Louis (2815 N 14th Street) as part of increasing efforts to revitalize that community.

I couldn't help but think about the possibilities of Next Dor along this same front. Next Dor will have dedicated artist studio space and its walls will double as gallery space for Jewish artists in St. Louis.

As great as I thought the idea behind the UrbanNexus was, I felt like I left with out a clear plan of what next steps would be. How do you take the energy present in the room and make a fundamental shift in the culture and direction of St. Louis?

Read More......

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Music This Weekend

This is crazy weekend indeed. With Yom Kippur falling on Sunday night, make sure the rest of your weekend is just as packed.

Friday night, catch Drummer and DJ Duo Autiomadic at the Gramophone. Opening up for them is acclaimed St. Louis band, the Northwoods.

Light the candles and get to the Gramophone around 9 or 10 for the show.

Saturday night, Papa Grows Funk, New Orleans' best funk band, will be at the Broadway Oyster Bar. This brand brings the funk like few others, and is pretty much a guaranteed good time.

So make it a musical weekend, live it up a bit in St. Louis, and Gmar Chatima Tovah. Read More......

Monday, September 21, 2009

Moishe House Gets Some Great Press

Moishe House is getting some great press all over the world, including St. Louis!

From Ha'aretz, Israel's leading left-of-center newspaper, is featuring a full length article about Moishe House, and covers some of the interface issues Moishe House has with the mainstream Jewish community. Read it here

And right here in St. Louis, Barry Rosenberg of the Jewish Federation is quoted in the St. Louis Jewish Light as saying, "Exciting new programs like Moishe House and Next Dor will help attract young Jews who want less institutional modes of Jewish identification."'s a start right? Read More......

Chabad Telethon and Conan: Which jumped the Shark?

Triumph the Insult Comit Dog made an appearance on the Chabad Telethon .... really.

'Jumping the Shark' "is a colloquialism coined by Jon Hein and used by TV critics and fans to denote the point in a television program's history where the plot veers off into absurd story lines or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations. This usually corresponds to the point where a show with falling ratings apparently becomes more desperate to draw in viewers. In the process of undergoing these changes, the TV or movie series loses its original appeal. Shows that have "jumped the shark" are typically deemed to have passed their peak."

So Chabad Telethon or Conan, for which was this move jumping the shark?

Read More......

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shanah Tovah!

This will be our last post before the new year, so we wanted to outline some of the great things that have been happening and will happen in the coming year.

I'll be heading to Cincinnati to spend Rosh Hashanah with my family in an hour or so, and wanted to take the time to recap all of the amazing things that happened over the past year.

A little over a year ago, Moishe House opened it's singular door in a renovated synagogue in South City. Two moves later, Moishe House is attracting larger-than-ever crowds and it diversifying its events.

As our community has grown, we've been able to participate in larger and larger numbers of opportunities in St. Louis, including Habitat for Humanity builds, sessions with local and national politicians, leaders, and intellectuals.

We've been around the country several times and have had the opportunity to witness the energy that keeps bubbling up whenever we are able to connect with other Jewish young adults.

And our actions are getting noticed. The St. Lou Jew has surpassed 30,000 hits, with a large number of our activity coming from Facebook, Twitter, and Jewishinstlouis.

As we look towards the new year, we are excited for all of the possibilities Next Dor will bring. We've already connected with some great people, and look forward to meeting even more.

I personally see so many great things happening and look forward to 5770.

Shanah Tovah to all of you and may this next year be a sweet year filled with happiness, health, momentum!
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Salvo Against Institutional Judaism

Fellow JBloggers over at just posted a really interesting piece that turns up the heat on the UJC. Read what they had to say below.

The argument is classic Jewish continuity, and the question of who represents us as a community is a fair one. The UJC/Federation system provide large numbers of social services, but are perceived by some as monolithic and unable to really represent the myriad opinions that exist in the community.

For the sake of not butchering their words, and letting the full thing sink in for effect, we are reposting the full article below. It can be found in its original form here.

All hail our leader William Daroff
by Kung Fu Jew [➚] · Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

If it was doubted before that social media breeds transparency, then the evidence is in Mobius‘ Twitter debates with William Daroff, head of the UJC. The summary: Daroff says the UJC represents all of and is entitled to speak for all of us, at least because they paid for grandma to move here from the old country; Mobius dissents. The juiciest part I excerpt below, but do read the whole thing:

Daroff: @mobius1ski Does Obama represent you? Did Bush? You might not agree w/everything we say or do – but we do represent you.

