Editorial & Opinion

Conversions Vote Loosens Grip Of Chief Rabbinate

Move paves the way for moderation in religious affairs.

11/05/2014
Editor and Publisher
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A young woman seeking to marry in Israel is told by the Chief Rabbinate that in order to prove that she is Jewish, and thus qualified to wed in the state, she must bring proof, via a photograph, of her grandmother’s grave in London.

Gary Rosenblatt

Rivlin Right For Israel?

The unabashedly rightist new president addressing country’s internal problems with surprising force.

11/05/2014
Contributing Editor
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When the results of this summer’s Israeli presidential election came through, I was in the dentist’s waiting room. All of a sudden, my sense of anxiety grew from the next half-hour to the next seven years.

Reuven Rivlin is seen having a chance to heal what he calls a “sick” society. Getty Images

Why The RCA Is Reviewing Its Conversion Process

Even a well-intentioned system can be abused; responsible action must be taken to maintain its integrity.

11/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Much public comment and debate have been generated in the wake of the shocking arrest of Rabbi Barry Freundel on deeply disturbing charges of voyeurism, including upon conversion candidates. For its part, the Rabbinical Council America (RCA) promptly moved to announce the formation of a committee that I will chair to review its Geirus Policies and Standards (GPS), the guidelines that govern its network of conversion courts. As this committee begins its deliberations, it is important to provide the greater Jewish community with appropriate context and perspective for this important initiative.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin

‘Klinghoffer’ Protests And The Disability Community

11/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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As a child with a disability in the 1960s and ’70’s, I learned very quickly that, in order to be heard, I needed to be seen. Hidden behind the veils of misperception, paternalistic attitudes and avoidance, people with disabilities, as members of a social class, have needed to take to the streets in order to be taken seriously.  We couldn’t stomach any more condescending head nods, forced smiles, and token actions on the part of policy makers who believed they had the best of intentions. 

Sharon Shapiro-Lacks

The Death Of Trust

11/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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In light of the Barry Freundel “Watergate,” scandal, I commend Erica Brown’s suggestion that rabbis should be held to the same standards that apply to those in other professions (“Mikveh Scandal Underscores Need To Regulate Rabbinate,” Oct. 31). Regular performance reviews can be healthy when done right, as they almost always have been for me. Other safeguards can be built in, like the independent audit my synagogue undergoes annually, enabling congregants to feel confidence in the integrity of their contributions to clergy discretionary funds.

Joshua Hammerman

Kindness Matters

11/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Back from a shiva visit to a family who had lost a 20-year-old son in a freak accident, I marveled at the mother’s capacity — even while suffering — to notice the small kindnesses of close friends and absolute strangers. I looked her in the eyes, “But it’s nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s just the smallest thing we can do. It’s because we can’t do what we really want to do, which is to bring your son back.” I felt desperate and pathetic. Running errands, bringing food or visiting felt worthless, helpless.

Erica Brown

Ways Of Seeing And Asking

11/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat candles: 4:28 p.m.
Torah: Gen. 18:1-22:24
Haftarah: II Kings 4:1-37
Havdalah: 5:28 p.m.

Beth Kissileff

Is There A Place For God In The Israeli Army?

10/29/2014
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Israel Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz recently expressed cautious reservations about the religion-infused letter that the commander of the Givati Brigade, Col. Ofer Winter, wrote to the officers under his command at the outset of Operation Protective Edge this past summer. The commander’s letter defined the mission of his troops in religious terms: to defeat a “blasphemous” enemy who defames God’s name.

On Waiting For An Apology

10/29/2014
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Elana Maryles Sztokman is waiting for an apology from Orthodox men “who are so easily
counted and heeded, who have a voice and a place and are free to participate
in the community practically any way that their hearts desire” (“My Feminist Struggles With Yom Kippur,” Opinion, Oct. 3).

Start Over

10/29/2014
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Clearly the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) is a deeply flawed and troubled organization. 
(“Orthodox Women Vow To ‘Take Back The Mikvah’,” Oct. 24)

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