Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
August 22, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 10     (10 of 84 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 10     (10 of 84 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
August 22, 2014

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 22, 2014 ues in Rabbi Matthew Softer, director of the Riverway Project, Riverway Cafe gathering in Cambridge, Mass., May 2014. Riverway Project leads a Torah discussion at a By Anthony Weiss placenotinasynagoguestudy bottles of specially brewed hall but at a bustling cafe in "beer mitzvah" beer. BOSTON(JTA)-Onerecent Harvard Square. "It was awesome," said Tuesday evening, a group of Welcome to Riverway Care, Rabbi Matthew Softer, Riv- about two dozen Jews in their a program of Temple Israel of erway's director. "There was 20s and 30s huddled around Bostonto reach outto millen- a lot of surprise from people, wooden tables poring over nial Jews. The program is an like, 'Oh, that's Jewish? I the text for the week's Torah outgrowth of the Riverway thought it would be more portion. Project, which brings Jewish awkward.' But that's what A rabbi prodded them with events to unconventional set- we're trying to do, to normal- questions about the petition tings, like Shabbat services ize spiritual life." that Zelophehad's daughters in bars. The Riverway Project is submitted to Moses to inherit At Dive Shabbat, a Friday emblematic of Boston's bur- their father's estate. Why do night service held at the geoning Jewish landscape for theypetitionatthisjuncture? Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, young Jews, the most sought- Why does Moses refer the packed crowds turn out for after demographic these days question to God? music, prayer and alcohol amongthoseconcernedabout Members of the group consumption, ritual andthe Jewish future. In Boston, raisedhands, offeredtheories, otherwise. Now 13 years old, Jews in their 20s and 30s debated. Riverway recently held an have become a major focus The learning session took "Open Bar Mitzvah" withof Jewish programming: The area has more than 70 orga- nizations are aimed at such Jews, according to the Boston Jewish federation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies. "Young adults are an ex- tremely high priority for us because we think that young adults are the opportunity for the future," said CJP Presi- dent Barry Shrage. "If you're not thinking about the next generation, you might as well shoot yourself." CJP offers start-up grants and fellowships to Jewish en- trepreneurs. Hebrew College's Eser program organizes small study groups in apartments. Gin & Jews combines Jews and drinking with monthly bar nights and the occasional Red Sox game. For hikers and campers there are two Boston Jewish outdoors clubs. In a program called The MEM, young adults explore Jewish identity through art work- shops. Shrage says that when he started his job in 1987, out- reach to young adults was low on his list of priorities. "We didn't see much po- tential out there," he recalled. The Riverway Project was among the first of Boston's unconventional programs to engage young Jews. Rabbi Jeremy Morrison of Temple Is- rael, which is Reform, started it in 2001 out of a belief that he needed to break outside synagogue walls and meet Jews where they were, physi- cally and temperamentally, to engage them. This kind of approach has become axiomatic, particu- larly in the Reform movement. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has made it a centerpiece of his outreach efforts to unaf- filiated Jews. Though Morrison initially contemplated building a satellite synagogue in South Boston to be closer to where younger Jews were moving, he ultimately decided that "relationships trump space." He said, "It used to be that rabbis were hired to create programs and invite people to them. "I went into people's homes and said let's talk about what you want to create." The approach worked. Riverway events began draw- ing dozens of regulars, many with no previous affiliation to Jewish institutions. A sizable number ended up joining Temple Israel as members. With Riverway's growing success, and in response to the growing number of people returning from Birthright Is- rael trips, CJP began to devote more of its resources to edu- cational, entrepreneurial and identity-building programs for young Jews. "It's funny because when I think about Los Angeles, New York and Boston, I think of Boston as the least Jewish," said Andrew Oberstein, Riv- erway Project's newly hired coordinator. But, he says, "I never found a 20s and 30s scene like we have in Boston." When Morrison resigned his post at Riverway in 2010 to become Temple Israel's director of education, Softer, who succeeded him, prepared for his new job by enrolling in an eight-day course on community organizing at the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation. Softer believed that commu- nity organizing's techniques of grassroots engagement were essential to keeping Riverway relevant to its target audience. Soffer says he sees his role as a bridge between the institution of the synagogue and the young adults who are interested in Judaism butwary of institutional trappings. "We're continually trying to be a synagogue without walls," Soffer said. "I'll go anywhere and I'll meet with anyone who's curious. It en- tails a whole lot of creativity and a decent amount of risk. A bar is not my favorite place to pray, but we went there last year and we're going there two times this year." With a CJP grant, Softer initiated a set of ticketless, open High Holidays services at Temple Israel that brought in over 600 people last year. Back in the Cambridge cafe, the study session wraps up and Soffer collects the study sheets. People linger, chat, munch on a final piece of muffin. Then in ones and twos, they amble downstairs and melt away in the crowd, drifting back out into the Boston summer night. By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)--Each time he dis- patches a car into Lugansk, Rabbi Shalom Gopin readies himself for hours of anxious anticipation. The scene of brutal urban warfare between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian sepa- ratists, this eastern Ukrainian city now has no regular power supply, running water or cell phone reception. Mortar rounds can fall without warn- ing. Much of the population, once 450,000, has fled. But despite the risks, Go- pin, the city's exiled chief rabbi, has dispatched over a dozen cars to Lugansk, each one intended to quietly ferry Jews to a camp he runs for the internally displaced in Zhy- tomyr, near Kiev. More than 117,000 people are internally displaced within Ukraine, the United Nations reported earlier this month. Over the weekend, Gopin welcomed several cars to Zhy- tomyr carrying a total of 13 passengers. For Gopin, each arrival brings relief, but also sadness over the disintegra- tion of a community he has spent 15 years building. Initially intended to provide temporary shelter for Jews flee- ing the fighting in the east, the facility, which functions mainly as a summer camp, is now home to 250 displaced Ukrainians. Gopin says more than half have no plans to return. "It's a sad reality," Gopin told JTA. "Many people are now realizing the bad situa- tion may remain, so people Olivier Fitoussi Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fel- lowship of Christians and Jews, meeting with Jews who fled eastern Ukraine, July 2014. who never even thought about making aliyah are go- ing ahead with it. The city, my home, is emptying of Jews as it slowly consumes itself out of existence." The JewishAgency for Israel, the quasi-governmental agency responsible for facilitating im- migration to Israel, is expecting more than 3,000 arrivals from Ukraine thisyear--a33 percent increase over the 1,982 Jews who immigrated in 2013. More than 1,550 individuals have im- migrated from Ukraine in the first five months of 2014 alone, more than double the 693 who arrived in the corresponding period last year. Hundreds of the new im- migrants hail from Lugansk, a city of 7,000 Jews. Many others come from Donetsk, a rebel-held city with more than 10,000 Jews that is under con- stant shelling as government forces prepare to storm it. "My sense is that 80 to 90 percent of the Jewish popula- tion of Donetsk already emp- tied out of the city, including my own family," said Sasha Ivashchenko, who fled the city last month and iswa~ng to make aliyal~with his wife. The couple married recently in a ceremony in Donetsk held with the background noise of bombardments by Ukrainian warplanes. In Zhytomyr, Alexander, a refugee in his 50s who asked to be identified only by his first name, fled Lugansk after three men with rifles entered his small packing factory in the city's industrial zone and informed him it had been "commandeered for the city's defense." One of the men, who Alexander believes were pro-Russian separatists, asked him to leave. Fighting on page 15A