June 26th, 2015, marked the triumph of the LGBT community over political detractors in a drawn-out battle for social liberty. This victory was ushered in by what is arguably one of the most consequential decisions of social reform since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Constitutional right to same-sex marriage. As a 23-year-old observant Jew living in the United States, this ruling has deep ideological implications. A profound paradigmatic conflict has risen to the surface. Torn between two opposing philosophical perspectives, I have become the generational victim of a cognitive dissonance that I cannot simply slough off, and in the absence of an existential ecdysis, I am forced to confront the discord of my beliefs.
The Jewish Ideas Campus Fellowship Spring Semester has begun! We are happy to welcome three new fellows joining us this month. From New York University fellow Danielle Panitch, from University of Texas Elan Kogutt and from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Eli Yoggev. Each brings a unique brand of Modern Orthodoxy and we wish them success in their important work.
On Thursday, July 30, 2015, a Haredi former convict named Yishai Schlissel stabbed six marchers in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade; a few days later, one of his victims, 16-year-old Shira Banki died of her wounds. Schlissel had been released from prison only three weeks earlier, having served for 10 years for committing a virtually identical crime in 2005. Although the stabbing made headlines, it was soon overshadowed by the murder of a West Bank Palestinian family, which was quickly attributed to radical settlers.
I began my Orthodox conversion process when I was 21 years old. I was a junior at New York University studying Jewish Studies and History and had just returned to Manhattan after a transformative semester abroad in Tel Aviv. But my journey with Judaism doesn’t begin there; it begins with my parents.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel is Founder and Director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. Among his books are "Maimonides, Spinoza and Us" and "Maimonides: Essential Teachings in Jewish Faith and Ethics." This article appears in issue 26 of Conversation, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
The Current Chief Rabbinate System Needs an Overhaul. This article by Rabbi Marc D. Angel was originally published in the Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2007. Unfortunately, little has been done to improve the Chief Rabbinate since then; indeed, in many ways, things have actually worsened.
A Braver New World?
Close to a million Israelis live in countries other than Israel. The majority have settled in the United States and Canada for the long run, teaching at universities, running business, and becoming entrepreneurs. Most identify as secular and send their children to public schools. Although they maintain a vague Israeli identity, most of the children call their current country of residence home.
What is it like on campus to be Jewish and a lover of Israel, as a student, as a faculty member? When one reads reports in many Jewish media sources it sounds grim. How bad is it? Is it really bad? I here offer reflections as a long-term faculty member at a number of institutions across the country and at a branch of the University of California since 1989.
Comments of Rabbi Marc D. Angel
A symposium on contemporary Orthodoxy, Tradition Magazine, vol. 32, no. 4, Summer 1998
The Status of Women in Orthodoxy