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Editorial & Opinion | Opinion

04/07/2016 - 12:16 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

With the drumbeat of the approaching Passover holiday growing ever louder, I am trying to put aside my obsession with the election campaign and turn my attention inward, to the Jewish world. With that in mind I went up to the Jewish Theological Seminary, the center of Conservative Judaism, to chat with its chancellor, Arnold Eisen. That branch of Judaism has been my home for most of my life, and the seminary, where I studied during my college years, the source of much of my Jewish knowledge. In those days the Conservative movement was the largest of the Jewish religious denominations, far surpassing the Orthodox and Reform. That has changed, with the Reform leading in numbers, the Conservative in second place, and the Orthodox growing at the fastest pace. I wanted to know more about that and about the thinking of Conservative’s current leaders. Chancellor Eisen has headed the movement for nine years and is a passionate spokesman for it.

04/07/2016 - 10:55 | | Opinion

Last week I found myself sitting in a hip, subterranean Jewish bar listening to a dynamic young man who founded a successful, international Jewish arts festival. He apologized that his voice was a little weak—not because of an early-spring cold, but because he had just undergone brit milah.

04/06/2016 - 11:39 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

In what has been a troubling, even worrying U.S. election season, we have reason for optimism and an excellent choice. Amid all the inflammatory rhetoric that has characterized this election, former Sen. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has consistently offered rational, productive, achievable answers to the serious problems our nation faces. It is time to set out on a path on which we can address difficult challenges rather than vent anger and cast blame.

04/05/2016 - 17:17 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

There is a saying in Israel: “Ein li achot” — “I don’t have a sister.” It’s a Hebrew cousin to Groucho Marx’s question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Like that classic, it describes the anatomy of a smear. Somebody impugns the virtue of your sister. Soon, word has gotten around about her loose morals, and you and your family are guilty and shamed by association. Problem is, you don’t have a sister. But it’s too late, and the truth doesn’t matter.  The smear has succeeded, the damage to your reputation has been done.

04/05/2016 - 10:44 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

South by Southwest (SXSW) is in perpetual beta mode. Experimentation is at the core of the festival’s DNA. Eighty-five thousand people from the worlds of music, film and interactive media have been converging in Austin in mid-March for 30 years. SXSW is an example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, as each participant makes a unique contribution to the experience. This year’s attendees ranged from President Obama and the first lady to film director J.J. Abrams, chef-adventurer Anthony Bourdain and former Wikimedia Foundation exec Lila Tretikov.

03/31/2016 - 10:05 | | Opinion

On July 1st, 2015, Faith and Jon Leener set out to build their home. They were newly married, about to finish graduate school, and only had a few boxes of books, some clothes, and a poster of the Beatles’ yellow submarine. That same day, in a different borough, their best friends, Avram and Yael Kornfeld-Mlotek set out to build their home. The Mloteks unpacked all of their instruments, Yiddish books, and placed a signed copy of Judy Chicago’s “Rainbow Shabbat” on the wall. Within weeks, both couples were hosting dinners, teaching classes, running support groups, cooking for the homeless, and collaborating with local institutions to run High Holiday services — all within the four walls of their Brooklyn and Manhattan apartments. This was not your typical first home.