This article begins with a brief history of the Syrian Jewish community and their settlement in New York in the twentiethcentury. As other Arab Jewish immigrants joined, this united group of people has come to be identified as the Sephardic community of Brooklyn.
I would challenge us to ask ourselves: Is a synagogue a social club or a spiritual home? Is Jewish education for teaching content and behavior—now bend here, now say this—or for imbuing children with the sense that we go in the presence of the Almighty, that He has gifted us the rule book to best play this game of life and tasked us with a life's mission?
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
In his magnum opus, Ha’amek Davar, Rabbi
Naftali Tzvi Berlin, (also called
Netziv, 1817-93), the last leader of the illustrious yeshiva of Volozhin, Russia, asks why the
first book of the Torah, Bereshith is
also called: Sefer Hayashar, “the book of those who are upright”. In his own
unusual way, Netziv responds that this is due to the fact that the three
patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaacov, the main figures in this book, were
men of uncompromising straightforwardness, justice and mercy.
Until the early twentieth century, women in most countries
had limited roles in civic life. In 1917, for example only
five countries in Europe allowed women to vote—
Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Soviet Russia. The women’s suffrage
movement in the United States and Europe was ultimately successful
in gaining the vote for women, but victory came only after a period of
protracted social and political agitation.
All Israelis and all Jews have a stake in an honest, compassionate, competent and courageous Chief Rabbinate, one that serves as a unifying force. The sooner the rabbinate is reconstituted, the sooner will we be able to say with a full heart: "For out of Zion comes forth the Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem."
My passion for interreligious engagement1 is due in no
small measure to my family’s journeys. I am the grandson
of immigrants who fled persecution in Eastern Europe
and settled in Chicago. Their contacts with Christian neighbors were limited
and not especially positive. As youngsters growing up in Chicago, my
parents learned firsthand about anti-Semitism and the dangers of taking
shortcuts through unfriendly neighborhoods.
I grew up in a middle-class Chicago suburb with both Christian and
To our members and friends,
We continue to reach thousands of people annually through our National Scholar program, combining classes, teacher trainings, conferences, and publications to promote the core values of our Institute.
There are several upcoming classes and programs:
It has been a sensational year for our Campus Fellows, who have been leading and developing programming for our Institute at universities across the United States and Canada. We thank all of our fellows who have worked so hard to promote our vision on their campuses.