Ohio has a new Subway!

Yes, Ohio has a new subway and I’m not talking about public transportation! Apparently some Jews in Cleveland have accomplished one of my own personal dreams by establishing a Kosher Subway restaurant in the U.S.

I’ll be moving to Columbus on Friday to begin my new position as rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim, and I’m sure I’ll visit Cleveland a few times during the year, if for no other reason than to have a little Kosher subway.

Kosher Subway RestaurantHere is an excerpt from the article that appeared in the Cleveland Jewish News:

‘Subway guy’ helps open kosher Subway@theJ

By Alan Smason, Staff Reporter

Thanks to a strict diet of health-conscious Subway sandwiches, Jared Fogle may be less than 50% his former size, but he is still 100% Jewish and delighted to be associated with the first North American kosher Subway, recently opened at the JCC.

“I think it’s great,” says the 28-year-old Fogle, in talking about the Subway’s new location and its foray into kosher. “I’m very proud of it, and hopefully, it will be the first of many to come.”

Although he doesn’t heavily promote his Jewish background, Fogle still feels a connection to Judaism. “I grew up in Indianapolis, and the JCC was a big part of my life,” he boasts. “I spent many summers at the JCC, so to have a Subway at the JCC means a lot to me.”

Known to millions today as “the Subway guy,” Fogle became an overnight celebrity after filming his first TV commercial for Subway in January 2000. In it, he admitted to shedding 245 pounds in one year by adhering to a low-fat diet of no breakfast, two Subway sandwiches a day and diet soda or water. Fogle also added exercise – mostly walking – to round out his regimen.

“It just clicked,” Fogle said as he described his dieting experience. “I lived next door to a Subway on campus, and I basically asked ‘What if …?'” [more]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Jewish Summer Camping

A lot of summer camps begin today so I thought it would be nice to blog about Jewish summer camps. There is a great radio program available for download here from the University of Michigan Frankel Center‘s website. My friend Jonah Geller, executive director of Tamarack Camps and the Fresh Air Society, is featured on this program. Deborah Dash Moore, the director of the Frankel Center, is also interviewed on the program along with Riv-Ellen Prell and Albert Vorspan. I attended a lecture given by Prof. Prell this past winter at University of Michigan with Michael Wolf, director of Camp Ramah in Canada. Prof. Prell explained how Jewish summer camping is such an important way to get Jewish children to think more seriously about their Jewish identity. Well, no surprise there, but it is critical that more people hear that.

The Foundation for Jewish Camping, headed by Jerry Silverman and founded by Elise and Rob Bildner of New Jersey, is really advancing Jewish summer camping and is to be commended for their work. Should the Jewish community put more emphasis on Jewish camping for the sake of our future as a people? I know the answer is Yes!

Here is a sermon I delivered at Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey in 2003. I updated the sermon and delivered it at Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor last summer after returning from Camp Ramah in Canada where I served as Rabbi-in-Residence for a session.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

John Paintsil and his Israeli Pride

Rabbi Jason Miller BlogI was thrilled to hear about Ghana’s soccer star John Paintsil, who also plays for the Hapoel Tel Aviv team, and how he waved the Israeli flag after scoring a goal during a recent World Cup soccer match. The Forward covered the story in this week’s edition, however, according to a Yahoo! News report earlier in the week Paintsil’s Israeli pride seemed to irk the Egyptians just a bit. Hapoel Tel Aviv issued a statement expressing pride in its player, and a Jerusalem Post writer declared, “At last we have an ambassador for Israel who doesn’t care about politics.”

Rabbi Jason Miller BlogUnfortunately, two days after the flag waving, Ghana’s team spokesman apologized, calling Paintsil’s act “naive.” He insisted that Paintsil didn’t “act out of malice for the Arab people or in support of Israel.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Torah on Tap and the Hillel Rabbinate Requirement

I was drawn to a recent article that appeared in the St. Louis News about a young rabbi doing Torah on Tap. Of course, Torah on Tap, is nothing new. It started over a decade ago after two priests created “Theology on Tap”. I had much success doing “Torah on Tap” programs at Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey. I was even featured in a New Jersey Monthly magazine article about Torah on Tap. I brought the Torah on Tap idea to University of Michigan Hillel (for grad students only of course) and I plan to bring it to my new congregation, Agudas Achim in Columbus, Ohio next month.

