News Briefs, the Week of June 1, 2017


Shaare Shamayim, Ner Zedek Plan Unification Service on June 4

Conservative synagogues Congregations of Shaare Shamayim and Congregations of Ner Zedek will formally merge June 4 with a “wedding” ceremony planned at 10 a.m. The new synagogue will retain the former’s name.

Ner Zedek, which is located in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood, voted in December to merge with Shaare Shamayim in Bustleton.

Both synagogues are the products of prior mergers.

Shaare Shamayim was founded 1962 as the Greater Northeast Jewish Congregation, and merged with the original Congregation of Shaare Shamayim in 1966. It has since merged with numerous other synagogues.

Congregations of Ner Zedek also is the result of a Northeast Philadelphia synagogue merger. In 2008, what was then known as Ner Zedek-Ezrath Israel-Beth Uziel opened its doors to the former congregants of Adath Zion, which closed due to waning attendance.

Leach Mulls Run for Meehan’s Seat

Democratic State Sen. Daylin Leach is pondering a 2018 challenge of Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, according to

Leach has been outspoken in his disdain for President Donald Trump.

“As the Trump administration has become more aggressive in attacking everything that America is supposed to stand for, and has descended into what can only be described as a bizarre miasma of absurdity (I like to think of myself as having a way with words), I began to feel that our democracy was literally at stake,” Leach wrote to

If Leach joins the race — he said he would decide in early June — he joins a crowded field that includes fellow Jew Dan Muroff, a Philadelphia ward leader.

Day School in Cherry Hill raises $465,000 in 24 Hours

Politz Day School of Cherry Hill, N.J., raised $465,000 on May 16 and 17 during its first online fundraising campaign, dubbed “Reach Every Child.”

Politz used the crowdfunding platform Charidy to raise the money — well above the initial $400,000 goal. The money will be used to support the school’s annual operating expenses, including security, technology implantation and tuition assistance.

The Modern Orthodox school, which was founded in 1968, said all gifts were quadrupled by three groups of matching donors.

Penn Rabbi Wins Hillel Award

Rabbi Mike Uram, executive director and campus rabbi at Hillel of the University of Pennsylvania, will be honored June 5 at Hillel International’s annual gala in New York City.

The gala celebrates Jewish life on college campuses while raising money to support Hillel’s outreach to Jewish university students. The institution boasts 550 chapters at universities across North America, with another 56 abroad.

Uram will receive Hillel’s Edgar M. Bronfman Award, established in 2014 to reward a “Hillel professional who has served the movement with distinction and honor,” according to

Bronfman, who died in 2013, revitalized Hillel in the face of declining membership in the early 1990s. The award commemorates his legacy as a Jewish leader, including his storied tenure as president of the World Jewish Congress from 1981 to 2007.

Hillel will honor Uram with the Bronfman Award because of his continued advocacy of Judaism among young adults, a critical demographic as an increasing number of adults drift from their Jewish roots, according to a 2013 Pew Research study.

Uram won the National Jewish Book Award in 2016 for his seminal research on young Jewish outreach, titled Next Generation Judaism: How College Students and Hillel Can Help Reinvent Jewish Organizations.

At Penn, where he has worked since 2005, Uram helped revive the Jewish Renaissance Project. The initiative engages students that do not regularly participate in Hillel though programs like spring break service trips and outings for Jewish Greek life members.


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