Before 2005, I knew little about child sexual abuse. That year, I was approached by a friend, now 44, who was molested as a teenager by two prominent figures in the Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox Jewish community: a teacher in a respected yeshiva, and a renowned chasidic therapist.
When my friend reported the teacher’s abuse to the school’s dean, my friend and his family were intimidated into inaction. A communal taboo against reporting a Jew to the secular authorities meant calling the police was not an option.
When 18-year-old Margot Haas visited Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village on a summer service and learning trip, she was described by her mom as “ambiently Jewish.” The term itself reflects the gap between what so many “next generation” Jews think of themselves and how they are thought of by their parents and teachers.
The economic downturn of 2008 revealed the existence of many cracks in our local and national systems. In the Jewish community, one of the most prominent conversations to emerge out of the seismic shifts in the markets was the affordability of Jewish life in general and of day school education in particular.
Over the past few weeks, I have watched the unfolding drama facing Tzohar, the group of Modern Orthodox rabbis in Israel, and its campaign to reinstate their rabbis as officiants for weddings in Israel. (See “Fighting Back Against The Chief Rabbinate,” Editorial, Nov.11) I believe the issue warrants greater understanding of what truly underlies it.
For the past eight summers, I have been privileged to teach at Brandeis University’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies, working with college faculty members planning to introduce courses on Modern Israel at their respective campuses. Invariably, at my session on Israel’s relationship to world Jewry, the question arises why American Jewish organizational leadership appears to march in lockstep with Israeli governmental policy.
Last summer I journeyed far from the daily craziness of rabbinic life, to the wilds of Africa, and it was out there that I rediscovered why I do what I do back here.
Job states, “God teaches us from the animals of the land,” and on safari I found myself immersed in a vast, orderly ecosystem, where, Anatevka-like, all creatures know who they are and what God expects them to do. It took my breath away.
An Opinion piece, “Religious Courts Are Treating Agunot Unfairly” (Oct. 28), raised a number of disturbing allegations, but failed to mention a notable exception to the practices attributed in the article to some batei din in the United States.
‘Everybody is right,” my Israeli friend Herb Aber said when we met for dinner the other night. He was responding to my question about his opinion of the Gilad Shalit saga, and he gave a good answer. Everybody was right: the persistent parents who kept their boy’s imprisonment in the public eye for five years; the prime minister who grabbed a tiny window of opportunity to negotiate a deal for his release; the Israeli people who tearfully welcomed the young soldier home with the intensity of emotion that had made him “everybody’s son.” They were all right.
Most American Christian leaders strongly condemned the Kristallnacht pogrom that the Nazis carried out against Germany’s Jews 73 years ago next week, when hundreds of synagogues were torched on the night of Nov. 9-10, the windows of thousands of Jewish businesses were smashed, 100 Jews were murdered and 30,000 more were dragged off to concentration camps.
The Oct. 28 Jewish Week column by Gary Rosenblatt on a recent conference of Jewish demographers (“How Many U.S. Jews, And Who Cares?”) sheds some light on one of the greatest challenges that has faced the Jewish people throughout our history — our tendency to fragment rather than coalesce. Given the fact that however one counts, we Jews are a miniscule fraction of the 7 billion human beings on the face of the earth, it is a sad fact that more often than not, we squander the resources we have at our command by bickering, rather than finding better ways to work together.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.