By Jeff Denaburg.
Beit Tefilah Israeli – We attended a Shacharit service led by an Israeli Reform Rabbi who attracts secular Israelis to prayer by leading an innovative sunrise service at the seashore in Tel Aviv. The service is spiritually and musically inspiring. In addition to beautiful versions of the Shacharit prayers, we sang the Halleluya prayer to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s song and Ahava Raba to the tune of All You Need is Love. The Hebrew versions of Morning Has Broken and What a Wonderful World were also strategically inserted. Another good reason to spend more time at the ocean in Tel Aviv,
URJ and the Shalom Hartman Institute – The Shalom Hartman Institute is prominent at the Biennial. After accepting an award for the achievements of his father Rabbi David Hartman (z”l), Rabbi Donniel Hartman praised the Reform movement for its efforts and determination to make Israel a better place. The following day he elaborated that Judaism will have to embrace core values such as equality and diversity for Israel to succeed as a Jewish and democratic state, He also said that there are no shortcuts to achieving this – the only effective method being widespread education. In this spirit, the URJ announced a partnership with the Hartman Institute to roll out Hartman’s Israel Engagement education program in URJ congregations.