Opinion

In Defense Of The Presidents Conference Vote

05/12/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

After the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations voted not to accept the membership application of J Street, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, published a statement critical of the vote. He acknowledged that Conference procedures, which he could have questioned long before the J Street vote was held, were properly followed. Rabbi Jacobs seems to allege that a cabal of small right-wing members excluded a major Jewish organization because that organization espouses disagreeable views. Rabbi Jacobs seriously miscategorizes both the vote on J Street’s admission and the issues underlying the vote.

Richard Stone

The Problems With ‘Privilege’

05/12/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Princeton freshman Tal Fortgang has been making headlines with an essay demanding that his peers stop dismissing his opinions with a glib “check your privilege” retort. Relating his grandparents’ Holocaust history, he objects to his classmates’ writing him off as a white male who doesn’t understand the struggles of the less fortunate. Originally written for a campus journal, Fortgang’s essay was quickly picked up by a host of Internet sites and Fox News, and even garnered the attention of The New York Times. The essay’s popularity in conservative outlets reflects some very real problems with a common discourse on college campuses. But the essay is so unreflective that Fortgang ends up embodying the very anti-intellectualism he condemns. More importantly, the essay serves an excellent case study in the poverty of modern political discourse and the vanity of the American Jewish community.

Are American Jews replacing gratitude with vanity? Fotolia

In Defense of the East Ramapo Central School District

05/11/2014 - 20:00

I write in response to the Opinion essay by Rabbi Ari Hart, of Uri L'Tzedek, regarding the Board of Education’s handling of the fiscal crisis and political turmoil within the East Ramapo Central School District.  I welcome Rabbi Hart's interest in our District.  Unfortunately, his piece is riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations, and seems unlikely to foster the dialogue he purports to seek.

Conference Of Presidents Out Of Touch

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Six years ago, J Street was founded on the premise that a large component of the American Jewish community had a voice that wasn't being represented in our own traditional establishment organizations. Five years ago, I joined J Street's lay leadership in New York because I'd felt that sentiment personally. And as J Street went through the process of applying for membership to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, I was asked several times: Why even bother? You guys are the outsider voice by nature, so why try to get “in?"

Talia Benamy

A Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, And The Ties That Bind

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It was not at my grandson Benji’s bar mitzvah ceremony two weeks ago that I first dissolved into tears (although then, too). It was on the Thursday before, when he read part of his Torah portion at the morning service. He lay tefillin for the first time in the synagogue, and that’s when I felt the lump in my throat and the tears welling. It was, of course, a “Sunrise, Sunset” moment. The little boy I once carried looked so grown up; wasn’t it yesterday that we celebrated his brit? (I’m grateful that he still wears braces on his teeth; at least some vestiges of childhood remain.)

Francine Klagsbrun

Marking Mother’s Day After Mother Is Gone

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

82 Ways to Tell Mom You Love Her.” “Don’t Forget about Mom!” “Tell Your Mother You Love Her.” “Make Sure Mom Gets the Message.”

Esther D. Kustanowitz

A Rabbi’s View From The Canonization In Rome

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Making my way to Rome for the Canonization of a Pope, let alone two, was never on my to-do list as a rabbi.  Yet, on April 27, I found myself as the sole representative of the American rabbinate in St. Peter’s Square, doing just that.  It was an honor to share that moment in history with my esteemed colleagues, Rabbi David Rosen, international director for religious affairs of the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, and Rabbi Abraham Sorka, advisor to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate from Buenos Aires, who co-authored a book with Pope Francis.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut: A Time For Celebration And Response

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

At its most fundamental level, Yom Ha’atzmaut commemorates the moment in 1948 when David Ben-Gurion stood before the world and declared Israel’s independence.

Hey, Jewish Orgs: #ResistFads

The Jewish community needs to consider the possibility that social media is a bad investment.

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Last week, in the run-up to Yom HaShoah the Israel Defense Forces' Interactive Media Branch called on their followers to "contribute to Holocaust remembrance" by posting "a photo of yourself together with a Holocaust survivor on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #WeAreHere."

Russel Neiss

Twelve Topics: Start An Orthodox Conversation About LGBT Jews

05/04/2014 - 20:00

We are a group of many dozens of observant, Orthodox families from across the United States, including Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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