Your Daily Phil: Bicycling in Jerusalem + Jewish migration in the U.S. – eJewish Philanthropy

Posted By on September 29, 2022

WHEEL CHANGEJerusalems cycling activists face an uphill climb

For secular Israelis, next week offers the opportunity for the best biking holiday of the year: Yom Kippur, when cars in Israel stay off the road and bicycles fill empty highways. But a group of activists is promoting cycling year-round in Jerusalem, where most Jews dont bike on the Day of Atonement and the hilly terrain makes for tough pedaling. After years of advocacy, theyre finally finding success,reports Melanie Lidman foreJewishPhilanthropy.

Pandemic push:For years, the group, called Bicycles for Jerusalem, has been beating on the door of City Hall, begging for meetings with the citys planners and trying to encourage more biking in the city. After public transit use decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the capital slowly started incorporating more bicycle infrastructure. The change comes as the city is undergoing a massive facelift, with several large infrastructure projects, including an expansion of the light rail.

Growing paths:Before 2020, there were 30 miles of bike paths in Jerusalem, according to City Hall. But since then, the city has added 11 miles of paths, an increase of 34%. The Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan has called for 125 miles of bike paths across the citys 48 square miles. That still pales in comparison to Tel Aviv, which has 155 miles of bike paths in a city half the size.

Tunnel vision:The city is also actively promoting bike infrastructure, both for daily use and for fun. On Sept. 9, the city opened a new bicycle-only tunnel through the hills near the western neighborhood of Ein Kerem part of a 26-mile cycling path around the outskirts of the city. The tunnel was originally built in the 1990s to transport wastewater, and was opened only once a year to bikers for a special ride around Jerusalem. After $7 million of improvements, the tunnel is now open to bikers every day of the year. At 1.3 miles, it is the fifth-longest cycling tunnel in the world.

Read the full story here.

Throughout history, Jews have been a people on the move, from the nomadic Abraham and Sarah to Moses wandering in the desert, to the massive relocations of the modern era often spurred by antisemitic violence and poverty. This last contributed significantly to the creation of the two Jewish population mega-centers that exist today: Israel, anintentionally created Jewish state, and the United States, where Jews constitute an accepted and respected minority, writes Michael Weil, former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, inan opinion piece foreJewishPhilanthropy.

U.S. inter-regional migration on the rise:As roughly 90% of all Jews now reside in these two centers, it can be argued that in the 21st century the Jewish people at last achieved a level of demographic stability, that the wandering Jews now wander no more. Yet, a closer look at the demographic trends in one of these centers, the U.S., reveals that within this population concentration, Jewish inter-regional migration rates are on the increase.

The need for national intervention:This level of geographic change poses critical challenges to Jewish continuity, particularly as preliminary research suggests that migration frequently results in reduced Jewish engagement and affiliation. National, strategic intervention, supplemented by detailed local initiatives, could help communities respond effectively to the demographic changes at play in their areas. But for such a plan to be developed and implemented, data on the extent and character of the moving populations needs to be gathered and analyzed.

Read the full piece here.

Since their founding in our country more than three centuries ago, synagogues have served as the mainstays of Jewish life, welcoming and helping generations of Jewish immigrants acculturate and articulate uniquely Jewish and American identities. But for far too long, many Jewish congregations have utilized a model of set dues that members need to pay for access. While most congregations express a value of welcome, set dues can create a financial barrier and shift the focus away from deep communal relationship, write Brian Lifsec, Rebecca Shore and Rabbi Joshua Stanton, of New York Citys East End Temple, inan opinion piece foreJewishPhilanthropy.

Community commitment:Its time to invert the model giving much and empowering and welcoming even more. Our community just became the first Reform congregation in Manhattan to align its fundraising with its values. We now empower our members to give to their hearts content, but without a formal mandate or fixed level. Our voluntary dues (community commitment) membership is poised to transform not only our presence externally, but how we relate internally.

Post-pandemic:East End Temple is blessed to be among the few synagogues and even fewer in major urban areas to emerge larger and more vibrant than we were in March 2020. What became evident during our time physically apart or in varying stages of hybrid togetherness was that lay-led programs engaged the most people in the most soulful ways.

Bottom up:With so much shifting to lay leadership, in intentional collaboration with our clergy, it no longer made sense to use a top-down funding approach of fixed dues. We have trusted our community members with key functions as never before. We can trust them to care for our community financially as well.

Read the full piece here.

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Your Daily Phil: Bicycling in Jerusalem + Jewish migration in the U.S. - eJewish Philanthropy

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