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Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Updated announcement:
2023 Denny & Jerry Davidoff Semon Award:

Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness (UUJA) is seeking entries for the seventh Denny & Jerry Davidoff Sermon Award. One prize of $500 will be awarded for a sermon preached in January 2020- April 2023.

Entrants can be UU ministerial aspirants, candidates and ordained ministers, other UU religious professionals (Religious Education Professionals, Music Directors, etc) and lay members of congregations.

Inspired by recent events in the US, this year's UUJA annual sermon award theme is:

The Oldest Hate

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that in 2021 incidents of Anti-Semitic violence, harassment, and vandalism was at an all-time high, with 2,717 incidents reported. This is an average increase of seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase of incidents year over year since the ADL began tracking these incidents in 1979. What can UUism do as a movement to address this issue within and outside of our association?

The award is named in honor of the late Denny & Jerry Davidoff, early members of this group, who were instrumental in helping lift up the often overlooked Jewish presence in our religious movement. UUJA offers resources to those interested in Jewish issues, celebrations and heritage, either personally or on behalf of congregations.

Sermons will need to have been delivered between January 2020- April 2023

Entries should be submitted via e-mail in Word or RTF document formats.

Please send all submissions to UUJA President Arthur Thexton at

The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2023

Winner will be announced concurrent with the 2023 UU General Assembly, Honorable Mentions will be awarded as appropriate at that time.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
In our Shabbat Service tonight we heard this song, whose genre is Jewgrass music.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
From Nefesh Mountain's "Live From Levon Helm Studios: A Hanukkah Holiday Concert" A note From the band:"This is our take on the great Woody Guthrie Holiday c...
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Join us now... you can click to register below and join in our Shabbat Service with Pastor Joshua Berg.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Shabbat Shalom! Join UUs for Jewish Awareness NEXT Friday, December 16th at 8PM Eastern and 5PM Pacific on ZOOM for a Shabbat Service to celebrate Hanukkah together. Zoom Link below. Featuring a homily by Pastor Joshua Berg, a chaplain resident at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and a Jewish Humanist Unitarian Universalist. You can read more about Joshua at his website:

Zoom link to register for the Hanukkah Shabbat:
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
This month’s Mussar Study Group is this Sunday, December 11th at 4 pm EDT / 3 pm CDT / 1 pm PDT.

Here’s the link to this session:

Our December discussion will be about the soul trait, Silence.
In preparation, you are invited to:
1. Read Chapter 14 in The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions by Greg Marcus
2. For another perspective, you might read Chapter 16 in Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis.
The work around Silence this month includes these practices:
Greg Marcus's mantra for Silence is “Nothing is better than silence.” What has been your mantra, and how have you used this mantra this past month?
Observation: As you go through your day, pay attention to what you do and do not say. What challenges have you observed with silence and why?
Action: What are some of your practices that have helped your soul traits to move toward a healthy balance? For example, create a time of silence or if you are a talker, listen more than you talk.

See you this Sunday,

Marti, Jay, Mitch, Alison & Robin
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Dear UUJA'ers:

The current expression of our Purposes, Principles, and Sources is about to change. We want to be sure you are aware of this, and that there are opportunities to give feedback right now.

A commission appointed by the UUA to review Article 2 of our bylaws, which includes our Principles, Purposes,and Sources, has proposed a wholesale revision of the statement of what we stand for, and our inspirations. That new draft language is available for you to read.

The goal of the commission is a renewed expression of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist today. You will want to review the new statement to see what you notice and appreciate, or you notice and may have alternatives to suggest.

Here are a couple of examples of changes.

In the principles or values section:
Many congregations have adopted the 8th principle and this new draft includes language about our commitments to dismantling racism and other oppressions and building the beloved community.

In the sources or inspirations section:
Rather than describing six sources of our religious tradition and faith, the proposal states we get inspiration from "the full depth and breadth of sacred understandings, as experienced by humanity."

So, please take the time to review and reflect on the changes, to participate in the process, and to give feedback.

The Commission will be listening to feedback as they draft the next version to be sent on to the UUA Board, and ultimately the General Assembly in June.

Here is the draft proposed language of our Principles and Covenant, Article 2:

Here is the current language of our Principles and Purposes, Article 2:

Below you will see links to participate in Zoom feedback sessions this weekend and on Monday, as well as a Google Form for feedback with a deadline of November 28th.

We think it's important for us all to participate.

