The Jewish Advocate: Community, egalitarianism making for new minyanim

Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.

CAMBRIDGE – From the Washington Square Minyan in Brookline to the Cambridge Minyan across the Charles River, young leaders are gathering their friends in apartments, social halls, and even leased synagogue chapels to create communities they are not finding in existing Jewish institutions.  There may be rabbis present, but not necessarily as leaders.

These are the new generation of lay-led congregations. While such groups come and go on a regular basis, particularly in a student-filled area like Boston and its surrounding communities, many of the groups in this latest generation of minyanim are planting roots to ensure long-term stability.

Minyan organizers cite two main attractions for their members: a particular approach to services and a community atmosphere.  Yehuda Kurtzer, of the Washington Square minyan, sees these aspects as intertwined.  His minyan, he said, strives to “create a positive social atmosphere with davening, not to obscure core values [of quality davening], but to complement that.”

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The Jewish Advocate: Profs gather for program about teaching on Israel

Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.

WALTHAM — More than 20 professors from universities around the world recently gathered at Brandeis University to complete a two-week intensive study of Zionism and Israel, followed by a weeklong seminar in Israel.

Now in its second year, the Summer Institute for Israel Studies is intended to assist professors in the design of new courses for their curricula on Israel.

The institute was established by Brandeis in cooperation with the American Jewish Committee’s Dorothy and Julius Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations to increase the quality and scope of Israel studies courses being offered on the campuses of universities throughout North America.  Continue reading