March 12 ,2019 Adar 5779

Springing into Action!
Gideon Aronoff

It's been an active few weeks since our last newsletter.

Our first in-person Board Retreat in New York started off with a celebratory dinner honoring outgoing Chair, Rabbi Robert Slosberg and toasting incoming Chair, Heidi Schneider.
Heidi Schneider, pictured here with Rabbi Slosberg, has been hard at work helping plan and run the recent Board retreat where new board members and long-serving members got together to brainstorm new ways to increase the awareness and impact of the Masorti Foundation. She's brimming with ideas and enthusiasm and is off to a great start.
Finance Chair Toni Bickart (far left) together with Chair of the Visibility Committee, Gloria Bieler, and David Parker, Chair of the Board Development Committee, put their heads together to come up with great ideas to promote the Masorti Movement and Foundation. Get a feel for the retreat--from the opening night dinner to brainstorming and other activities to all the planning for exciting future activities here.

February was Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month. If you missed our coverage, read this cry from the heart: " God can see my son. Can you ? " For more on how Masorti works to insure that young people and adults with disabilities can fully participate in Jewish life, read here . And below, read the about the important work of the Jack Roth Netaim Ramah NOAM Summer Camp.

March is Jewish Women's History Month. We honor noted educator and author Alice Shalvi who won the Jewish Book Council Award in 2018. The story of her life's journey, her spiritual journey and her professional accomplishments are inspiring indeed.

On March 7 - 9th, Women at the Wall celebrated 30 years of Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Kotel. We celebrate with them and congratulate them on the progress they've made for Masorti and for women in Israel and the Diaspora. At the same time, we're deeply dismayed by the attacks on them as they attempted to pray at the Kotel.

For my perspective, read Masorti Foundation on Attack at Kotel on International Women’s Day. The post is filled with resources--links to Rabbi Mikie Goldstein's first-person reporting, reporting from Times of Israel, Haaretz and the Jersualem Post and a shocking video of what happened. For the perspective of Masorti Movement Executive Director, Yizhar Hess, read his powerful Opinion piece published on March 12th in Haaretz. And stay tuned for a another first-hand account from rabbinical student Nava Meiersdorf-Berenshtin, coming in a soon-to-be-published Masorti Movement blog post.
The behavior at the Women of the Wall anniversary was shameful and should have no place in Israel, where all ALL Jews should be welcomed.

Finally, we've been busy planning exciting future Masorti Foundation programs. To stay informed about the latest, visit us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and our website.
Chag Purim Sameach!
Gideon Aronoff
Executive Director
Jewish Women's History Month:
Honoring Alice Shalvi
Alice Shalvi is a force to be reckoned with: educator, professor, writer and inspiration, her book, Never a Native , received the Jewish Book Council Award in 2018. She writes movingly of her life of not quite belonging--not in England where she moved from her native Germany. And not quite in Israel where she was, for many years, seen as an "Anglo Saxon." She talks about her experience in a wide-ranging interview with the Times of Israel.

Raised Orthodox, she was exposed to Conservative Judaism in America, where she had a life-changing experience when, in synagogue, she was called to the bimah:

I went up and suddenly I saw the Torah scroll for the first time in my life, open in front of me, legible, the black letter on the white parchment. And I said the beracha [blessing] and then I burst into tears,” she recounted. “They were tears of rage: I was 53 years at the time. Had I been a man, I would have had that experience 40 years earlier....
They were also tears of profound emotion, gratification and gratitude." "Today Shalvi describes " extraordinary elation” of being in her Jerusalem Conservative synagogue and holding a Torah scroll."

Says Masorti Chair of the Visibility Committee, Gloria Bieler, and long-time Shalvi admirer: " A lice Shalvi’s life is an inspiration for us all. She has moved through a life of turmoil and uncertainty to create endless support and opportunity for Jewish women, encouraging their achievements and safeguarding their lives. And she has found for herself in Conservative/Masorti Judaism a powerful religious community in which to fully be an equal Jew."

Download, read or print the complete interview from Times of Israel--it's fascinating and perfect for Jewish Women's History Month.
More Jewish Women's History Month:
30 Years of Women of the Wall

The Women of the Wall celebrated its 30-year anniversary with a weekend of learning and solidarity events, March 7th- March 9th at the Kotel. WOW expected and saw a big crowd of supporters, among them many from the Masorti Movement. What should have been a purely happy occasion with prayers, singing, and speeches, was marred by attacks on the women and their supporters by Haredi.

Watch a video of Yizhar Hess, CEO of the Movement, together with Nerya Knafo, Director of Jewish Pluralism Watch, surrounded by shouting Haredi protestors. Read Rabbi Mikie Goldstein's riveting reflections and first-hand account of the event.

While we had hoped that the whole weekend could proceed undisturbed, the attack did not diminish our pride in WOW's accomplishments for women in Israel and for their supporters around the world .
The Jack Roth Netaim Ramah NOAM Summer Camp

A core value of Masorti Judaism is inclusivity--making sure that all Jews who wish to participate in a traditional, spiritual Jewish life are afforded the opportunity to do so. That was a key message of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month.

The Jack Roth Netaim Ramah NOAM Summer camp brings that value to life. Last summer, 100 children and youth with disabilities were able to participate in the Jack Roth Netaim Ramah NOAM camp in Israel thanks to generosity and commitment of the Roth family of Columbus, Ohio and of the community there.

What makes the program special is the integration of young people with a wide variety of abilities and disabilities. Campers learn to participate as equally valued members of the group. They learn by being helped and by helping others--core Masorti values. We're hoping that as summer 2019 approaches, even more children get to share in this wonderful experience.
A New Home for an "Old" Congregation
Good news! We're thrilled to hear from YIzhar Hess, Executive Director of the Masorti Movement, that an "old" kehillat, founded over 40 years ago, has a brand new home in Herzliya.

Torat Hayim is a community dedicated to teaching according to Masorti Movement principles--it's open, pluralistic and diverse while practicing traditional, halachic Judaism, led by their dynamic rabbi, Barry Schlesinger.

A ll of this is made possible in part by generous donations from you!

Partying on Purim:
 חג פורים שמח
Get ready for Purim...March 20th starts the holiday. Read the whole Megillah, get dressed up in costumes, eat plenty of hamentaschen, and make noise! But remember, on Purim to give generously to those in need, that's consistent with Masorti Judaism's value of inclusivity. Celebrate with joy. Chag Purim Sameach!
The Masorti Flower, Perach Ha Masorti, the name of our newsletter, reflects a teaching by Chaim Nachman Bialik about the flower, seed and fruit of Agada and Halacha . Read it here .