Articles

Remembering Ike Cohen

Rabbis are expected to be teachers to their congregations. But it is not often enough realized that rabbis have much to learn from their congregants! When I think of the many synagogue members I have known over the past half century, I rejoice at how much I learned from them in so many ways. And I learned a great deal from Ike Cohen, a man of reason and integrity, a genuine friend.

Review Article: "The Jews Should Keep Quiet: FDR, R. Stephen Wise, and the Holocaust

Rafael Medoff describes President Roosevelt’s dealings with Rabbi Stephen Wise as being manipulative, dishonest and expedient.  Charmed by Roosevelt's commitment to progressive causes, Rabbi Wise (who helped found the ACLU, was a board member of the NAACP and was active in women's suffrage, labor and disarmament causes), found Roosevelt politically admirable.

How we Judge the Judges

How does the importance of personal character, the ethical quality of the individual, compare as between a secular judge - say a United States federal judge or a state court judge - and a religious authority, specifically a rabbinic leader or decisor?

Abraham Joshua Heschel: An Appreciation

My father’s voice was one of “moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.” He spoke out in the prophetic tradition, and we are proud that he represented the Jewish people to the world. After the devastation of Europe, he gave us back our souls, reminding us of the greatness of Judaism and urging us to study more deeply, pray with greater intensity, and always remember what we stand for.

The Chosen People: An Ethical Challenge

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

Conversion to Judaism: Halakha, Hashkafa, and Historic Challenge

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.

Faith, Science, and Orthodoxy

How can an Orthodox Jew in today's world maintain faith in Torah in the face of the apparent challenges of natural science to that faith? Dr. Menachem Kellner examines Maimonides' approach to the issue and then proposes his own approach, one which relies upon reverting to what he understands as classic Jewish definitions of faith.