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JTA – When Pope Francis crossed the Tiber River to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome on Jan. 17, he became the third pontiff to do so. But his 1.5-mile journey to the towering Tempio Maggiore showed that what was once unthinkable is now the norm.

“According to the juridical rabbinic traditions, an act repeated three times becomes ‘chazaka,’ a habit,” Rome Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni told the pontiff. “Clearly this is a concrete sign of the new era after all that happened in the past.”

NEW YORK (JTA) – Five North American Jewish day school organizations and networks representing more than 375 schools from across the denominational spectrum are merging.

The Jewish Community Day School Network (RAVSAK), the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), Yeshiva University School Partnership, the Schechter Day School Network and Day Schools of Reform Judaism (PARDES) announced in a news release Jan. 19 that they have agreed to “move forward toward the formation of a new, integrated North American Jewish day school organization.”

The bulletin board by the front office. /PHDSThe bulletin board by the front office. /PHDSOn Jan. 11, Providence Hebrew Day School launched a program to help students visualize the importance of interpersonal mitzvot. It will continue until Purim. The idea behind the program is that we all have imaginary buckets above our heads that get filled when we are nice to each other and when others are nice to us. When we harm someone or another person mistreats us, the buckets empty. The goal is to help students learn to fill their own buckets and those of others.

 

Jeffrey Savit with Adam Greenman in Israel. /Adam GreenmanJeffrey Savit with Adam Greenman in Israel. /Adam GreenmanAs a person who identifies as Jewish, but who lives a rather secular life, I was surprised by my excitement at being asked to join the Jewish Alliance mission to Israel in November. While I was taught at a young age the importance of Israel and my Jewish heritage by my parents, grandparents and at Hebrew school, I also have the distinct memory of my mother pouring the dairy silverware into the meat silverware after my grandparents passed away. Since my Bar Mitzvah, my attendance at synagogue can best be described as occasional, usually for a Bar Mitzvah or wedding. Nonetheless, I found myself with a sense of pride and gratitude at being offered this opportunity to see the Holy Land.

 

Congregation Beth Sholom celebrates another year of meaningful religious experiences, community programming and participation in the broader local and Jewish community with its Annual Gala Feb. 21 at 4 p.m.