Could Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs executive who set off a firestorm last week by publishing a scathing resignation letter on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, have been motivated to speak out against his former employer because of his Jewish heritage? So suggested Paul Berger on the website of The Forward. “What if Smith, a South African Jew, was simply continuing a South African Jewish tradition of speaking truth to power?” Berger mused.
On the morning of Feb. 28, Alyza Lewin of the law firm, Lewin & Lewin, invited me to participate in a conference call to discuss a burgeoning controversy involving the basketball team of the Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox day school in Houston.
Alyza and her father, the venerated constitutional lawyer, Nathan Lewin, had been informed the preceding evening by Etan Mirwis, whose son is the Beren team captain, that Beren was on the verge of forfeiting eligibility for a Texas state championship slotted to be played over the upcoming Shabbat.
‘We should make our school more like camp” has been a popular refrain lately. It is impossible to spend time at a Jewish overnight summer camp and not be moved by the intensity of relationships, depth of spirit, and pure joy that imbues the setting. The off-season is a time for camp memories, keeping up with camp friends, and generally biding one’s time until the next summer.
Patrilineal descent is an issue that raises strong emotions in many Jewish circles. Some feel adamantly that patrilineal Jews who have been living and identifying as Jews their whole lives should be accepted as Jews by the entire Jewish community. Others feel strongly that the very term “patrilineal Jew” is a misnomer and that individuals are either Jewish according to Jewish law, halacha — that is, that they have a Jewish mother or they have converted — or they are not Jewish.
The debate about ritual circumcision with metzitzah b’peh (direct mouth-to-wound oral suctioning by the mohel) is complex, as it involves halachic, historical, social, medical, technical and potential regulatory components.
In the battle against racism and anti-Semitism in America, there have always been well-meaning people who, while willing to stand up against hatred and prejudice when they see it directed against others, nonetheless seem to have a blind spot when hatred emanates from within their own community.
This past week, along with over 13,000 other pro-Israel delegates, I attended the AIPAC policy conference. I have been going since my junior year of college when I led a delegation of fellow students. If you have never been, then you should know that it is, hands down, the largest Kiddush you will ever see. Thousands of laypeople, Jewish professionals, clergy, Jews and non-Jews all crammed into the DC Convention Center.
What a relief it was to see Lady Mary and her cousin Matthew, heir to Downton Abbey, finally get together. That wonderful scene when he proposed to her in the snowy moonlight gave me goose bumps. But what will happen to poor Mr. Bates, locked up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit? And don’t you love the Dowager Countess? Has there ever been a wiser, sharper-witted grandmother anywhere?
Deborah Feldman’s book, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” has garnered significant media attention since its publication. Recently, much of the focus has centered on whether some of Feldman’s claims are true or false. Unfortunately, this debate is eclipsing a far more important conversation that we, the readers in general and the Jewish community in particular, should be having in response to this book.
After months of disappointment, debate and distress, the Israeli Government this week announced that it will increase the number of Ethiopian Jews that will be brought to Israel on aliyah. The Government had decided in 2010 to permit the remaining 8600 Ethiopian Jews to emigrate from Ethiopia at the rate of 200 a month. Unfortunately, after a short time, they disappointingly reduced the number to 110 a month.