Church and State: Getting the Balance Right

Being a dual citizen is usually quite easy – I love having both Guy Fawkes Day and Thanksgiving in my November diary. (Of course, July 4 is a bit tricky when I have to decide whether to celebrate American Independence Day or mourn the breaking away of the Colonies.) Yesterday, however, was one of those days when my dual identity forced me to think hard about which country’s policy is the one that best furthers the Jewish contribution to larger society. We had the pleasure last week of welcoming Andrew Stunell OBE MP to JHub for a visit with his staff. In the course of showing him around JHub and watching him interact with our residents, I began to question whether America’s insistence on a separation of Church and State is such a wise policy after all. Continue reading

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Energy and Possibility: Empowering the Future of Jewish Life in Europe

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. …. get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually.
Abraham Joshua Heschel

On a recent Shabbat evening in Uppsala, Sweden, a group of over fifty Jewish young adults from across Europe gathered together to welcome Shabbat. A discussion ensued in the spirit of Heschel’s conception of radial amazement and how it might apply to them individually or as a group. As the discussion circled the room, one particular Romanian woman who had been quiet during much of the past two days spoke up. She looked around the room, at the faces of young, laughing and dreaming Jewish Europeans from London to Krakow to Istanbul (and every point in between), and then she smiled. “This” she said, “is amazing. There is energy in this room; there is possibility.” Continue reading

JDub is dead: Long Live JDub

Just as a human life leaves an immeasurable impression on those people and institutions they come in contact with, so too does an initiative like JDub, no matter how short-lived it might be. A funeral is an opportunity to celebrate the impression that has been made by an individual, to reflect on what we have learned from him/her and to decide how we want to incorporate that learning into our lives. We need to do the same when an innovative initiative ends its tenure as an organization and ask: What do we want to celebrate? What have we learned? How can we continue to allow that learning to influence us even when the institution no longer physically exists? Continue reading