Category: Jewish Culture

Jewish Culture Politics

Jewish Culture

Today’s topic covers the Rubashkin’s acquittal, and responds to the very poingiant questions posed by Rabbi Ben Greenberg. As always, comments welcome below. Episode 5 – Responsible Jewish Activism

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In my recent post “Defending the Rebbitzens” I discussed some ways in which the rabbi’s wife may be taken for granted by a congregation in terms of her communal contributions.…

Jewish Dating

The recent controversy surrounding orthodox women rabbis has reignited the general debates of gender discrimination in Orthodox Judaism. Jewish law precludes women from participating in many communal functions such as counting in a minyan or serving as witnesses. Since no such law or statute prohibits women from being ordained as rabbis or rabbinic figures – either in the classical or modern sense of the term – it is understandable if some women view their exclusion from leadership positions as a form of institutional misogyny.

However Jewish society has discriminated against both men and women in leadership positions for generations, often with the communal complicity of self-identified feminists. I am referring here to the expectations and demands of the Rabbi’s wife, better known as The Rebbitzen.

Jewish Culture

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Being far removed from my alma mater, it is difficult for me to truly have a sense of what happens on campus anymore and second-hand reports fail to adequately capture the full zeitgeist of the community. The most recent controversy around Yeshiva University involves a forum on “Being Gay in the Orthodox World” and the expected. The topic of homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism has long been a controversial issue, one which we discussed years ago in “Lonely Men of Faith, but it is still considered taboo in certain Orthodox circles. Case in point, following said forum R. Meir Twersky responded with a public diatribe lambasting the entire event and its participants. This forum and the aftermath are helpfully recounted in great detail on Curious Jew’s blog. Since I did not attend the event nor did I hear R. Twersky’s statements firsthand I will not address either specifically. However, that such a controversy exists demonstrates that even after 123 YU is still struggling with its own identity as a “Yeshiva”, “University”, and a representative if not champion for “Modern Orthodoxy.”

Jewish Culture

Yesterday morning I was one of 1,000 Rabbis listening in on a conference call with President Obama on the hot button issue of heath care reform. The call was organized by coalition of Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist organizatoins including
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and coordinated by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Technically speaking I’m not sure I’m “supposed” to write about the call. The intent of the call was less informative on Obama’s position, but more for the Rabbis to explore how to address the health care controversy in their upcoming High Holiday sermons. (In a nice move by Obama’s handler’s he began his health care discussion by referencing unetaneh tokef). Nevertheless there were point which I took away from the call that I feel are worth sharing with the public at large.

Jewish Culture Politics

A few months ago I wrote a short article for the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals’ new journal Conversations. The purpose of this journal is to promote communal dialogue on various issues facing the Jewish community. Unlike the Edah/Meorot journals, the journal is supposed to be more accessible than academic and so I was given two editorial conditions:1. keep it short and 2. no footnotes.

As longtime blog readers know, that last condition was a tough one to overcome.

At any rate, I’m posting my article “A Fair And Balanced Approach To Jewish Social Justice” and I plan on revisiting the motivations for the article at some later point.

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