Mobius1ski: @Daroff Comparing UJC to elected officials is beyond hubris.

Mobius1ski: @Daroff My U.S. citizenship is a social contract w/ the gov’t. My Jewishness is not a social contract w/ UJC.

Daroff: @mobius1ski Didn’t mean to be hubrisy; simply stated: organized Jewish community endeavors to represent Jewish communal interests.

There’s more. Daroff needs a reality check. In his childhood, the federation may have been the be all, end all of Jewish communal life. But the past 20 years saw not just a boom of independent growth, but a decline of previous institutions. The federation system struggles to find not just funding, but a leadership that isn’t plauged with failure and embarassing turnover rates. (Worth mentioning here: yesterday the federation’s highest rising star Daniel Sokatch just left the SF Fed after less than a year to head the New Israel Fund.)

Meanwhile, after decades of stagnation, more than 300 new Jewish orgs have been founded in the past ten years alone, representing 400,000 Jews and $100 million, according to JumpStart’s 2009 social entrepreneurship report. These newcomers were founded to get away from the UJC and do work outside the consensus: AJWS, New Israel Fund, Jewish FundS for Justice, Progressive Jewish Alliance (founded by Sokatch), the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, J Street, the Limmuds, PresenTense, ad neaseum, all founded in the past 35 years. And of course, none of these orgs have a seat at the JCPA policymaking plenum or the Council of Presidents I might add further. Their umbrellas are pretty narrow.

It’s a product of our times as well as our generation, created to fulfill a vision for communtiy that the UJC didn’t have and wouldn’t seed. The UJC doesn’t represent me or anyone else who gives neither a dime nor a damn. (Okay, okay, I gave $5 to UJA-NY Fed once, but just so I could vote in the icky World Zionist Congress and undermine the right wing.) My money has gone to groups founded in the past 35 years and I’m hardpressed to find a legacy org worth saving. (Also an exaggeration, I like HIAS’ immigration work with non-Jews.)

Mobius was very kind to UJC to recognize the good work it did and does. But it’s not the model we need anymore, and I feel it’s not disrespectful to say “Thank you for your work, but it’s time to retire.” The federation is raising money from fewer and fewer donors, making Daroff’s claim to democratic mandate slimmer and slimmer. And personally, I find his haunty, self-important puffery the epitome of leadership I can’t admire.

Daroff, it’s a new era and you need to see your institution in relation to the changes afoot. Take it down a notch. Humility is in these days.

Daroff then responded to the post in a comment which read:

I appreciate the dialogue & have attempted to respond, in part, via twitter. So, as KFJ suggests, please check out my tweets at

As you’ll note, I’m on the Hill at the moment lobbying for more funding for social service programs for federation system agencies — agencies that care for millions of Americans, without regard for the level of their donations (if any), and in keeping with our moral mandate to care for the vulnerable among us & to care for our neighbors as we would care for ourselves.

As I tweeted, here are the Public Policy priorities of UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America (pdf):

So, before you dump the federation system as being obsolete, or out-of-touch, please consider that we are consensus-based and THE mainstream of the organized Jewish community. Before you reject our existence because of our support for sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, please also consider that we stand on that issue with the Reform movement, with the Reconstructionist movement, with the Conservative movement, and the Orthodox Union. It is the consensus position, those opposed to it are free to be opposed, are certainly within their rights, represent the views of many others, are fine people, but they are simply outside the mainstream of the position of the organized Jewish community.

Lastly, before you reject the federation system because of our position on Iran sanctions, please do not forget the vulnerable whom we assist through social service programs at our agencies — in a way that no other organization in the Jewish world is doing, in a way that no other organization in the Jewish world has the capacity, and in a way that too few outside the Jewish world are doing.

Now, I must run back into meetings. Thank you for reading - thank you for the dialogue - I think it’s very healthy, and look forward to catching up on more of every one’s thoughts later this evening.

Warmest regards and best wishes to you & all of kol yisreal for a sweet, happy, and healthy new year. K’tivah v’chatimah tovah.

