On Sunday the rabbis kept the prime minister waiting.
In 1997, during the height of the debate in Israel over the "Who is a Jew?" issue (which religious standards would determine converts' status as Jews) Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch led a delegation of American Reform rabbis to Jerusalem "literally overnight."
The rabbis' plane landed five hours late. Whisked from the airport to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late at night, they found the Israeli leader still working.
"He waited for us five hours," Rabbi Hirsch said.
From deep in the political wilderness, from the “bluest” fringe of America, Rabbi Michael Lerner this week saw the writing on the wall.
“We have a tough fight in front of us” to influence American politics while being outside of many positions of power, Rabbi Lerner, editor of the San Francisco-based Tikkun magazine, told The Jewish Week.
Alan Rubin has always worn a kipa, but he says it’s bigger these days. His wife, Debi, has always dressed modestly, but she says she dresses more modestly these days.
The couple has always found time for their five children, but they say they find more time these days.
These days are the six months since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Rubins, who live in Elizabeth, N.J., say they have been on a spiritual journey since 9-11, a path that will end this summer in Jerusalem.
The Rubins are making aliyah — because of 9-11.
When Efrem Epstein was in the 11th grade at Ramaz, a Jewish day school in Manhattan, he told his father that he had not read the entire Bible.
"How can I graduate without having read it all?" Rabbi Jerome Epstein recalled his son saying. "I said that I had read a lot of it, but that I, too, had not read it all.
"So he said that from that day on he would a chapter a day. I thought it was a fad, but 21/2 years later he finished it and then started reading it again. He has now been through it three times; I started doing it myself in early 1997."
It was an opinion from Israel's top judge that American Conservative Jews would have preferred to read in a judicial ruling. But it was enough to put a smile on their faces.
"The lack of civil marriage in Israel is a major violation of human rights," Supreme Court president Aharon Barak told more than 30 members of United Synagogue's Project Reconnect, an organization of former United Synagogue Youth members, during a group visit to Israel last week.
As the Labor Party reaffirmed its intention to stay out of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government, the chairman of the secular Shinui Party spoke of joining: and for the first time softened his demand that government handouts end for fervently Orthodox men who don't work.
"You have to do it gradually," Shinui leader Tommy Lapid told The Jewish Week. "We don't want to cause unnecessary suffering to large families. But people who are able-bodied men should go and work.
An influx of grants in the last two years has uplifted the learning experience at Temple Beth Israel. Figure things now to get downright exhilarating. The 225-family Conservative congregation in Port Washington has received a $500,000 donation to enhance Jewish programing in what it is believed to be the largest gift of its kind.
"It will enable us to hire someone with top credentials in Jewish education to turn us upside down and reassemble everything in a new and exciting way," said Rabbi Toni Shy.
Sunday, January 18th, 2009
James Besser in Washington
In a nod to religious diversity, three prominent rabbis representing the biggest streams of Judaism wil take part in a Wednesday prayer service in Washington, along with an Islamic official and other clerics.