Articles

"Religious Jews Leaving Religious Life:" Correspondence

To the editor,

I am writing in response to Rachel Tanny’s article, “Religious Jews Leaving Religious Life,” printed on June 14, 2013, and distributed last week via email.

I was raised in a loving Orthodox household in the wonderful Jewish community in Sharon, Massachusetts. But the intolerance I faced at Maimonides School in Brookline and the disinterest I had in continuing a lifestyle with so many prohibitive restrictions on my interaction with the modern world led me to stop leading a religious lifestyle when I left for college. As I made this decision, and as I have continued to work out how I would like to lead my life and raise a family, I have felt accepted and supported by my religious family, friends, and members of the Sharon community.

"A Synagogue Companion" by Rabbi Hayyim Angel: Reviewed by Rabbi Israel Drazin

Review by Israel Drazin
A Synagogue Companion, by Rabbi Hayyim Angel
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, 2014, 351 pages

Rabbi Hayyim Angel is a scholar who writes very readable, interesting, and informative books. He presents “a vision of the Torah that is authentic, passionate,
reasonable, and embracing of people of all backgrounds.” He exposes the plain meaning of biblical texts. He raises thought-provoking questions. He shows that many biblical
books do not state what people think they state, and surprises and delights readers by revealing what the Bible actually says.

In his Synagogue Companion, Angel, the National Scholar of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, has brief essays of no more than a page and a half on the 54

In Appreciation of Mr. S. Daniel Abraham

When our Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals was established in October 2007, we knew we wanted to publish a journal--but did not know how we could make this happen.

But then we met Mr. S. Daniel Abraham.

Mr. Abraham immediately understood the need for an Orthodox journal that was high quality, open to new and diverse ideas, and challenging to readers. He promptly "invested" in our Institute, and became the founding "angel" of our journal, "Conversations."

The first issue of "Conversations" appeared in spring 2008. Thanks to Mr. Abraham, we were able to publish and circulate thousands of copies to readers throughout the world. The reception was so positive that we expanded the format of "Conversations" so as to include more articles and generate more reaction.

Safe Jewish Homes

A few years ago, I spoke about domestic violence on Yom Kippur. Afterward, two very sweet members of my synagogue came up to me and said, "Rabbi, you shouldn't speak about such ugly things from the pulpit. That doesn't happen here."

I thought to myself, "Two rows behind you and a little to the left, it does."

Domestic violence happens in Jewish homes. This article is the reopening of the conversation, because we need to confront this issue. I wish we didn't have to. But this isn't only an issue in the Catholic Church. It is much closer to home than we'd like to admit.

Abuse happens within Jewish families. Physical and verbal abuse happen in Jewish families.

The Conversion Crisis--a New Glitch

Questions of personal status are among the most sensitive issues in Judaism and thus require responsible rabbinic leadership.
That is one reason why there was such an outcry last year when Israel’s Chief Rabbinate refused to allow my teacher, Rabbi Avi Weiss, to vouch for the Jewishness of a couple marrying in Israel. While the Chief Rabbinate ultimately backed down and agreed to accept Rabbi Weiss’ word, there are still unanswered questions regarding this episode.

On Jan. 4, 2014, the Rabbinical Council of America — a leading Orthodox rabbinic association — issued this statement: “Recent assertions that the Rabbinical Council of America advised the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to reject the testimony of RCA member Rabbi Avi Weiss are categorically untrue.”

Tampering with Tradition

(A Devar Torah relating to Parashat Shemini - Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47)

There are times when the Torah tells us a story that serves as a metaphor for issues that we face today. This week's Torah Portion - Parashat Shemini - relates the strange story of Aaron's sons Nadav and Avihu. As sons of the first Kohen Gadol (High Priest), Nadav and Avihu were also Kohanim who received instructions from their father on how to conduct the sacrificial services inside the newly inaugurated Mishkan. When they entered the sacred space designated for the Kohanim to offer sacrifices, the Torah relates a peculiar incident:

Update from Rabbi Hayyim Angel, National Scholar of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals has been co-sponsoring a ten-part series of weekly classes with Lincoln Square Synagogue in the First Book of Samuel (68th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan). Wednesdays from 7:15-8:15 pm from January 29-April 2. With this series winding down, we are discussing the possibility of future classes. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Spinoza’s Sub Specie Aeternitatis, Yeshiva Students and the Army

Whenever I think of the huge demonstration of Hareidi yeshiva students at the beginning of this month, I think of Gateshead Yeshiva in England where I spent many years studying Talmud. It is Europe’s most famous yeshiva and a bastion of Torah study in the Hareidi world. Paradoxically, I also think of Spinoza’s incomparable masterpiece, the Ethics, written in a small room in Voorburg, the Netherlands.

Recording of Rabbi Hayyim Angel's March 20 Book Reception

Book Reception for Rabbi Hayyim Angel's Two Most Recent Books: Vision from the Prophet and Counsel from the Elders A Synagogue Companion

Sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, and held at the Drisha Institute, New York City, March 20: Remarks by Rabbi Marc Angel, Rachel Friedman, Rabbi Saul Berman, and Rabbi Shaul Robinson.

Keynote address by Rabbi Hayyim Angel, "A Modern and Orthodox Approach to Tanakh Study," begins around 34:00.