Gary Rosenblatt's blog

A Last Remembrance Of Debbie Friedman

I last saw Debbie Friedman two weeks ago at LimmudUK, where we had a brief but warm conversation, telling each other that if not for scheduling conflicts, we would have enjoyed attending each other’s presentations.

In my case it was certainly true, as I always found Debbie’s performances inspiring. Not just her voice, the lyrics and the message, but the quality of the shared experience with her loving audiences. The goodwill and sense of the spirit in her was palpable.

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Rabbi New Darling Of U.S. Jewish Establishment

Chaim Amsellem has become an unlikely hero to many in the American Jewish establishment who closely follow Israeli life, including a new worldwide group being formed to support his positions.

A Sephardic scholar of Talmud with a thick grey beard and black hat, the rabbi, 51, is a member of Knesset from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, known for its socially conservative agenda and primary interest in obtaining government funds to support a network of yeshivas.

Why The Chief Rabbi Isn’t At LimmudUK

Coventry, England – One of the most impressive aspects of LimmudUK, which seeks to educate, inspire and entertain people on their Jewish journeys, is its open tent policy, accounting for more than 2,000 participants at this year’s five-day conference.

But not every element of British Jewry is represented at this grassroots, volunteer-driven event, and it’s curious to see who is not here.

Why LimmudUK Draws 2,000 People:A First-Hand Report

Coventry, England -- If you want to know why Limmud -- the grassroots, all-volunteer, non-denominational organization that fosters Jewish religious study, culture, history and more -- is now active in 55 communities around the world, come to LimmudUK, the granddaddy of them all.

The whole movement started here in England 30 years ago this week as an antidote for Jews who had little to do during Christmas week, when much of the country shuts down. Why not do Jewish together?

Bibi And The U.S.: More Confusion, And A Correction

My last blog, posted on Tuesday, posed the question of what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strategy is regarding peace talks with the Palestinians. That question remains, even more so today, but I stand corrected on one conclusion I drew.

I noted that Mideast experts are baffled by the Israeli leader’s seeming willingness to press ahead in negotiations, including the possibility of ceding West Bank land, while at the same time holding fast on the right to build in the settlements, and quickening the pace of construction.

What Is Bibi Thinking?

What Is Bibi Thinking?

Does Bibi really want a deal with the Palestinian Authority?

That’s the question Mideast observers, here and in Israel, are asking more and more these days, and they are baffled.

There are those who feel the Israeli prime minister genuinely is interested in negotiations that would include ceding territory to the Palestinians, as long as there were security talks for Israel as well. At least, they say, that’s what Netanyahu told President Obama this summer during White House talks that seemed to go well.

Could Latest Conversion Flap Bring Down Israel’s Government?

The Knesset’s passage today of a preliminary reading of a bill that affirms the legitimacy of conversions performed by rabbis of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) seems benign on the surface.

After all, the IDF rabbis are chosen by the Chief Rabbinate, and the vote was an overwhelming 74-18.

What Belongs In A Jewish Newspaper?

I’m often surprised when people express an interest in how newspapers work, from the inside. How stories get assigned and edited, Letters to the Editor chosen, editorial decisions made, etc.

For those of us in the business, I guess we take that all for granted, and seem more focused these days on how newspapers can survive at a time of economic trauma and free content online.

Debate On Women’s Roles In Orthodoxy Yields Dramatic Moments

The dramatic highlight of a debate held Saturday night in Toronto on “The Changing Role of Women in Judaism” – really, Modern Orthodox Judaism -- came when Rahel Berkovits, a Talmud scholar in Israel, tearfully recounted the utter failure of her efforts to engage several leading Israeli rabbinic authorities in discussing with her halachic issues of female participation in wedding ceremonies and other rituals.

My Shmooze With Rabbi Steinsaltz

I got the feeling that my extended hour with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, late in the afternoon last Wednesday, was going to be more shmooze than interview when his assistant, on entering my office with him, asked if I would mind if the prolific scholar and author ate the chocolate rugelach she brought for him during our chat.

In that spirit, I prepared hot tea for them, and switched mental gears, relishing the opportunity to have a relaxing talk with one of the great Jewish minds of modern times rather than posing deep questions, especially since The Jewish Week’s Steve Lipman had written a major piece on the Jerusalem-based rabbi on the occasion of his having just completed a monumental, 45-year project to translate the entire Talmud into modern Hebrew, complete with vowels, punctuation and his own original commentary. (‘The Longest Translation,” Nov. 5)

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, JTA
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