Who will speak on behalf of world Jewry in its evolving relationship with the Vatican? Should it fall to a coalition of secular and religious Jewish organizations meeting with stated goals and guidelines?
Or, should every Jewish organization hold its own separate dialogue, without an umbrella group to provide a unified stance, and without accountability to the larger Jewish community?
Social scientist Gary Tobin acknowledges that some Jewish leaders think his bold idea to help save the future of American Jewry is part of a "lunatic conversation.
"Having said that, the San Francisco-based demographer launches into a carefully reasoned presentation of his multibillion-dollar proposal called "proactive conversion" to make Judaism more attractive to Christians, agnostics, non-Jewish spouses of Jews and children of mixed marriages.
Jerusalem: Sitting in a converted bomb shelter in the basement of the hotel at the Ramat Rachel Kibbutz here, about 40 American Jewish college students are sharing their anxiety.
Like a group therapy session, they talk about their frustration, fear and anger over the recent rising levels of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments on their campuses by pro-Palestinian activists, as violence continues unabated in the Middle East.
Did Arab leaders secretly conspire to expel Jews from their native Arab homelands after 1948 in retaliation for the creation of the State of Israel?
Did this "collusion" of Arab nations create a large but little-known refugee population of nearly 900,000 displaced Jews: more than the approximately 650,000 displaced Palestinians at the time?
That's the conclusion by a coalition group called Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
In recent months a debate has emerged on American college campuses about whether the teaching of Middle East history and politics on American campuses is slanted by the prevalence of Palestinian professors.
Last winter, the Jewish chaplain at Columbia University called for administration officials to hire a full-time Jewish academic to teach Middle East politics, to "balance" the several full-time professors of Palestinian or Arabic descent who conduct classes on the subjects.
Dallas — Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar had heard enough. Israel’s top representative to the United States was squirming in his seat at the Reform movement’s national convention as he listened to noted Jewish historian Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg refer to Israel’s chief rabbis as “bigots with computers” — referring to a confidential computer list they maintain of children of illegitimate unions known as “mamzerim.”
His given name is Aaron, the same as the first High Priest of the Children of Israel. He wears garments similar to those worn more than 2,000 years ago by the kohanim (Jewish priests) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
But this Aaron, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland whose mother died in Auschwitz, is a priest of a different kind. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 15, he has risen to become Archbishop of Paris.
Catholics will now be able pray to a Jewish-born nun for divine intervention. That’s because on Sunday, Pope John Paul II made Edith Stein, a German-born Jewish convert to Catholicism, into an official saint of the Catholic Church.
It is the first time in history that the Vatican has elevated a Jewish convert to sainthood, said Rabbi Leon Klenicki, interfaith affairs director of the Anti-Defamation League. But the canonization of Stein, who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, has re-opened wounds in the Catholic-Jewish relationship.
Baltimore — What do an expert on Buddhism, a Christian theologian and a former Reagan administration bureaucrat have to say about Jewish spirituality to a room full of Conservative rabbis? That was the question here this week when all three addressed several hundred rabbis and guests at the 99th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the organization representing the world’s 1,500 Conservative rabbis.
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