Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the first major communal dinner for JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Association, held this past Sunday evening, was the sense of pride in and celebration of the accomplishments of the organization, founded in 1997.
Though often on the defensive and frustrated in their efforts to press the Orthodox establishment to expand opportunities for women in the areas of spiritual, ritual and intellectual life, within the framework of halacha, the women of JOFA set aside Sunday evening to mark the inroads they have made.
With each passing day Mideast tensions seem to grow deeper and more complex, and the notion of an “Arab Spring” that brought such hope to millions 10 months ago seems particularly naïve now as violence has returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Before 2005, I knew little about child sexual abuse. That year, I was approached by a friend, now 44, who was molested as a teenager by two prominent figures in the Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox Jewish community: a teacher in a respected yeshiva, and a renowned chasidic therapist.
When my friend reported the teacher’s abuse to the school’s dean, my friend and his family were intimidated into inaction. A communal taboo against reporting a Jew to the secular authorities meant calling the police was not an option.
Shabbat candles: 4:14 p.m.
Torah: Genesis 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: I Samuel 20:18-42
Havdalah: 5:15 p.m.
One of the very worst of the curses in Deuteronomy 28 is that “you will bear children and they will not be yours” [Deut. 28:41]. This week’s portion of Toldot is very much concerned with the question of whose children will Jacob and Esau be — Isaac or Rebecca’s? — and what kind of continuity will there be between the generations.
When 18-year-old Margot Haas visited Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village on a summer service and learning trip, she was described by her mom as “ambiently Jewish.” The term itself reflects the gap between what so many “next generation” Jews think of themselves and how they are thought of by their parents and teachers.
The United Nations has declared that the 7th billion person in the world was just born. Further, they have announced that since 1960, we’ve been adding a billion people to the earth every 12 to 13 years.
After decades of dry piano, violin, and guitar lessons, I finally retired without any real merits forfeiting my hopes of ever becoming a rock star or fiery composer. Only recently have I realized that music is still at the core of my Jewish spiritual and ethical passion. Singing at protests, including melodies into activist storytelling, and opening my heart to new ideas and ideals while listening to powerful symphonies have changed the way I feel and interact with the world.
Regarding the article, “Amid Upheaval, National Council of Young Israel Celebrates 100th” (Nov. 11), the Council is not applying evenly the right to take a disenfranchised branch’s assets. When the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue left the movement to become the 16th Street Synagogue, the Council did not take its assets.
It is telling that The Jewish Week refers to the complaints of some Young Israel branches against the national organization as an “upheaval” while your periodic portrayals of changes in the Conservative and Reform movements are nice people working things out (“Amid Upheaval, National Council of Young Israel Celebrates 100th,” Nov. 11).
On the website of the “Other Film Festival,” Carol Zabar, founder and member of the boards of the JCC and its co-sponsor, the New Israel Fund, states: “It is not about the conflict — it is not about taking sides — this festival is about people ... paving the way to co-existence and a new, more inclusive culture in the Middle East.”