—William Daroff · September 16th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

What's better than Jews arguing? How about more Jews arguing on the internet!
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

High Holidays: A guide how not to get left out in the cold

For many of us, the High Holidays represent that special time of year where we'll brave our fears of being Jewy and take our chances by entering the hallowed walls of synagogues.

But if you are like a lot of the people we've been speaking to, you may have no idea of where to go for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, even if you really want to attend services.

Fear not fellow co-religionist, The St. Lou Jew has your back.

A lot of people wait until the last minute and then flip out when they realize that they don't even know where the synagogues are, if they can go without a ticket, or what kind of service they can expect from which congregation. I usually fall pretty well into that group and end up at Hillel

A lot of the synagogues have something called reciprocity, which means that if you have paid (or your parents paid) for your membership back home, they will let you come to their services.

So, after a bit of research, here it is, the definitive guide (lifted straight from to High Holidays in St. Louis:

B’nai Amoona
Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel
Shaare Zedek Synagogue

Jewish Renewal
Neve Shalom

Agudas Israel of St. Louis
Bais Abraham
Nusach Hari B’nai Zion
Young Israel

B’nai El Congregation
Central Reform Congregation
Congregation B'nai Torah
Congregation Kol Am
Congregation Shaare Emeth
Temple Emanuel
Congregation Temple Israel
United Hebrew Congregation

Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community

Traditional Congregation


Read More......

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oh, Russians...

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted, and even longer since I wrote a serious international affairs piece. A spate of disconcerting events and new comments from the Russians today prompted me push aside the LSAT studying for a bit to write down a few thoughts on how this new information now makes war more likely than not.

The comments today were those of Vladimir Putin, delivered via a spokesman, that Russia has no evidence to cast any doubt on Iran’s claim that its nuclear development is for anything other than peaceful ends, and therefore will continue to fight against sanctions.

Meanwhile, today’s news also reports that Iran now has enough material to produce a nuclear bomb. A week or so ago, there were reports that a boat full of Russian-made S300 missile systems destined for Iran was hijacked and then rescued by Russian forces. The theory goes that the S300 systems were being sold without government authorization to Iran by disgruntled current and/or former Russian generals. Israel’s Mossad, learning of this, hired mercenaries to hijack the boat, and then tipped off the Russian government so that the Russians could prevent the delivery and safe face. Israeli and Russian officials both denied this, though were S300 missiles on board, I’d bet money that this is more or less what happened.

Another bit of breaking news is the revelation of an alleged clandestine trip to Russia by Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. Reports vary on details, but the just is that Bibi went to discuss the S300 matter.

The Iranian Defense Minister has led Europe to pay closer attention to the situation with recent comments that suggest Iran is now pursuing a missile system with a range of over 2,000 kilometers, making Iranian nuclear weapons a threat to the European continent. We now see France and Germany taking much stronger stands against Iran.

Iran, with the requisite material to produce nuclear weapons, a missile system capable of taking down Israel’s most advanced planes, another missle system with the reach to strike Europe, and the influence on the region Iran would attain from all this, along with Russia’s continuing to fight against sanctions, means war is on the horizon.

War is now likely to happen, with perhaps some variation, along these lines:

1. Israel obtains hard intelligence that Russia will sell Iran the S300 system, which makes an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities nearly impossible
2. Israel pre-empts the full operational capability of the S300s with attacks, pushing Iran a few years back down the nuclear time line
3. Iran responds by strengthening Hizbollah and Hamas, likely inciting them to launch attacks on Israel
4. Iran mines, or at least monitors, the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world’s oil is transported, causing a worldwide oil supply crisis
5. The U.S. and Europe are forced into the meat of the situation (when either they are unable or unwilling to enter another field of combat), testing the tenuous and slight diplomatic gains made between the U.S. and Syria through the pressure Iran will put on Syria to stir things up in Iraq
6. Instability in the Arab arc will be set lose, putting the United Arab Emirates, an ally of rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as the U.S., in an extremely difficult position. The UAE will, with good reason, fear foreign attempts at occupation, whether politically or militarily, by any of their three “allies”
7. Iran will put pressure on Bahrain, a key ally of both Iran and the U.S., the later of whom has their Fifth Flee/t headquartered there, to force the Americans to leave, which would be catastrophic for the U.S. in its Near East operations (including the current war in Afghanistan). To keep their the base, the Americans will have to pledge military support - to keep Iran at bay when it comes to Bahrain’s territorial concerns – that it can’t logisitically provide

The instability and havoc this scenario creates is really only put into motion at step 7. It would likely expand beyond step 7 and could even reach South and North America via Venezuela and Bolvia and the growing al Qaeda cells operating in Central America, but that’s much harder to assess.