Your UUJA Board

With this draft completed, two more feedback sessions are being held in November. You'll need to register to attend a session. When you do, you'll receive the draft via email. We look forward to hearing from you as we help chart the future of our faith together.

Zoom Feedback Session Dates:

Sunday, 11/13 at 2 pm Eastern
Monday, 11/14 at 9 pm Eastern
You can also submit your feedback on the draft via this online Google form by November 28. After this new round of feedback the commission will put together its proposal in early 2023 to send to the board. The proposal will be considered in mini-assemblies before the vote at General Assembly 2023.

Book Review – “Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree”

Teaching without Terrifying: Younger Children and the Holocaust

By Rev.Marti Keller

Memoirist Deborah Feldman, who walked away from her Hasidic upbringing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as a young adult, has been on an exodus to discover who she is as a Jewish person now that she has rejected her ultra-Orthodox roots. Part of her journey was a trip through Europe retracing her grandmother’s life during the Holocaust, including time in a concentration camp.

At the Holocaust museum in Berlin, she wandered into one room where there was an explanation of death camps: what they were, how they were run. While she was there, she saw a little boy of around seven in an audio booth with headphones listening to an explanation of how millions of Jews were transported to and processed for their deaths in the Auschwitz gas chambers during World War 11.

In her book Exodus, she wrote, “You shouldn’t be here I wanted to say. You are too young.” Upon further reflection, she observed that there really was such a thing as a small child who needed to be educated about those death camps in order to grow up to be a decent human being.

For a non-Jewish German child, this was the expressed reason for such early and explicit teaching on ethnic hatred and its too often horrifying consequences

For contemporary Jewish parents and their children, as Tablet magazine religion columnist Marjorie Ingall wrote in a column on Holocaust books,  seemingly disregarding what happened 75 years ago ( and for centuries before) because we wish them to be carefree and happy is simply an impossibility.

Really? She asks. We are Jews with a history that hasn’t been carefree and happy. Our children need to know the darker side of what it has meant to be Jewish for so many years in so many places. If we don’t do the educating about anti-Semitism and about genocide, she reminds us, as it is with sex Ed, someone else will do it for us. Certainly by the time our child is eight years old, we should be doing so in a way that is not too graphic, too terrifying to both caregiver and child.

I don’t recall an intentional conversation with any of my own kids when they were elementary school age, or   knowing about any in their public schools or religious education classes: even while having experienced a petrifying incident as a 10 year old myself. I was thrown against a chain link fence by two female classmates and accused of killing Christ.

It is not a matter of us wanting to forget the Holocaust and the virulent loathing of the Jewish people that undergirded it. Those of us who are self-identified Jewish Unitarian Universalists are more than likely to be aligned with the 73 percent of American Jews who ,when surveyed by the Pew Research Center a couple of years back, said that remembering the Holocaust is essential to their sense of Jewishness. We need appropriate materials, as do all parents, that begin to tell the distressing but very real stories of discrimination and annihilation, to teach our kids about our history, as Marjorie Ingall proposes, without scarring them for life.

In light of the recent horrendous, hate triggered , murderous events in Pakistan, Paris and Nigeria, it is both terribly unfortunate and also fortuitous that our own UU Skinner House press has just published  Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree , a  children’s  book written by well- known Jewish author Sandy Sasso, with enticing illustrations by Erika Steisal. Some of the story of the girl, whose diary was key in exposing the evils of the Holocaust to millions of Jews and non-Jews around the world, is told using a clever and effective narrative device. The now famous horse chestnut tree that Anne could see from the attic of her family’s hiding place from the Nazis describes her life before she was taken away to a camp. What happened there, her death from typhus and the obliteration of all of the others who had hidden in that Secret Annex in Amsterdam is not shared. But the humanness of Anne and her sister Margot in particular, the injustice of their treatment, and the trajectory of hatred are vividly conveyed.

As the parent of three grown children now (and a former UU religious education teacher), I wish this book had been available when my school age children were beginning to be aware of the Holocaust and other genocides. This is a book to be read with our children, or by our children, and certainly in group settings where the story of Anne and her family, and of the chestnut tree whose saplings are now planted  in so many places in remembrance and in hope is unfortunately too much needed today.

Rev. Marti Keller is a lifelong, self-identified Jewnitarian, was co-editor of Jewish Voices  in Unitarian Universalism and past president of UUJA

Rev. Marti Keller


Interview with Rabbi Marcia Falk

A piece worth sharing from Lilith Magazine.


A Testimonial

Dana Snyder-Grant has given the UUJA permission to share the following testimonial given March 2014 at First Parish in Concord (MA).


Hello.  My  name is Dana Snyder-Grant.

First Parish has become very precious to me over the last 10 years, and so even though this is scary, I’ve decided to stand up here and talk about four things: being Jewish, being disabled, how Pastoral Care has become a calling, and why First Parish has become a home for me.

I was raised Jewish, and coming to a place many call a church was very scary. First, I felt I was betraying the millions who died because they were Jewish.  I figured that joining a place with deep Christian roots meant I had to leave Judaism behind, or risk rejection.

But that hasn’t been so. First, I can be Jewish and Unitarian Universalist, or, as some call it, Junitarian.  No one here has asked me to give up what it is I value about my upbringing. A few weeks after I started coming here, Margaret Stewart asked me to sing the Chanukah blessings at a service. I love sharing those beautiful melodies.  Soon after, I started the Jewish Awareness affinity group that’s still going on. It’s helped me sort through what Judaism means to me, what I like about it, and what I want to leave behind. And I keep finding this overlap between Judaism and Unitarian Universalism: the natural empathy for the marginalized and downtrodden, the notion that doing what’s right is more important than what you happen to believe, that behind all our diversity, we are one.

I’ve had MS, multiple sclerosis, for more than 30 years. That’s why I look a bit drunk when I walk. Meeting new people is scary because some people like to fit me into a box they have for ‘disabled people’. In all my dealings with First Parish members and staff, you have been welcoming, supportive, and seen me as a person first. (Pause)

Because of my journey with MS, a big part of my social work career has been with people with illness and disability.  After I was invited to talk to the lay ministers about that work, I knew I wanted to be part of their warm, caring circle.  Compared to the counseling I was used to,  pastoral care was more about simply being present with people, using my heart and soul, more than my head.  I know how hard it is to ask for, and accept, help in this culture.  But I’ve learned here that it is a blessing to give and to receive.  Two years ago, I added pastoral singing to my activities, by joining the By Your Side singers, our pastoral care choir.

That’s the most important thing I’m doing in my life.

First  Parish has let me become more myself, by helping me find new ways to express my care, and new confidence that I’m fine just the way I am. I want that miracle to happen for others, and so Jim and I give what we can, with our time and money, and are proud to be members of First Parish.

The Garden of Time – Now Available at the UUA Bookstore

The Garden of TimeThe Garden of Time

By: Jill Hammer Illustrator: Zoë Cohen

Published by Skinner House Books 4/17/14



In this story based on ancient Jewish legend, Adam and Eve walk through the Garden of Eden, noticing what is happening around them and deciding what holidays they will celebrate based on what they see, smell, hear, and taste. Gorgeous text and art illuminate Judaism, the calendar, and the environment for both children and adults.

Includes guides to the Jewish holidays and ancient iconography.

With beautiful images and words, The Garden of Time offers a magical path through the seasons and allows the sacred breath of life to blow through all our souls. Take a walk in the garden; be refreshed and renewed.
—Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, author, The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other

As Adam and Eve discover seasons in the Garden of Time, readers become aware of the universal spirituality and meaning for living within each Jewish holiday. Zoe Cohen’s beautiful paintings, which echo ancient Near Eastern art, invite readers into an ancient paradise that is both magical and deeply rooted in the earth. Rabbi Jill Hammer is a world-class storyteller, helping children and adults to connect their experiences in nature to festivals like Hanukkah and Passover. A wonderful teaching aid, intergenerational and multifaith discussion starter, and perfect holiday gift.
—Rabbi Goldie Milgram, co-editor, Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning

The Garden of Time reveals the cycle and meaning of time, the seasons, and the Jewish holidays in many-splendored ways. Jill Hammer’s poetic, midrashic writing led me to see the passage of time in technicolor and with all my senses and to experience it with a renewed vision and a bountiful appreciation. I enthusiastically recommend this transcendent book as an intergenerational shared story!
—-Peninnah Schram, author, The Apple Tree’s Discovery

Gracefully written and beautifully illustrated, The Garden of Time roots each holiday in its season, in the cycle of nature. In our urban, speeded up, digital lives, nature is often little more than an amusement or an obstacle, and we can forget how integral the seasons are to our cycle of holidays. Jill Hammer’s lilting text and Zoe Cohen’s surprising drawings remind us that the cycle of our holidays is rooted in the cycle of nature. I look forward to reading this book with children in my family and community.
—Arthur Strimling, Maggid HaMakom, Congregation Kolot Chayeinu, Brooklyn, NY