Police: Pittsburgh day school aide, sister were shot in head

The Pittsburgh day school teacher’s aide and her sister who were found dead in the basement of their home were shot in the head, police said.

Susan Wolfe, 44, who worked at the Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill, was found naked, and her sister Sarah, 36, was fully clothed, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported Tuesday.

Liquid was poured over at least one of the women’s bodies, perhaps in an effort to cover up evidence, police told the newspaper. There were no signs of forced entry.

Sarah Wolfe’s car was discovered about a mile away from the home on Saturday, a day after the bodies were discovered, according to the newspaper. It is suspected that the killer or killers drove the vehicle away from the house.

The house had been ransacked and robbed in December.

Police went to the Wolfes’ home on Feb. 7 after a co-worker of Susan Wolfe asked them to check when she did not show up for work. Co-workers of Dr. Sarah Wolfe, a pediatrician and psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, also had called police.

The women have six other siblings, including an Iowa state lawmaker, Mary Wolfe.

Pittsburgh rabbi files federal lawsuit over Pa. funeral policy

An Orthodox rabbi from Pittsburgh filed a federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors for requiring the oversight of licensed funeral directors in Jewish burials.

Rabbi Daniel Wasserman of Shaare Torah Synagogue in Squirrel Hill and head of the chevra kadisha, or Jewish burial society, for the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh, alleges in his lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in Scranton that the policy mandating that licensed funeral directors oversee all burials infringes upon his constitutional rights to religious freedom and equal protection.

In 2009, Wasserman was contacted by an investigator from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Enforcement, who conducted an investigation of the rabbi for “practicing as a funeral director without a license.” According to the lawsuit filed Monday, the state board told Jewish families that their burials would be illegal without a licensed funeral director.

Wasserman’s suit also states that rabbis are not eligible for licensing owing to a religious prohibition against embalming. His complaint expresses that the state board’s implementation of the oversight policy is “for no other justification than personal profit,” noting that Amish burial societies are not subject to similar restrictions.

“The State Board of Funeral Directors selectively enforces Pennsylvania’s Funeral Director Law in a way that violates the religious freedom of the state’s clergy, and all of the religious persons they serve,” said Efrem Grail, an attorney who is representing Wasserman pro bono in the lawsuit.

Farrakhan appearance dividing Pittsburgh’s black, Jewish communities

A planned appearance by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in Pittsburgh has caused friction between the city’s Jewish and black communities.

Farrakhan, who has stepped up his campaign of anti-Semitism in recent years, is scheduled to appear on a panel Friday on a live radio broadcast from the Pennsylvania city.

Bev Smith, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, blamed Jewish and white Christian organizations for the withdrawal of a panel member.

Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, withdrew from the panel, which includes Farrakhan and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)

In an editorial posted on its website last week criticizing the decision to include Farrakhan in the program, the second in a series of programs about challenges facing predominantly black communities, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle wrote that “We’re disappointed that Farrakhan will appear at so prestigious a Pittsburgh cultural address, but when the program ends, nothing will change. Blacks and Jews are still two people forged by similar experiences and the same dreams.”

Smith said the Jewish Chronicle has made her “outraged” that “efforts to talk to people we feel are relevant to our community is an offense against the Jewish community,” according to the Jewish weekly.


Pittsburgh Steelers on the ‘fringe’ of dynasty as fans embrace the ‘Terrible Tallis’

This article has been reposted with permission from The Jewish Chronicle.

If you’ve left your house or turned on the television in the last two weeks, you know: Pittsburgh’s going to the Super Bowl. But while huge portions of Pittsburghers — and, surely, much of the country — will be cheering for a Steeler victory, some members of the city’s Jewish community are celebrating in creative, and even educational ways.

At Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha Congregation Sunday school in Squirrel Hill, students will actually feel some unity with Green Bay, Wis. This Sunday morning, the school’s 90 students will connect with the 20 students of Congregation Cnesses Israel, a small Conservative synagogue in Green Bay, through Skype. Students at both schools spent the last few weeks learning football-related vocabulary in Hebrew, which they’ll swap with each other and answer sports trivia.

