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.
Orthodox Judaism has a powerful, appealing, and sophisticated message for world Jewry—and for humanity at large. Basing ourselves on the divinely revealed Bible, the authoritative halakhic system, and a worldview rooted in compassion and justice, we have succeeded as a world religion for over 3,000 years. We have weathered physical and spiritual attacks from external enemies; and we have been victorious in sectarian battles within Judaism itself.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel is Founder and Director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, jewishideas.org This column was originally published on our website in 2012.
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.
“And Moses saw the entire work [of the Mishkan], and behold, they [the Israelites] had accomplished it; as God had commanded them, so had they done; and Moses blessed them.” (Shemot 39:43)
The great 18th century economist and thinker, Adam Smith, distinguished between praise and praiseworthiness. In his book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” (III.I.32) he noted that “the love of praise is the desire of obtaining the favorable sentiments of our brethren. The love of praiseworthiness is the desire of rendering ourselves the proper objects of those sentiments.”
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.