A Response To Rabbi Avi Shafran

More than funding formula changes are needed to fix a school board plagued by acrimony and dysfunction.

04/30/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Rabbi Avi Shafran recently offered a passionate defense of the actions of the Charedi dominated East Ramapo Public School Board. I trust that that Rabbi Shafran’s intentions are honorable – to strengthen the Jewish people and create a fairer education system, and I welcome the debate. For too long this issue has been whispered about or ignored in our community.

Rabbi Ari Hart

Liminal Moments: Our Unity Is Threatened

04/29/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

On Sunday, as we marked Yom HaShoah, we entered upon a stretch of days in their own right as defining for Jews as those that separate Rosh HaShanah from Yom Kippur. On May 6, we celebrate the 66th anniversary of Israel’s independence. Every year, I am struck by how the observance of Yom HaShoah enhances the significance of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Each is made more meaningful (if one can say such a thing) by the other. This year, the hate-inspired pre-Passover murders of three innocents outside Jewish facilities in Overland Park, Kan., and the fear for Jews in eastern Ukraine, lend Holocaust Remembrance Day an unusual pertinence and gravity. And our observance of Israeli Independence Day — the joy or the concerns we bring to it — will no doubt be shaped by the dim prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson

Opinion: A Plea For Dialogue, Not More Stunts

Hillel director says a genuine effort at understanding needs to replace the downward spiral of name calling and social media warfare.

04/28/2014 - 20:00
Skirball Executive Director, Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU

Last Wednesday night, members of Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU (NYU SJP) slipped mock “eviction notices” under the doors of 2,000 Jewish and non-Jewish students in their residence halls — a violation of several of NYU residence hall policies — to protest Israeli “ethnic cleansing.” Some Jewish residents, upset by the intrusion and the content of the notice, assumed that they had been specifically targeted by the fliers and claimed that the act was anti-Semitic. To my mind, the content was highly inflammatory and I identify with their instinct to respond. They then called for judicial action towards NYU SJP, which the student group and some faculty then countered, impinged on SJP’s right to freedom of speech.

Rabbi Yehudah Sarna

Social Injustice And The Ramapo School Board

04/28/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It was Albert Camus’ insight that bad things often result from ignorance, and that “good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran

Hillel President's: How And Why We 'Balanced' IDF Vet's Talk

04/27/2014 - 20:00

Editor's Note: Breaking the Silence, an organization of IDF veterans that publicly discusses their experiences serving in what they call the "Occupied Territories" obtained this letter from a Hillel member. In it, Hillel Internationl's CEO, Eric Fingerhut, discusses how his organization reacted to a presentation at Washington University's Hillel by a member of Breaking the Silence, Oded Na'aman. Please find an opinion piece by Na'aman here


This week I have received emails regarding the program involving J Street U, Breaking the Silence, and Hillel at Washington University. Many expressed anger and opposition to Hillel’s decision to host the program. 

Eric Fingerhut

Plugging Our Ears Does Not Serve Israel

IDF vet says American Jewish establishment pays more attention to its feelings about Israel than to facts on the ground.

04/27/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

I was born in Israel. I served in the Army. Israel is the only home I know. You would think my speaking to students at Hillel would be welcomed. Yet my presentation to students at Washington University’s Hillel in St. Louis last month sparked a storm of controversy.

Oded Na'aman

Yom HaShoah Message: Thou Shalt Not Be A Bystander

04/24/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

"Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be an oppressor. But thou shalt never be a bystander," distinguished Holocaust scholar and author Yehuda Bauer stated to the German Bundestag in 1998. He even suggested it was time to add these three mandates to the Ten Commandments.  Yet, since that speech a decade-and-a-half ago, human beings continue to watch as others are being oppressed and killed.

Unfair Portrayal Of School Board

04/23/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It was Albert Camus’ insight that bad things often result from ignorance, and that “good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran defends the East Ramapo school board.

Don’t Confuse ‘Identity’ And ‘Affiliation’

04/22/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Two opposing trends can be discerned within today’s American Jewish community. The first is the move to precisely define the borders and boundaries between various Jewish denominations and religious groups. On the pages of this newspaper and elsewhere, there are debates about what precisely constitutes Open, Modern, or Ultra Orthodoxy, and where exactly the boundary is between Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. On social media, this splintering and boundary-setting is even more pronounced as quasi-denominational labels like Egalitarian Traditional, Left-Wing Conservative and Modern Ultra-Orthodox proliferate.

Elli Fischer

Predicting Jewish Trends Is Risky, But Here’s One

04/22/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

At a recent event honoring a well-known rabbi, I was flattered when a prominent member of the Jewish community asked why I had stopped writing essays in The Jewish Week. Frankly, I was surprised that anyone had noticed (and was unduly flattered), but answered, “I just can’t figure out what is going on.” The caustic response was, “That doesn’t stop anyone else from writing.” 

Joseph R. Rackman
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