Here may be the most worring part of this scenario: from the perspective of the most likely country to act, Israel, this is, if you eliminate the sanctions options - the only responsible thing to do at this point - probably the best scenario. This is because Israel is more likely to receive international intervention with a war. If Israel does not attack and Iran secures the S300, it gives Israel’s enemies, near and far, the protection of a nuclear umbrella. This is the worst scenario for Israel, because it creates an Israel beholden to Iran’s whims. Iran could attack Israel with support from Hizbollah, Hamas, and Syria. More likely, though, is that Iran seriously arms its allies and gives them the green light to stage attacks against Israel. Once Israel responds, Iran can tell them to back off or receive the wrath of Iranian missiles. This is the Israeli nightmare.

From the American perspective, there isn’t an attractive option. At this point, we only enjoy support from 2 of the remaining 4 Security Council members. Neither China nor Russia are committed to the Iranian threat. For Russia, it is both economic and geopolitical, and arming Iran helps them achieve both those goals. For China, their motivations are less discernable. I’m not going to go into China much other than to say they share some of Russia’s motivations. Given that international sanctions are no longer feasible and that Russia is likely to eventually sell Iran the missile systems that will destabilize the Middle East, and that the scenario I outlined above guarantees terrible consequences, it is time for the Obama Administration to take a stand. There are unilateral sanctions that can harness the Iranian public’s discontent with its government should the U.S. levy heavy economic burdens on the country in ways that expose the poor governance of the Iranian regime.

These include oil and financial considerations. The first sanction would be to deny the right of any person, company, and nation to the ability to conduct transactions with any Iranian person, company, and government in U.S. dollars. The second sanction would be to levy debilitating actions against people, companies, and governments who supply Iran with oil or buy oil from them (Iran imports over 150,000 barrels of oil per day for domestic consumption because the Iranian government highly subsidizes petrol pump prices. Forcing Iran to function on only domestic oil would drive the price beyond what Iranians could afford, and force the regime to make a decision whether or not to divert oil from its oil-dependent military complex. However, 40% of Iran’s oil imports come from India, a U.S. ally, making this a politically difficult maneuver to make, however necessary it would be). Between these two sanctions, the Iranian economy and way of life would crumble within days. This might begin to turn the attitude of the Iranian government, which is exactly what needs to be done.

To caveat all this, I am aware that the U.S. is trying to work out a deal with Russia that would lead to Russia supporting sanctions. Putin’s comments are likely due to one of two things: they won’t make a deal, or they want more than the U.S. has been willing to offer thus far. Depending on how this plays out, the above scenario could change considerably.
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Next Dor Renovation Update 9/11/2009

Blazingly hot off the presses, here are the latest photos of the renovations going on at the Next Dor House.

Above shows the new wall and wiring behind which a restroom will be placed on the first floor.
Above shows work in the kitchen

Next Dor is also in the process of creating flyers to pass along to rabbis with the hope that they will make them available to their congregants at high holiday services .

If you wanna get involved, help make this happen, or just be kept in the loop, nextdorstl at gmail dot com is how to reach the group.

Read More......

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Go Ahead, Make my High Holiday

You know what the difference between paranoia and Jewish paranoia is? Paranoia is when you think someone is out to get you. Jewish Paranoia is when you know someone is out to get you.

Some New York-area congregations can rest easy during these High Holidays: as the New York Post reported, "a group of badass rabbis has developed a program to turn your average shul-goer into a lean, mean fighting machine." I have always noticed a modest uniformed police presence during the High Holidays at my family's St. Louis-area reform congregation. But, unlike some congregants in New York (who call themselves the International Security Coalition of Clergy), I do not believe that members at my family's place of worship are "packing heat" in preparation for potential jihadists.

