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  • The Bay State: A Multicultural Landscape – Photographs of New Americans by Mark Chester

    Posted ‍‍כח אב ה תשעו - September 1, 2016 By in Latest News, Special Event With | Comments Off Mark Chester Bay State

    The Bay State: A Multicultural Landscape

    Photographs of New Americans by Mark Chester

    Opening Reception and Artist Talk on Thursday, September 29 at 7:00 P.M.

    Exhibit runs through October 31

    Orders for Mark’s companion book will be taken

    Portraits of more than 300 naturalized U.S. citizens of the Commonwealth benefitting The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).

    Mark Chester says his interest in undertaking the project to find and photograph two people – a man and a woman – from each of the countries that have naturalized citizens living in Massachusetts emerged from his response to the 2010 census showing Massachusetts residents’ wide range of country of origin. By working with community groups and attending citizenship ceremonies, Chester tracked down and approached naturalized citizens to appear in his portrait exhibit and book. The result is a captivating collection of portraits, each of which tells a unique story of immigration and naturalization.

    All are invited to view this exhibit, but encouraged to attend the opening reception, at which Mark will discuss his Bay State project and answer your questions. Light refreshments will be served. .

    Mark was Director of Photography and staff photographer at ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), in New York City. His photographs are in the permanent collections of Baltimore, Brooklyn, Corcoran, Denver, Portland (Maine), and San Francisco museums, among others. National museum and gallery exhibitions of his work, solo and group, include OK Harris and SoHo Photo (NYC); Camera Obscura (CO); the San Francisco Airport, and other venues. Chester is a Copley Artist member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston.

    His photographs also accompany his own travel articles as published by the L.A. TimesBoston GlobeSt. Louis Post DispatchChicago TribuneSan Francisco ChronicleWashington Post, and Christian Science Monitor among other newspapers and special interest magazines.

    Visit Mark’s website and the web pages devoted to this project at:

    http://www.markchesterphotography.com

    http://www.markchesterphotography.com/multicultural-landscape/

     

     

  • All-Gender Restrooms and Signage from “My Door Sign” at FJC’s Beit Sefer

    Posted ‍‍יב אב ה תשעו - August 16, 2016 By in Latest News, Religious School With | Comments Off Bathroom Sign

    This spring, FJC introduced new signage to its two restrooms in the Beit Sefer wing. In keeping with changes in society at large and with the Reform Movement’s affirmation of transgender rights at its December 2015 Biennial, we installed “all-gender restroom” signs in these single-use restrooms. Children gathered for a brief installation ceremony in which we explained, in child-friendly words inspired by Jewish teachings, that FJC and Judaism believes that all people, not matter their color, shape, gender, religion, and other distinguishing traits, are created in God’s images and are deserving of respect.

    We extend our thanks to the company MyDoorSign, which provided the signs for free to FJC as part of its outreach to non-profits who make this signage change. Read about the company’s efforts and inspiration at the website. The icon that is used comes from  The Good Men Project and Sam Killermann at Its Pronounced Metrosexual. His site offers resources to “advance social equity…that help people to be better people.”Learn more at:

    http://www.mydoorsign.com/all-gender-restroom-signs

  • FJC Beit Sefer Learns About Immigration through the “Traveling Suitcase” from the National Museum of American Jewish History

    Posted ‍‍כט שבט ה תשעו - February 8, 2016 By in Latest News, Religious School With | Comments Off National Museum of American Jewish History

    This January, FJC Beit Sefer students in grades 5 & 6 had a chance to time travel in their study of the American Jewish experience. Through a special program called “The Traveling Suitcase,” created by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, students delved into the life of an American Jewish immigrant, Eva Baen. In a virtual lesson via Skype with Charlie Hersh, a Museum educator, they examined artifacts in the suitcase that provided insight into the Eva Baen’s life. With objects ranged from travel documents, family photographs, and school documents to a muffin tin and American flag (with only 48 stars), the lesson explored the importance of everyday objects in learning about the past. The Traveling Suitcase program introduces some of the main concepts pertaining to the immigration of people of Jewish heritage from Eastern Europe and Russia and introduces students to the practice of examining and analyzing primary source historical artifacts and documents. Through this fun and educational experience, students had a unique opportunity to experience how historians and museum staff use artifacts to complete research and tell stories through exhibitions.

     

     

  • Posted ‍‍ו טבת ה תשעו - December 18, 2015 By in Latest News, Lifelong Learning, Pam's Desk With | Comments Off Jacobs

    Reform Judaism Biennial 2015

    “Across North America, people hunger for real connections. They want – they need – to be part of meaningful communities,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

    “Connection” is a wonderfully appropriate theme for organizing my impressions of Reform Judaism’s Biennial, which I attended this November along with Wendy Nelson. Biennials are always infused with tremendous energy, creativity, and inspiration, all heightened by the connections made throughout the span of the five-day, dawn-to-dusk program. This year’s was no different, but perhaps especially so, due to the historic votes on membership dues and on transgender equity, as well as the final, moving address by Vice-President Joseph Biden.

