When my daughter was in kindergarten, her teacher decided that it would be nice to get mothers more involved in the class. So she invited us to what she thought would be a fun evening with a stylist who specializes in teaching people how to set their tables more elegantly. I made a futile attempt to explain to this lovely young woman why a women’s-only evening to teach proper table-care was throwing women back a generation or more, and that, by the way, fathers are parents, too.
The Red Sox were on the precipice of a sweep of the 2004 World Series, and all the TV commentators could focus on during in Game 4 was when their team would blow it. After Boston won that night, fans complained that the media ignored the excitement and action on the field because of their predetermined story frame. What the media also failed to notice was the bigger picture — in that game, the Red Sox established a strong organization that was built to compete for the foreseeable future.
My mother’s favorite story: Two Jews in post-Anschluss Vienna are walking through an anti-Semitic neighborhood. They see that they are being followed by two Nazi thugs. One of the Jews says to his friend, “We’d better make a run for it; there are two of them, and we are all alone.”
We would like to thank Rabbi David Eliezrie for describing the new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews as “a treasure house of information” on contemporary trends in Jewish life.
Unfortunately, however, Eliezrie’s Opinion column also mischaracterized the survey’s results, including some findings that actually support the points he was trying to make about Orthodox Judaism in America.
The most recent Pew Study on American Jewish life reveals a treasure house of information about modern Jewish trends. The rising numbers of intermarriage amongst the non-Orthodox are a foreboding sign for the future vitality of American Jewish life. It seems that when it comes to measuring the Orthodox Jewish community the study falls short. Its methodology of denominational self-identification, effective decades ago when Jews fit in to neat categories of Orthodox Conservative and Reform, fails to reveal the real trends in a complex post denominational era.
Listening to Ruth Calderon speak at my synagogue last week, I felt sad, once again, about something that has been lacking for a long time in the Jewish community in Israel and the United States: an easy familiarity with the texts of our tradition. The good news is that Calderon, a Knesset member, has made it a mission of her life to reacquaint Jews with those texts. Given her charm and erudition, she seems to be well on her way.
As we prepare to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, there is a near unanimous consensus among scientists that the world is getting hotter at an alarming pace and that human beings have had something to do with it. A just-released report by a select United Nations panel leaves little to speculation, stating, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
The recently released study of the American Jewish community by the prestigious Pew Research Center points to some serious problems in the Conservative movement. The survey reveals declining membership and the inability of the movement to retain its young people. As a rabbi who has been leading free, walk-in High Holy Day services for young Jews for the last 10 years, and as a Talmud professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, I want to make some suggestions to keep the movement robust.
Editor's Note: Eshel, an organization that advocates for an Orthodox community that is inclusive of LGBTQ Jews, offered us this piece in honor of National Coming Out Day. Eshel is launching an Orthodox Allies Roundtable. To find out more on how to be an Orthodox ally click here.
I am a Modern Orthodox Jew, the product of a Torah u’Madda (Torah and secular) education. I am not sure what I expected to discover at this first-ever weekend “Shabbaton,” hosted by Eshel, for Orthodox Jewish parents of LGBTQ children last April.
My grandma Sadie lived in the town of Droghobych in Ukraine until she was 13. Nearby, there is a dirt road through a forest leading to the mass graves where the town’s last Jewish population lies buried. It is barely marked — if you did not know to look for the large slabs of concrete between the trees, you would have a hard time finding it. As a human rights lawyer who has spent a lifetime documenting atrocities, I was not prepared for the effect of this visit a few months ago. I broke into tears.