The one-two punch of Debra Nussbaum Cohen’s front-page article in The Jewish Week (RCA Seen Caving on Conversions, February 29) and Gershom Gorenberg’s piece in the Sunday Magazine of The New York Times (Proving You’re a Jew, March 2) serves as a painful reminder of one of Israel’s most vexing problems.
Hers was a busy home while Hadassah Freilich was growing up in Gardener, Mass. With her father the rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue and her mother busy in the community, young Hadassah grew up with a sure sense that Jews took care of others. That if someone was hungry, you fed him.
If answers aren’t exactly forthcoming from Postville, well then, people are going to Postville to try and seek them out.
A veritable parade of Jews — busloads from the Midwest last Sunday for a rally on behalf of immigrant rights, and this week a group of Orthodox rabbis traveling at Agriprocessors’s expense on what is being called “a fact-finding mission” — went looking for answers about the conditions in which their kosher meat is produced.
When Vivian Fenster Ehrlich left a career in publishing to become executive director of the nonprofit Dorot, 21 years ago, it had a budget of $700,000 and a staff of 24 crammed into two floors of a decrepit brownstone on West 91st Street.
Now, as she prepares to become director emerita and start a venture she isn’t ready to publicly discuss, Ehrlich is running an organization with 10 times the budget and nearly three times as many staff, working out of its own 10,000-square-foot townhouse a few blocks south.
The main organization urging a boycott against the embattled kosher meat giant Agriprocessors reversed course this week, issuing a statement praising “significant steps” taken by the manufacturer and lauding “early signs of reform.”
In announcing the end of its boycott, Shmuly Yanklowitz, director of Uri L’Tzedek (Awaken to Justice), told The Jewish Week, “There has been a victory in the last week.”
Financial headlines are heralding hard times and Jewish newspaper headlines are, too; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international relief agency, is cutting 60 jobs, the Jewish federation umbrella group United Jewish Communities is slashing at least 37, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, facing a $2.2 million budget shortfall, may trim its teaching staff.
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.
In the week since gay-friendly Conservative rabbis organized themselves, for the first time, into a public group (called Keshet Rabbis) their numbers have nearly doubled.
Last week, 75 members of the movement's Rabbinical Assembly signed up to offer counseling and consultation to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Conservative Jews. This week the number stands at 137, just under 10 percent of the RA's 1,500 members.
If ever an architectural feature of a building's exterior stood as a symbol for the life within, then the defaced plaque honoring the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson at Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights is it.
There' s a new girl in town (four girls actually) ready to face off against the enormous popularity of American Girl dolls and other models that come baring too much plastic skin.
Gali Girls (two blondes, a brunette and a redhead) are 18 inches high like the American Girls but come with Jewish values expressed through modest dress, Star of David bracelets, Hebrew/English doll name certificates and Shabbat toy kit.