Jewish Soul Food with Yiscah

256The new podcasting series, Jewish Soul Food with Yiscah, “provides spiritual food and nourishment to the soul – where we may encounter the Divine Presence within and perhaps hear the soul’s unique “still small voice” – through the sharing and reflecting on various insights and teachings on the inner dimension of the Torah – gently leading and guiding each of us on the sweet path of authentic living,” explains creator and CY faculty member Yiscah Smith.

Yiscah Smith is a spiritual activist, Jewish educator and spiritual mentor. She recently published her memoir, “Forty Years in the Wilderness: My Journey to Authentic Living.” Yiscah’s life has been an inspiring and courageous journey of the joys and struggles with her own spirituality, gender identity and commitment to living a life of truth, wholeness and authenticity.

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The Power of Intentional Judaism at the Conservative Yeshiva

CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism
March 29, 2015
By Deborah Pollack

I believe the work being done at the CY is one of the true successes of Conservative Judaism. I found the Yeshiva to be a magical Jewish learning utopia made from Jerusalem stone. 

deborah-pollack-220x300I believe I came out of the womb a Jewish feminist. I have always seen Judaism and gender as beautiful complements, an ideology which has inspired me to wear tefillin at Camp Ramah and to ask my middle school classmates to call me Rabbi Deb. Over this winter break, on a special program called Ta’amu U’ru (Taste and See), I discovered that there is no better place than the Conservative Yeshiva where this belief of Judaism is enacted. The CY, a part of the United Synagogue Fuchsberg Center on Agron Street, is in the heart of Jerusalem. All of the classes offered are taught to an egalitarian audience. All are welcome and encouraged to come and learn ancient and contemporary Jewish texts from a religious and humanistic perspective.

In the morning, I attended a three-hour Talmud class. As someone who attended an Orthodox day school for 13 years, I could already navigate around the daf of Talmud, yet for the first time, I was in a Talmud class taught by a woman. In the afternoon, I took classes on divinity in Rav Kook’s writing, the commandment of moving to Israel, Psalms, Midrash, prayer, and exploring poskim and their opinions on Jews celebrating Thanksgiving. I was able to walk around the Beit Midrash, pick a book of Talmud or Rambam off the shelf, and read. We were constantly surrounded by our Jewish history and Jewish thought. However, what surprised me was how few of my friends from home know about the wonderful opportunities the CY has to offer. For a movement that needs to focus more on textual reading and analysis, I believe the work being done at the CY is one of the true successes of Conservative Judaism. I found the Yeshiva to be a magical Jewish learning utopia made from Jerusalem stone.

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Shemurah Matzah: Guarded from Water and for a Mitzvah – How the Dual Meaning Developed

March 26, 2015
By Dr. Joshua Kulp

Abstract: Shemurah matzah, “guarded matzah,” has two meanings:

  1. Matzah guarded so that it not become chametz.
  2. Matzah made with the express intent that it be used to fulfill the mitzvah.

This latter idea, however, does not appear in any of the early (Tannaitic or Amoraic) layers of the Talmud, but only in the editorial (Stammaitic) layer. This article demonstrates how this notion entered rabbinic literature.[1]

Introduction: Shmurah Matzah Today

Shemurah Matzah (guarded matzah) is a major industry nowadays. Some people use it for matzah on the seder night, others use it exclusively throughout the holiday. Some companies sell matzah guarded from the time of harvest (קצירה) others from the time of grinding (טחינה), and yet others from the time of kneading (לישה).

Though the cost for such guarding is high, many people who use such matzah are not especially clear what the matzah is being guarded from. This is not surprising; halakhah itself is unclear on this point.

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Releasing Your Inner Prayer

The Chicago Jewish News
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
February 10, 2015

aldenAlden Solovy was a successful writer and editor and a devoted Jew, but he had never written prayers before something impelled him to start one day in 2009.

He isn’t quite sure what that something was.

“I started writing prayers in response to a deep love of Judaism and prayer. For about a month I was just writing these prayers. It was quite beautiful and amazing to me that I was writing liturgy, poetic prayers, meditations, and really could not explain it,” Highland Park native Solovy said in a recent phone interview from Jerusalem, where he has lived since 2012.

A month later, Solovy would need all the prayers he and his family and friends could muster when his wife of 27 years, Ami, suffered a traumatic brain injury. She died the next day. The tragedy would eventually propel Solovy’s life in directions he could not then have imagined.

Today he is one of the Jewish world’s best-known creators of new liturgy. He has published two books, “Jewish Prayers for Hope and Healing” and “Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings.” His work has appeared in a number of anthologies and his prayers are used in institutions across the Jewish world, from the Reform movement’s prayer book to the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem (he is an alum) to Christian prayer services.

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Building Campus Community


Participants in the first annual Masorti on Campus Shabbaton gather for a group photo. They represent a diverse group of campus communities seeking connection.

Baltimore Jewish Times
By Melissa Apter
February 8, 2015

Seeking connection among Conservative and traditional-egalitarian students on college campuses, a dedicated group of students banded together and are in the midst of planning their second annual conference.

When Koach, the Conservative movement’s college outreach program, was shuttered in 2013, a group of concerned students came together to form their own community. Masorti on Campus, which also welcomes students from backgrounds not affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, is the result.

“Masorti on Campus came about as a grassroots effort to show the establishment of the Conservative movement … that even without institutional support, we were still going to carry on,” said Eric Leiderman, one of the co-founders and current sociology major at Binghamton University.

“We’re trying to connect existing communities,” said Leiderman. “There’s a feeling of students being abandoned on campuses. We want them to feel connected.”

To demonstrate that these scattered communities are not alone, Leiderman has an interactive map on that identifies campuses and their Jewish communities.

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Alumni Comments

"The Yeshiva is a wonderful place. It brings in a real diversity of Jews from all ages, backgrounds, walks of life, and places from around the world. The environment is nurturing and safe for all who attend."
Rabbi Howard Morrison
Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue

“I can’t tell you how much I love studying Talmud. Talmud-study in chevruta is an incredible spiritual and mental practice. Plus it’s just fun. I’m so grateful to the Conservative Yeshiva instructors for opening up this amazing text to me.”
Yotam Schachter

“I wanted to spend my time in Israel in a place that would speak to the all the different parts of my soul. CY has done just that. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to study Judaism’s ancient texts with modern Jews of all ages, from all walks of life and from a variety of different countries. We learn from teachers who are not only knowledgeable and patient, but who also have senses of humor. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
Arlene Berger