Much of the drama went out of the race for Yeshiva University president this week when Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, spiritual leader of Efrat, Israel, and best known of the potential candidates, withdrew his name from consideration.
That left David Shatz, a professor of philosophy at Yeshiva and Columbia universities, as the likely contender to succeed Norman Lamm, according to sources close to the selection process.
David Schnall, dean of Yeshiva’s Azrieli Graduate School of Education and Administration, also is expected to be a candidate for the post.
Justice Aharon Barak says his toughest case in his 24 years on the Israeli Supreme Court involved a police request about a year ago to use force to extract information from “a ticking bomb,” a suspect believed to have knowledge of an imminent terrorist attack.
Speaking to an overflow audience of several hundred people Monday night at the Center for Jewish History, Barak — no relation to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak — said he wrote the majority opinion in the coercion case, concluding that a democracy can never use torture.
CNN’s refusal to run two pro-Israel ads has Jewish officials steaming. “It’s outrageous,” said Ken Bandler, a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee, whose 30-second spot, part of a $500,000 advertising campaign, emphasizes Israel’s shared democratic values with the U.S.
“Shame on them,” said Larry Weinberg, executive vice president of israel21c, of the cable news network.
His California-based group’s ad is “educational, not political,” he said.
It’s no secret that Israel has a number of pressing internal problems, from the declining economy and religious-secular tensions to bureaucratic bloat and political cynicism. But many Israelis, engaged for two full years now in a war imposed by the Palestinians and suffering from reports of fatal casualties on an almost daily basis, believe the social and political troubles must take a back seat to the military effort. Defeat the terrorists and get the peace process back on track, they say, and then we’ll attend to our own issues.
Philadelphia — Call it “The Phantom GA.” This year’s General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities was the shortest annual conference of the North American Jewish federation system and lagged in attendance. It was also the least spirited in memory, a shadow of its once-proud past — the victim of limited imagination, chronic over-programming and awful luck.
Will Richard Joel — expected to be elected this week as Yeshiva University’s new president — redirect the flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy from its rightward move of the past several decades back toward the center?
That’s a question being asked in the halls of Yeshiva and throughout the community at the apparent culmination of a long and difficult search process for a successor to Dr. Norman Lamm, who has guided the institution since 1976.
In a move widely seen as a victory for the centrist element of Modern Orthodoxy, and despite rabbinic opposition, Richard Joel, 52, was elected president of Yeshiva University late Thursday night, Dec. 5. In the spring he will succeed Dr. Norman Lamm, who has led the flagship institution of the movement since 1976.
Richard Joel seems undaunted by the fact that some of the faculty and lay leadership at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school opposed his becoming chief executive officer of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, the position he was elected to last week along with president of Yeshiva University.
Joel, 52, said his skills for the new posts include “taking institutions where people look askance at my capacities and being able to empower them.
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the late leader of the Modern Orthodox movement, was known for, among other qualities, his rigorous scholarship and intellectual honesty. Citing an example of both the other day, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, who now leads a large congregation in Boca Raton, Fla., recalled an incident that took place some two decades ago when he served as one of several personal assistants to the Rav (simply, the Rabbi), as he was widely known.
Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at UCLA, estimates that two years ago he received between 30 and 40 requests from around the country to participate in interfaith dialogues between Jews and Muslims.
Last year he received one.
“They just vanished,” he said during an interview last week. “Such invitations are a barometer of the level of dialogue, though my experience may not be representative because of my own idiosyncrasies.”