What caught my attention in this article, however, was the following sentence: “The former Hillel rabbi is quick to note that he applied what he learned as a Hillel rabbi to his current post and voila!” Yes! I too will be applying what I have learned at Michigan Hillel to my congregation. Every pulpit rabbi should be required to spend a couple years on the staff of a Hillel before entering the congregational rabbinate.

Rabbi Rabbi Hyim Shafner of Bais Abraham loves his job, especially when he can be creative and engage people who are young at heart. The former Hillel rabbi is quick to note that he applied what he learned as a Hillel rabbi to his current post and voila! Torah on Tap was born a year ago.

Rabbi Shafner describes this as a clever way to combine learning with pleasure… and proximity. Every other week on a Monday evening, he and his 10-12 mostly young adult students study at the St. Louis Room at Blueberry Hill. (Blueberry Hill is down the street from Bais Abe.) The regimen begins by ordering a pitcher of beer. Then heads bend down and Torah study begins. [more…]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

On the President of Israel’s snub of the Reform Chief Rabbi

A cover story was published in the Detroit Jewish News back in September 2005 titled “What’s in a Name” that focused on what rabbis choose to be called. It focused on a good number of rabbis in Michigan who don’t mind being called “Rabbi FirstName” (myself, Rabbi Jason, included). One argument made in the article was that the title of rabbi is an important one and connotes respect (honorific) as well as providing the rabbi with necessary referential power. Last week, Israel’s President Moshe Katzav insulted the President of the Union of Reform Judaism Rabbi Eric Yoffie by refusing to refer to him with the title “Rabbi.” In fact, Katzav refused to extend this courtesy to any Reform rabbi. Not the best political move on Katzav’s part. In today’s edition of Ha’aretz, columnist Shmuel Rosner wrote a very intelligent piece on Katzav’s mistake:

From who is a Jew to who is a rabbi

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is in Israel now and since he doesn’t carry a cell phone I couldn’t get hold of him. I told his assistant he should be ostracized for such a habit. I intend, however, to keep calling him “rabbi” as I couldn’t find a good way to turn the cellular inconvenience into a relevant excuse for omitting his title.

Yoffie is the President of the Union for Reform Judaism. You might not think it’s the greatest branch of Judaism. You might not think he is an important scholar. You might not think he can be your spiritual leader. You might not think he can decide halachic (Jewish law) questions. Nevertheless, he is the President of this organization, representing some 1.5 million North American Jews who view him as a rabbi. And you better learn to live with it since it is not going to change.

Moshe Katzav is also a president, representing an even bigger organization, the State of Israel. You might not think he is the right man at the right place. You might not think he can be your political leader. You might not think his office is the most relevant or necessary of them all. Nevertheless, he is the president of this state, representing some seven million Israelis who view him as the president. And those who didn’t like the choice had to learn to live with it, as it was not going to change.

There’s a bond between these two organizations. The Reform movement wants the best for Israel, supports it, and prays for its well being. You can take an issue with them for not doing enough to strengthen ties with the Jewish state, but you can’t say they aren’t trying. You can’t say Yoffie is not trying. Israel is as important to him as anything. And he deserves some credit for it and some respect too. He could have chosen differently.

One can argue that the Reform movement needs Israel as every Jew does. It is a proven fact that Jewish identity is much stronger when a connection to Israel is established. But Israel also needs the support of the Reform movement. It is one of the most reliable sources of political support for Israel in America, and we all know how vital this could be.

Now, the president of Israel has a problem with the Reform movement. He is more of a traditional kind of Jew, and there’s nothing wrong with it. What is more problematic is his decision not to address Rabbi Yoffie (or any other Reform rabbi) as “rabbi.” My friend and colleague Shahar Ilan reported Thursday that Yoffie decided not to attend a reception at the President’s Residence because of this.

