In Jewish tradition, last Saturday — the 18th day of Elul — was a significant date. It is the anniversary of the birth of two major chasidic figures: the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the chasidic movement; and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Daniel Kurtzer served as the U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 1997 to 2001 and as the U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001-2005. Throughout his career, he played a key role in formulating and executing American policy towards the Middle East peace process and served as a member of the U.S. peace team that in 1991 convened the Madrid Peace Conference. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2005 and is now a lecturer and professor in Middle Eastern Policy Studies at Princeton University.
For 30 years, Hank Sheinkopf has been offering his advice to candidates and his analysis of the political landscape to the media. Now, he’s also fielding questions about halacha and offering comfort to the spiritually afflicted — as a newly ordained Orthodox rabbi.
Sheinkopf was granted smicha on July 5 from Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Yaroslavsky of Kfar Chabad, the Lubavitch enclave in Israel. Since the rabbi speaks no English, Sheinkopf completed his exam in Hebrew, which he has been studying at home on the Upper West Side.
In the new film “Higher Ground,” there’s a scene where Vera Farmiga, the film’s director and star, fitfully tries to pray in her bathroom. She’s trying out a method — speaking in tongues — that she recently saw performed by her close friend. Like the friend, Farmiga’s character is an oddity in their Christian fundamentalist group: a free-spirited iconoclast with a highly inquisitive mind.
Rabbi Gerald Skolnik |
Jewish Week Online Columnist |
A Rabbi's World
Some years ago, as I recuperated from serious orthopedic surgery on my ankle, I went to the surgeon’s office for a follow-up appointment. My recovery was in that awkward stage where I was no longer in a cast or on crutches, but clearly not foot loose and fancy free, either. I remember asking the doctor something along the lines of “how much is too much?” Should I be walking more or less if it hurts? Should I be pushing this recovery along, or would pushing it slow down my overall progress?