“When Pittsburgh was entering the AFC championship, I challenged the kids: on Sunday you come in with any Hebrew words pertaining to football, and anybody who does gets a prize,” said Shelly Schapiro, director of education. “Sure enough, some students they had their lists. But now, for the Super Bowl, those papers are piling up on my desk.”

Schapiro knew she could put that enthusiasm to work, and thought, “It’d be cool for the kids to connect with a congregation in Green Bay,” she said. “It was truly one of those moments when a light went off.”

Schapiro connected with Congregation Cnesses Israel because, “It’s exciting for our students to connect with other Jewish kids,” she said. “They know New York and Miami, but to think there are the kids the same age in somewhere like Green Bay learning about Judaism is special.”

Both congregations will donate the weekend’s tzedaka to the local charity of the winning team’s school — a Steelers victory means Green Bay money will go to the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry.

“It’s a way of showing we’re not just having fun,” said Schapiro. “We’re also helping out.”

At Community Day School an end-of-day pep rally will have students cheering to win a pajama day.

“We have a friendly wager with the Milwaukee Jewish Day School,” said CDS Principal Avi Baran Munro. “The head of school there and I have agreed to wear the winning team’s T-shirt and be ready to shame ourselves.”

While local students lived through just a few Steelers Super Bowls, it’s likely many residents of the Jewish Association on Aging remember quite a few more.

This Friday, patients and residents of JAA will celebrate the Super Bowl with a pep rally, waving their homemade, stenciled Terrible Towels. The entire Squirrel Hill building is decorated with Steelers posters and pictures of Art Rooney and Myron Cope, said JAA Director of Marketing Kathy Fuller.

“We’ve got an 8-foot tall blow-up Steeler,” said Fuller. “We’re all about it here.”

The excitement of a Steelers victory carries an important weight at JAA.

“When you work in a nursing home, you need things, especially during flu season, to encourage everyone to feel like there’s a reason to go on with the winter,” said Fuller. “The Steelers are doing that for us.”

At Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, congregants are finding a craftier way to support the Steelers — by making the, ahem, Terrible Tallis. Transforming the Steelers symbol into a symbol of Judaism is many years in the making.

“Back at Camp Ramah when I was 13, we’d make anything into a tallis,” said Rabbi Alex Greenbaum. “What makes it holy is not the material, but the fringes.”

When Greenbaum saw a beach towel version of the classic hand towel about 3 years ago, “It seemed like a good idea, though it’s not for everyone,” he said.

He created his Terrible Tallis and this year “used it as a teaching moment for my congregation,” he said. “I explained the laws of tallit and tzitzit.”

On Feb. 3, Greenbaum said he’ll hold a workshop for congregants to make their own Terrible Tallit. The excitement has even brought out congregants who rarely come to services, said Greenbaum.

“I find it fascinating — some people will show up to services just because they can wear their jersey,” he said. But praying in a Terrible Towel and actually praying for a Steeler victory are different things.

“My congregation asked if we could do a prayer. I said we really don’t want to go down that path — the Jets probably have more rabbis than the Steelers, and I don’t want a holy war,” said Greenbaum. “I don’t think God loves the Steelers more, but time has shown that the Steelers know what they’re doing. Luck, coincidence or God — someone is on the Steelers’ side.”

Justin Jacobs can be reached at {encode=”justinj@thejewishchronicle.net” title=”justinj@thejewishchronicle.net”}.

Ron Bloom: Car czar in the Labor Zionist tradition

By now Ron Bloom’s professional road to becoming the Obama administration’s car czar has been widely reported. Missing from the coverage, however, has been any mention of those formative years at Jewish summer camp.

Born in New York City and raised in Swarthmore, a suburb of Philadelphia, much of Bloom’s early life revolved around Habonim (now known as Habonim Dror), a progressive Labor Zionist youth movement that emphasizes cultural Judaism, socialism and social justice.

It’s all part of an upbringing that the man overseeing the country’s bailout of the U.S. auto industry cites among his earliest influences.

“I had an aunt in the teacher’s union,” and relatives who were “Hebrew butchers and Hebrew bakers,” Bloom recently told JTA in an exclusive interview a few days after returning from a trip to Israel to attend the 80th birthday of an uncle who moved there several decades ago. “My grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe; that was very much in my upbringing,” Bloom said.

