Articles

The Jews of Rhodes and Cos: In Memoriam

One of the great writers of the 20th century, himself a Holocaust survivor, was Primo Levi. In his book, Other Peoples’ Trades, he reminisces about his childhood home in Turin, Italy. In his nostalgic description, he remembers how his father would enter the house and put his umbrella or cane in a receptacle near the front door. In providing other details of the entrance way to the house, Primo Levi mentions that for many years “there hung from a nail a large key whose purpose everyone had forgotten but which nobody dared throw away (p. 13).”

Rembrandt, the Holocaust and the Quest for Authenticity

As we are in the season of Yom Hashoa, I think of Rembrandt’s superb Large Self-Portrait, which is exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It cast a spell on me when I first saw it. But on Yom Hashoa it invites thoughts that penetrate deeper and deeper into my very being. When trying to do the impossible—imagining what happened to members of my family and to millions of other Jews who perished in the Holocaust—Rembrandt’s self portrait awakens me from my slumber.

The Halakhic Obligation of Jewish-Christian Dialogue

At 3 a.m., the train to Washington D.C. stopped in Stamford. I boarded with many congregants. I marched in the front row with Martin Luther King, Jr., and then watched him as he delivered his “I have a Dream” speech. It was an important moment not only in Black and U.S. history, but also in Jewish history. The next year, when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Jews were beneficiaries of newfound rights, along with African Americans.

The Road from Old to New Orthodoxies

Orthodoxy has defined itself as a single group having two faces. One is outward-looking, engaging with the outside world in all its complexity, while maintaining fidelity to Orthodox faith and commitments. The other is assertively parochial, defined by those commonly called Hareidim, who are assertively inward-looking, creating all sorts of ideological and behavioral barriers to acculturation.

Remembering Haham Solomon Gaon

Haham Gaon represented a balanced religiosity, deeply faithful to tradition while deeply sensitive to the needs and feelings of modern men and women. Haham Gaon was a model of dignity, compassion, and total commitment to the People of Israel and the State of Israel. As a proud Sephardic rabbi, he refused to compromise his own traditions in order to curry favor among others.

The Moroccan Rabbinic Conferences

The rabbinic conferences in Morocco are the only example in modern times of a living halakha that responded to contemporary concerns with a united rabbinic front. These rabbis had confidence in their authority and didn't feel the need to look over their shoulders. Who knows what would have been achieved in Morocco had the conferences continued?