We have been significantly increasing our Teacher Training programs as we spread our vision into the Day School system and communities throughout the country. Two major areas of expansion this past year have been with our new Sephardic Initiative and the Ben Porat Yosef Yeshiva Day School in Paramus, New Jersey.
(This article originally appeared in “Sephardica: Hommage a Haim Vidal Sephiha,” Peter Lang Publishers, Berne, 1996.)
Those causing flight delays and making passengers and crew members uncomfortable, should consider how their stringent behavior impacts others and be stringent in the mitzvah of loving their fellow as themselves.
The definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state suffers, ostensibly, from a fundamental contradiction. There are two sources of authority—Judaism and democracy, and two different lists of areas that cannot be reshaped, even by the majority. However, it is within our power to mitigate this conflict. We need to exert our efforts in an attempt to bring the two extremes closer together; even if we know that absolute harmony is impossible.
The refugees from Arab lands are Julius' people and her cause. They are a victimized group who have been mostly ignored, if not forgotten, by history. No United Nations resolutions have been passed on their behalf. Nor has a right of return or reparations been championed on their behalf.
The modern Orthodox leader is comfortable in the timeless Torah and is not threatened by ever changing secular realities, using the former to inform and then sanctify the latter. Realizing that the so-called literalist or fundamentalist is only selectively literal, the modern Orthodox leader’s learning and respect for God will provide the courage to be Orthodox and modern, and resist those who stifle religion in an authoritarian box.
Over the generations, Jewish commentators have interpreted the texts of Tanakh using traditional methods and sources. Many, however, also drew from non-traditional sources when they contributed positively to the discussion. Literary tools, comparative linguistics, as well as the discovery of a wealth of ancient texts and artifacts have contributed immensely to our understanding the rich tapestry and complexity of biblical texts.
Over the last three centuries non-observance of ritual law evolved into the predominant Jewish lifestyle. For those Orthodox Jews in the minority who remained committed to the practice of the halakhah, this “modern” situation elicited acute tensions that revolved around the nature of their relationship to those who did not share their religious values.
We need a return to a vision of Judaism according to which Jews are judged not by how closely they proclaim adherence to this, that, or the other interpretation of Maimonides' 'Thirteen Principles', but by their loyalty to the Jewish people and its future. This allows Orthodox Jews to disagree – strongly! – with the theologies of non-Orthodox movements while enthusiastically working with such Jews in order to assure a stronger future for the Jewish people as a whole.
Within the Orthodox world, reverence toward heroes and the Sages must be balanced with fidelity to the biblical text, commitment to prophetic integrity, and commitment to truth in scholarship. The Torah teaches both particularistic and universalistic values, and it is critical to adopt both in a faithful religious worldview.