A Jew by choice brings a needed outsider’s perspective to the community.
Last week when I went to the Israeli consulate to get a visa for my upcoming trip to Israel, the security guard, after taking in my kipa and tzitzit, asked me “Atah yehudi?” Are you Jewish? On my replying “bevadai,” of course, he persisted in asking “Atah yehudi mimakor?” “Were you born Jewish?”
Is the Jewish community changing its attitude and actions toward people with disabilities?
‘I am disability incarnate,” she states in her self-described, “cerebral palsy accent,” whose honeyed, faintly plaintive tone belies her blunt proclamation. She gets around in a motorized wheelchair. She frets about Access-A-Ride’s frequently unreliable pickup times.
But Sharon Shapiro-Lacks doesn’t want your chesed.
Intermarriage, conversion and adoption are creating an ever more racially diverse Tribe.
Eric L. Goldstein
At the end of the 19th century, members of the Jewish establishment in America — mostly Jews of central European origin — took aim in the pages of the Jewish press at another group of Jews who had more recently arrived on the scene and whose appearance, customs and habits seemed totally foreign to their Jewish sensibilities.
The ’othering’ of women has left its mark on contemporary Judaism.
In the feminist classic, “The Second Sex,” Simone de Beauvoir, the French feminist writer, opined that men cast women in the role of the Other. That “othering” emphasized the differences between men and women who might otherwise be categorized simply as “human.” Since “othering” is a means of constituting self-identity, it generally results in one seeing oneself as the norm and the Other as deviant. Thus for de Beauvoir, women would always be the deviant “second sex” as long as “male” was the norm.
As I checked in to the Florida hotel the day before Rosh HaShanah, the manager looked suspiciously at the large, spiral shofar in my bag. I explained what it was, told him I was a rabbinical student there to lead High Holy Day services at the local temple and mentioned that I would need to practice. He was quick to suggest that I use the golf course behind the hotel. Maimonides teaches that the shofar is intended as an alarm, to wake us from the slumber of our sins. For the hotel manager, though, this wasn’t quite the wake-up call he had in mind for his other guests.
For those who prefer their summer reading to be provocative, we chose to wrestle with some challenging questions. We look at how those Jews who may not be like everyone else, who are considered “other” for any number of reasons, are viewed by the community, and we also explore their self-perceptions.
A half-century after the black singer’s conversion, the post-ethnic Judaism by choice he represented is in full flower.
Samuel G. Freedman
Late in the spring of 2010, just about the time of his yahrzeit, Sammy Davis Jr.’s menorah went up for auction. It was a silver menorah, given to Davis in 1965 by the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation in New York. The owner, a collector of Judaica, had set a bidding floor of $10,000. Yet when the day of the auction arrived, only two potential buyers pursued it, and the highest offer came in at $8,500. So the menorah headed back into a safe-deposit box, and the whole episode took on a pathetic cast.
This month, our contributors address some challenging questions about how the Jewish community relates to those among us who might be considered other, or different, whether Jews of color or with disabilities, gay and lesbian, converts, nonbelievers or wo
The Jewish place of worship: shul, beit knesset, the Reform “temple,” the Karaite kenesa, beit tefilah — and the synagogue. Whence this odd-sounding word? Vaguely Greek? Not “vaguely” at all. The Greek word synagogé means “assembly,” and the word indeed reflects what has been a central function of the Jewish house of worship for centuries, if not millennia.
A brief history of shul competition, money, political lobbying and the High Holy Days.
On Aug. 17, 1930 the Jewish Daily Bulletin announced that the rabbis of New York City were declaring war. Their enemy was not anti-Semites, nor assimilation, nor any of the other typical suspects for rabbinic enmity. The object of their campaign was “the mushroom synagogue.”