Since 2007, Newsweek has been issuing an annual list of America’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis. I am pleased to say that several rabbis who are welcoming of interfaith families, including Rabbi Kerry Olitzky of the Jewish Outreach Institute, are on this year’s list.
However, the list itself irritates the hell out of me and I am hoping that, with the struggling news magazine now on the auction block, this year’s list will be the last. Here, in no particular order, are my reasons:
In Connecticut, Jewish same-sex couples celebrate their newfound right to marry.
Born in Guatemala and adopted by two American mothers, 9-year-old Ellie Cooper has grown accustomed to standing out in her predominantly white Christian town of Middlefield, Conn. But now that her parents have gained the right to marry under Connecticut law, she’ll have more in common with her classmates.
“Often people will say, ‘Are you married?’” said one of her mothers, Jane Cooper. “I just want to say yes, and I want for my daughter to have parents who are married.”
This year’s edition of the New York Jewish Film Festival has been an instructive experience. Even a program as large as this one cannot claim to be representative; there are simply too many Jewish filmmakers working in too many different political, socioeconomic and even geographical contexts to be given voice. However, a few tentative conclusions can be drawn, with the final handful of movies serving nicely to underline our findings.
People always ask Ayelet Cohen why she, as a straight rabbi with every option, wants to work at a gay and lesbian synagogue. In response, she smiles and shares some of the reasons that working at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah is her dream job.
The first case testing a decade-old policy permitting Conservative rabbis to serve gay and lesbian congregations has illuminated the movement's many struggles and inconsistencies in connection with homosexuality-related issues.
A day before her ordination this spring at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Ayelet Cohen informed the Rabbinical Assembly that she had been offered a job at New York's gay and lesbian synagogue. She had served at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah as a rabbinic intern (placed there by the seminary) for the past two years.
It's a question rooted in an age-old practice but made new by the vicissitudes of modern technology: Is it kosher to ask mechila by e-mail? Asking forgiveness, or mechila, for wrongs committed against others is emphasized during the month of Elul, and given particular attention during the 10 Days of Repentance from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur.
The rabbis of the nation's gay and lesbian synagogues gathered this week at a first-of-its kind meeting, held at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in the West Village.
Their goal was to share experiences "and to find out whether there are in fact things unique to us as leaders of gay and lesbian congregations," said one participant, Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Los Angeles' Bet Chayim Chadashim, during a lunch break.
The answer, she and other participants said, is that there are and there aren't.
If they’d met a generation ago, Shayna Peavey, a cantor, and Melissa De Lowe, a first-grade Judaic studies teacher, might very well have fallen in love. They might have waltzed across Israel together, setting off for little-known destinations in their leisure time — as they did when they first met as Hebrew Union College students abroad in Jerusalem. They might have regrouped in New York City, where Peavey, now 30, finished her cantorial studies, and De Lowe, 27, moved after dating Peavey for three months in Israel.