Opinion

Why Anti-Boycott Laws Are Democratic

01/31/2012
Special To The Jewish Week
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A recent wave of alleged “anti-democratic” bills is dominating much of the political debate in Israel and recently triggered U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express her concern about the state of the Israeli democracy. This recent “anti-democratic” wave, including bills such as the donation bill (aimed to limit donation to certain political NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the anti-boycott law, unleashed severe criticism.

Lisa Levy

Heroic Efforts Needed To Change Special Needs Stereotype

01/31/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Overcoming attitudes and stereotypes that pervade the Jewish community can be an uphill battle. Just ask Jay Ruderman and others who attended the recent Jewish Special Needs Funding Conference that he helped sponsor. All of them want to get past the community-created obstacles to their vision of inclusion for Jewish individuals with special needs.

Unfortunately, the philosophy of separate but equal, similar to the platform of many pre-civil rights segregationists, is stubbornly in place throughout Jewish communal life.

Sarina Roffé

Kosher Jesus?

01/24/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

The ferocious battle that has been waged in the press and blogosphere over my new book, “Kosher Jesus” (Gefen Publishing House), in the weeks leading up to its publication next week, has obscured both its message and the reason for its publication.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

We Need More ‘Dirty Laundry’ Conversations About Israel

01/24/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

When I invite guests for dinner, I clean up my apartment, and put the dirty laundry in the closet. But it’s usually in full sight when I’m home with family.

Jews have traditionally acted similarly regarding Israel. In public discourse, support for Israel is forceful on issues related to war and peace. Within the family, though, there often is lively discussion of fears and hopes, with recognition that choices are very difficult and outcomes uncertain.

Rebecca Neuwirth

The Sin Of Religious Intransigence

01/18/2012
Mitch Morrison is a journalist who has been active in the Jewish community for more than 20 years.

In a Pennsylvania town where I lived for more than eight years, a small, struggling Orthodox community fights to remain viable.

Market conditions and lack of certain amenities such as a kosher restaurant and eruv [ritual enclosure to allow carrying on Shabbat] cut into the fiber of this once tight knit stitch.

Yet, there is something else fraying at the seam.

When Jewish Foundations Ignore Core Needs

01/17/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Gary Rosenblatt’s column on foundations’ priorities in “Why Funders Need to Embrace Failure” (Jan. 6) will hopefully set off a discussion about basic community needs and how we can do better in the future. Most of the large Jewish foundations are caught up in funding “cutting-edge” or “funky” Jewish trends and social networking projects. While some are successful in building new models that have real impact, many duplicate existing efforts or, worse yet, miss the boat entirely.   

William Rapfogel

Stop Enabling Our Jewish Fanatics

01/17/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

A number of years ago the Agudath Ha-Rabonim, a relatively small group of right-wing Orthodox rabbis, declared that Conservative and Reform Judaism were “outside of Torah and outside of Judaism.” Much has been written to justify and rationalize their statement. I found it offensive, but for argument’s sake let’s say they are right — more importantly let’s say that in fact they are the true spokespeople for the application of halacha (Jewish law).

David Sable

Their Feet Were Praying

Remembering the inspiration Heschel and King drew from each other.

01/10/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

One of the most remarkable friendships in Jewish history was between my father, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. When they met in 1963, they felt an instant bond, despite the enormous differences in their backgrounds: Dr. King was a Baptist minister from the segregated South, trained in Protestant theology at Boston University. My father was a Jewish theologian, trained as a scholar in Germany, raised in an intensely pious, chasidic milieu in Warsaw; indeed, he was supposed to become a chasidic rebbe in Poland.

Prophetic voices: Martin Luther King Jr., left, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, right, during Selma march in 1965. Susannah Heschel

Ultra-Orthodox Judaism Need Not Be Close-Minded

01/10/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

The spectacle of haredi, that is, ultra-Orthodox, thugs spitting on Naama Margolis, an 8-year old schoolgirl in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, has exacerbated the already frayed relations between the fundamentalist religious sector of the Jewish community, in Israel and elsewhere — and the rest of us, that is, Conservative, Reform, Modern Orthodox, and secular Jews.

Menachem Z. Rosensaft

Synagogues Should Be More Welcoming

01/10/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

One New Year evokes another. We Jews like to pride ourselves on the differences between the secular New Year celebrations that have just ended and our religious New Year in the fall. The meaningless blare of tinseled horns versus the shofar blasts calling us to prayer; the excessive drinking versus the sanctification of holiday wine; the crowds in Times Square versus the crowds on their way to the synagogue. 

Francine Klagsbrun
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