Judaism

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.

Sikh U.S. Army captain wearing a camouflage turban

U.S. Army to Permit Religious Turbans, Beards, and Hijabs

January 15, 2017

The United States Army will now allow soldiers to wear turbans, hijabs, and other religious markers, according to a new policy issued last week.

The new uniform regulations come after years of petitions from Sikhs, whose religious beliefs mandate them to grow their hair long and keep their heads covered with a turban. Army grooming standards compelling men to be clean-shaven particularly restricted Sikh men from enlisting, because to do so would require them violate the precepts of their faith.

Trump and Clinton debate on the big screen at a viewing party

After First Presidential Debate, Religious Voters React

September 29, 2016

On Monday, September 26, presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took the stage in Hempstead, New York for their first one-on-one debate.

Although this week’s debate was the most-watched in U.S. history, pundits speculated that a large proportion of the 84 million viewers had already made up their minds about how to cast their vote this November.

Religious Voices of the Republican National Convention

Religious Voices of the Republican National Convention

July 25, 2016

Last week, politicians, pundits, pastors, and protestors gathered in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention.

The Convention’s purpose is to allow the Republican Party to nominate an official candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Because Donald Trump was the presumptive nominee, the event’s speakers focused heavily on the personage of Trump himself, who accepted the official nomination Thursday.

Catholic Arab Wins Israel’s First Transgender Beauty Pageant

Catholic Arab Wins Israel’s First Transgender Beauty Pageant

June 1, 2016

Last week, a friendly competition in Tel Aviv, Israel brought together Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims in ways that event coordinators believe showcased the groups’ potential for acceptance and coexistence. The event was the first of its kind: a transgender beauty pageant, held to kick off Tel Aviv’s LGBT Pride week.

Spectators packed Tel Aviv’s Bima National Theater Friday to cheer on the pageant’s 12 finalists, a group that included a Muslim belly dancer, a Catholic Arab ballerina, and an Orthodox Jewish baker.

Israel to Create Mixed-Gender Prayer Site at Western Wall

Israel to Create Mixed-Gender Prayer Site at Western Wall

February 5, 2016

This week, the Israeli government approved the creation of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, a remnant of Herod the Great’s expansion of the Second Jewish Temple considered to be the holiest Jewish site.

The decision follows years of contentious debate between Orthodox Jews—who do not permit mixed-gender prayer—and Conservative and Reform Jews, who have lobbied for their right to egalitarian prayer.

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