Editorial & Opinion

Agunot: 462 Too Many


The tragedy of agunot — women unable to obtain a Jewish divorce — remains a seemingly unsolvable problem within halacha [Jewish law] that has left too many women in an emotional, legal and financial black hole.

Adding to the problem is the absence of data. In Israel, estimates of 10,000 agunot have been reported by The Wall Street Journal and Jerusalem Post, in contrast to claims by Agudath Israel that there are 180 in the Jewish state, and remarkably, an equal number of men who are being refused divorces by their recalcitrant wives.

Counting Jews


On the eve of the Jewish Federation of North America’s annual General Assembly this year, one might expect the release of a national Jewish population study, since it has been 10 years since the last one appeared.

But there will be no such detailed portrait of the demographics of American Jewry unveiled Nov. 6-8 at the GA in Denver, because in the wake of the controversy over the 2000-2001survey, none was commissioned this time around.

We’re Works In Progress


Our morning prayers offer a series of questions followed by a startling declaration: “The advantage of man over beast is nothing because all is vanity.” At first this seems to mean that since all die, human and beast, nothing really matters. But here are two other ways of understanding this statement, the second of which solves a difficult problem in the beginning of the Torah.

Yale And Jewish Future


Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove’s Opinion piece, “Former Soviet Union Illuminates New Jewish World” (Oct. 14), pointedly concludes that in the “post-assimilationist” 21st century, capturing the minds, hearts and souls of Jews around the world, whether in the former Soviet Union, Israel or the United States, requires compelling, inspirational models of Jewish engagement rather than leaning on past affiliations or generational attachments that may no longer be accessible or relevant for contemporary Jews.

Speaking Out


It is interesting indeed that the mainstream media has not shown one of the anti-Semitic signs or focused on any of the anti-Semitic verbiage at the Zuccotti Park demonstrations (“What Now For ‘Occupy’ Protests?” Oct. 14).

Not one Democratic party member of Jewish origin, not one U.S. senator and not one U.S. congressman has spoken out against the anti-Semitism expressed during these demonstrations.

Free Services


Town and Village Synagogue has been offering free High Holiday Services for over 15 years. When Rabbi Abby Sosland joined our staff, through a generous grant from UJA-Federation of New York, we were able to offer free services for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. While we have a suggested donation, we don’t turn

anyone away (until we run out of room).

The Shalit Deal


I understand the feelings of apprehension of the parents and relatives of the innocent victims of Palestinian terrorists, but I cannot begin to appreciate those naysayers who have never been immediately affected by Arab atrocity. 

Were it not for the opportunity to free Gilad Shalit, not one of them should have been freed. Keeping them in our jails and feeding them would not have returned the deceased Jewish victims. Yet their release secured the freedom of the only innocent party in this drama, Shalit.

The World’s Silence


This week there was great rejoicing among Hamas. And who can blame them?

More than 1,000 Arabs freed in exchange for one Jew, Gilad Shalit.

But when you think about it, you can’t help but feel shame for the Arab world. What a formula. One Jew = One Thousand Arabs. How can they not be embarrassed?
“Shetikah KeHodaah” (Silence is Acquiescence). By the world's not saying anything, it’s saying a lot.

The Bronx

Bitter Exchange


Your editorial says of the Gilad Shalit exchange deal that “It was a noble, compassionate and tender act; only time will tell if it was the right one” (‘Impossible, Choice,’ Oct. 21). Sadly, experience tells us that we are not likely to have to wait very long to find out that the decision was a terrible mistake.

Gun Control Vs. Gun Rights

Jewish Week Online Columnist

While I was recently giving a class at a Modern Orthodox synagogue in New York City on the topic of halachic approaches to weapons I asked this group of 25 people (most between 50-65 years old) how many of them owned guns. I expected 1 or 2 hands to emerge but was astonished to find that about 50-60% admitted to having a gun at home.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
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