News

Man in kippah kisses cheek of woman in wedding dress

Conservative Jewish Assembly Votes to Allow Non-Jewish Synagogue Members

March 10, 2017

During a special meeting of its General Assembly on March 1, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) voted overwhelmingly to reverse their prohibition on granting membership to non-Jews.

The measure will have a sweeping impact on North American Conservative Jewish communities, 80 percent of which belong to the USCJ umbrella organization. Whereas synagogues were previously permitted only to allow non-Jews as guests, Conservative communities may now choose to endow non-Jewish attendees—often the non-Jewish spouse of a member—with full membership status.

Women Praying at Western Wall

Orthodox Worshipers Protest Bat Mitzvah at Western Wall

March 3, 2017

As feminist prayer group Women of the Wall arrived at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Monday for a bat mitzvah ceremony and their monthly prayer service, they found their way blocked by crowds of dissenters.

The Women of the Wall have sparked extreme backlash in Israel for their petitions to change gendered restrictions at the Kotel, or Western Wall. They seek a space at the wall for women and men to pray together—currently, the Western Wall has only sex-segregated spaces. The group has also advocated for women’s right to read Torah at the Kotel.

Gravestone

Muslim Americans Raise Funds for Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

February 28, 2017

After over 150 gravestones were vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri in mid-February, American Muslims have jumped to the Jewish community’s defense. In the wake of the vandalism, Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi set up a LaunchGood.com fundraiser to help the Chesed Shel Emeth Society restore the damaged gravestones.

Man practicing yoga

Russian Yoga Teacher Acquitted of Proselytism Charges

January 30, 2017

Earlier this month, a St. Petersburg court dropped charges accusing a yoga instructor of illegal missionary activity. Critics of Russia’s crackdown on proselytism see the case as an example of the law’s ambiguity and ineffectiveness.

44-year-old Russian computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was arrested at the St. Petersburg “Vedalife” festival on October 22, 2016. Ugay was 40 minutes into a presentation on the spiritual principles behind the practice of yoga when police apprehended him on stage.