Editor’s Note: Carney delivered a version of these remarks at Toby’s funeral on Sunday, February 4.
You always knew exactly where you stood with our inimitable friend and congregant Toby Stein. My most vivid and lasting memories come from her role as an invaluable if sometimes disquieting truth-teller.
I have lately, with the help of my friend and onetime college roommate Frank Aronson, embarked on yet another of my adventures as a recent Jew–synagogue-hopping on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Last shabbat, we visited the legendary Spanish and Portugese Synagogue on Central Park West, home of Congregation Shearith Israel. Continue reading
Present at Creation, only God can begin
His people must begin again
And again And again
We cannot accept imposed ending
Thrown down, we get up
And do it again Continue reading
A tidy euphemism denotes
Flotsam of ships of state
Left as a tide of blood recedes
The savage Twentieth
A century of refugees
The music had caught me. I swayed in time and began to sing along with the musicians, three elderly black men singing in harmony and playing rhythm and blues. The three had propped themselves and their battered instruments against a bench beside the tracks at a midtown stop on the Lexington Avenue subway in Manhattan. My adolescent daughter looked at me with faint embarrassment; I could hear the unspoken “Oh, Dad!”
I was pretty sure Rachel had never heard Stand By Me. I was entirely sure she had never heard her Dad burst into song in a public place.
Steven M. Cohen’s Report on the Pew Survey at B’Nai Keshet on January 19, 2014
The Pew research report A Portrait of Jewish Americans has been eliciting strong reactions from American Jews of all persuasions since its release last October. Those of us who attended Steven M. Cohen’s talk on January 19 at Synagogue B’nai Keshet in Montclair got both a clear summary of the report’s findings and a cogent argument for changes in Jewish social and religious practices that could help reverse the decline in Jewish identity and observance that the report starkly highlights.
Dr. Cohen, currently Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College, brings a unique perspective to the Pew Report as a both a committed Jew and a practicing sociologist. As a speaker, he comes across as a rare combination of geeky statistician and passionate advocate for change. His dry humor and his knack for drawing surprising observations from the dry data lightened what for many American Jews has become an uncomfortable topic.