Arts & Culture Program Coordinator Amy Rahmani recently sat down with Arts+Culture Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Nancy Wozny to talk about our upcoming Houston Jewish Film Festival. Arts+Culture is a free periodical for the community with a focus on the contemporary visual and performing arts and how it affects life and lives in Texas. A+C magazine features articles, interviews, and reviews on gallery and museum shows, theater productions, people in the arts, classical music, contemporary dance, opera and books.
Check out the trailer to this year's Houston Jewish Film Festival:
The following is an excerpt from Arts+Culture Magazine's article, written by Editor-in-Chief, Nancy Wozny. For the full article from Arts+Culture, click here.
What Kind of Jew Are You?
When I was a hospital chaplain, a patient once asked me, “what kind of Jew are you?” I responded, “hopefully one who is compassionate, kind, and caring.” He responded, “no, no, no that isn’t what I meant…Reform, Orthodox, or what?” He needed to understand my religious values and thought that affiliation would give him the information that he was seeking. But, the truth is that even though I am a JTS ordained “Conservative” rabbi I have never really had an answer to this question. In my family we have a deliberate and thoughtful Shabbat practice, which is informed by halacha (Jewish law), family values, and spirituality but is not solely dictated by Jewish law. We observe kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), but eat out vegetarian in restaurants and have meat-heckshered and dairy non-heckshered dishes in our home. I work at the J, belong to a Conservative synagogue, and send my kids to Reform day school and religious school. I often feel there is no single space for me in organized Jewish life. At the same time, I believe we are forging a path that will keep our family Jewishly connected and fulfilled for the long-term. Then it dawned on me...
The following blog post gives the view and opinions of its author, Rabbi Jill Levy, and does not represent an official opinion or position of the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston, nor does it necessarily reflect the opinion and views of any member, employee or board member of the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston. The purpose of this blog, and specifically this post, is to present how Jewish texts can enlighten contemporary issues. We do not expect that everyone will draw the same conclusions. As Rabbi Ishmael teaches in the Talmud, “A Biblical verse is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces... just as the rock is split into many splinters, so also may one biblical verse convey many teachings.” (BT Sanhedrin 34a). We hope you’ll share your thoughts and opinions with others in the comments section below.
Anyone who causes one life to be lost from Israel, it is as if they have destroyed the entire world. Anyone who saves one life from Israel, it is as if they have preserved an entire world. – Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a.
If gun ownership can save even one life then shouldn’t we support this practice? So far, in 2015, there have been 687 defensive gun uses. After all, the Talmud teaches that everyone has the right to self-defense. It states, “If someone comes to kill you, act first and kill him.” (Brachot 62b)
At the same time, there have also been 1071 accidental shootings, 1840 children ages 0-17 killed/injured, 7439 deaths and 14,781 injuries this year. Ratios typically range around one justifiable shooting for every 32 murders, suicides or accidental deaths annually. You can read about victim stories here from the bradycampaign.org.
As Jews, we have a tradition that cares deeply about the importance of human life, and as Americans we have a public safety issue that we cannot ignore. The United States currently leads the world in firearm ownership and firearm-related deaths, averaging 88 guns per 100 people and 82 deaths each day due to gun violence, including eight children under the age of 18.
We all want to be safe and secure in our own homes and outside. The question becomes what is the best way to achieve that security and should guns play a role?
There are a number of texts that we can draw on from Jewish tradition that speak to this issue. I am presenting the following three texts that guide my beliefs:
My summer camp challenge this year: To teach every camper, in every camp, the same dance, and come together to perform it.
You may not see this as a major challenge, but with seven different camps, at least eight camp directors, numerous counselors and hundreds of children, there are a number of different people and personalities at play. While this may still seem like a simple task, I can assure you, it is not...
There are hundreds of families and children who were affected by the flood and need support for school supplies for the coming school year. Needs range from backpacks and uniforms to general notebooks, pencils, binders, folders, etc.
Anyone who is interested in donating items can take the items to UOS starting now through this weekend.
- composition books
- binders and loose leaf paper
- pencil holders
- general school supplies
Please consider supporting this effort if you are able. For questions, please contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re surrounded by so many stinky things, on a regular day. And now, even more, for some of our unfortunate community members who were affected by the recent flooding and have been cleaning, scrubbing, and throwing stuff for weeks. But as I walked up to the J this morning and caught a whiff of something even before stepping into the building, I realized what we all could use this summer is a little aromatherapy at the J
It’s not what you think. It’s not some spritz the J is squirting outside to welcome its visitors and members. It’s not the sometimes far too heavy use of Norell perfume, a favorite of my late mother and so many other women of a certain age, many of whom are at the J every day to exercise, socialize, or just plain “hang out.” (Yes! Active adults like to just hang out!) And it’s not the enticing smells coming from Laykie’s kitchens, although they are intoxicating...
The last two days have been filled with donation drop offs and lots of supplies being provided to households in need in the community. The need is still great, and your community needs your help.
The J will continue as a drop off and pick up site for cleaning and packing supplies. We have the greatest need for boxes, gloves, masks, tarps and any cleaning supplies.
If you are interested in volunteering, or need volunteers in your home, the coordination of this will be handled by JFS. You can email JFS at email@example.com
Counseling and Crisis Management:
Counseling and crisis management will be coordinated by JFS and should call JFS directly at 713-667-9336.
Gift card donations can be sent to JFS, or dropped off at the J, and we will make sure they get to JFS.
This has certainly been a challenging week in our community as we respond to the devastation caused by the flooding. I wanted to share an update regarding the relief effort, the damage sustained at the J and plans for start of summer camp.
I know that you join me as part of a larger community to lend a helping hand and offer whatever assistance you can to families and friends in need. The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and Jewish Family Service are coordinating relief support and the J is a drop-off site for the following items: bottled water, work gloves, plastic storage bins, heavy trash bags, heady duty razor blades to rip out carpet and cleaning supplies, including old towels. We are also collecting gift cards from home repair stores and grocery stores for our Bertha Alyce Early Childhood School families that have experienced loss. Additional information on ways to offer support can be found on the Jewish Federation website at www.houstonjewish.org/houstonflood.
Child Care Needs
I recognize that families may have...
The creation of an original cabaret performance has been a dream of mine for several years, and I am so happy and proud that on Wednesday, May 6, we previewed our two women show, “29, One More Time.”
“29, One More Time” is an irresistibly engaging cabaret theatre performance filled with songs and stories of youth, love, motherhood and the perils and triumphs of womanhood. I wrote and perform this joyful, original work along with Joanne Bonasso who also stars. It is directed by seasoned theatre veteran, Rebekah Dahl from the Music Box Theatre with musical direction by Mitch Pengra.
We created a cabaret that is filled with unique stories from our lives that are fun, exciting and highly relatable. “29, One More Time” is a play on the social norm of a woman’s need to stay forever young. As women, mothers and actresses, we relate and through our show examine another way to define ourselves, beyond the number of years we have lived on this earth. Audiences will be delighted by the music in the show, ranging from well-known classics like...