Pop star Madonna, for years known more for her lurid behavior than praise of the sage Rabbi Isaac Luria, has written a song on her new album in tribute to the master of Jewish mysticism.
While no one claims to have yet seen any of the lyrics, even the idea of including a song, titled "Isaac," on her forthcoming album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," has incensed those who care for Rabbi Luria's tomb as well as the seminary devoted to study of his teachings in the northern Israel city of Safed.
With the Jewish Theological Seminary on the verge of an historic break with tradition (the potential ordaining of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and sanctioning of same-sex unions) the school's faculty, administrators and students were bracing this week for the possible fallout.
The rabbinic committee that interprets Jewish law for the Conservative movement (North America's second-largest Jewish denomination) will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss five different religious opinions, some or none of which may be adopted.
Last year, when Andy Shoenig did a Google search for NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth which he then led as president, what he found shocked him: lots of entries on social networking sites like MySpace and FaceBook that referred to the Reform movement's youth group, and also included gossip and references to drinking and sex at its gatherings.
More people than ever before say that being Jewish "is very important" to them, according to a recent survey by the American Jewish Committee.
Sixty-one percent of respondents in the organization's annual survey of American Jewish opinion, which covers topics from international affairs to religious identity, said it was "very important" to them, and another 28 percent said it was "fairly important." Ten percent of this year's respondents said that being Jewish was "not very important" in their own lives.
Andrew Roberts, an articulate 16-year-old junior at the Riverdale Country School, enjoys Judaism in an intellectual way, like when he discussed the Torah portion each week while attending the Rodeph Sholom Day School through eighth grade.
Ronald P. Stanton is hoping his gift to Yeshiva University, announced this week, will spur other Jewish philanthropists to give to major donations to Jewish causes in general and YU in particular.
At $100 million — what appears to be the largest gift ever to a Jewish educational institution — it certainly will attract attention.
“I’m hoping that this contribution will trigger more” donations to YU, said Stanton, 78, a New Yorker who has made his fortune trading and transporting petrochemicals and chemical fertilizers.
In what will be a watershed moment for the Conservative movement — akin to admitting women into the rabbinate a generation ago — the ordination of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and the sanctioning of same-sex unions are likely to be approved by the denomination’s legal scholars, according to movement leaders.
As growing numbers of non-Orthodox Jews flock to the mikveh — a trend that has spread over the last decade — an inevitable clash between the traditional and the modern is beginning to emerge, with progressive Jews seeking to recast an ancient ritual in their own image.
The current interest in mikveh was evidenced by the more than 200 people, men and women, from across the Jewish spectrum, who attended the conference “Reclaiming Mikveh: Pouring Ancient Waters into a Contemporary Vessel,” held last month in the Boston suburb of Newton, Mass.
Upgrading mikvehs into sumptuous spa-like environments is the new wave these days, and the recently opened ritual bath on the Upper East Side and one being planned for the Upper West Side in the fall are no exception. On East 77th Street, the local Chabad house opened the doors last Thursday to a new $12 million mikveh, making it the only ritual bath on the Upper East Side. The new mikveh brings to four the number of public mikvehs in Manhattan, joining ones on the Lower East Side, the Upper West Side and Washington Heights.
Yosef Abramowitz had the floor at the closing session of the first national Jewish Youth Philanthropy Conference in Denver last April. Striding around the hotel conference room among about 100 teenagers, microphone in hand like a latter-day Phil Donohue, he exhorted them to see themselves as powerful agents of change, as prophets and leaders. He talked about great visions of a Jewish future, quoting philosophers from Zionist thinker Achad Ha’Am to “Star Wars” wise man Yoda. He held their attention for about 20 minutes.