Summer 2014

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MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Summer 2014

Around The Conservative/Masorti World
Mazal Tov


To the New City Jewish Center, which just became the first ever recipient of the MERCAZ “EL AL Promotional Award,” winning one free roundtrip airline ticket to Israel as reward for getting 200 membership units, most of them new to MERCAZ, signed up as MERCAZ members. For more information about the new promotional campaign, contact the MERCAZ office at 212-533-2061 or

To Rabbi Judith Hauptman, Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary, who became the first guest lecturer from the Diaspora to address the Knesset’s weekly beit midrash. Hauptman, herself the first women ever to earn a doctorate in Talmudic studies, was invited by the Knesset program’s founder MK Ruth Calderon from the Yesh Atid Party, herself a scholar of Talmudic literature.

To Prof. Shamma Friedman, who was just awarded the Israel Prize in Talmud for 2014 at recent ceremonies held in Jerusalem. Friedman, a veteran scholar of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Schechter Institute who, following ordination from JTS in 1964 and aliyah in the 1970’s, was instrumental in developing the Jerusalem-based Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. He is the fourth JTS professor to receive The Israel Prize in Talmud, which has been awarded only seven times since 1948.

To Rabbi Yoav Ende, Rabbi and Director of the Educational Center at Kibbutz Hannaton in the Lower Galilee, who earlier this year became one of six non-Orthodox rabbis to begin receiving salaries from the Israeli government for providing religious services in regional communities. Other recipients include one Humanistic rabbi and four Reform rabbis, including Rabbi Miri Gold, of Kibbutz Gezer, in whose name the original lawsuit against the Israeli government was brought by the Israel Religious Action Center in 2005.

To the alumni of USY Pilgrimage, Ramah Seminar and Schechter Day School Network trips still under the age of 26, who now have gained eligibility to receive a free 10-day Taglit-Birthright Israel trip. Heretofore, young adults (18-26) who had already participated in an organized peer educational trip to Israel were excluded from the free 10-day trips. But earlier this year, Taglit-Birthright announced that it would expand the program to include those who had previously toured Israel as part of a high school trip. As a result, a partnership of Conservative movement youth organizations has been established under the name “Shutafim” to provide Conservative young adults with movement-oriented Birthright trips.

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