    I invite you to read my comments below and challenge you not to get excited about the possibility of being part of a Biennial yourself, since the next Biennial will take place in Boston on December 6 – 10, 2017. I can’t recommend it enough to our lay leaders and members. For anyone seeking a deeper connection to Reform Judaism or a fabulous learning and worship experience, it is an outstanding opportunity.

    “Just connect…” at Biennial 2015 included:

    • The power of connecting with 5,000 URJ members
    • Connections among congregations – MUM dues vote fundamentally changes the structure and style of dues payments in an effort to address the needs of congregations in the 21st century economy and society
    • Connecting with all, fostering diversity, being enriched by it. Response to the URJ’s historic transgender resolution was unanimously positive. It was truly special to be present for our movement at its best, modeling for faith communities in the US and worldwide its deep commitment to acting on our belief that everyone is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and calling on other Jewish groups to be advocates for transgender rights.
      • The policy calls on Reform congregations, and organizations like camps and schools, to welcome people of all gender identities and refer to them by their chosen names, genders and pronouns, to provide gender-neutral restrooms where possible, and to work with transgender rights groups “to spread awareness and increase knowledge of issues related to gender identity,” possibly including “cultural competency training” for religious school employees. The resolution also calls for changing to gender-neutral language, even if it means altering the wording of traditional prayers, though in reality, Reform Judaism has been making such changes for years. And the resolution urges governments to adopt transgender rights measures.
      • Connecting with those outside our congregations – an oft-repeated phrase and concept at the Biennial was “Audacious hospitality” – the URJ’s emphasis on proactively welcoming and embracing those both inside and outside our congregations
      • Connecting the generations – from 6 weeks old to 97! – the Biennial modeled  full inclusion and celebration of Reform Judaism’s youth – camp, NFTY, young children present with parents. One unexpected Biennial highlight was a haftarah commentary by a remarkably-talented senior at Mr. Holyoke College, who spoke about the prophetic voices speaking against the tyranny of standardized testing in higher education. This young woman had me on my feet – at a service!
      • Connecting with the movement’s great musicians. Biennials beautifully showcase the diverse and rich musical talent in the movement. Multiple service styles, late-night music sessions, a musical stage with rotating roster of recording artists all highlighted the amazing talent of the movement, bringing fresh ideas for FJC’s own musical culture.
      • Connecting with the RAC – Social Justice as the core of Reform Jewish belief and practice comes through fully at the Biennial, which included an address by Rabbi David Saperstein, former director of the RAC and now U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
      • Connecting URJ’s work/spirit with American society and politics (i.e. race relations, Joe Biden, David Saperstein)
      • Connecting URJ with progressive Judaism around the world, from Israel to Russia
      • Connecting with a local Christian church in a Sunday outing to a megachurch, with opportunities to speak with its leadership, view its professional-quality audio visual system, learn about its modernizing methods, and experience music-infused worship

    Session highlights:

    • In this Together: A Conversation about Why and How People of Faith Are Pursuing Racial Justice in the 21st Century, with American Methodist Episcopal Reverend Jennifer Bailey, Founder of Faith Matters Network. Named one of “15 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2015,” Rev. Bailey is an ordained minister, community organizer, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movement for justice who believes that people of faith can be game changers in the fight to build a more justice, compassionate, and peaceful world. Rev. Bailey discussed with clarity and passion the problem of structural economic justice in our country, and the URJ offered insights from congregations from around the country and how they are engaging in their communities in community conversations and work around race and racism.
    • Ensuring Your Congregation’s Future: Creating a Pipeline of Educated Lay Leaders. This workshop, in a format characteristic of the Biennial, offered talk and takeaway notes of best practices from congregations with successful leadership program.
    • Variety and quality of Worship experiences. The cantors and rabbis exuded  warmth, professionalism, and inspiring leadership in the Shabbat services attended by 5,000 plus worshippers. Of note was the calling of groups for blessings before and after Torah reading – groups defined by the nature of their engagement with Reform Judaism. The largest group turned out to be those who came to Reform Judaism from the outside – whether another denomination or from another faith tradition. Weekday services (both morning and evening) included two that we found especially moving: a Tzedek (Justice) service that highlighted that theme in our liturgy and music, and a remarkably moving service led by a group of actors, singers, and clergy from Toronto that stunningly mixed Broadway, liturgy, and a passage from Tuesdays with Morrie.
    • Presentation by Glenn Kurtz, Three Minutes in Poland. Kurtz’s riveting presentation was based on his book by this title, which unravels a rare family film to tell the story of the Jewish community of a small Polish town. Fascinating! I am trying to bring Glenn Kurtz to FJC so that you, too, can experience and be moved by this story of Jewish life, loss, and the magic of historical research.

     

     

     

  • March Madness at FJC Beit Sefer

    Posted ‍‍כז אדר ב' ה תשעה - March 18, 2015 By in Latest News, Religious School With | Comments Off March Madness panorama

    Speen Hall was transformed into a basketball court on Sunday, March 15  for March Madness, Beit Sefer’s Jewish knowledge tournament. In the weeks before the event, classes reviewed what they have been studying this school year. The tournament began with shooting hoops and popcorn. Then teams took their seats on either side of the center floor and the ref – Ms. Rothstein – started the game. For the first time ever, teams answered all questions correctly, resulting in a tie. Yasher koach students and teachers!

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