I Signed The Post-Nup. Why Haven't You?

I do not want to live in a world in which there is a single woman chained to an empty marriage.

01/30/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

No one enters a marriage thinking that it will end in divorce. But sometimes, it does. And no one enters a marriage thinking that their spouse might refuse a get-- the religious divorce document-- as leverage for a better divorce settlement or, worse yet, simply to inflict suffering. But sometimes, they do.

We cannot afford not to sign this document, the author writes. Photo courtesy Rori Picker Neiss

How The MLA Could Ensure Academic Freedom

Modern Language Association resolution against Israel was misguided.

01/30/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement dominated the Modern Language Association's (MLA) recently concluded annual convention. A resolution was narrowly passed calling on the U.S. State Department to hold Israel accountable for allegedly restricting American scholars, especially those of Palestinian descent, from traveling to or teaching at Palestinian universities. Although the boycott of Israel’s institutions of higher education, promulgated by the American Studies Association (ASA), was not up for discussion, the hot-button issue loomed over the conference and drove the MLA resolution.

Making A Place For Non-Jews In Our Synagogues

01/29/2014 - 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 child, Ted ascended to the Bimah to lead the congregation responsively in the English recitation of Psalms, joined Cathy to place the tallit on his childrens' shoulders , and rose with the family when they recited the Shehechiyanu prayer.

Gerald L. Zelizer

Good And Bad News On Jewish Push For Success

01/27/2014 - 19:00

If we can identify the factors that lead to success, then we can model educational systems to produce highly successful students.  Or can we?  In their op-ed, “What Drives Success?” (New York Times, Jan. 26), Yale Professors Amy Chua (“Tiger Mom”) and Jed Rubenfeld, identify three traits that are inherent to the most successful groups in America today. They claim that these groups share three traits that, together, drive success: a superiority complex, a deep-seated belief in the exceptionality of members of their group; insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough; and impulse control, the degree to which a person can control the desire for immediate gratification. 

Living In The Past

01/28/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Groundhog Day is soon upon us, because after reading recently of an “effort by an informal group of about two dozen concerned Jews … who believe the community is in crisis and doesn’t know it,” I looked at my calendar to confirm that it is indeed 2014, and not 2004 or 1994. I’m quite sure that in those years too, we would find the same article in the same newspaper, perhaps even by the same editor, as if trapped in a Bill Murrayesque reliving of the same day over and over again.

Paul Golin

Has RCA Become A U.S. Chief Rabbinate?

01/27/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recently made headlines for the wrong reasons once again. Until a recent agreement was reached, it had refused to accept letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss and other American Orthodox rabbis attesting to the Jewishness of congregants seeking to wed in Israel. As a result, numerous organizations and prominent individuals, in Israel and the U.S., each with a plan to reform, weaken, improve, or dismantle the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate), stood up for Rabbi Weiss and called on the Rabbanut to accept him. Ultimately, the Rabbanut agreed to accept Rabbi Weiss’ testimony and also to accept automatically any letter of testimony that has been approved by the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest association of Orthodox rabbis in the world.

Elli Fischer

We Are Our Brothers’ Partners

01/27/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

As a child, I remember wearing silver bracelets so that I could twin with a Jew in Russia, who couldn’t live as a Jew. As a 10-year-old in 1987, I remember attending the Soviet Jewry March on Washington with my parents and their “UJA friends,” and seeing friends of mine from Camp Ramah, realizing, at that moment, what it meant to be a part of the Jewish people. The message was clear: Let Them Out. Retrieve them with a “one-way ticket,” either to the U.S. or to Israel.

Rabbi Rachel Ain

What Bruce Springsteen Can Teach Us About Tikkun Olam

01/26/2014 - 19:00

The term Tikkun Olam, translated as repairing or improving the world, has become today a shorthand phrase for social justice, endorsed by elected officials (President Obama and House Leader Eric Cantor to name just two) and a plethora of Jewish organizations.

An Open Letter To My Role Model, Rabbi Avi Weiss

01/26/2014 - 19:00

Dear Rabbi Weiss,

While I was relieved to learn that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has revoked its claims against you, I have been deeply saddened by the entire episode. But I have not been surprised. In their book, “Leadership on the Line,” Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky define leadership as an act that involves “disappointing your own people at a rate they can absorb.” In order to make progress around issues that touch on people’s beliefs and values, it is often necessary to touch on very sensitive issues, challenging people’s understanding of what is true and right.

Rabbi Avi Weiss prays at a vigil for victims of a train derailment in December, 2013. Getty Images
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