SHUL BURNS: Temple Ahavat Achim of Gloucester, Mass., has burned to the ground, Boston’s Jewish Advocate reports. The fire was accidental, and the Conservative synagogue’s congregants have found temporary sanctuary at a nearby Unitarian Universalist church.
RABBI KOPPELL GOES TO WASHINGTON: Writing in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, Rabbi Bonnie Koppell of Arizona tells the story of her recent visit to the White House, where she gave an opening prayer before a Hanukkah meeting between the president and Jewish leaders.
‘OPERATION NAZI KICKER’: The militant Jewish Defense Organization is vowing to shut down a racist magazine’s upcoming convention at a Virginia hotel. The JDO has launched a campaign, dubbed “Operation Nazi Kicker,” to get the hotel to give the convention the boot. But the Washington Jewish Week doesn’t think much of the JDO’s approach.
MEGA-SHULS AREN’T US: Reform leaders have been looking to Protestant mega-churches for models on how to revitalize synagogue worship. But San Francisco’s J. newspaper recommends “caution before Reform congregations start mimicking the mega-church style.”
WELCOMING SHABBAT: New York Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt speaks with Union for Reform Judaism chief Rabbi Eric Yoffie about the latter’s call for reinvigorated Sabbath observance in his movement. Rosenblatt reports:
“Other approaches to enhancing Jewish life have failed,” Rabbi Yoffie asserted, in explaining his renewed emphasis on Shabbat. Proclaiming “we need old ideas,” not new ones, he said: “We need less corporate planning and more text and tradition; less strategic thinking and more mitzvot; less demographic data and more Shabbat. Because we know, in our hearts, that in the absence of Shabbat, Judaism withers.”
Also in the Jewish Week: Conservative rabbis on Long Island offer an alternative to Orthodox kosher-certification.
UNION NO: A number of professors at the City University of New York are raising their voices against what they say is the radical — and pro-Palestinian — political orientation of the leadership of their union. Brooklyn’s Jewish Press has the story.
NOT HEARTING HUCKABEE: The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent’s Jonathan Tobin has a problem with Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential hopeful who has opted to “harp on his Christianity.”
HER OWN REPLACEMENT: Israel Project founder and president Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrachi had previously announced she would be stepping down from leadership of the group. Now, however, she’s decided to stay with the pro-Israel group, The Baltimore Jewish Times reports.
BETTER LIVING THROUGH KASHRUS: Kosher-keeping chocoholics in Ohio have a new spot to satisfy their sweet tooths — courtesy of a non-Jewish chocolatier. Chocolatier Kristy Yosick’s new shop is certified kosher, Columbus’s New Standard reports. “Why not be kosher?” Kristy Yosick tells the paper. “To me, that is a mark of superiority and I want to be superior in every way I make my products.”
CHURCH STANDS BY RABBI: For the past several years Rabbi Susan Talve has been invited to be a guest teacher at St. Cronan’s Catholic Church during its Advent Vespers service. Then, this year, her Reform synagogue hosted a ceremony by dissident Catholic feminists in which they ordained two women as priests, in violation of Roman Catholic tradition. St. Louis’s archbishop wasn’t pleased, and he asked the church to withdraw the invitation to Rabbi Talve. Since canon law gives the archbishop say over who can teach inside a church, St. Cronan’s simply moved the service with Rabbi Talve outdoors. The St. Louis Jewish Light has the story of the church that stood by its rabbi.
RACISM IS TREYF: British Jewry’s Board of Deputies has launched a new campaign to prevent the ultra-right British National Party from winning a seat in the Greater London Assembly. The campaign’s slogan is “Racism. It’s Not Kosher.” London’s Jewish Chronicle has the story.
UNCHAIN HER!: Canada’s Supreme Court has struck a blow for a woman whose husband refused to grant her a Jewish divorce, The Canadian Jewish News reports.