What does "Just Jewish" really look like?


It's been five years since 2013's now famous A Portrait of Jewish Americans.  One of the big takeaways from this report was the huge number of respondents who self-identified as just Jewish.   So, what exactly is that?  What does being just Jewish really look like in action?


While there's no definitive answer to this question (which we believe is a good thing), we've rounded up some stories below we think help illustrate the growing just Jewish energy and moment––starting with this fantastic episode of Judaism Unbound with Dr. Leonard Saxe of Brandeis University. In it, he shares that the "largest and most growing movement in America is just Jewish."


Know what "just Jewish" looks like today?  Send us your thoughts/photos/videos.  We'll put together a best of "just Jewish" highlights for next time.


WHAT WE'RE CELEBRATING!


Congratulations to our Cohort Member Rabbi Adina Allen, on receiving the 2018 Pomegranate Prize Award!


JEWISH STUDIO PROJECT - STUDIO AM,

BERKELEY, CA

A Deep-Dive Into Jewish Inquiry And Creative Process Across Five Days. An Inter-generational Cohort Of Committed Questioners And Explorers.

Last week an inter-generational group of 15 intrepid explorers took a 5-day deep dive into the theme of Lech Lecha: Journey into the Unknown through Jewish inquiry and creative process. What an incredible honor and privilege to create together, learn from one another, and witness beauty unfolding. Applications are now OPEN for Winter 2019 Studio Immersive, Chalomot: Dreaming of a Better World. Get yours now!


For those who missed this incredible article featured in The Jerusalem Post, please see a small blurb and follow the link to read the full story!


WRESTLING WITH FAITH

Every year, rabbis struggle with finding the right words to connect with their followers during this time of the year and to keep it fresh.

BY RACHEL BERNSTEIN SEPTEMBER 6, 2018 18:58

SEVERAL AMERICAN Jewish groups have launched unique initiatives to support community members who encounter hardships during the High Holidays – a time when Jews often feel the strongest connection to their religion and roots, no matter the level of their observance or tradition. How often we’ve heard stories of men and women who barely knew of their own Jewish connection – maybe a long-lost great-grandmother would light Friday night candles – finding themselves outside the doors of synagogues on Yom Kippur to catch the final words of Ne’ilah, or keeping a small stock of apples and honey for their own private celebration those first two days of the new year.

Those moments are the cool whisper of an inner belief that is unexplainable even to them, and can be the salvation that carries them through the year. Such is the power of Judaism.


Read the full story here

THE WELL, DETROIT, MI


In October, we partnered with Repair the World to take a group of volunteers to Houston to help the community rebuild after Hurricane Harvey!

We wore our maize&blue and green&white for an awesome Tailgate Tot Shababt!


Our CSI: Coffee. Study. Interpret. learning series ran in 4 cities this month! Here in Detroit (top left), we met at the Ira Kaufman Chapel to explore the Jewish perspective on death, dying, and the mourning process. In Cleveland (top right) participants learned about immigration, in Memphis (bottom left), participants discussed the #MeToo movement, and in Baltimore (bottom right), participants talked about civil discourse, with a speaker from the political satire comedy troupe The Capitol Steps!

Following the tragedy in Pittsburgh, we gathered in community for a vigil in Capitol Park in Detroit. The evening of song, prayer, and mourning brought solace and comfort to many, and we are grateful to have been a part of the team that made it happen.


COHERE, CHICAGO, IL


Working on our November project. Thanksgiving. Gratitude. Living a good life.

This is what CoHere looks like. At home. Over food. At the table. Making Shema real. Hands-on learning.

Cohere is launching a new program!

Know families in Chicago? Spread the word!



Rabbi Ari wrote a brilliant piece that everyone should read!

Adam Sandler and Howard Stern know the Torah blessings and made a video about that. Here's what I think...


Recently Adam Sandler and Howard Stern bonded over their ability to chant the Torah blessing so many years after they had their bar mitzvah ceremonies. They laughed and revealed they never understood what they were saying and still don’t. They couldn’t believe the time they had spent learning these words and these tunes. They called them a Jewish secret language.

Read the entire piece here





OPEN TEMPLE, VENICE, CA


Sounds for Your Soul

Shavasana is to the body as Shabbat is to the soul. Re-tune. Restore. Rebalance.

