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Rabbi Reuven Greenvald


Group of teen campers outside in front of a tree

When the Israeli cabinet voted to pull back the government’s pledge to build an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel (the Western Wall), more than 10,000 campers and 2,000 staff and faculty were at 16 URJ camps across North America. As with other summer camps, the people who come to Reform Jewish camps experience something close to radio silence when it comes to news of the world. Mostly through policy, though sometimes because of poor cell reception in rural locations, exposure to relentless social media is severely contained at camp. So, when big news develops, URJ camps, which already...

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Western Wall Phone Picture

Greetings from URJ Kutz Camp where I am serving on faculty this week. Even in this bucolic setting, the loud cries from and about Israel are stirring conversation and action. Because this URJ community cares about Israel as a place welcoming to all Jews, the concerns expressed by participants and staff come from a place of commitment to Israel and its future. 

A few nights ago, the teen leadership here produced a program they called Israel Assembly. It succeeded to both touch the soul and delve into issues of complexity. This idea of soulful complexity is stirring around in my head...

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Six teens walking in an open expanse of the Negev Desert

“You followed me into the desert, into a land not sown.” (Jeremiah 2:2)

A few weeks ago I followed 40 American teens and their four counselors into the Negev Desert in southern Israel at the start of their four-week discovery journey through Israel.  They are all rising 12th graders from URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Indiana, many in Israel for the first time or returning to Israel after experiencing only short trips with their families. For almost 60 years, NFTY in Israel has succeeding in creating an enduring relationship between generations of Reform Jews and the...

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Horse drawn cart in mid-1940s omer festival on Israeli kibbutz

Ear of grain in the field, bowed in the wind from the weight of its seed, which is great… Arise, o arise, look, children of the villages.  The tall grain has already ripened in the meadows.  Harvest, extend the scythe – it’s time for the beginning of the harvest.  -- “Shibolet Basadeh” (“Ear of Grain in the Field”) Israeli folk song

In the mid-1940s, two kibbutznikim (kibbutz dwellers), both pioneers who immigrated from eastern Europe 20 years earlier collaborated to create a new Jewish holiday specifically for agricultural settlers who were bringing the Jewish...

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Teen Girls Wrapped in Flag

Israel engagement for young people, like every aspect of Jewish engagement, requires each new generation to make it their own. Although we sometimes talk about Israel’s complexity as one of the most difficult educational challenges in Jewish education, it really is part of the same package of big questions our youth are asking about Judaism’s relevance to living in a diverse, pluralistic, and globalized world. While their questions may challenge us, the act of questioning should be seen as a natural part of their development as well as the Jewish people’s self-renewal.

In his poem...

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