The case for the evolution of gender roles in Jewish life.
Rabbi Shai Held
Special to the Jewish Week
This past week, Rav Hershel Schachter, eminent Torah scholar and leading figure at Yeshiva University, issued fighting words. The ordination of women as rabbis is such a serious infraction of Jewish Law, he insisted, that it technically falls under the rubric of “Yehareg Ve-al Ya’avor”—one should sooner be killed than violate the Law.
Q: This may sound weird, but I think my neighbor is cruel to his pet beagle. I know that if this was a person we were talking about, Jewish law would obligate me to go to the authorities. But this is a DOG. What's my obligation here?
A. You need to pursue this. I say this not merely because I am life-long pet-o-phile, a vegetarian with two cuddly standard poodles. I say this also because it is the right thing to do. Jewish culture has long championed animal rights.
May 12 (Iyar 28) will mark 43 years since the Israeli army’s triumphal entry into the Old City of Jerusalem. This is certainly a moment for the Jewish People to celebrate the restoration of Judaism’s holiest sites to our people.
Of the many things that I admire my wife for, one (surely not the most significant) is her ability to walk into an empty room in a house and imagine how it might or ought to look with furniture and everything else that makes up a room. The couch can go there, the rocker there, that painting over there… it’s this remarkable ability to see beyond what presents right now and have an image of what it might be.
We all watched in dismay when Haiti was struck with a devastating 7.0 earthquake; the consequences of this natural disaster intensified by Haiti's status as the 2nd poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. One hundred days later, hundreds of thousands are living in tents in refugee camps without sanitation as the devastation and fear continues with little signs of progress.
May 1 was proclaimed Law Day in 1958 by President Eisenhower, in an explicit effort to pre-empt the celebration of May Day as an international worker's holiday - one that honored the struggle for the eight-hour day begun in the US. But the celebration of the rule of law and observance of the struggle for workers' rights are not necessarily at odds. After all, it is through the democratic enactment of laws that our rights are made real. In our system, those laws are judged to be in accord with the protections of our Constitution - or not - by impartial courts.
When I received an email from the New Victory Theater announcing a family comedy show called "The Flaming Idiots", my trigger finger clicked to buy four tickets faster than I could stop it. Little did I know that, in between the crackerjack juggling and zany shenanigans, I would experience a dramatic illumination of my personal values.
The story of cholent goes to the heart of Jewish history and tradition.
Special to the Jewish Week
The origins of cholent, the thick, slow-cooked savory Shabbat stew, the traditional Sabbath midday meal, go all the way back to the time of the Talmud. Indeed, its history takes it on a route so dispersed across centuries and cultures throughout the diaspora, that in different countries it’s alternatively known as hamin (Aramaic for warm, Hebrew for hot); or dafina or adafina (Arabic for “covered”). There are even variants in its Yiddish name, whether schalet in the Yiddish of Germany or shulet in the Yiddish of Eastern Europe.