Avi Shafran

Slippery Halachic Slope

05/25/2010

Francine Klagsbrun (Opinion, May 14) both misunderstands Orthodox Judaism and unintentionally strengthens the Rabbinical Council of America’s rationale for stating that “regardless of title” a woman cannot be a member of the Orthodox rabbinate.

Judaism, in the eyes of Orthodox Jews, has always encompassed much more than codified laws. It includes the judgments of a broad consensus of rabbinic leaders about what is Jewishly proper, particularly when Jews are faced with new social or political circumstances and movements.

Feds Briefed On In-Flight Tefillin

03/24/2010

 Two months after a Jewish teen from White Plains was detained and briefly handcuffed after wearing his tefillin during morning prayers on a Kentucky-bound flight, the Transportation Security Administration has added information about the leather boxes and straps to briefing materials for security officials across the country.

Seeming Contradiction

03/11/2010

In the March 5 edition of The Jewish Week, Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, is quoted in two separate articles.
The first instance is in Jonathan Mark’s “The Edge Of Town” column, “Sympathy for the Devil?” Rabbi Shafran is quoted regarding the case of a brutal murderer condemned to death in Florida for his “heinous” crime but who was a “sincere baal teshuvah” who managed to ignite support from certain right-wing Orthodox organizations like the Agudah.

Sympathy For The Devil?

Old murder case solved; Orthodox Jewish reaction unresolved.

03/02/2010
Associate Editor

Long after a murder leaves the front page, it lingers in a kitchen grown quiet, or when dialing a phone forever unanswered, when private jokes stay private, and you say “all right” when people ask, but your seders aren’t the same, and Christmas isn’t Christmas, for mourners all share the same pew in pre-dawn sleeplessness.

Jonathan Mark

Orthodox Scandals Could Harm Power Base, Experts Warn

Rash of recent prosecutions may leave community open to political backlash.

02/25/2010
Assistant Managing Editor

In the wake of recent scandals involving local Orthodox Jews, some sociologists think there could soon be a backlash against the political power of what has long been one of the most sought-after voting blocs.

“Situations like this have a cumulative effect,” said William Helmreich, a professor of sociology at City College and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College.

Rabbi Milton Balkany: Brooklyn power broker charged with extortion in hedge fund case.

Filmmaking With Purity

10/31/2003
Staff Writer

Some people call her film daring, others dangerous. First-time filmmaker Anat Zuria admits that "Tehora," her hour-long documentary about Jewish family purity, is meant to provoke. But she sees greater peril in keeping quiet about a subject that shapes the lives of Orthodox Jewish women.

Chumash As Cognitive Dissonance

04/26/2002
Special To The Jewish Week

Is the Torah true? Does the God of Exodus really exist? And if the answer is no, is it a theological catastrophe or business as usual?

These existential questions underlie the striking range of newspaper commentaries on the Conservative movement's impressive new Chumash, Etz Chaim, its first new publication of the Torah and Haftorah readings since the 1930s.

Chumash As Cognitive Dissonance

04/26/2002
Special To The Jewish Week

Is the Torah true? Does the God of Exodus really exist? And if the answer is no, is it a theological catastrophe or business as usual?

These existential questions underlie the striking range of newspaper commentaries on the Conservative movement's impressive new Chumash, Etz Chaim, its first new publication of the Torah and Haftorah readings since the 1930s.

High-Wire Act

The eruv — that ethereal yet physical boundary enabling observant Jews to push strollers and use wheelchairs on Shabbat — fosters community even as it sparks tensions.

03/06/2009
Before the Internet Age rendered geography irrelevant to community there was the eruv, the rabbinic response to spatial separation. A strategically placed wire here, a natural hedge border there, the inclusion of a fence or a highway, turns a neighborhood into an imaginary walled community of halachic intent, as such a deliberate remembrance of pre-diasporic Jerusalem.  

Opening Hearts, Wallets For Haitians

Jewish community here, in outpouring
of care, pitches in after quake.

01/21/2010
Staff Writer

At a Jewish Y on Long Island, Jewish employees take up a collection for the families in Haiti of two maintenance men. In Brooklyn, members of the haredi Orthodox community hold a historic meeting with representatives of the borough’s Haitian-Americans. In southern Florida, a former New Yorker travels to Haiti on short notice to help the relatives of his Haitian-born employees.

The work of Israeli doctors in a makeshift army field hospital in Haiti. Getty Images
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