Open Temple and Purple Light Productions held an immersive sound bath experience at Electric Lodge. Center yourself with the healing tones of gongs, crystal bowls and other instruments. Led by Lex Lightning.


Open Temple Jew Truck

Rabbi Lori talks Soul Journey from the Jew Truck. Classes started October 16th at Open Temple House in Venice, CA.


Co-Creators make it happen. It’s our way of re-valuating the concept of “membership” into a relationship. Where do you feel you Belong?

MALKHUT, QUEENS, NY


Jews for Racial and Economic Justice [JFREJ]]]], Malkhut, Congregation Kehillat Tikvah DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving and our Hate Free Zones partners brought in Shabbat tonight, protected by our Muslim and immigrant neighbors. As a Jewish community, we don’t buy the suggestion that armed guards or more cops in places of worship will keep us safe. Solidarity is our only safety. We did some ritual, sang songs, and broke homemade challah together. We created space for collective mourning and action against antisemitism, white supremacy, Islamophobia and xenophobia, with the security of our neighbors surrounding us.

This is our country too. We do have a place here. We will advocate for others to be here too, and to welcome them in. Our movement is a movement for multiracial, inclusive democracy. We are building a future for each other, and a future where the promise of this country can be realized.


What people are saying about Malkhut!

"I am the type of Jew who believes in our traditions and gatherings - but also wants to find a community where it feels like folks "opt in." I am not someone who feels they "have to" go to shul - I *want* to go, and be with other people who also *want* to be there. Malkhut's vibrant community includes Jews of all ages, and from many different backgrounds. And we sing together, pray together, light candles together - all with a sense of engagement with each other." -Karen Taylor
Come be part of a new effort to build a progressive Jewish spriritual community in Western Queens.

BELOVED, BROOKLYN, NY

Beloved shared this week that Isaac was sitting on their porch last Shabbat and look what happened!!


On Shabbat, I was sitting on our porch wearing my kippah, enjoying the gorgeous weather and waiting for a bunch of guests to arrive.


An older African-American woman walked by pushing her grocery cart -- looked at me, made longer than usual eye contact, and slowed down. I've seen her in the neighborhood but we've never spoken other than to say hello.


"I just need you to know something," she said. "We're all standing with you. I know it's hard now -- but know that we are with you and we're going to stop anti-Semitism. It just isn't right what happened in Pittsburgh, what happened this week up at that synagogue in Brooklyn. You are our community. We are in community together."



Me, through tears, "Oh my goodness, thank you. Thank you. What's your name?"


Through her own tears, "My name is Betty."


"Well, Betty. You just made my year. Something awful got stirred up in our country and it's going to take all of us to stop it. I know they're coming for you, too, and I won't let it happen."


"You're right. All of us. My son is just so worried about his Jewish friends. But you know, we're with you. Something got stirred up. But we aren't done yet."


"Together."


"Together."


And she pushed off her cart to do her shopping.


THIS REALLY HAPPENED. This is really happening all over. We have folks who are with us!!! Betty, thank G-d for you. Together. Together, we will.



Did you get a chance to Read ?


Kisses Not Stones by Rabbi Sara Luria



"The difference between things and events is that things persist over time; events have a limited duration. A stone is a prototypical ‘thing’: we can ask ourselves where it will be tomorrow. Conversely, a kiss is an ‘event.’ It makes no sense to ask where the kiss will be tomorrow. The world is made up of networks of kisses,not stones". (The Order of Time, p98)

Thank you to Judaism Unbound for the great interview with Leonard Saxe. Listen to the full interview here!

WHAT'S INTRIGUING US THIS MONTH?

Five new books touch on American Jewish identity and what will sustain it into the future.


If anyone has read these books, what do you think?

Share your thought with us!


"The Jewish imperative to remain fresh and relevant is summed up in a line from the Book of Lamentations, 'Renew our days as of old.' To which I’d only add: Or else." -New York Time by Gal Beckerman


Thankfulness is much more than saying Thank you. Thankfulness is a way to experience the world, a way to perceive, a way to be surprised. Thankfulness is having open eyes and a short distance between the eyes and the heart. Happy Thanksgiving! -OpenDorProject