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This week's Torah portion includes Jacob's last words to his sons. He described his fourth son, Judah, as a lion, and stated that the scepter of kingship would never depart from Judah (and his descendants). All the brothers (and their tribes) would turn to Judah for leadership. What did Judah do to deserve this singular role?

I always believed in Dizzy, that old Jew. He saw into the future.
Winston Churchill

( A review essay by Dr. Maurice Wohlgelernter, on Benjamin Disraeli, by Adam Kirsch. New York: Schocken, 2008.)

With regard to central values and religious orientations found in the writings of Sephardic rabbis of recent centuries: their import extends beyond Sephardim by birth, to all Jews attempting to chart a course for a personal and communal life in which authentic Judaism and humanity go hand in hand.

The religious establishment is obligated to address cases of intermarriage, children of intermarriages, and people of Jewish ancestry. The key to Jewish unity is for Batei Din to recognize the rulings of others who follow different halakhic opinions, even when they vigorously disagree with their positions.

All halakhic converts must understand: they are 100% Jewish according to halakha. Their Jewishness is not contingent on “acceptance” by the Chief Rabbinate or by any Hareidi dominated rabbinic courts. Halakhic converts are Jewish, their children are Jewish, they are obligated to fulfill the mitzvoth as are all other Jews. Anyone who casts aspersions on their Jewish status is a sinner, plain and simple.

Our Institute fosters an intellectually vibrant, compassionate and inclusive Orthodox Judaism. Your generous support of our "End of Year Campaign" is sincerely appreciated. Each contribution--large or small--is a vote for the ideas and ideals of our Institute. Thank you for your partnership in the Institute's work.