Editorial & Opinion | Opinion

12/13/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

Late last Shabbat afternoon I came downstairs to find my husband reading aloud an article from The New York Times to our 12-year-old daughter about a free loan fund that had been started in Atlanta by a Jewish couple. Seeing the economic hardship around them, this couple put aside $5,000 to help their neighbors in need through extending small loans. As my husband read to our daughter, I immediately knew that this was a story that I had to bring to the attention of my students the following morning.

12/13/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

The cruse of oil story that explains the origins of Chanukah has fallen into disrepute. Many people feel that it appeals to children only, because Chanukah for adults is about a military victory against overwhelming odds. The Babylonian Talmud, they say, composed the story to downplay the Maccabean triumph. But they are wrong. If we read the cruse of oil story in context, we will see how “authentic” it is, and what purpose its authors intended it to serve.

12/13/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

A newly released report by the Task Force on Welcoming Interfaith Families of the New York UJA-Federation has been hailed by some as a breakthrough (“UJA-Fed. Launches Outreach To Intermarrieds,” Dec. 9).

To the extent that it calls for additional funding for Jewish education directed at intermarried couples and new sensitivity training for outreach workers, the report represents a shift in resources. But in its assumptions about intermarriage, it encapsulates the conventional and unsubstantiated wisdom about how best to address intermarriage. 

12/08/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

Nowadays Orthodoxy is all about sex. Immodesty, promiscuity, homosexuality: the public discourse of the Orthodox Jewish world seems disproportionately to take place in the bedroom, the dressing room, and the closet.

12/06/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

A month ago I officiated a Jewish commitment ceremony and civil marriage for two men in Washington, D.C. The event was sensationally reported as a “Gay Orthodox Wedding,” and this news has stirred controversy within the Orthodox community. I am aware that my conducting this ceremony has made many uncomfortable, among them, some of my friends and supportive colleagues. In light of the strong feelings I felt that it was important that I clarify the facts, describe the context and explain my intensions. I am hopeful that controversy will give way to conversation.

12/06/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Opinion

Agunot again. In 1988 I attended an American Jewish Congress convention in Israel. In the middle of one of the speeches, a line of women tied together by chains pushed across the stage. On her chest each woman wore a letter that, taken all together, spelled the word “agunah,” a woman chained to a marriage from which she cannot free herself because her husband refuses to give her a get, a Jewish divorce.