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A Tumultuous 5773
Change, as the traditional wisdom would have it, is the only real certainty in life. And yet, while the Jewish community worldwide has been no stranger to change for centuries, the pace of developments this past year has been dizzying.
Here at home, transitions have occurred at all levels of Jewish communal life, with leaders departing from major institutions and local organizations merging, expanding or shrinking.
And while Israel and its neighbors have been plagued by the threat of a nuclear Iran for years, the increased turmoil and bloodshed in surrounding Syria, Lebanon and Egypt have intensified security threats to the Jewish state.
At this time of reassessment, we offer our readers the opportunity to reflect on some of the momentous events that shaped our world over the past year.
On the local scene, we saw a shake-up of leadership at several prominent organizations over the last year.
Ira Schwartz left the top post at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in May and a search committee is working to come up with the next CEO.
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkranz announced he would leave his post as president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote and Rabbi Shmuel Jablon said that he will be stepping down as principal of Torah Academy in Wynnewood next year. In addition, Rabbi Mark Robbins left the top spot at the American Jewish Committee, and was replaced by Marcia Bronstein; and Barry Morrison announced he would be retiring after 35 years of service at the Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia office.
On the educational front, a new Jewish middle school opens next week in Bryn Mawr, the Robert Saligman Middle School of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, culminating a long, sometimes controversial process of combining Barrack’s middle school with the middle school of the Perelman Jewish Day School in Melrose Park.
The political landscape was altered with the death of longtime Sen. Arlen Specter and the decision by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz to run for governor of Pennsylvania.
The year saw devastating natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy and human disasters, like the Boston Marathon bombing, in which a local rabbi participated.
But there were many triumphs among the controversies and destruction, including the strong showing by local athletes at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel and the JCC Maccabi Games for teens. And, last but not least, the Exponent celebrated its 125th anniversary with the launch of its award-winning website, jewishexponent.com.
For images of these events and more, see the accompanying photo gallery.
To read about the global events shaking our world, click here.
And tell us with your comments what you think were the big stories of the past Jewish year.