“Orthodox isolationism” plays out in Modern Orthodox Jews' parochial view of politics
Special To The Jewish Week
Looking around at my fellow worshipers at late Maariv services at the Carlebach Synagogue the other night, I pondered political affiliation. Who, mused I, are the Obama supporters, and who are in the Romney camp? When I nudged my pew-mate, a prominent West-Side M.D., and asked him, “65 percent Romney?” he sputtered, “Get real! We’re talking 90 percent, maybe 99 percent. The 1 percent ‘Obama’ is you!”
When I first heard that a rally was planned for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews to protest the Internet, I didn’t think it would attract much attention. After all, the Internet has long been under attack in Haredi communities and their rabbinic leaders have forbidden it in the past.
Will Obama’s move rally liberal Jews — or drive away what’s left of his Orthodox supporters?
Most American Jews, who continue to overwhelmingly vote Democratic, will likely see President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that he supports gay marriage as further reason to vote for him. After all, a “Jewish values” poll released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute found 81 percent support the right of same-sex couples to marry.
If Al Gore actually did invent the Internet, as he once claimed, he would be the least popular guy in any ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. It is clear that the fervently Orthodox Jewish leaders really despise the Internet and technology because they're willing to spend over $1.5 million in a rally against it next month in Queens, New York.
It is beautiful how much emphasis there is on Shabbat and holiday celebration in American Orthodoxy. However, the celebration of the values of health and exercise are sorely lacking in the community. Parents often do not stress health and exercise for their children, and day schools fall short on creating rigorous health programs. Happily, religious celebration need not compromise our commitment to health.
At the University of Maryland, home to one of the country’s largest Jewish student populations, tensions among the denominations can arise. Yet Jason Felder, president of the Orthodox student group, managed to bring folks together, and on an ordinary Saturday night, no less.
Under Felder’s leadership, the group, Kedma, rented out part of the university’s gym and invited the entire community out to play.
When I saw that the new issue of The New Republic had Robert Alter reviewing a new work by Nathan Englander, I instinctively thought it’d be of Englander’s new translation of the Passover Haggadah. Given that Alter is a widely admired translator of the Hebrew Bible, it was only natural for me to assume as much.
Two haredi Orthodox children say they were attacked in Jerusalem by non-Orthodox Jews in recent days.
An 11-year-old haredi Orthodox boy filed a complaint with Jerusalem police Tuesday alleging that two non-Orthodox teens attacked him and shouted at him at a bus stop in Jerusalem, and tried to prevent him from getting on the bus because he is haredi Orthodox.
On Sunday, a haredi-Orthodox girl, 11, told police that a non-Orthodox bus passenger on a Jerusalem bus spit at her and pushed her, saying "We will destroy the haredim."
The Rabbinical Council of America said it will not take a position on so-called reparative therapy for gays.
In a statement released Monday, the RCA, the main umbrella group of centrist Orthodox rabbis, said it will neither “endorse nor reject any therapy or method that is intended to assist those ... struggling with same-sex attraction.” It further affirms that any therapy should be performed only by licensed practitioners.
RCA President Rabbi Schmuel Goldin told JTA that the statement did not represent a shift in the group's position.