The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies foundation is known for funding innovative Jewish projects like the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education and birthright israel. Now, Bronfman is making his first major gift in a different realm, hoping to further a developing field called genomics-based, or personalized medicine, with a $12.5 million gift to New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.
A long-awaited agreement between America’s centrist Orthodox rabbinical group and Israel’s chief rabbinate on standards for conversion to Judaism remains fragile and may still be scuttled. Even the leading players involved contradict each other as they dispute the exclusive right to certify rabbis as fit to perform conversions in the U.S.
In the deepest early morning of March 7, on California’s Pacific Coast Highway, a gold Cadillac driven by a drunk ran a red light, hit a bus and then spun around until it smacked into a white rental car driven by a man named Gedaliah Shaffer. Shaffer had flown into California from Brooklyn that evening, and as an inveterate traveler began the journey to a professional conference with a little sightseeing on one of the country’s more scenic drives. But when the Cadillac hit him, Shaffer was instantly killed.
It wasn’t a typical venue for pre-Passover learning. But then, Rabbi Andy Bachman and Rachel Altstein specialize in pairing “not typical” with Jewish. A few days before the holiday, Bachman and Altstein, who are, respectively, a Reform rabbi and an attorney, got together with 20 Jews on the back patio of a Prospect Heights wine bar to do a little Passover learning and talking.“We just ordered a bunch of wine and I taught for about an hour,” said Rabbi Bachman, 42.
In an effort to keep demographic data on American Jewry relevant and identify trends in today’s fast-moving society, the head of Brandeis University’s new social research institute wants to radically alter the way that information is collected.
In the process Leonard Saxe, director of the $12 million Steinhardt Social Research Institute, is calling into question the need for a costly, once-a-decade national Jewish population survey that is seen by some experts as increasingly archaic given the speed at which information moves today.
The Rabbinical Council of America issued a strongly worded statement Tuesday rebutting criticism from Rabbi Mordecai Tendler and his supporters over his expulsion last month from the Orthodox rabbis’ group. Rabbi Tendler and his supporters, who include prominent Orthodox rabbis, have made public statements indicating that he tried to provide his side of the story to the RCA in person and they consider the organization’s move to be illegitimate.
A lawyer for the synagogue where Rabbi Mordecai Tendler works has written to the Rabbinical Council of America demanding proof of the wrongdoing for which the rabbinic group expelled the spiritual leader. Last month the RCA expelled Rabbi Tendler, a member of a respected rabbinic family, for unspecified “conduct inappropriate for a rabbi” and not cooperating with its 15-month investigation into charges that he engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with several congregants who had come to him for counseling.
The Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards took up the debate over the status of gays within the denomination this week, restarting its formal discussion of the contentious issue that has fragmented the movement for the past decade.
At a meeting packed with his supporters at his Rockland County synagogue, Rabbi Mordechai Tendler emphatically denied all of the charges that resulted in his being expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America the previous week.