Editorial & Opinion | Opinion

11/04/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

Much public comment and debate have been generated in the wake of the shocking arrest of Rabbi Barry Freundel on deeply disturbing charges of voyeurism, including upon conversion candidates. For its part, the Rabbinical Council America (RCA) promptly moved to announce the formation of a committee that I will chair to review its Geirus Policies and Standards (GPS), the guidelines that govern its network of conversion courts. As this committee begins its deliberations, it is important to provide the greater Jewish community with appropriate context and perspective for this important initiative.

11/04/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

As a child with a disability in the 1960s and ’70’s, I learned very quickly that, in order to be heard, I needed to be seen. Hidden behind the veils of misperception, paternalistic attitudes and avoidance, people with disabilities, as members of a social class, have needed to take to the streets in order to be taken seriously.  We couldn’t stomach any more condescending head nods, forced smiles, and token actions on the part of policy makers who believed they had the best of intentions. 

11/04/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

In light of the Barry Freundel “Watergate,” scandal, I commend Erica Brown’s suggestion that rabbis should be held to the same standards that apply to those in other professions (“Mikveh Scandal Underscores Need To Regulate Rabbinate,” Oct. 31). Regular performance reviews can be healthy when done right, as they almost always have been for me. Other safeguards can be built in, like the independent audit my synagogue undergoes annually, enabling congregants to feel confidence in the integrity of their contributions to clergy discretionary funds.

10/29/2014 | | Opinion

Israel Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz recently expressed cautious reservations about the religion-infused letter that the commander of the Givati Brigade, Col. Ofer Winter, wrote to the officers under his command at the outset of Operation Protective Edge this past summer. The commander’s letter defined the mission of his troops in religious terms: to defeat a “blasphemous” enemy who defames God’s name.

10/28/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

Many important conversations have resulted from the Rabbi Barry Freundel episode. (The spiritual leader of Congregation Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C., has pleaded not guilty to charges that he used a hidden camera to watch women in his synagogue’s mikveh.) These dialogues touch on a variety of interrelated concerns — safeguarding mikvaot, the vulnerability of converts, the need for clear reporting policies regarding allegations of improper conduct, and the need for greater involvement of women in the power centers of religious life. A less-discussed but equally critical topic is the psychological health and well-being of our clergy.

10/28/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

Ninety years ago this month, the Ku Klux Klan paraded through Princeton, N.J., in a cavalcade of early automobiles. Back then the area was known as hotbed of Klan activity. But the students of the time would have no truck with the Klan. And 800 undergraduates descended on the menacing convoy to tear off their white hoods.