We are one nation, with many faces, and we have to learn to leverage our diversity and view it as a strength rather than a weakness. We might never be able to match China's demographics, but we can and should look for new opportunities for growth. That is why the time has come to undertake a concerted outreach effort to descendants of Jews.
We have a scandal in Israel relating to the evil practice that is spreading: the annulment or non-recognition of conversions performed by private rabbinical courts in their localities. These conversions are performed according to the halakha, with circumcision, ritual immersion in the mikva, and acceptance of the mitzvoth. This unprecedented aspersion of halakhically valid conversions emanates from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.
Amtrak has the right idea – there’s a time and place for friendly conversation, but a Quiet Car and a minyan are not the place; a minyan certainly is not the time. Maybe we don't need rabbis to enforce decorum in shul. Maybe we should invite some Amtrak conductors and passengers to our minyanim. All aboard?
To our members and friends
I’d like to focus on the articles by Menachem Kellner on Rabbi Elhanan Wasserman and Rabbi Aharon Kotler. These two 20th century luminaries cast Rambam into the mold of a Hareidi sage. When they read Rambam, they understood him in a way that Rambam himself would have found problematic.
Dr. Sperber is President of the Makhon haGavoah leTorah at Bar Ilan University. Author of numerous works in Jewish law, custom and theology, he was awarded the Israel Prize by the State of Israel in recognition of his monumental contributions to Jewish scholarship. This essay, which appeared in our journal Conversations (issue 3, winter 2009), is based on a lecture delivered by Dr. Sperber in Los Angeles in May 2008.
Our view is that we always must keep conversations alive, rather than allowing those who dogmatically espouse one or the other side of a debate to shut down dissent or alternative viewpoints from within tradition.
Nations, societies and institutions ultimately have the leadership they deserve. If they do not demand more, they have little right to complain. If they do not draw on their individual koah to combat governmental, religious and social evils, then they are accomplices to the evil.
We must face this problem squarely and candidly: The narrowing of horizons is a reality within contemporary Orthodoxy. The fear to dissent from the "acceptable" positions is palpable. But if individuals are not allowed to think independently, if they may not ask questions and raise alternatives, then we as a community suffer a loss of vitality and dynamism.
In a list of new developments in Judaism in the twenty-first century, one would have to include the search for Jewish spirituality. This includes the discovery of spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and prayer—often adapted from Eastern religions. In this essay, I will examine this phenomenon by employing a method of investigation that attempts to address contemporary issues through textual study called “Textual Reasoning” (http://etext.virginia.edu/journals/tr/).