Who holds the keys to true salvation? In recent years, Jewish interfaith leaders have been carefully parsing new statements of Christian theologians on the subject, raising objections when the Vatican or Evangelical leaders declare that everlasting salvation can come only through belief in Jesus.
More recently, militant Islamic clerics have labeled those who don’t believe in Muhammad and Allah as infidels.
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 shofar on Rosh HaShanah is intended to wake us up to a life of goodness, of care, of compassion. Perhaps it is intended not only to wake the sleepers, but those of us who are only pretending to be asleep.
Special to the Jewish Week
In “Eating Animals,” Joanthan Safran Foer’s remarkable new book, he describes what has happened to the way we raise animals for food in our country. With wit and power Foer lays out before us what it means to consign billions (yes, billions) of animals to horrific suffering so we can eat the antibiotic laden meat and feed it to our children.
I have a friend who's a plasma physicist. He's brilliant- really brilliant- and divides much of his time between the finer points of cold fusion and developing alternative energy sources (may he only succeed!).
When we first met about thirty years ago, this friend, who is Jewish, wasn't all that into synagogue. He famously commented to my wife and me that coming to synagogue every Shabbat was sort of like going to the same play every week… same script, same actors, same ending. Groundhog Day for Jews.
In a sign of how sensitive the issue of homosexuality is within traditional Judaism, a young, traditional congregation in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is losing the backing of its supporting religious institution because it invited an openly gay Orthodox rabbi to give sermons during Rosh HaShanah, The Jewish Week has learned.
Days before Rosh HaShanah, the Union for Traditional Judaism, a breakaway group from the Conservative movement, delivered an ultimatum to The Montauk Minyan: either rescind its invitation to the rabbi or lose their support.
Stand-up comic Ray Ellin was performing at a New York comedy club a few days after Rosh HaShanah. It was his usual act — some family stories, some bantering with the audience. As usual, he asked people in the crowd where they came from.
“Germany,” said one couple.
That’s raw meat for a Jewish comic.
“I wish you,” Ellin said, “a year of health and happiness — and reparations.”
“It killed — killed,” Ellin says. The crowd roared.
The Germans? “They laughed too.”
The entire Jewish community of Afghanistan celebrated Rosh HaShanah this week in a small side room of the lone synagogue in Kabul, the country’s capital.
His name is Zebulon Simantov.
Simantov, 57, a one-time owner of a small jewelry-and-carpets store in Kabul, returned a decade ago to Afghanistan, his homeland, after spending time in Tajikistan and Israel.
Lisa Gilbert, a native of Cincinnati who now lives in Manhattan, listened to the rabbi’s sermon and the choir’s singing at her family’s Cincinnati congregation on the High Holy Days last year. From her New York apartment. Online.
Gilbert, a 30-year-old research analyst, watched the live streaming Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services of Congregation Beth Adam, on the humanistic synagogue’s Web site, because she had attended several congregations after moving here and did not feel welcome or comfortable at any one of them.
Rabbi Kasriel Kastel tells of a Jewish family he knew in the Bronx years ago. They couldn’t afford to join a synagogue. So they didn’t go to High Holy Days services. Instead, on one day of Rosh HaShanah each year, they would go to a body of water and do Tashlich, the symbol casting away of sins. “Tashlich is free,” the rabbi says. The children “keep up the tradition.”