Getting The Fax Out

Staff Writer
Their backs were against the Wall, so to speak. But a flood of faxes sent to Israeli legislators has staved off — at least temporarily — consideration of a new law that if passed, would ban women from conducting any religious ceremony in their section at the Western Wall. The bill, submitted to the Knesset by members of the United Torah Judaism party, would prohibit women from opening a Torah scroll, blowing a shofar, or wearing a tallit or tefillin at Judaism’s holiest site. Violators would face seven years in prison.

Between Torah And Democracy

Staff Writer
Setting the agenda for the third International Conference of Edah, a proudly Modern Orthodox group, Rabbi Saul Berman stressed to the 1,000 or so participants that “we are integrated fundamentalists” with a vital role to play, asserting that it is possible to believe in the absolute authority of one’s religion while also embracing diversity and tolerance.

The Conservative Influence

Staff Writer
When it comes to the Jewish community’s recent focus on Jewish education, you can thank the Conservative movement. That’ll be the rouse-the-faithful message of Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor Ismar Schorsch at his annual state-of-the-movement address next week in Jacksonville, Fla.


Staff Writer
Open fighting broke out in Tel Aviv last week. No casualties were reported, but hundreds of people got wet. At the fifth annual Water Fight (, some 500 young Israelis and tourists squirted each other in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the city’s central gathering spot, near the municipality building. This year’s slogan was “Fighting over every drop,” the theme was water conservation and the general purpose was fun. Water conservation in a water fight?

Culture Clash Over Brit Ritual

Staff Writer
Undergirding the current standoff between the fervently Orthodox community and the New York City Department of Health over a controversial circumcision practice appears to be a gulf of cultural difference and a fundamental misunderstanding of the disease at issue. That is one of the conclusions drawn from voluminous correspondence between members of the haredi community and city health officials obtained by The Jewish Week through a Freedom of Information Law request filed in October.

Nonprofits Already Feeling The Squeeze

Staff Writer
Leaders of Jewish foundations and nonprofits are bracing for slashes in available funding this week as global and domestic markets tumble and fears of a recession loom. And some are already starting to feel the pinch as anxiety mounts among philanthropists and leaders of the groups they fund. On Tuesday, the development director for an Israeli nonprofit with solid roots among American donors said two of his organization’s funders had just informed him that money they committed to give in the first quarter of the year would be pushed back to the fourth quarter.

Evolution Of The Feminist Seder

Staff Writer
In Richardson, Texas, they call it “Miriam’s seder.” “Hers Seder” is the term of art in Pennsylvania, at the American Jewish Congress gatherings. And in a diverse cross-section of neighborhoods, towns and cities, from the semi-suburbia of Hollis Hills, Queens, to the flatlands of Canton, Ohio, to the East Bay of San Francisco, to the deep South of Birmingham, Ala., the event is known simply as a women’s seder.

Fighting The Odds

Staff Writer
Last month, Barbara Pfeiffer had surgery to remove both her breasts. A year ago, she had a total hysterectomy, removing her uterus and ovaries. The 46-year-old has never been diagnosed with cancer. She had these healthy body parts surgically removed because she has a strong family history of cancer and a genetic mutation making it overwhelmingly likely that she would develop breast or ovarian cancer in her lifetime.

Jewish-Muslim Dialogue: The Risks And Rewards

Staff Writer
Rabbi Burton Visotzky, professor of Midrash and interreligious studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was on foreign but familiar ground recently. A veteran of interfaith discussions with Muslims around the world, he was among three rabbis — the others were Jack Moline of Alexandria, Va., and Gerald Serotta of Chevy Chase. Md. — who took part in a panel discussion at the Islamic Society of North America’s 46th convention in Washington, D.C.

JTS Facing Serious Financial Problems

Staff Writer
Faculty members at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative movement’s flagship institution, are reeling over the sudden announcement that the school faces serious financial problems, ones they believe could harm the future academic reputation of the institution. At a Nov. 3 faculty meeting convened by Chancellor Ismar Schorsch, the teaching staff learned that JTS has implemented a hiring freeze and is selling a parcel of land it purchased four years ago intending to build graduate housing.
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