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Author: admin | Category: Tattoo Website | 21.07.2014

JERUSALEM – More than 100 Israeli leaders gathered with their Jewish-American counterparts in Jerusalem last month with a daunting mission: to save Jewish life in North America. Jewish-American leaders have known for years that assimilation and intermarriage were slowly shrinking their communities, but the early November gathering took on an extra sense of urgency. There is a broad consensus that Israel will be an important player in solving the problems of American Jewry. Israel’s newfound influence in the debate on American Jewry represents something of a role reversal. During November’s meetings, participants spent two days brainstorming on ways to bring young, unaffiliated Jews back to their roots.
The meeting, organized by the Israeli prime minister’s office, was part of a campaign to strengthen Jewish identity among young Jews and solidify their connection to Israel. Alan Hoffmann, the director of the Jewish Agency, which also convened the meeting, said the effect of Israel’s policies on American Jewish identities was not discussed. Israel has already invested more than $125 million trying to bring young Jews to visit, either on short tours or longer-term programs to strengthen their ties with the country.
Now, beyond just pumping money into Israel-related programs, Israel has established a task force and convened the Jerusalem meeting to consider a longer-term strategy to keep Jews Jewish.
The results of the discussions will only be seen next year and it’s not yet apparent what Israel can do to reverse the trend. Ideas floated at the Jerusalem meeting included targeting young Jews on college campuses, engaging them once they return from trips like Birthright and bringing Jews to Israel younger and more often. Hartman says the project is meant to help connect young American Jews to Israel by changing the relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities into one of equality. Still, the Pew report showed that 7 in 10 Jews consider themselves attached or very attached to Israel and 61 percent said they believe Israel can coexist peacefully alongside an independent Palestinian state. The world’s two largest Jewish communities have also disagreed over religious affairs. This article was written by the Director of High School Programs, Bradley Solmsen and the Director of BIMA, Rachel Happel. For the past five years we have been engaged in a quest to better understand how to help teens learn and grow both as artists and as Jews. BIMA, the Brandeis Institute for Music and Arts, is a month long residential summer program for talented teenage Jewish musicians, artists, writers, dancers and actors. When the arts are not secondary but rather primary, what do meaningful Jewish learning experiences look like? We know that few schools or educational programs share our combined focus on high level artistic and Jewish growth.
BIMA employs two separate faculties: accomplished professional artists interested in working with younger, emerging artists, and experiential arts educators whom we call community educators. As the community educators work and create alongside the participants, they model various ways of connecting the arts and Judaism. In a well-composed work of art an idea of outstanding importance is not introduced haphazardly, but like a king at an official ceremony, it is presented at a moment and in a way that will bring to light its authority and leadership.
Consider a broader definition of “text” for your school’s beit midrash or other study opportunities. If you have artists on your faculty, allow them opportunities to present their own work and to serve as models of people who are engaged—seriously—in both arts and Jewish life.
We believe that the arts can serve as a portal to unlock creative expression within students far beyond the range of artistic forms. Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested in Israel Thursday against a court order to desegregate a religious school and force Jewish girls of European and Middle Eastern descent to study together. Demonstrations were held in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, a Tel Aviv suburb with a large population of religious Jews, before some 80 Ashkenazi parents, Jews of European origin, were to report to jail for defying the Supreme Court ruling. They say the two communities have different religious traditions and they do not want their children influenced by Sephardi practices.