Check out the video below to see how Rabbi Gary Moscowitz "leads fellow heat-packing holy men in a self-defense drill at a Queens synagogue." Plus points if you notice the blooper toward the end.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Moishe House Hosts Rabbi Kerber, a recap

Last night, a group of young adults gathered at the Moishe House to talk to Rabbi Justin Kerber, the new Rabbi at Temple Emmanuel. Topics of conversation ranged from Sex to Jesus, Homosexuality, as well as stereotypes of Jews. Not only did the event manage to bring out a decent number of people, but it marks the first time that Moishe House in St. Louis has hosted an event with a Rabbi.

The group spanned both young adults who work for Jewish organizations and temples, to Jews who have never been to Israel and work on Yom Kippur, and even a few non-Jews.

The group seemed particularly interested in where stereotypes of Jews and money came from, and the legacy of not being able to own land, and being forced into roles as money-lenders was discussed.

After speaking about pikuach nefech, the special circumstances under which you can break Jewish laws to save a life, the question of who is a Jew surfaced.

Once participant with a Jewish father, and a non-Jewish mother, had a hard time dealing with the fact that religious Jews do not view her as Jewish.

Rabbi Kerber then pointed out that, not only is it more and more rare to find a reform Rabbi that won't perform intermarriage, it is also likely that within a decade, there will be intense outreach to children of mixed marriages to 'bring them into the fold'.

The event was facilitated well by Moishe House and kept generally on topic. I think that the event proved that young adults will come out to an event that explicitly talks about Judaism and includes a Rabbi. This gives further credence to the theory that, so long as the atmosphere is comfortable, people will come.

A bottle of Muscato was enjoyed by several participants at Sasha's afterwards.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

When Is A Bagel Just A Bagel?

The bagel means a lot of things to a lot of people. To those Jews whose identity is more ethnic than religious, the bagel is often a badge of that identity and pride, like Guinness to the Irish.

Maria Balinska, Author of “The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread” (Yale University Press, 2008), found some digital space in the New York Times to answer questions about this most illustrious of (Jewish) foods. Find the answers to your deepest darkest questions about bagels Read More......

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Death Of The Jewish Deli?

A terrifying and critical new update, masquerading as a book review, has just come in from the Jerusalem Post.

In the article, we are introduced to a man who has made it his life mission to catalog these disappearing treasures. Read it here, and don't forget about local delis like Kopperman's, Diamant's, and Proetzel's. Support Local Schtick. Read More......

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Synagogue 3000 Retreat: A great extended weekend in NY

New York is pretty Jewy. In fact, it might be argued that of all of the cities in the world, New York might just have the most yiddishkite, eclipsing even Jerusalem. Monday and Tuesday of this week, however, New York hosted a different kind of conversation about Judaism. . . namely, how to make synagogues relevant for the Next Dor, the next generation of Jews, who are now in their 20's and 30's.

The trip to New York started off normally enough, with a trip to Marcus Garvey park in Harlem to check out the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, a hotel party in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and a chance street meeting with a cousin who I didn't think I'd have a chance to see.

The retreat itself was very interesting. Synagogue 3000 chose 5 congregations, from the 1,200 or so 'liberal Jewish' congregations in the US to work with as part of its Next Dor initiative, which awarded a 1-year, $40,000 grant to be used towards outreach to and engagement of Jewish young adults.

Each congregation had a different approach, both in terms of structure, and in terms of ideas for outreach.

I thought it was odd that I was the only 20-something represented as a part of the project, and that we seemed to be the only project in which the sponsoring congregation had taken a hands-off approach to letting us build our own idea and community. (for a video of some of the other young adults involved with Next Dor STL, as well as shots of the house in progress, check out this video)

Still, we heard about some great ideas, met some great people, including Steven Cohen, the pre-eminent Jewish sociologist, and Michelle Citrin, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter made famous by her parody of Obama Girl, entitled, "Rosh Hashanah Girl".

Everyone there gets that opportunities to connect need to be authentic, and not a thinly veiled opportunity to preach, chastise, or pass along propaganda. They get that our sole goal in life isn't just to get married and join a synagogue, and this is good news (that they get it, I mean).

There was so much information packed into the two days, that I'm still trying to sort it out.. and it didn't help that in my haste, I left my notepad at the hotel.

The upshot of this whole thing was that it is really apparent that there is a wide base of support and resources for us to call upon as we move forward with Next Dor in St. Louis.
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