In her landmark book, The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan asserted that “American women no longer know who they are. They are sorely in need of a new image to help them find their identity.” Originally published in 1963, her book became a rallying cry for the feminist movement. Friedan lamented the fact that women were expected (and expected themselves) to model themselves after the stereotypical image of mother and home-maker; that their self-image was vastly influenced by images of women in glossy magazines and the movies.
Amazingly, Jews have flourished for nearly
Victor Hugo observed that “narrow horizons beget stunted ideas.” Classic Judaism has included an idealistic universalistic world-view. Judaism’s horizons have been great; and it has begotten great ideas. The challenge to modern Jews is to remain faithful to their distinctive mitzvot while maintaining a universalistic ethical idealism.
Haham Gaon represented a balanced religiosity, deeply faithful to tradition while deeply sensitive to the needs and feelings of modern men and women. Haham Gaon was a model of dignity, compassion, and total commitment to the People of Israel and the State of Israel. As a proud Sephardic rabbi, he refused to compromise his own traditions in order to curry favor among others.
Rabbi Uziel proclaimed that Judaism is not a narrow, confined doctrine limited only to a select few individuals. It must thrive with a grand vision, always looking outward.
Moses Maimonides died in early December 1204. He was a unique figure in Jewish history and has had an enormous impact on halakha and philosophy. He fostered a religious worldview marked by reason and clear thinking. In commemorating the 814th anniversary of his death, we are posting Rabbi Marc Angel's article, "Religion and Superstition: A Maimonidean Approach."
The leaders make a decision; the decision is flawed; it causes dissension; it is based on the wrong factors. Yet, they will not back down. They have invested their own egos in their decision and will not admit that they were wrong. Damage—sometimes irreparable damage—ensues, causing the organization or institution to diminish or to become unfaithful to its original mission.
(This article is excerpted from Marc D. Angel, Remnant of Israel: A Portrait of America’s First Jewish Congregation—Shearith Israel, Riverside Books, New York, 2004.)
We may find it jarring to come into contact with Jews who observe minhagim different from ours. We may think that their practices are quaint, or odd, or plain wrong....The hope is that through greater awareness and empathy, we will function as a stronger, happier, and more diverse Jewish community. We need a genuine recognition that in our various searches for Divinity, different Jewish communities have followed diverse—perfectly halakhic and proper—roads.