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.
Each year on Passover, I get chills when we recount the plagues against Egypt: Blood, boils, hail, and death of first born children represent the stuff of horror films. And yet, the second plague tends to stand out for me. “The Nile shall swarm with frogs and they shall come up and enter your palace, your bedchamber, and your bed, the houses of your courtiers and your people, and your ovens and your kneading bowls” [Exodus 7:28].
When Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Lt.-General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, an exchange of their respective seder plans was not high on their list of priorities. As American Jews celebrate our festival of freedom and the sesquicentennial anniversary of that historic day, it is an opportune time to consider the significance of April 1865 in our nation’s history and reflect how that historical pivot continues to shape the landscape of our country.
The Passover table is a place of joy. It takes a lot of work to get there. And when the table is set with ritual food and tableware, it seems like an excellent platform for a great story and conversation to unfold. We’re all ready. We’re equipped with texts that share the majesty and miracles of our ancient days. We powered our way to freedom as an underdog against a large and tyrannical force that sought to destroy us. We know the plot lines all too well. It’s not hard to say, “In every generation a person is obligated to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt…” It seems that sadly and happily, it is always a relevant theme, either for our people or for someone else under the hand of oppression, on the brink of liberation.
Ambassador Danny Ayalon says the quality of the school's students have soothed his fears for the future.
Ambassador Danny Ayalon
In 2003, while still serving as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, I was privileged to attend the investiture ceremony of Richard Joel as president of Yeshiva University. Since then, I have served as co-chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, and a member of the Israeli Knesset. Ten years ago, I would never have imagined that I would one day return to YU to join President Joel and the university’s illustrious faculty as the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies, a title of which I am most proud.
I would like to commend the Stamford Jewish community for working together to create a beautiful, unified Shabbat Across America event, the creation of which was dramatically described by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman in his March 13 oped column, “A Shabbat Across the Bow.”