I was riveted by the recent story of an Orthodox Israeli young woman, Ophir Ben-Shetreet, who sang beautifully on the Israeli talent-search program, “The Voice,” and as a result was suspended from her Orthodox school for two weeks because of the prohibition against women singing in public if men are present. Ophir’s performance and evident charm inspired people around the country. The judges praised her as “modest” and “pure,” and she could serve as a role model for young Orthodox women who feel the desire to express themselves and develop their talents. Instead, she was condemned.
Founder of Tel Aviv's secular yeshiva, also a Knesset member, leads Israel's parliament in study and prayer.
Editor’s Note: Ruth Calderon, founder of a secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv, spent several years living in New York recently, teaching at the JCC in Manhattan and other venues. This was her inaugural speech in the Knesset this week as a member of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
I saw the moral of Rabbi David Wolpe’s Musings column, “Redemption Song” (Oct. 17), coming, but nonetheless, it is an important lesson for us all: Live the life of one who would enlighten, motivate, and assist our fellow men. Sometimes we feel that a mitzvah is “insignificant,” but, what WE think is of no importance, it is the doing of that mitzvah that is important.
It is very admirable that Phyllis Chesler has taken the time to read the opera, study the libretto and watch the movie of the opera (“Rhetoric Rising As ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera Nears,” Oct. 17) before judging it. Many of us haven’t the time and, although we share her feelings, and find the staging of this opera deeply, painfully objectionable, we hesitate to criticize it at the risk of being called unfair for judging a work we haven’t seen. That is always a legitimate concern, and I almost always share it.
Regarding “Rhetoric Rising As ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera Nears” (Oct. 17), in these frightening days with blatant anti-Semitism on the rise throughout the world, it is more important now than ever for the the organized Jewish community to well-preserve and well-spend its moral capital. Moral capital consists, in large measure, of fairness and credibility.
The virulent attack on John Adams’ “Death of Klinghoffer” opera squanders that credibility. The opera gives voice to Palestinians’ having grievances but the voice given to the terrorist “Rambo,” his portrayal before the audience as he spouts his vitriol, is (as Stewart Ain’s article reflects) that of a transparently murderous Jew-hating bigot.
There have been a number of front-page photos in the daily papers lately of U.S. bombing ISIS positions in Syria from the air. But have you read any articles about the inevitable collateral damage, the impact on civilians resulting from the attacks? Have you seen any statistics on casualties among the population caught in the crossfire?
One month away from the Nov. 24 deadline on the talks between the U.S. (and its allies) and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program, the two sides appear to be far apart and an agreement unlikely. That would be good news, given that the alternative — a deal that has Iran reduce its operational centrifuges but keeps it on the threshold of producing a nuclear bomb — is far worse.
‘Well,” said my father, smiling at me in the middle of an argument, “I wouldn’t say you are wrong, but you aren’t right.” All of us seek a balance when we criticize others, or at least we should. Here are five tentative rules for offering criticism:
Cite ‘peeping rabbi’ scandal as cause for a greater female role in Orthodox life.
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Do Orthodox rabbis abuse the power they have over women?
The case of Barry Freundel, the influential rabbi of Congregation Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C., who was arrested last week on charges of videotaping women undressing to use the synagogue’s mikveh, has catapulted the issue of rabbinic abuse of power into the headlines. It has generated widespread emotions of anger, distrust and disgust, and raised questions about men’s influence on female use of the mikveh for family purity and in the conversion process. It has also prompted calls for new communal policies to give women a greater voice in Orthodox life.
The sage Hillel is one of the heroes of Jewish tradition. He is the author of pithy quotes like “If not now, when?” and “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others; the rest is commentary — go learn it!” He was willing to accept converts that his rabbinic interlocutor and foil, Shammai, rejected.