The ranks of Orthodox rebels, despite being a tiny percentage of a small part of the Jewish community, are drawing a major share of notice in recent days. Books and magazine articles, documentaries and Off-Broadway plays tell the stories of young men and women — products of chasidishe and yesivishe upbringings that shield them from the outside world’s secular values — who step outside what they see as narrowly drawn circles.
Passover or tennis? Passover or politics? Passover or crustaceans?
Members of the Jewish community are this year facing — and in increasing numbers, protesting — the need to make such choices at Passover.
Newspaper and Web sites around the country have reported a wide range of conflicts for Jews who wish to observe the holiday, which coincides with events scheduled in apparent disregard for the Jewish calendar. This year, the Jewish community is fighting back.
A major educational publisher has withdrawn from the market a new book about Israel containing a passage that a prominent Orthodox organization found offensive, and it has agreed to destroy remaining copies of the book.
Scholastic Library Publishing said it took that step after receiving a series of complaints from Agudath Israel of America about “Israel: Enchantment of the World,” a reference book published in 2006.
A largely behind-the-scenes campaign on behalf of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard has gone public in recent weeks, as a variety of Jewish organizations and former American political officials have urged the onetime naval intelligence analyst’s release from a life prison sentence.
Bathed in light, wrapped in a tallit and kittel, the soul of a middle-aged New York Jew speaks to his earthly body on a Queens side street late one night last week.
“Chaim, Chaim,” calls the soul, flanked by a pair of large menorahs, an ark of Torah scrolls behind him, “good Shabbos. Did you have a good week?”
A plaintive voice — of Chaim himself, who is mentally disabled — is heard answering, “Nobody likes me.”
Don’t despair, answers the soul. “Soon it will all be over.”
Even as Modern Orthodox Jews see themselves as embattled and on the decline within Orthodoxy, eclipsed by the ascendancy of the haredim to the right, new demographic data offer quite a different picture.
As many as 1,000 Iranian Jews will soon be able to leave their homeland for Austria, the first step in a two-step process for gaining admission to the United States as refugees.
Until now, these Jews were unable to apply for Austrian visas because they did not have friends or relatives outside of Iran who could put up the requisite $2,100 security deposit needed for those wishing to wait in Vienna while their refugee applications are reviewed. The money is required to assure Austria that the applicants do not become wards of the state.