Katzav’s office didn’t deny the report, and for good reason. In a television interview Katsav granted to Channel 1 on Rosh Hashanah Eve, he explained that he was brought up to address as “rabbi” only those ordained in accordance with the lifestyle he maintains and that the president is not obligated to recognize Reform rabbis until the State of Israel does so. What a lame excuse. What – as the ADL’s Abe Foxman politely called it – an “ill advised” decision. [more…]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller


Shalom TV, a new digital cable television network celebrating Jewish culture, has signed a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) carriage agreement with Comcast, the country’s leading provider of cable, entertainment, and communications products and services. Comcast will make Shalom TV available on its southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware cable systems on August 30.

“We are thrilled to have reached an agreement with Comcast that successfully addresses the stunning void in Jewish programming on American television,” said Shalom TV President and CEO Rabbi Mark S. Golub. “Comcast is the signature cable company in nine of the top eleven Jewish markets in America, and the upcoming launch in Philadelphia and Northern Delaware has helped establish the nation’s first Jewish television network.”

Shalom TV is a mainstream Jewish cultural channel featuring relevant and entertaining programming for every Jewish home. Programs include English-language news from Israel; Jewish movies and Israeli films; roundtable discussions and lectures featuring brilliant Jewish minds on critical and contemporary issues; coverage of major Jewish events, presentations, and performances; original and animated children’s shows introducing young people to Jewish culture and traditions; Jewish learning (from “Judaism 101” to a Daf Yomi study of Talmud); Jewish cooking, travel programs, and celebrity interviews; historical documentaries and features honoring the Six Million; Hebrew lessons; and other productions highlighting wonderful, vibrant, and exciting facets of Jewish life.

Shalom TV is the work of a veteran team of Jewish and television professionals committed to Jewish life, the Jewish tradition, and the State of Israel. Network CEO Rabbi Mark S. Golub has been involved in Jewish media for nearly forty years and was responsible for creating the first Russian-language channel for Jews immigrating to America from the former Soviet Union.

“Shalom TV is meant for anyone interested in keeping abreast of Jewish issues, understanding more about Israel, and exploring the richness of Jewish tradition,” added Rabbi Golub. “We like to say that the world has been waiting some 5,700 years for Jewish television, and we now look forward to celebrating the beauty of Jewish culture with the entire Jewish community and members of other faiths who share in the search for knowledge and understanding.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Keeping me in your prayers

I will be lecturing this afternoon to health care professionals at the University of Michigan Hospital on the efficacy of prayer for those in need of healing. This is an especially relevant topic following the Chicago Tribune’s March 31st article explaining that researchers from Harvard Medical School and five other U.S. medical centers found “that coronary bypass patients who knew strangers were praying for them fared significantly worse than people who got no prayers.”


Topic: The Efficacy of Prayer in Judaism on Health Outcomes rabbi miller
Presenter: Rabbi Jason Miller

Date: June 15, Thursday
Time: Noon – 1 pm
Location: MCHC Auditorium

Videoconferenced at:
– East Ann Arbor (lower level conference room)
– 1433 Commonwealth (small conference room)
– Brighton Health Center (large conference room)

Nursing CEs:
Contact hours will be provided by the University of Michigan Health System’s Educational Services for Nursing which is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller


(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Participant #100,000 for Taglit-Birthright Israel

Stephanie Lowenthal, birthright israel’s 100,000th participant, arrived on Sunday afternoon in Israel. I’m not sure how they made her the 100,000th, but it is certainly a fine choise. She is a 26-year-old New Yorker who works for the communications department of the NASDAQ Stock Market, and they will no doubt capitalize off her publicity and marketing experience.

Having staffed a birthright israel trip, I can say with full certainty that this experience works for most of the Jewish young people who participate. One of the more impressive aspects of the program is how much money has been spent in the Jewish homeland by the participants and on their behalf by the program.

The Jerusalem Post article reports that, “Participants have traveled for 27,200 days on tour buses and slept in 300,000 hotel rooms. They have spent a total of $17,000,000 in cafes, $4,800,000 on entrance fees into tourist sites, $7,300,000 on tour buses and $27,600,000 in personal purchases. According to birthright, over $182 million in revenue has been generated.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller