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Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Is There More Antisemitic Activity than Ever?

Time: May 14, 2020 02:30 PM ET/11.30 AM PT

On Tuesday, ADL released the results of its 40th annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in America.

Poway, Jersey City and Monsey topped the list of deadly incidents in 2019 and other forms of hate against Jews like harassment, assaults and antisemitic graffiti were reported in nearly every state, and affected people of every age, from K-12 students to older adults.

Join ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and our Center on Extremism team for this conversation about the results, and ways you can take action to fight antisemitism.

We will also discuss the environment for antisemitism in 2020, a year of heightened uncertainty due to the coronavirus and the economic disruption that has resulted from it.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
From our friends at JewBelong:
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) and like so many things these days, it’s hard to know what to do. Fortunately, small acts make a difference. Please start by lighting a virtual candle. It’s easy and a lot more meaningful than it might sound. Go to and click the yellow button that says “light a memorial candle.” Illuminate the Past will immediately give you the name and any known facts about someone who was murdered in the Holocaust. Most victims have no one left to remember them, so it becomes our honor and responsibility to do it. We just clicked and received the name Miriam Riba. Miriam was born in Warsaw, Poland and killed in the Holocaust. There is no record of how old she was when she died. But Miriam had a life and deserves to be remembered. Thank you to Illuminate the Past for making it easy for all of us to do this mitzvah of remembering. A little light goes a long way. Please stay healthy.

Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
From Rev. Debra Haffner the following:
"Dayenu for Passover in the Time of Covid".
· If we are blessed with food from our grocery stores or delivery, and by the people who stock them, sell them, deliver them– Dayenu.
· If we are blessed with doctors, nurses, hospital clerks, EMT’s and hospitals adequately supplied with ventilators and personal protective gear– Dayenu.
· If we are blessed with scientists, epidemiologists, public health care workers, and Dr. Fauci – Dayenu.
· If we are blessed to have supplies – toilet paper, tooth paste, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, plastic gloves, masks, and chocolate– Dayenu.
· If we are blessed by wise public officials, from the local health departments to the governors to the Congress and the White House – Dayenu.
· If we are blessed by testing, and treatments, and a vaccine to save the world from this virus – Dayenu.
Dayenu. We hope, we pray that it will be enough.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Dear ones, my heart continues to grieve for the Jewish community in Monsey, New York as they grieve and tend to one another. I pray for the wider Jewish community in New York and around the country. This attack was the 13th incident of anti-Semitism in New York in the past three weeks. I am thinking of my Jewish siblings within Unitarian Universalism tonight and our congregations that have experienced acts of violence and acts of vandalism, including anti-Semitic vandalism. The rise in anti-Semitism is real and deadly. Across this country, the rise in hate crimes, against Jews, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, trans people, LGBTQIA+ people - it calls us to do more to resist fear and hate - to speak up in the midst of growing racism, xenophobia and white nationalism. All of these forms of hate foster violence and create fear. As people of goodwill, as people of faith, as Unitarian Universalists, may we remember our calling to nurture the values and practices of compassion and interdependence. May we speak and act and live in ways that foster more compassion, solidarity, and a powerful form of love that “casts out fear” so we might better protect and care for one another, for everyone, for the wholeness of our humanity.

May we remember, even as we acknowledge our capacity as human beings for violence, that there is so much more that is possible for humanity - so much more care and goodness and generosity. When we choose love we nurture that possibility. May we find the resiliency and faith in times of tragedy and violence, to continue to kindle what is life-giving.

And may we all hold each other and our loved ones more closely these days, and be tender with our selves - making room for our grief and for our love.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
The Board of Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness extends our caring and support to the UU Church of Augusta Georgia following the recent vandalism of their building. We recognize that the anti-Semitic symbols may have been especially disturbing to UUs of Jewish heritage, as well as members of the Jewish community at large.

Virtual Gathering: UUJA – Space for Grief and Healing:
The UUJA recognizes that this incident of vandalism may be a particularly painful reminder to Unitarian Universalists with Jewish identity across our Association. We will host a virtual gathering for people in our faith with Jewish identity who are looking for a space for grief and healing around the rise of anti-Semitic acts on Tuesday, November 26th from 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern on Zoom.

You can join us at the following link:

Topic: UUJA - Space for Grief and Healing
Time: Nov 26, 2019 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 333 484 250

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Many UUs have a connection to Judaism. Whether we are ethnically, culturally or spiritually Jewish, whether we are married to a Jewish person, or simply inspired by Jewish wisdom, we have long had a place in Unitarian Universalism. One of the six sources of our living tradition we draw upon in our worship and religious education is "Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves."

Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness is committed to supporting Unitarian Universalist Jewish multi-religiosity.

We offer resources to:
• those who have come to Unitarian Universalism from Judaism
• interfaith/multi-religious individuals and families
• religious professionals
• anyone with a personal or spiritual interest in Jewish UU theology, stories, heritage and resources.

We work to help people understand Judaism and the ways it has impacted and continues to develop our Unitarian Universalist faith.

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