At this time last year, Dr. Asher Lipner had no idea he was on a course to become a grass-roots community organizer, particularly around such a delicate issue: child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. But having successfully organized a conference attended by close to 50 survivors of abuse, clinicians, advocates and rabbis in Brooklyn in September, that, as well as a compassionate and outspoken advocate for victims of abuse throughout the Orthodox world, is exactly what he has become.
To the truly religious, the Torah is like mother's milk: sustaining and nurturing.
Many, however, don't believe the sanctuary is a place where mothers and their babies should extend that metaphor into breast-feeding. In their view, the only thing that should be uncovered during services is the Torah scroll.
But a new religious opinion passed recently by the Conservative movement's law committee endorses the idea of women discreetly breast-feeding their children in the sanctuary.
A new survey of executive compensation at non-profits shows that top professionals at federations and other Jewish groups are among the best-paid communal, human-services and international relief fund-raising organization leaders in the country.
Being the first isn't a new experience for Rabbi Janet Ross Marder, the newly elected president of the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis. Twenty years ago, just four years after being ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, she became the first rabbi to lead Los Angeles' predominantly gay and lesbian congregation, Beth Chayim Chadashim. While there, she established a federation-funded AIDS education program for the Jewish community.
In a Trenton, N.J., courtroom last week, Rabbi Juda Mintz, a charismatic Orthodox champion of Jewish pluralism, stood before a federal judge, his fate in the balance. He faced Federal District Court Judge Mary Cooper, charged with downloading child pornography onto his synagogue computer. The rabbi and his followers hoped the judge would allow him to serve his time at the Los Angeles residential Jewish addiction center he moved to a year ago.
Feeling a little lost as the service in your Conservative synagogue moves ahead?
Your movement has something for you: Or Hadash (New Light), a new commentary on the Conservative movement's prayer book, Sim Shalom. It's a book within a book, a commentary wrapped around the prayer book. It's a kind of beginner's service in print, but deeper, with historical context and contemporary commentary running along side the prayers.
The job looked like a perfect fit. A Solomon Schechter day school had offered a Judaic studies teaching job to an experienced Conservative rabbi, and had wrapped up negotiations over salary and benefits. Signing the contract was all that was left.
But just before signing, the rabbi wanted to make sure the principal knew she was a lesbian.
The next day the school's rabbinic authority informed the rabbi that the job offer was being revoked on the basis of that information.
It's a question rooted in an age-old practice but made new by the vicissitudes of modern technology: Is it kosher to ask mechila by e-mail? Asking forgiveness, or mechila, for wrongs committed against others is emphasized during the month of Elul, and given particular attention during the 10 Days of Repentance from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur.
The unsettling reports of rabbis committing crimes against both secular and Jewish law, and against common-sense morality, seem these days to come unrelentingly.
Reform Rabbi Fred Neulander from Cherry Hill, N.J., sits in prison awaiting trial for arranging his wife's murder, which happened at the same time he was having an affair.
Orthodox Rabbi Baruch Lanner was accused recently in these pages of physically and sexually abusing the young people in his charge in his nearly three decades with the Orthodox Union's National Conference of Synagogue Youth.
The rabbis of the nation's gay and lesbian synagogues gathered this week at a first-of-its kind meeting, held at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in the West Village.
Their goal was to share experiences "and to find out whether there are in fact things unique to us as leaders of gay and lesbian congregations," said one participant, Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Los Angeles' Bet Chayim Chadashim, during a lunch break.
The answer, she and other participants said, is that there are and there aren't.