Some synagogues are taking steps to make sure Mitzvah Day volunteers do not treat the one-day event as their only community service commitment each year.
Brandeis president Fred Lawrence has achieved virtual rock star status. He still faces thorny questions about balancing the university’s Jewish heritage with demands for diversity.
Her eyes twinkling behind oval glasses, author Phoebe Potts led seven of us into the kitchen of the education center at a suburban Boston community mikveh. She lit a piece of paper on fire in the sink, and then urged us one at a time to toss our slips of paper into the flame. On that slip of paper each of us had written what got in the way of our voice — as writers or artists. Then, we symbolically destroyed what Potts refers to as our “internal mugger.”
It was almost sunset on a Friday in late October. This was a Jewish event, but there was nothing remotely Jewish about it, except the religion of the participants. The handful of families, with children ranging in age from 14 months to 5 years, came to the free class at the invitation of a parent hired by Boston’s Jewish Family Network to connect more families to the Jewish community. The children danced and bounced on trampolines as their parents socialized.
There had to be a catch — and a price tag. A rabbi left a message on my home answering machine inviting me to join an adult bat mitzvah class. But I was not a member of this rabbi’s suburban Boston synagogue.