Orthodox Judaism

Knesset Committee Approves Military Conversion Bill

11/28/2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A Knesset committee approved a bill to protect Israeli soldiers who have converted to Judaism through military conversion courts from having their conversions annulled.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs on Sunday approved the bill, initiated by lawmaker David Rotem of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party. The bill, if passed, would force all state agencies, including rabbinic courts and the chief city rabbis and other Orthodox marriage registrars, to accept the converts as Jews.

Debate On Women’s Roles In Orthodoxy Yields Dramatic Moments

The dramatic highlight of a debate held Saturday night in Toronto on “The Changing Role of Women in Judaism” – really, Modern Orthodox Judaism -- came when Rahel Berkovits, a Talmud scholar in Israel, tearfully recounted the utter failure of her efforts to engage several leading Israeli rabbinic authorities in discussing with her halachic issues of female participation in wedding ceremonies and other rituals.

New York State Cutting Last Kosher Inspectors

11/21/2010

(JTA) -- New York is about to lose its last two state kosher inspectors.

The state's Department of Agriculture and Markets will eliminate the jobs as part of a statewide effort to achieve $250 million in work force savings, according to the Times Union in Albany. The department once had 11 kosher inspectors.

Explaining its decision to lay off the final two inspectors, the department told reporters that the jobs have become obsolete since a 2004 change in the state’s kosher law prevented state inspectors from enforcing Orthodox standards of kashrut.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

11/16/2010
Editor and Publisher

One of the enduring images of Hurricane Katrina for the Jewish community of New Orleans, and well beyond, was of a kipah-wearing rescue worker, in waist-high water, carrying one of seven Torahs out of the sanctuary of the century-old Orthodox congregation, Beth Israel.

The Torahs did not make it; water-logged beyond repair, they ultimately were buried in the synagogue’s cemetery, along with 3,000 prayer books.

Gary Rosenblatt

In A Divided Government, Forging A Centrist Agenda

11/09/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

The tectonic plates of power underneath the nation’s capital are radically shifting in the wake of the 2010 midterm elections. Everyone in Washington — from the White House to industry associations to public interest groups and more — is still assessing the fate of the issues they care about in light of the new lay of the land, and the Jewish community is no exception. The good news is, for many of the issues that we care about, the shift from one-party rule to divided government offers opportunities, albeit with challenges, too.

Zamir Lifts Women’s Voices

11/01/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

To be a Jewish musician is easy, says Matthew Lazar, but to be a Jew and a musician is sometimes difficult

Nevertheless he has overcome many hurdles over the years as he guided the world-renowned coeducational Zamir Chorale as its director and conductor — in an age when modern Orthodox Jewish sensibilities shifted fundamentally to the right.

Zamir Chorale was founded by Stanley Sperber in 1960. He made aliya in 1972 and passed the baton to Lazar.

Theodore Bikel presents talit to Matthew Lazar at Zamir gala. Photo by Tim Boxer

Paladino Asked About ‘Backdoor Deals With The Orthodox’

10/25/2010
Assistant Managing Editor

A host of Fox TV’s “Good Day New York” Monday morning asked Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino if he was “making any backdoor deals with the Orthodox to stay alive.”

Rosanna Scotto noted the candidate’s campaigning this week in Williamsburg and a previous appearance there on October 11th that caused a controversy over gay rights.

GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino

Rifts over Israel: is it all about Judaism?

Is the debate inside the Jewish world over Israeli and U.S. policy in the Middle East increasingly about religion and the bitter question of “who is a Jew?”

Talk about asking the obvious.

Yet this escapes the notice of most commentators, who continue to see only political and ideological differences. And it's something Jewish leaders don't like to face up to because it eats at the heart of one of their most cherished self-deceptions – that Israel is the issue that unites a disunited Jewish community.

Still more on the AJC Jewish public opinion survey: unasked questions

I know it seems petty to complain about the American Jewish Committee's annual survey of Jewish public opinion ( the latest was released last week, and got a lot of ink in the Jewish Week.)

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