I’m a rationalist. I’m not into mysticism or spirituality or New Age stuff. An “intellectual,” I like to fancy myself. Yet there I was in Jerusalem one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, putting two kvitels, little notes, into the crevices of the Western Wall. One was a petition for a friend; the other a personal plea. I laughed to myself as I pressed them deep into the cracks, knowing that like untold others, I somehow ascribe special powers to that Wall and the missives it bears. I had done this before and will do it again. So much for rationalism.
Two seemingly unrelated events that occurred recently made me think about how related they actually were. One was the death of the great Bible scholar Moshe Greenberg in Israel last month; the other was the publication of a new biography of the prominent American Zionist leader Abba Hillel Silver. Greenberg was born in 1928 and made aliyah in 1970; Silver was born in 1893, and though he helped found the State of Israel, he never settled there. Greenberg probably knew of Silver’s activities, but it’s unlikely the two ever met.
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.
In the book of Genesis, God allows Adam to create names for all the beasts and birds in existence. With that powerful act, the first man establishes the identity of every earthly creature. From then on the image and function of a whale or a dove would always be tied to its name.
Golda Meir had a technique for fundraising in Israel. Gather a hundred of the wealthiest people in the community, she advised, and lock them in a room until each pledges a designated sum. Tell them that if anyone refuses to contribute, that person’s name and refusal will be spread around town.
The advent of the Sabbath has been strikingly noted in the works of Hayim Nahman Bialik, the Israeli poet Zelda, Tillie Olsen and Philip Roth too. For many Jews, a world of memories is enfolded in the familiar aroma of roast chicken or the slow dancing flames of Sabbath candles. In her new book, “The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day” (Harmony), award-winning writer Francine Klagsbrun explores in depth the images and symbols of the seventh day to describe its complex religious, philosophical and mystical underpinnings.
Sen. Charles Schumer, after joking that he was “glad to be off jury duty” in the impeachment proceedings in Washington, called for an end to the trial but said President Clinton should be censured even if he is acquitted.
Appearing Monday at a breakfast forum sponsored by The Jewish Week, Schumer recommended the “stern and severe” joint censure resolution crafted by House Democrats that would have to be adopted by the House and Senate — and signed by the president.
Shortly after Linda Moses and Arthur Gurevitch, a young couple on the Upper East Side, enrolled their 5-year-old son in an art class this fall at the 92nd Street Y, they discovered that the Y's Sunday Young Artists class was starting on Sukkot.
Moses and Gurevitch, "somewhat observant" Conservative Jews and participants in Y programming for two decades, had assumed that the art class, as in past years, would skip Sukkot, which was last Sunday, and Simchat Torah, this Sunday.