Bloom’s parents met at a Habonim summer camp in the 1940s and moved to Israel, intending to make aliyah. Though they changed their minds and moved back to the United States, Habonim remained an integral part of their lives.

“My parents had always been supportive of doing something that we found meaningful,” Bloom said. “There was always a view that what’s going on in the world matters. We talked politics at the dinner table. Life was about engagement in the world.”

At age 10, Bloom was sent with his two siblings to Camp Galil, a movement-run summer camp near Doylestown, Pa. He returned each season for the next four years and later became a camp counselor.

One of campers was Jack Markell, who years later would become the governor of Delaware. Bloom reconnected with Markell, as well as with several other old Habonim friends, upon arriving in Washington for his new job. They are now “offering me home-cooked meals,” said Bloom, who is commuting between his family in Pittsburgh and his job in Washington.

Bloom recalled camp as “a fun experience” that afforded him the opportunity to “meet people from different places.” He said he never intended to go into the Labor Zionist movement professionally.

Addressing the question of how the experience influenced him, Bloom said, “It’s all a tapestry, and it’s hard to figure out what fits where.”

He says Habonim infused him with values that influenced the way he views public service. “We sang the songs, but it wasn’t about that,” Bloom said. “It was a broader sense of identifying with the underdog, and of observing the world through a lens, through people who don’t have as much and aren’t as lucky.”

The Labor Zionist movement prides itself in its direct connection with union work and its ability to inspire leadership, said Kenneth Bob, the president of Ameinu, the Labor Zionist organization that provides funding to the Habonim Dror youth movement.

Prior to his ascent in the Labor Zionist movement, Bob was actually Bloom’s counselor at Camp Tel Ari, Habonim’s leadership training institute. He recalled Bloom as being “a very serious, engaged person, there for the right reasons, to drink in the experience and learn as much as he could.”

Bob said there is a “great deal of pride” within the Habonim community regarding Bloom’s new position in the Obama administration.

“There’s definitely been a buzz on the online alumni listserv,” Bob said. “People are very proud, very supportive of Obama and excited about the things he’s trying to do, and to have one of our own helping.”

Bloom’s expertise in both private banking and the labor union movement, as well as his reputation as a passionate but pragmatic negotiator, helped him land what he says is the job of a lifetime.

A graduate of Harvard business school, Bloom worked as an investment banker for a decade before leaving the financial sector to take a position—and pay cut—with the United Steelworkers of America. Then, when Obama came into office, he became an aide to Rattner at the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry. When Rattner resigned after just five months, Bloom took over as car czar.

Now, there’s speculation in Washington that Bloom will be offered a new position next month overseeing manufacturing policy for the Obama administration.

Bloom said his decision to join the administration was, in part, the product of a broader sense of engagement and desire to improve the world, which he developed in his Habonim years. “That’s part of what I try to do in my work life,” he said. “That’s one of the things that made me want to work for Obama.”

As for the possibility of future assignments in Washington, Bloom said that the difficulties of commuting and the strain it places on his family would need to be taken into consideration.

“I’m not in a position to talk about future,” Bloom said. “I will stay as long as the president wants me to stay. If there are opportunities, I’ll consider them.”

Move over, Willie Horton

I just hope Peter Feldman isn’t Jewish.

In my parents’ New Jersey home, when the perpetrator of some awful act in the news was not yet known, I could always count on them to say, “I hope he isn’t Jewish.”

This worked out well in the case of Lee Harvey Oswald, but for Jack Ruby, not so much. Sighs of relief greeted the announcement that the “Mad Bomber” terrorizing New York was George Metesky, but not when the “Son of Sam” killer was identified as David Berkowitz.

Peter Feldman is the McCain-Palin campaign’s communications director in Pennsylvania.

I don’t know Peter Feldman, and the only mayhem he’s suspected of is metaphorical, and the drip, drip, drip of evidence against him is coming out in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law. I realize that politics ain’t beanbag, and I’m familiar with the riptides and undertows that can seize anyone working in a presidential campaign, especially an apparently losing one, in its final days. Still, for the sake of the reputation of Jewish ethics, and even for the sake of the reputation of Republicans, I sure hope he didn’t do last week what it kinda sorta looks like he did.

