Articles

The Problematic Practice of "Kapparot"

During the Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur period, some Jews have a custom known as “kapparot.” The ceremony involves swinging a live chicken over a person’s head three times, and then slaughtering the chicken. People who follow this practice believe that the ritual is a form of atonement (kapparah) for their sins. Many people see it as a primitive, quasi-idolatrous practice. Others view “kapparot” as egregious cruelty to animals.

A Bridge across the Tigris: Chief Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz

Our Rabbis tell us that on the death of Abaye the bridge across the Tigris collapsed. A bridge serves to unite opposite shores; and so Abaye had united the opposing groups and conflicting parties of his time. Likewise Dr. Hertz’s personality was the bridge which served to unite different communities and bodies in this country and the Dominions into one common Jewish loyalty.
—Dayan Yechezkel Abramsky: Eulogy for Chief Rabbi Hertz.[1]

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The Chosen People: An Ethical Challenge

The concept of the Chosen People is fraught with difficulties. Historically, it has brought much grief upon the Jewish people. It also has led some Jews to develop chauvinistic attitudes toward non-Jews. Nonetheless, it is a central axiom in the Torah and rabbinic tradition, and we therefore have a responsibility to approach the subject forthrightly. In this essay, we will briefly consider the biblical and rabbinic evidence regarding chosenness.

The Book of Genesis

“Jewish” and “Democratic”—Can They Co-exist?

The definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state suffers, ostensibly, from a fundamental contradiction. There are two sources of authority—Judaism and democracy, and two different lists of areas that cannot be reshaped, even by the majority. However, it is within our power to mitigate this conflict. We need to exert our efforts in an attempt to bring the two extremes closer together; even if we know that absolute harmony is impossible.

JEWISH MINDS FOR HUMAN KIND--Class with Rabbi Marc D. Angel

We will be studying the writings of modern Jewish thinkers and writers who have had a significant impact on society. Among them are Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Lionel Trilling, Ayn Rand, Elias Canetti, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Isaiah Berlin, Saul Bellow, Betty Friedan, Simone Veil and Elie Wiesel. The class will focus on the Jewish components in their work, and also on how they have impacted on modern culture.