End The Prohibition On Proselytizing To Non-Jews

03/03/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

When news broke last month that Yair Netanyahu, the oldest son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was dating a young woman from Norway, many in the Jewish state declared the affair a “shanda,”or a shame. The young man’s uncle even went as far as addressing his nephew publicly and urged him to end the relationship and find himself a Jewish spouse.

Steven M. Cohen and Marco Greenberg

Good News, Bad News On Jewish Push For Success

02/24/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

If we can identify the factors that lead to success, then we can model educational systems to produce highly successful students.  Or can we?

What Went Wrong With Conservative Judaism?

02/24/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The findings of the recent study of American Jews by the Pew Research Center have generated a lot of ink, not the least in responses from Jewish religious movements. We have heard the Orthodox expressions of the Church Triumphant. We have witnessed the scurrying for cover on the part of some other groups. In the Conservative world, a number of the movement’s leaders have offered either aggressive programming to counter the movement’s decline, or vigorous cheerleading.

Jerome A. Chanes

Why Pressure On Chief Rabbinate Will Only Increase

02/19/2014 - 19:00
Special to The Jewish Week

A few years ago, I moderated a series of focus group conversations about Israel. The participants were mostly middle-aged Jews affiliated with Reform and Conservative congregations. As discussion touched on Israel’s policies on settlements, peace negotiations and civil rights, participants argued back and forth, with many expressing tempered criticism of Israeli positions. But when the conversation turned to the Chief Rabbinate’s authority over matters of personal status, including marriage, divorce and burial, debate gave way to expressions of bewilderment and outrage.


What I Thought I Knew About The Jews Of The Former Soviet Union

02/18/2014 - 19:00

In my childhood bedroom, in Glasgow, there was a poster on the wall bearing an image of the Kremlin and the words “Let My People Go.” Like many other Jews growing up in the 1980s, I felt the profound impact of the Soviet Jewry movement. So I was a bit surprised by my own ambivalence when I recently decided to go on a UJA-Federation rabbinic mission to the former Soviet Union (FSU) to see what Jewish life is like there today.

Making A Place For Non-Jews In Our Synagogues

02/17/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Cathy Salamon and Ted Geardino are members of my Conservative synagogue. Cathy is Jewish and attended yeshiva through eighth grade. Ted is Catholic and attended catechism through eighth grade. Before marrying, they agreed to raise their children as Jews. Cathy regularly attends Shabbat services with her three children, and studies in our adult classes. She and her children accompanied me on a synagogue trip to Israel. Her children are enrolled in our religious school, Hebrew High School and youth groups. At the bar mitzvah of each of his children, Ted ascended to the bima to lead the congregation responsively in the English recitation of Psalms, joined Cathy to place the tallit on each child’s shoulders, and rose with the family when it recited the Shehechiyanu prayer.

Gerald L. Zelizer

Regime Change, Realpolitik And The Rabbanut

02/17/2014 - 19:00

An Opinion column by Steven Bayme and Dov Zakheim (“Not a Proud Moment for the RCA in Dealing with the Chief Rabbinate”, Feb. 7) takes frequent and explicit issue with my Jan. 21 column (“Does the US Now have a Chief Rabbinate?” Jan. 24), and left me with mixed feelings. While it is quite flattering when two distinguished and long-serving American Jewish leaders take note of one’s writing, my views on the Rabbanut [Israeli Chief Rabbinate] and its relationship with the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) were misrepresented. While I am a member of the RCA and have rabbinical ordination from the Rabbanut, I speak for neither and have been publicly and openly critical of both, and especially the Rabbanut, since 2006 at the latest.

Time To Take A Stand Against Sex Trafficking

02/16/2014 - 19:00

“I go to the mall and look for young girls. I stop one and tell her she is very pretty. If she looks me in the eye and says ‘thank you!’ I move on. If she lowers her eyes, shuffles her feet and demurs, I know I’ve found my prey.”

Happy Valentine's Day, Yair Netanyahu

02/11/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It may be risky to publicly admit that I’m thinking of someone this Valentine’s Day in addition to my lovely wife. But I am, and his name is Yair Netanyahu.

Paul Golin

Beyond 'The Hats': Appreciating The Diversity Of Chasidic New York

02/11/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The horrific murder last month of developer Menachem Stark and uproar over the callous media coverage of his life and death has put New York’s chasidic communities again at the center of attention. Whatever the facts established around Mr. Stark’s violent end and business dealings, and apart from the variety of opinions around headlines and protests – and there are sure to be more headlines, there is now a moment to plainly discuss our Hasidic neighbors and their increasingly prominent place in our shared civic life.

Michael Tobman
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