Congregation Rodeph Sholom Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tradition Through Open Doors! A Conservative synagogue affiliated with USCJ

The Conservative movement can, and should, welcome the intermarried

Posted on October 23rd, 2017

We invite non-Jewish partners who seeks rabbinic officiation to link their destiny with the Jewish people through conversion

Contemporary Jewish life is graced by extraordinary blessing: We are the heirs of a Torah of compassion and justice that has grown ever more supple and vibrant because of the dynamic nature of halachah (Jewish law) and the opportunity to observe mitzvot (commandments).

At the same time, modernity has removed barriers of discrimination and anti-Semitism, as well as opened doors to broader cultural participation and professions previously closed to Jews. We face the challenge of remaining true to the best of our ancient tradition while also enjoying the blessings of the best of modern civilization.

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Havdalah Made Easy

Posted on October 23rd, 2017
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 

Abraham Joshua Heschel called Shabbat a cathedral in time. While in that "cathedral," we live as if the world were perfect, needing no change. We may close our computers and leave our work selves behind, to relish our family and friends, our beautiful world and to express our gratitude. We open the door to that cathedral as the sun sets on Friday evening and we sadly close the door twenty-five hours later with the Havdalah ritual.

Havdalah is Hebrew for separation. As we metaphorically close the door on Shabbat, we remind ourselves of the differing qualities of time that we have experienced. Just as we mark the end of childhood with bar/bat mitzvah, the end of high school and college with graduation ceremonies, Jews around the world mark the end of the special time of Shabbat and our reluctant move back to the world and all its demands with Havdalah.

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My Two Bat Mitzvahs

Posted on October 16th, 2017
By Koca Wen for

Coming of age as a Chinese Jew.

When do we become adults? When we experience our first tragedy? When we adopt adult responsibilities, and accept the weight of cultural expectations? When we undertake a coming of age ritual, like a bar mitzvah? For our Chinese-Jewish Mash-Up Koca Wen it was a mash-up of all of the above.

I became an adult girl when I was 12.

Not a woman. An adult girl.

I didn’t have a bat mitzvah. I wasn’t a Jew at that point. I am Chinese, and it was when I began living wholly by the Confucian philosophy and the essential Chinese value of filial piety that I came of age as a Chinese adult. Filial piety, or xiao shun, according to the Chinese, delineates the correct way to behave towards one’s parents. Love them. Be respectful. Polite. Loyal. Helpful. Dutiful. Obedient.

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Sukkot and Simchat Torah: the Basics

Posted on October 9th, 2017
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


Simchat Torah begins at sundown on Thursday, October 12

Sukkot is the third and final festival that commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The escape of Israel from Egypt is remembered at Passover, entering into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai is recalled at Shavuot, and sleeping in a temporary hut or booth ("sukkah" in Hebrew) while wandering in the wilderness is memorialized in the holiday of Sukkot. "Sukkot" is the plural form of sukkah.

Simchat Torah is the last of the fall holidays, arriving at the end of Sukkot. During Simchat Torah we can be filled with joy and love for God, for the Torah and for the Jewish community. The name of this holiday means "Joy of the Torah," and it marks the completion of the year-long cycle of weekly Torah readings (parshiot).

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For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, visit our Sukkot & Simchat Torah Guide.


Adventures of a Rabbi Who Knows Koran

Posted on October 2nd, 2017

A Conversation with Rabbi Reuven Firestone

As a scholar of both Judaism and Islam, Professor Reuven Firestone, who teaches at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has become a Jewish ambassador of sorts at scholarly conferences in Egypt, Qatar, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the Muslim world. I caught up with him as he prepared for a trip to Cairo. As the only person wearing a kippah (yarmulke) at religious conferences in Muslim countries, you must have had some extraordinary experiences.

I was attending a lecture given by a Saudi cleric in Islamabad, Pakistan, when a guy with a long beard right out of the Taliban playbook leaned over and asked me if I was Jewish. I said, “yes,” and he followed up by asking me if I studied Talmud. I said, “yes,” and he excitedly told me about his friend who teaches Talmud. “You need to meet him,” he insisted. “He’s amazing, and he doesn’t live far from the hotel. Why don’t we get into a taxi and you can meet him?”

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