By now everyone knows that Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain volunteer from College Park, Texas who told Pittsburgh police that a 6-foot-4 black man robbed her at an ATM machine and carved a backwards B on her face, has (in the words of a Pennsylvania prosecutor) “not insignificant mental health issues.” She made it all up.

But what everyone may not know is that before the contents of her allegation were fully known, let alone verified, it appears to be Peter Feldman – not the police – who told local reporters that her (fictional) big black assailant said to her, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”

Move over, Willie Horton.

“>if you believe that Peter Feldman was just repeating what he had heard from the police, it is nevertheless arguable, as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said, that Mr. Feldman’s actions showed “not just a willingness to believe it, but an eagerness to incite a …racial backlash against the Obama campaign.”

On Saturday night, the same Peter Feldman ” alt=”ALTTEXT” width=”381″ height=”288″ vspace = 8 hspace 8 8 align = right />said that the party had not authorized the email; he blamed it on Bryan Rudnick, a consultant whom he said had drafted it. Mr. Rudnick denied that, saying that he had been hired by the party to do outreach to Jewish voters, and that “I had authorization from party officials.”

“>as he told the Des Moines Register, that he always tells “100 percent absolute truth” – that he is not winking at us ironically, not signaling “it’s just politics, my friends,” not asking us to pardon him for just-doing-what-a candidate’s-gotta-do, when he says that Jerry Falwell “>fire Rumsfeld; or that he’s the only presidential candidate not to receive “>balance the budget in four years; or that Obama wants kindergarteners taught “comprehensive “>expert on energy.

It is even conceivable that Sarah Palin really does think it’s true that the Troopergate investigation “>natural gas pipeline really is under way; or that Obama really does “>with terrorists; or that Obama’s economic plan actually amounts to

Taking the Middle Road

The Reform movement’s much-anticipated “Statement of Principles” may rival the Torah for most carefully scrutinized text in Jewish history.

The two-page statement, which seeks to spell out just exactly what Reform Judaism is about, was discussed for close to two years, underwent six drafts, garnered more than 30 amendments and sparked heated debate among Reform rabbis and their congregants.

The controversial document was adopted last Wednesday by an overwhelming margin of 324-68, with nine abstentions. It was the centerpiece of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ four-day convention in Pittsburgh this week.

The statement seeks to reverse the movement’s 1885 Pittsburgh Platform, which stridently rejected Jewish tradition and rituals. It aims to redefine Reform Judaism for the coming years: celebrating the movement’s growing acceptance of tradition and spirituality, while reaffirming its longtime commitment to inclusion, social action and diversity of thought.

The principles consist of a preamble that urges Reform Jews to “engage in a dialogue with the sources of our tradition” and statements about Reform Jews’ relationships with God, Torah, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

Among other things, the document:

* Affirms the importance of studying Hebrew;

* Promotes lifelong Jewish learning;

* Calls for observance of mitzvot, or commandments, “that address us as individuals and as a community”;

* Urges observance in some form of Shabbat and holidays;

* Encourages tikkun olam, which the Reform movement emphasizes as social action, and tzedakah, or charitable giving.

“Some of these mitzvot, sacred obligations, have long been observed by Reform Jews; others, both ancient and modern, demand renewed attention as a result of the unique context of our own times,” says the document.

Earlier drafts of the principles, including a version that appeared in Reform Judaism magazine six months ago, specified other mitzvot, such as observing kashrut and wearing kippot and tallitot In the end, a document very different from the original was adopted by the Reform rabbis, one that many rabbis here believed had been diluted too much.

The seemingly endless revisions made for a pareve document with little energy or inspiration, critics said.

But Rabbi Richard Levy, outgoing president of the CCAR, called the adoption of the principles a “wonderful moment for Reform Jews.”

Levy, who had authored the Reform Judaism piece and had been pictured wearing a yarmulke and a prayer shawl, said the document “will liberate Reform Jews to say there is nothing to in the Torah which is barred to me.”

