Should Jewish law lose its ethical moorings, it will devolve into just another set of laws holding no more attraction than any other legal system. Only when halakhah manifests a deep passion for justice and human sensitivity will it secure the allegiance of Jews today. Moral integrity is, therefore, an existential imperative for contemporary halakhah.
Our Campus Fellows continue to do terrific work on their college campuses. Each runs two programs per semester sponsored by our Institute, with the goal of promoting our core values on campus and recruiting new members to our University Network. Please read about our latest campus programs!
The religious establishment is obligated to address cases of intermarriage, children of intermarriages, and people of Jewish ancestry. The key to Jewish unity is for Batei Din to recognize the rulings of others who follow different halakhic opinions, even when they vigorously disagree with their positions.
As a young boy growing up in Queens, NY, I always knew that my family’s traditions were slightly different from those of my classmates. Halakhot and practices taught in school, generally speaking, reflected what I experienced at home, but very often my customs were different. You see, my father was born in Afghanistan and my mother in Morocco, and as such, I was raised following Sephardic/Middle Eastern customs.
I always believed in Dizzy, that old Jew. He saw into the future.
( A review essay by Dr. Maurice Wohlgelernter, on Benjamin Disraeli, by Adam Kirsch. New York: Schocken, 2008.)
This article on the Tower of Babel offers a “textbook lesson” in combining traditional rabbinic commentary with contemporary academic Bible scholarship. These two approaches begin with different sets of assumptions, but each gives us access to greater meaning in the Torah. Taken together, we emerge with a fuller picture than with either one by itself.
Zina Schiff, a concert violinist, has performed and recorded on five continents. Her first recording was the solo violin score for MGM's The Fixer, and a major focus of her 16 CDs is classical Jewish music. This article appears in issue 28 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Before questioning the usefulness of the word “Orthodox,” let’s first acknowledge the need that this term serves. Congregations, like individuals, find benefit in affiliating with congregations of similar direction. Such affiliation provides the weight of numbers when larger issues, such as intermarriage and conversion, separation of church and state, recognition of homosexuals as congregants, and political positions on national and international issues, need to be addressed.
This article originally appeared in issue 7 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. More than ten years have passed since its publication...and yet the issues raised in this article continue to be highly relevant today.
The current policies of the Orthodox rabbinic/beth din establishment are causing anguish to thousands of would-be converts and their families; are turning would-be converts away from Orthodoxy; are de-legitimizing Orthodox rabbis and converts who do not subscribe to the "establishment" positions; are causing thousands of halakhic converts to fear that their and their children's halakhic status will be undermined.