Opinion

Has RCA Become A U.S. Chief Rabbinate?

01/28/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recently made headlines for the wrong reasons once again. Until a recent agreement was reached, it had refused to accept letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss and other American Orthodox rabbis attesting to the Jewishness of congregants seeking to wed in Israel. As a result, numerous organizations and prominent individuals, in Israel and the U.S., each with a plan to reform, weaken, improve, or dismantle the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate), stood up for Rabbi Weiss and called on the Rabbanut to accept him. Ultimately, the Rabbanut agreed to accept Rabbi Weiss’ testimony and also to accept automatically any letter of testimony that has been approved by the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest association of Orthodox rabbis in the world.

Elli Fischer

We Are Our Brothers’ Partners

01/28/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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As a child, I remember wearing silver bracelets so that I could twin with a Jew in Russia, who couldn’t live as a Jew. As a 10-year-old in 1987, I remember attending the Soviet Jewry March on Washington with my parents and their “UJA friends,” and seeing friends of mine from Camp Ramah, realizing, at that moment, what it meant to be a part of the Jewish people. The message was clear: Let Them Out. Retrieve them with a “one-way ticket,” either to the U.S. or to Israel.

Rabbi Rachel Ain

What Bruce Springsteen Can Teach Us About Tikkun Olam

01/27/2014
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The term Tikkun Olam, translated as repairing or improving the world, has become today a shorthand phrase for social justice, endorsed by elected officials (President Obama and House Leader Eric Cantor to name just two) and a plethora of Jewish organizations.

An Open Letter To My Role Model, Rabbi Avi Weiss

01/27/2014
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Dear Rabbi Weiss,

While I was relieved to learn that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has revoked its claims against you, I have been deeply saddened by the entire episode. But I have not been surprised. In their book, “Leadership on the Line,” Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky define leadership as an act that involves “disappointing your own people at a rate they can absorb.” In order to make progress around issues that touch on people’s beliefs and values, it is often necessary to touch on very sensitive issues, challenging people’s understanding of what is true and right.

Rabbi Avi Weiss prays at a vigil for victims of a train derailment in December, 2013. Getty Images

Learning How My Father Escaped Execution At Auschwitz

01/27/2014
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Editor’s Note: Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

My father, Josef Rosensaft, decidedly did not want to be in Auschwitz. True, no one did, but my father actually did something about it. 

Repeatedly. 

Does The U.S. Now Have A Chief Rabbinate?

The RCA, a professional institution, must nurture its relationship with Israel's Rabbinate.

01/21/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recently made headlines for the wrong reasons once again. Until a recent agreement was reached, it had refused to accept letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss and other American Orthodox rabbis attesting to the Jewishness of congregants seeking to wed in Israel. As a result, numerous organizations and prominent individuals, in Israel and the U.S., each with its own plan to reform, weaken, improve, or dismantle the Rabbanut [Chief Rabbinate], stood up for Rabbi Weiss and called on the Rabbanut to accept him. Ultimately, the Rabbanut agreed to accept Rabbi Weiss’s testimony and also to accept automatically any letter of testimony that has been approved by the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest association of Orthodox rabbis in the world.

Why I’m A Conservative Jew, Hopeful About The Future

01/21/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Liberal religion is having a hard time these days. Mainstream Protestant Christianity is a graying movement with significant numbers of its churches closing. Pope Francis expressed his fears that in emphasizing issues of social justice the Catholic Church not suffer the same fate as these Protestant churches have. The daughters of Muslim women who gloried in uncovering their hair are succeeded by their daughters who insist on headdresses. In all three, the “fundamentalist” wings of these churches seem to be robust and, at least among Protestants and Muslims, ascendant. It should not surprise us that the Pew Research Center study has now shown that these trends are similarly true for Jews. 

Rabbi Edward Feld

Hillel’s Boundaries

01/21/2014
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In recent months, several incidents, seemingly centered on Israel, sparked reactions nationwide, from both academic institutions and Hillels. I would argue, though, that these incidents have much less to do with Israel than we might think.

Tilly R. Shames

Ariel Sharon, A Close Friend I Never Met

01/16/2014
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I never met Ariel Sharon personally, but I feel like I have lost a close
friend.

In August 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon had stated his intention to
evacuate the Gaza Strip. The decision elicited strong reactions from across
the Israeli and American Jewish political spectrums.

Ariel Sharon: A Personal Remembrance

01/16/2014
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Ariel Sharon is now buried in the land he loved, next to his beloved wife Lily, on a hilltop overlooking the verdant fields of Havat Ha-shikmim, the ranch he retreated to as often as possible each week for the peace and quiet that eluded him in public life.  Having served as the American ambassador to Israel during almost all of Sharon’s tenure as prime minister, I had the privilege of being named to the U.S. delegation to his funeral, headed by Vice President Biden.  It was a day for remembrance and, to some degree, closure for the millions of Israelis who mourned Sharon’s passing.

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