Opinion

From A Lesbian Mother, A Letter To PJ Library: This Hurts

03/05/2014 - 19:00

Dear Trustees:

My two daughters have been receiving PJ Library books since they were babies, and I am very grateful to you for the monthly gift, which has helped me teach them about Jewish holidays, traditions and values.

I wanted to share with you my disappointment that you've chosen not to send the book The Purim Superhero to all your members, but only to families who specifically request it. I know you put a lot of thought into this decision, and that's part of the reason I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

The Purim Superhero has two dads. The author is one of two moms. Via keshetonline.org

Rabbi’s Role: Speaking Out Or Maintaining Community?

03/04/2014 - 19:00

Frequently, I hear congregants complain that their rabbis are not inspiring or that they never take clear stands on issues of importance. That's why the ongoing discussion about rabbinic independence that has erupted again at B'nai Jeshurun, covered very fairly by The Jewish Week (“B’nai Jeshurun Defections Fuel Debate,” Feb. 28), transcends any single congregation and any one subject. It is a contemporary case study about two issues facing the congregational world:

Rabbi Hayim Herring

Modern Orthodoxy At A Crossroads

The movement tries both to preserve rabbinic authority and allow for intellectual freedom and the expression of diverse viewpoints.

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

Thankfully, the recent controversy at Yeshiva University over a rabbinical student who had held a private “partnership minyan” in his home has been resolved satisfactorily, and hopefully without harm either to the student or to the critically important institution that he attends. Cooler heads, fortunately, have prevailed. Yet the fact of the controversy itself raises broader questions concerning the future directions of Modern Orthodoxy and its role within the American Jewish community.

Steven Bayme

Changing Conservative Judaism

A movement looking to the future finds some rabbinical role models in its own synagogues.

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

We can complain about the shrinking of the Conservative movement. And we can take pride in Conservative successes of the past. But if what we have been doing until now is not sufficient for the future, what can we change?

Judith Hauptman

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.

ted_sasson.jpg

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
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