We are about to embark on a year of expansion in our programming for the Institute. We continue to build on our previous successes but also intend to expand our reach and impact throughout the community.
Conversion to Judaism: What's Best for the Jewish People?
Sunday, October 21, 2018
10am-12pm at Lincoln Square Synagogue
We will be studying the writings of modern Jewish thinkers and writers who have had a significant impact on society. Among them are Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Lionel Trilling, Ayn Rand, Elias Canetti, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Isaiah Berlin, Saul Bellow, Betty Friedan, Simone Veil and Elie Wiesel. The class will focus on the Jewish components in their work, and also on how they have impacted on modern culture.
The concept of the Chosen People is fraught with difficulties. Historically, it has brought much grief upon the Jewish people. It also has led some Jews to develop chauvinistic attitudes toward non-Jews. Nonetheless, it is a central axiom in the Torah and rabbinic tradition, and we therefore have a responsibility to approach the subject forthrightly. In this essay, we will briefly consider the biblical and rabbinic evidence regarding chosenness.
The Book of Genesis
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.
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.
We all know that feeling lonely affects us emotionally; it makes us sad. But what is less known, research shows, is that it makes us see reality in a more negative light than necessary, including our relationships, our friends and family.
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 concept of covenant creates, tacitly, an "insider and outsider" outlook and approach. Is it possible to avoid this pitfall, while still affirming the concept of a conventional relationship with God? Is it possible to remain committed to covenant theology and to serve all people, regardless of faith, in a pluralistic setting? The teachings of Judaism bear out an affirmative answer to these questions.
A while ago, I received a note from a friend with the following quotation: “Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest….It’s about who came and never left your side.”
Among the basic ingredients of true friendship are: loyalty, trust, mutual commitment, shared ideals. Friends are very special to us because we know that they are there for us, just as we are here for them.