Israeli films receive large audiences worldwide. Many of them show the realities of life in the holy land, some with humor and some with sadness. Almost all of them demonstrate that Israel is a democratic country which is not afraid to show even its darkest aspects.
Currently one can watch such a dark story at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in Manhattan “Gett- the Trial of Viviane Amsalem”. Gett is Hebrew for divorce. This is a sad story of the difficulties, and one should say, impossibilities for a Jewish woman to obtain a divorce when the husband does not want it. Indeed the husband has to agree to GRANT a divorce. I purposely emphasize the word “GRANT” as the husband is all powerful in that procedure.
March, 2015 To our members and friends, Our ongoing programs for the Institute continue full throttle, including several great recent highlights.
On Sunday, February 22, I organized a symposium, “From the Academy to the Religious Community: How we can gain religious insight from academic Jewish Studies.” Over seventy people attended at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
At around the time that the State of Israel was being recognized by the United Nations, the Chief Rabbis of Israel wrote a letter in Arabic to the Arab world. The Sephardic Chief Rabbi Benzion Uziel, who was fluent in Arabic, likely wrote this letter that was signed by him and the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog.
Although so many years have passed since the formal establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the message of peace conveyed in this letter has largely been eclipsed by the ongoing hostilities and warfare.
Yom Ha'Atsma'ut, Israel Independence day, is observed this year on Wednesday night April 22 and Thursday April 23. It's worthwhile to review the words of Rabbis Uziel and Herzog, and pray that the message of peace will prevail...sooner rather than later.
This engaging monograph is a deceptively simple read. Written in a disciplined, clear diction, Rabbi Zvi Grumet writes and teaches like a High School Yeshiva rebbe, unflinchingly focusing on the received Torah’s text and message[s], as lucidly and probingly as he can, so that his student/reader may understand his content and internalize the Torah’s normative message.
My remarks are dedicated to my paternal cousin, Shlomo Guttman and to my wife’s paternal uncle, David Teitlebaum, who both fell in Milchemet HaShichrur. May their memories be for a blessing.
I would also like to thank Dr Jeffrey Gurock, professor of American-Jewish history at YU for his leads and encouragement in my research.
(This article, by Anna Momigliano, appeared in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, April 27, 2015.
When Daniela Dawan’s first nephew was born, in late 2000, the family travelled from Milan to Rome to have Italy’s most prestigious rabbi, Elio Toaff, perform a giyur katan – newborn conversion – on the infant, whose mother wasn’t Jewish.
By the time Dawan's niece was born in early 2002, however, no Orthodox rabbi willing to perform such a conversion on the offspring of a mixed marriage could be found in the whole country. Toaff, the charismatic Tuscan-born rabbi who headed the Jewish community of Rome for half a century (1951-2001), had retired a few months earlier.
To our members and friends, I hope you are all well.
As summer approaches, we still have several important upcoming Institute programs in store:
On Sunday, June 7, from 10:00am-1:00pm, I will be running our second symposium, co-sponsored by Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan: “Extremely Religious without Religious Extremism: Perspectives within Jewish Tradition.” This symposium will feature three talks:
The Kosher Bookworm
Pirkei Avot As An Intellectual Challenge
by Alan Jay Gerber
With Shavuot now behind up, we once again commence our learning of Pirkei Avot starting with the first chapter. Thus, it is most opportune to bring to your attention a new commentary by a former classmate of mine at Yeshiva University and the Director of The Institute For Jewish Ideas and Ideals, Rabbi Marc Angel. This commentary entitled, "The Koren Pirkei Avot" features a translation by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and a publisher's preface by Matthew Miller. In this preface Miller asks and answers the following question:
Israel’s new political reality—with the two main Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi political parties, the Sephardic-based Shas party and the Ashkenazi-based United Torah Judaism, inside the government won’t help the next generation of Haredi young people—in fact, on the contrary, it will perpetuate a broken system. While Shas and United Torah Judaism have negotiated financial windfalls for their constituencies, as well as a pull-back on the demand that Ultra-Orthodox young men serve in the Israeli Defense Force, this old style of conducting business could be harmful to our community’s young people.