When asked to respond to critics who said it was watered down from his original version, Levy said, “What was passed was a statement that reflected the large number of Reform Jews.”

Levy, who stressed the reaffirmation of Reform Judaism’s commitment to inclusiveness and social action, said, “I hope the Pittsburgh principles will deepen the lives of Reform Jews and make the entire community aware of our seriousness.”

Since the publication of Levy article, the principles had sparked debates about the identity of Reform Judaism, which claims more American Jews than any other movement. As rabbis and lay leaders discussed and revised the principles at official meetings, rank-and-file Reform Jews sounded off on the Internet.

In response to its request for feedback, the Reform Judaism magazine Web site received approximately 70 pages of comments from Reform Jews throughout North America.

Some respondents were supportive.

“I think without some kind of standards, Reform Judaism will lose its standing in the world Jewish community and either break off as its own religion or eventually disappear,” Ellen Lerner of Rochester, N.Y., wrote.

But the majority were critical, voicing fears that encouraging traditional mitzvot would soon give way to coercion and blur the lines between Reform and Conservative Judaism.

“If I wanted this much dogma, I’d be a Conservative Jew,” wrote Don Rothschild of Denver.

“I feel disenfranchised by my own religion,” wrote Barbara Stern of Winchester, Va. “It is beginning to feel like the only option that will be open to classical Reform Jews is the Unitarian Church, an option that will not be spiritually satisfying for many reasons.”

The board of one Reform temple, Lakeside Congregation in suburban Chicago, even passed a resolution urging the CCAR not to vote on any statement of principles.

While both supporters and opponents complained of the statement’s blandness, many acknowledged that insipidness is the fate of any committee-written document.

They also said that the Reform movement’s rank-and-file members might not yet be ready for something stronger, and that the statement should be viewed as a beginning rather than the last word on Reform Judaism.

The movement’s commitment to diversity of thought was highlighted during Tuesday night’s lively — if prolonged — discussion on proposed amendments at the CCAR convention. The evening was filled with passionate debate on everything from the correct application of Robert’s Rules of Order and grammatical fine points to just how accepting the movement should be of interfaith families.

One of the most heated discussions surrounded an amendment involving the intermarried. The amendment, which initially implied openness to all intermarried families, was changed — after much debate — to a carefully worded statement saying, “We are an inclusive community, opening doors to Jewish life to people of all ages, to varied kinds of families, to all regardless of their sexual orientation, to gerim, those who have converted to Judaism, and to all individuals and families, including the intermarried, who strive to create a Jewish home.”

Throughout the debate, shouts, ayes and nays alternated with laughter and applause. With the aroma of popcorn and other late-night snacks wafting through the air, the proceeding — in a packed hotel ballroom — took on a carnival-like atmosphere at times.

At one point, Levy, called out, exasperated by requests for new amendments and revotes, “People, we cannot keep changing our minds!”

Minor skirmishes erupted over the chair’s decision not to let someone speak out of order. There was discord as to whether “encouraging” immigration to Israel would render American Judaism extinct (the rabbis voted, no, it would not).

Although the debate was initially allotted a modest two hours, it quickly became clear Tuesday that the discussion on the statement would spill over. At 5:30 p.m., with only a handful of the proposed amendments discussed, the rabbis voted — after much squabbling on details — to adjourn until 8 p.m.

In the interlude that followed, most seemed to take the delays and quibbling in stride, seeing them as a sign not of discord but of everyone’s desire to create the strongest document possible.

“The problem is it’s like Talmud — everyone takes every word so seriously,” said Rabbi Morris Kipper of Coral Gables, Fla.

“The process is typical,” said Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus of Homewood, Ill. “We like to argue. Two Jews have three opinions, and so much more so for rabbis.”

The vote, which occurred at Temple Rodeph Shalom, the largest Reform temple in Pittsburgh, reflected a consensus view among the rabbis that some statement was necessary, even if it wasn’t everyone’s ideal.

“I supported it in the end with some reservations, but I feel it is a statement that reflects at least in part who we are as Reform Jews,” Rabbi Jerome Davidson of Great Neck, N.Y., said, echoing the views of many here.

