Moral education must be systemic and systematic. Educators must set the goals and the stage at the very outset, and keep coming back to them and reinforcing them. Children often do not listen to what we say because our words are drowned out by what we do.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which a group of rabbis respond to various timely questions. Rabbi Marc Angel is a regular panelist and here are his replies from recent columns.
Although he failed during his lifetime, Jeremiah’s staggering prophetic integrity, pitted against every echelon of society, remains immortalized in Tanakh as a shining model of standing against immorality and tyranny.
Ahab developed a self-serving and well-financed system of court prophets; he intimidated, silenced, and cancelled true prophets; and he kept righteous voices like those of Jehoshaphat adequately silent.. If Jehoshaphat had shown more resolve, perhaps the story could have turned out differently.
This past Shabbat (July 9, 2022), I had the privilege to lead the newly-created Foundations Minyan at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck, New Jersey. It is an intermediate service--one that adds learning and discussion to a full Shabbat morning prayer service. Approximately 100 people were in attendance, demonstrating the deep thirst so many people have for an enhancement of their prayer and synagogue experience. The service was created by Michelle Diamond and her friends and family in memory of her late husband, Andy Diamond.
Our Spring 2023 issue of Conversations will be dedicated to standing up for our core principles. This value is paramount for us at the Institute.
On September 12, 2004, Rabbi Marc Angel delivered a sermon at the historic Congregation Shearith Israel of New York, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation...and the beginning of Jewish life in America. Here are excerpts of that sermon, printed now in celebration of July 4--American Independence Day.
Primo Levi, (July 31, 1919-April 11, 1987) understood personally what it meant to be isolated, tortured, dehumanized. And he wrote at length about the Holocaust. But somehow, he retained within himself a calm and wise humaneness.
While religion should be the strongest force for a united, compassionate and tolerant humanity, it is too often identified with terrorism, extremism, superstition, exploitation…and hypocrisy. People commit the most heinous crimes…and do so while claiming to be acting in the name of God. Isaiah Berlin’s concept of pluralism provides a framework to be faithful to our own truths, while being genuinely respectful of the truths of others.
The Talmud records a poignant story relating to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. This shocking account is generally studied on Tisha B'Av. The story isn't merely a reflection on past spiritual errors. It is a reflection on the nature of religious leadership...and the results of failed leadership.