CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 11
Looking at M'dinat Yisrael as
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
Looking at M'dinat Yisrael as
-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
such programs (including three specifically Reform),
activities are under the radar of national media and are not counted in polls. Yet I believe the
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!
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
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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - i1
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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 11
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2019 - 12