“It’s a centrist document, and it moves us from where we were a century ago,” he said.

Mixed Reviews

Los Angeles’ Reform rabbis returned to their pulpits from last week’s Central Conference of American Rabbis convention in Pittsburgh, some of them delighted with the Statement of Principles, some of them disappointed, but all of them primed to revisit the definition of their ever-reforming movement.

“This statement of principles will provide us guidance as we look to the future,” says Rabbi Donald Goor of Temple Judea in Tarzana. “In a very specific way, it’s going to give the average Reform Jew something to hold on to and to look to for guidance on what it means to be an active, committed Reform Jew.”

But Goor says that he is “very disappointed” in the statement’s final form, although he voted for its passage, along with about 80 percent of the 400 rabbis who attended the four-day conference. Like many of his colleagues, Goor believes that the document lost much of its visionary quality in the seemingly endless process of amendments and revisions.

But Rabbi Richard Levy, outgoing president of the CCAR, who crafted the original statement of principles two years ago and shepherded it through the revision process, says he is delighted with the outcome, especially the overwhelming passage.

“I think if it lost some things, it gained more,” says Levy, who is leaving his position as executive director of the Los Angeles Hillel Council to become dean of Hebrew Union College’s new rabbinic ordination program in Los Angeles.

Levy points out that the Pittsburgh Principle’s commitment to “whole array of mitzvot” — in fact, even the mere use of the word mitzvot, defined as “sacred obligations” — marks a substantial shift in Reform dogma.

“That is a very important statement in the Reform movement,” says Levy. “It says the whole tradition is open to consider.”

He hopes that more synagogues will join those that have set up task forces to determine how to integrate the document into educational and ritual programming.

Levy himself has long practiced much of what is discussed in the principles, making him a natural advocate for the platform.

What also made him such an effective architect was his ability to productively and amicably channel the thousands of opinions from rabbis and lay leaders around the country.

“This is the first of the four documents that Reform movement has produced that was not written by a handful of people, but by an entire movement,” says Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood, crediting Levy’s gentle hand. “I don’t think anyone else could have pulled this off.”

Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills agrees. “Even in the middle of the most intense disagreements on the floor, Richard’s incredible menschlichkayt came through and made it clear that we were engaged in a holy process.”

Rabbi Ron Stern of Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel Air concurs that Levy guided an important and enlightening process, but he is less than satisfied with the final outcome. Stern, who voted against passage, says the platform missed an important chance to explicitly state what makes Reform distinctive and innovative.

This statement, he says, will have little effect on the average Reform Jew because it is far from revolutionary and simply “confirms what a lot of synagogue and congregants are doing anyway.”

But other rabbis argue that that is the statement’s strength — that it formalizes and validates a decade-long grass-roots shift toward more ritual observance.

“I think, in a sense, the Reform movement has been on a religious journey, and this new document opens up new paths that have always been there but may not have been seen as authentically Reform,” says Goor.

Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark, who just completed his two-year term as president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, is proud that the document gives Reform Judaism a positive identity.

“Reform Jews want to stand for something — they want to stand for many things — and not just act as the least common denominator,” he said.

Rosove says the reexamination of mitzvot brings Judaism as a whole closer to a postdenominational age, where Hebrew and traditional rituals become a common language for all ends of the ideological spectrum.

But some have argued that blurring of lines is a problem, that the traditional bent of the document pulls too close to Conservative Judaism and too far from classical Reform, which rejected ritual as antiquated and irrelevant.

Goldmark counters that the Pittsburgh Principles stay true to Reform’s commitment to evolve.

“This does not mean that Reform Judaism has become Orthodox. It mean that Reform Jews have, as we’ve always had, the ability to choose from the traditions of the past, as well as to create new traditions for the present,” Goldmark says, adding that he plans to continue picking apart the document’s subtleties with his congregants at Temple Beth Ohr in La Mirada. [return to original]

Geller says the statement in its various drafts has already been the subject of debate in her congregation over the past year.

“It raised a whole lot of issues,” she says. “Not everybody was happy. It made people think, it challenged them, it made people angry. But it engaged people in what it means to be a Reform Jew.”