CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 11

MARAM

WRN

Looking at M'dinat Yisrael as
-a model
Many milestones were marked at the April 2019 CCAR Convention in Cincinnati, most notably
Article	for	CCAR	magazine,	by	Rabbi	Dr.	Ayala	Ronen	Samuels	
of light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6)-can be
the installation of Rabbi Hara Person as our next chief executive on this 130th anniversary of
challenging regardless if one is observing from
our rabbinical organization founded by Rabbi
Isaac Mayer Wise. The Shacharit
and
Looking	at	M'dinat	Yisrael	as	
‫לגּוֹי ִם‬service
‫-אוֹר‬a	model	of	light	to	the	nations	(Isaiah	49:6)-can	be	challenging	
outside its borders or from within. When slipping into
her words that morning were inspirational. regardless	if	one	is	observing	from	outside	its	borders	or	from	within.	When	slipping	into	
The WRN dinner saw its largest attendance ever
disappointment and frustration, we must search for a
at a CCAR Convention, with almost 140 attendees. Yet there is another convention program
- a gate of hope (Hosea 2:17).
disappointment	and	frustration,	we	must	search	for	a	‫-פֶ ַתח תִּ קְ ו ָה‬a	gate	of	hope	(Hosea	2:17).	
that lingers in my mind: On Tuesday morning, April 2 (a.k.a., Equal Pay Day), the CCAR's
Task Force on the Experience of Women in This	is	why	you	should	know	about	the	premilitary	Israeli	non-orthodox	leadership	training	programs,	
the Rabbinate presented "Wising Up."
This is why you should know about the premilitary
Israeli non-Orthodox leadership training programs,
called	Mechinot,	and	their	graduates.		I	was	honored	to	be	a	founding	teacher	at	an	innovative	
The program began with a series of monologues
depicting true stories that our women
called Mechinot, and their graduates. I was honored
pioneering	pilot	program	that	emerged	in	1994	and	became	a	significant	movement.		A	team	of	four	
colleagues endure since HUC-JIR began ordaining
women in 1972. The scenarios,
to be a founding teacher at an innovative pioneering
teachers	taught	a	group	of	high-school	graduates	Judaic	studies	at	an	experimental	Mechina	at	the	
presented by colleagues in dramatic readings,
spanned the spectrum from disrespectful
pilot program that emerged in 1994 and became a
Midrasha	in	Oranim	Teacher's	College.		Fifteen	participants	began	the	program,	but	after	a	few	weeks	
and inappropriate comments to sexual harassment
and inappropriate touch. This theatrical
significant movement. A team of four teachers taught
presentation brought me to tears several times
and evoked frustration, anger, and disbelief.
only	seven	remained.		The	Midrasha	chose	not	to	reduce	the	teaching	staff,	realizing	we	were	creating	a	
a group of high-school graduates Judaic studies at
For example, the scenarios described absurd,
uncivil comments said to a chaplain in the
an experimental Mechina at the Midrasha in Oranim
new	model	that	required	investment.	Before	each	class	we	prepared	for	hours	debating	what	creative	
hospital and a prospective congregant whoand	inspirational	Jewish	Studies	program	would	prepare	our	students	to	take	upon	themselves	the	
says a disgusting, harassing line to the rabbi
Teacher's College. Fifteen participants began the
after services. Following the monologues there was an opportunity for dialogue, split into two
program, but after a few weeks only seven remained.
mission	of	tikkun	(repair)	of	Israeli	society,	both	during	mandatory	military	service,	and	possibly	
The Midrasha chose not to reduce the teaching staff,
separate conversations. The first allowed those present to reflect on the stories we just heard.
thereafter.		As	a	Jewish	educator	the	questions	of	pedagogy	and	syllabus	have	always	been	of	great	
realizing we were creating a new model that required
The second discussion directed participants to self-select and engage in a conversation within
importance	to	me,	but	I	would	like	to	focus	on	what	grew	out	of	that	experimental	year	of	premilitary	
investment. Before each class we prepared for hours
various themes: allies, commenting on appearance,
harassment, and more.
informal	Jewish	Education.	
debating what creative and inspirational Jewish studies
In this second set of conversations, we could choose to dialogue with only male identified
program would prepare our students to take upon
Historically	the	Mechinot	were	established	by	and	for	modern	orthodox	male	high	school	graduates	with	
colleagues, only female identified colleagues,
or mixed genders. I wish that we had had more
themselves the mission of tikkun (repair) of Israeli
the	purpose	of	further	strengthening	religious	identity	before	entering	military	programs.	At	Oranim,	we	
time for conversation, but it was a good beginning.
While members of the Women's Rabbinic
society, both during mandatory military service and
Network have been sharing our experiencescreated	the	first	Mechina	model	for	secular	and	liberal	youth.	The	program	is	typically	ten	months	in	
and addressing these issues since the WRN began
possibly thereafter. As a Jewish educator, the questions
of pedagogy and syllabus have always been of great
in 1978, this CCAR convention marked theduration,	half	of	the	time	devoted	to	study	(Judaic	and	Liberal	Arts	Studies)	and	half	devoted	to	working	
