Human Interest

Revolutionary Love

When a prominent kohen fell in love with a convert in 1782, newly independent American Jews flouted halacha.

06/16/2010

 The values of the American Revolution—liberty, freedom, and democracy—profoundly affected the Jewish community. Having successfully rebelled against the authority of England and its king, many early American Jews no longer submitted unquestioningly to any authorities, even religious ones. Like their Protestant and Catholic contemporaries, they insisted upon the right to make decisions, including marital decisions, for themselves.

 Ketubah of Jacob I. Cohen and Esther Mordecai.  Courtesy The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Rabbi For A Day

Officiating at a wedding gives professor a new perspective on matrimony.

06/16/2010

 I have suffered most of my life from a large case of rabbi envy. I was brought up surrounded by them, not only in school and shul, but at family gatherings as well. Uncles and later cousins carried the title. I eventually married the daughter of a rabbi. There was no escaping their sermonizing and officiating ways.

 Bride and groom under the chupah, with the author (not pictured) as rabbi. Photo: Karen Tweedy-Holmes.

Israel’s Conversion Bill May Change

Knesset Member David Rotem says law
would apply only to Israeli conversions;
Reform and Conservative leaders not satisfied.

06/16/2010
Staff Writer

 The author of Israel’s controversial conversion bill has for the first time suggested a change in the bill in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise that any bill dealing with conversion “must ensure the unity of the Jewish people in its entirety.”

A Decade Later, More Willingness To Confront Rabbinic Abuse

‘Watershed’ Lanner expose has led to communal efforts to deal with improper sexual behavior.

06/16/2010
Editor and Publisher

The tenth anniversary of the public exposure in these pages of the “Lanner scandal” provides an opportunity to reflect on, and appreciate, how much has changed for the better in the last decade in responding to rabbinic sexual abuse. 

With it all, though, communal vigilance is still vital because the problem remains, as do the impulses to overlook or cover up allegations of wrongdoing in high places. And there are voices in the community calling for putting ethical standards in place in synagogues, schools and camps.

Gary Rosenblatt

Lessons From The 16-Year-Old Sailor

Just after dealing with an outbreak of panic displayed by a 9-year-old son worried about his tonsils coming out next week, I looked at an article online about Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old determined to sail solo around the world, who ran into some difficulty with that task last week.

Jacob will eventually grow out of his fear of doctors and needles, just as his sister outgrew her fear of riding across bridges. But I hope and pray neither of them reach the level of courage and empowerment to do something as stupid as what Sunderland's parents let her do.

Nati Passow, 31

Environmental educator

Editorial Intern
06/15/2010

Nati Passow is just trying to live like his ancestors. “At our foundation, Judaism is an agrarian religion,” he said. “We were all farmers back in the day.”
 

Naomi Maryles, 34

First female attorney on Beth Din of America

Staff Writer
06/15/2010

“Many people have a vision of a beth din as three rabbis sitting there, looking very intimidating, who are not understanding at all to women,” says Naomi Maryles, using the Hebrew word for rabbinical court. “There’s a sense that I’m going to walk into the beth din and there will be a bias against me because I’m a woman.” That picture is false, says Maryles, at least when it comes to the Beth Din of America, one of the largest and most respected religious courts in the United States.

Naomi Maryles

Adi Ezroni, 31

Popular Israeli actress turned human rights advocate

Staff Writer
06/15/2010

No alternate text on picture! - define alternate text in image propertiesIt’s a dark irony that Adi Ezroni, 31, a noted actress on Israel’s top-rated drama series, “Hostages,” was actually held hostage a few years ago. She was traveling in Cambodia, filming a feature film ("Holly") and a documentary about child trafficking ("Redlight").

Abbas, And A Few Good Men

For public consumption, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in Washington this week,  had to share the world's indignation about Israel's naughty behavior on that ship in not letting a band of Turkish brigands throw its soldiers into the sea.

"Unlawful, unacceptable," is how he described the incident. "Our main demand is how to end the blockade on Gaza and I believe the entire world stands with us." Right.

Hitchens On Jewishness, Israel And Zionism

06/10/2010
Staff Writer

People seem to love author and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens for precisely the reason other people seem to hate him: he has an opinion, and a strong one, about almost everything. His new memoir, “Hitch-22,” is chock full of them, too. And when he appeared at at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday night, in a chat with his close friend Salman Rushdie, that fact was not glossed over.

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