Clothed in traditional heavy black garb, ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews held open-air prayers during the protests as police deployed in force, fearing possible violence. We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. Heller joined Reuters from United Press International in Tel Aviv in 1984 and transferred to London in 1987. Just weeks earlier, a landmark study had found that young American Jews are growing increasingly estranged from Judaism. Yet experts say that it cannot ignore the alienation that many Americans feel over perceived religious intolerance, Israel’s construction of West Bank settlements and the continued control over millions of Palestinians.
Some 120 representatives from Jewish organizations around the world, mostly from North America, and a number of Israeli government ministries pledged to formulate a plan by next year to address assimilation. The agency is a nonprofit group that works closely with the government and acts as a link between Jews around the world. More than 300,000 young Jews from around the world have traveled to Israel on Birthright, a free 10-day trip funded by Israel as well as Jewish philanthropists. Hartman said that includes openly discussing Israel’s disputed policies rather than blindly supporting them.
Jews disapprove of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, which it has occupied since the 1967 Mideast War and is claimed by the Palestinians. The liberal Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, which make up the majority of the American Jewish population, are marginal in Israel, where the Orthodox establishment rules many aspects of life, like marriage, divorce and burials. It was originally published in the winter issue of HaYidion, a publication of RAVSAK, the Jewish day school network and can be accessed by clicking here. BIMA was founded in 2004 by Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, whose vision was to create a rich, pluralistic Jewish setting in which teens could grow as artists. Yet we believe that the questions and issues with which we regularly grapple will be relevant to many other Jewish educational environments: questions regarding the roles and relationships between professional artists and Jewish educators, as well as the programming, approaches and curriculum they utilize. We believe that the most meaningful Jewish learning takes place when all members of the community are encountering Judaism as an active part of our lives, both individually and collectively—in our case, as individual artists and as a community of artists. The community educators live in the dorms with the participants; they develop and facilitate programs blending artistic and Jewish exploration. Many of the young BIMA artists seem to be more comfortable taking risks with a musical instrument or paintbrush than with Jewish traditions and practices. As in a conventional beit midrash, the participants work together to learn and interpret Jewish texts in chevruta. They develop creative ways of engaging with text through improvisation, experimentation, and associative processes.
In the Bible, words are employed with exquisite care, particularly those which, like pillars of fire, lead the way in the far-flung system of the biblical world of meaning. We believe that these are two distinct parts of a person, but that there are also relationships between the two. Consider inviting professional artists into your school to work with your students, and provide the appropriate setting and materials to create an environment for high level artistic work. Adding the arts to professional development can provide faculty with new ways to be engaged and consider subject matter, pedagogy, and the school’s Jewish community from new perspectives. Artistic expression can inspire the creative reading of text and creative approaches to ritual, belief and commitment.
If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. He returned to the Middle East in 1992 as a senior sub-editor on the Middle East and Africa desk before taking up a post as correspondent, Jerusalem a year later. Jewish leaders in the country met last month in an effort to reach out to Jewish-Americans, who are becoming increasingly estranged from Judaism.
Jews have traditionally been a lifeline, raising hundreds of millions of dollars and lobbying American governments on behalf of the Jewish state.

Studies show that while the trips foster a connection to Israel, that link does not always last.
It showed that only 17 percent of American Jews say Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank is helpful to Israel’s security.
The liberal groups have struggled to make inroads in Israel, and the Orthodox rabbinate has refused to recognize their rulings on key matters as religiously valid. At BIMA, teens work intensely on their skills and portfolios as emerging artists with the guidance of professional artists.
Our main question is: When the arts are not secondary but rather primary, what do meaningful Jewish learning experiences look like?
We strive to blur the lines between “formal” instruction and “informal” community building and creation, in order to create an environment where all community members are actively exploring, discovering, creating, and expressing themselves—both Jewishly and artistically—all the time. Our faculty, who “speak their language” in their art forms, play a key role in helping them translate their artistic risks and growth into Jewish risks and growth and in helping them connect these disparate parts of their lives. Participants use artistic creation, not just dialogue, as a way of exploring source material. We have found this to be fundamentally different from the experience students have with art teachers or Jewish educators who use the arts as a tool. Music, visual arts and literature, for example, can often engage students in ways that traditional texts cannot. In short, the arts can endow students with the creativity, confidence and flexibility to engage with Judaism with their hearts and souls. Today, Israel is a thriving, affluent and modern country, albeit with some unique problems. Their opportunities for Jewish expression are often relegated to less than inspired time in synagogue.
They do not necessarily explore “Jewish art,” but instead ask themselves who they are as artists and as Jews, and how these two parts of their identities might relate to one another. The “texts” explored range from traditional sacred sources to poetry, fiction, visual art, music, film, art history, artists’ writings and more.
They reflect on the differences and similarities between their interpretive process and their artistic process, and how their artistic process can serve as a gateway to understanding a source. We want these relationships to be defined and explored by each artist on an individual level, in a supportive communal setting where everyone is engaged in the same exploration.
When you treat and relate to students as serious emerging artists themselves, this increased level of intensity can spill over into the entire learning environment of the school. Consider creating opportunities for students to respond to texts using an artistic process in addition to more traditional chevruta approaches. We believe that these two areas, when connected and mutually nurtured, create a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts: young Jewish artists strengthen and deepen their artistic voices while enriching their Jewish practice and beliefs.
They model how working in chevruta can stretch, challenge and support both partners in developing interpretations and also in creating and refining each partner’s artistic work. As a painter has to make a series of choices in composing a work, so a Jew, we are teaching, has to make choices how to compose his or her Jewish involvement. This article suggests possibilities for applying this approach to practice in the day school setting.
Individual teens will rarely connect with all of these ways of integrating Judaism and art. We aspire to help our students grow, expand both their artistic and Jewish palettes, and to consider the fullest repertoire that is available to them within Judaism. When educators model a variety of approaches and provide multiple opportunities to try them, they help teens to find the ways of connecting that work best for them.

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