first time that our male colleagues have been
importance to me, but I would like to focus on what
brought into the conversation face-to-face,and	educational	volunteering.		Today,	there	are	over	thirty	such	programs	(including	three	specifically	
reflecting on our stories.
grew out of that experimental year of premilitary
Thank you to Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, Amy Reform),	some	secular	and	some	a	mixture	of	Orthodox	and	Reform	or	secular	participants,	but	all	
Schwartzman, and the other colleagues on the
informal Jewish education.
liberal	oriented	for	joint	male	and	female	students.		The	graduates	are	required	to	volunteer	for	officer	
Task Force for helping to move the conversation
to one among all our colleagues. We have
Historically the Mechinot were established by and
roles	in	combat	and	education	units.		In	the	past	twenty-five	years	approximately	30,000	young	Israelis	
before us the challenge to change the culture
that exists in our Jewish communities and in
for Modern Orthodox male high school graduates
society at large.
have	graduated	from	these	Mechinot.	
with the purpose of further strengthening religious
identity before entering military programs. At Oranim,
At the end of the discussion each of us wasThe	most	important	fruit	of	the	Liberal	Mechinot	are	the	ongoing	programs	their	graduates	have	
asked what we pledge to do to help bring about a
we created the first Mechina model for secular and
shift in these narratives. Whether or not youinitiated.		Dozens	of	communes	and	various	social	task	forces	have	been	constructed,	primarily	in	underwere at the Convention, what might you pledge to
liberal youth. The program is typically ten months in
change the culture?
privileged	neighborhoods	and	towns	in	Israel.		These	graduates	are	dedicated	to	developing	a	
duration, half of the time devoted to study (Judaic and
community	oriented	towards	a	liberal	and	just	society-from	within.		They	initiated	and	executed	
liberal arts studies) and half devoted to working and
Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
educational volunteering. Today, there are over thirty
educational	programs	based	on	long-term	cooperation	with	local	activists	and	municipalities.		The	
Co-President, WRN
such programs (including three specifically Reform),
activities	are	under	the	radar	of	national	media	and	are	not	counted	in	polls.	Yet	I	believe	the	
amemisfoler@BethEmet.org
some secular and some a mixture of Orthodox and
implications	of	these	programs	reinforce	the	principal	foundations	of	Israeli	society	and	enhance	tikkun	
Reform or secular participants, but all liberal oriented
olam	with	a	strong	liberal	Zionistic	world	view.		This	is	a	significant	Petach	Tikva	for	Israeli	society!	
for joint male and female students. The graduates
are required to volunteer for officer roles in combat
and education units. In the past twenty-five years
approximately 30,000 young Israelis have graduated
from these Mechinot.
Having experienced a wonderful CCAR Convention, our attention is now focused on the next
The most important fruit of the Liberal Mechinot are
NAORRR Convention. It will be held January 2-6 in sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Mark your
the ongoing programs their graduates have initiated.
calendars now and reserve the dates. It's going to be a terrific meeting, with many study and
Dozens of communes and various social task forces
collegial experiences. Remember, any CCAR member 60 years of age or older is eligible
have been constructed, primarily in underprivileged
to join NAORRR. Membership information was mailed and is also available online at www.
neighborhoods and towns in Israel. These graduates
naorrr.org. Details about registering for the convention will be mailed in September.
are dedicated to developing a community oriented
toward a liberal and just society-from within. They
Julian and Susie Cook
initiated and executed educational programs based
on long-term cooperation with local activists and
municipalities. The activities are under the radar of
national media and are not counted in polls. Yet I
believe the implications of these programs reinforce
the principal foundations of Israeli society and enhance
tikkun olam with a strong liberal Zionistic worldview. This
is a significant Petach Tikva for Israeli society!

NAORRR NEWS

11


http://www.naorrr.org http://www.naorrr.org

CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019

CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 1
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 2
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 3
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 4
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 5
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 6
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - i1
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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - i3
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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 7
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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 12
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