Spinoza’s Sub Specie Aeternitatis, Yeshiva Students and the Army

Whenever I think of the huge demonstration of Hareidi yeshiva students at the beginning of this month, I think of Gateshead Yeshiva in England where I spent many years studying Talmud. It is Europe’s most famous yeshiva and a bastion of Torah study in the Hareidi world. Paradoxically, I also think of Spinoza’s incomparable masterpiece, the Ethics, written in a small room in Voorburg, the Netherlands.

Recording of Rabbi Hayyim Angel's March 20 Book Reception

Book Reception for Rabbi Hayyim Angel's Two Most Recent Books: Vision from the Prophet and Counsel from the Elders A Synagogue Companion

Sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, and held at the Drisha Institute, New York City, March 20: Remarks by Rabbi Marc Angel, Rachel Friedman, Rabbi Saul Berman, and Rabbi Shaul Robinson.

Keynote address by Rabbi Hayyim Angel, "A Modern and Orthodox Approach to Tanakh Study," begins around 34:00.



New Book of Short Stories by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Rabbi Marc D. Angel has just come out with a book of short stories, "The Crown of Solomon and Other Stories." Published by Albion-Andalus Books, the 150 page soft cover book is available through the online store at

Here are some comments on the book:

These wry parables of Jewish wisdom and ignorance touch a nerve. We find ourselves thinking about these characters long after we've put the book down—this one timid and self-demeaning until she suddenly is not, that one stubborn and aggressive, another, hesitant beyond reason. The stories quietly ambush assumptions of many kinds. —Jane Mushabac, CUNY Professor of English, author of "Pasha: Ruminations of David Aroughetti."

Great News about the Institute's University Network

The University Network of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals reaches many hundreds of students on campuses throughout North America. We provide students with our publications, and serve as a resource to them on issues relating to Judaism, ethics, Orthodoxy etc.

We sponsor Campus Fellows who arrange programs for students on many campuses. We also sponsor regional conferences on topics that promote a grand and inclusive vision of Orthodox Judaism.

A Review of "The Crown of Solomon and Other Stories"

The Crown of Solomon and Other Stories
By Marc D. Angel
Albion Andalus Books, 2014, 150 pages

This is prolific writer Rabbi Dr. Marc D. Angel’s second fictional book, following his much acclaimed and enjoyed novel “The Search Committee.” Several of the nineteen tales are based on true events. Many of the stories are set within Sephardic communities in Turkey, Rhodes and the United States.

“Betrayal and Redemption,” for example, looks at the relationship between a frail thirteen-year-old girl on the Island of Marmara, Turkey, and a Greek non-Jewish girl of similar age. The two have an excellent relationship. The story explores what happens during an Easter week pogrom and afterwards.

ESSAY CONTEST: Making Orthodox Synagogues More Meaningful

We thank all those who shared their ideas on how to make Orthodox synagogues more meaningful. We've chosen SEVEN winners. Their suggestions can help our synagogues and communities be stronger, more creative, more engaging. The winning essays are from Pam Ehrenkranz (Stamford, Connecticut); Yael Kassorla (Atlanta, Georgia); Dr. Alan Krinsky (Providence, Rhode Island); Rabbi Arnold Samlan (West Hempstead, New York); Barbara Mendes (Los Angeles, California); Leonard Stein (Beer Sheva, Israel); and Hinda Bramnick (Boca Raton, Florida).

Prayer as Revolution

Petitional prayer, the parts of prayer when we ask for things, plays a central role in Judaism. Of the 19 blessings in the Amidah, the centerpiece of the Jewish prayer, 13 of them are requests.

The question on the minds of many people who pray is: Does it work? It is, after all, hard to see direct results from the requests made in prayer. This reality results in people not praying or not taking prayer seriously.

Is God a Given?

Rabbi Cardozo’s analysis rings true: Most synagogues no longer serve as the hub or heartbeat of Jewish connectivity, especially for young Jews. Many people no longer feel God in the pews, nor do they feel the “big” questions are answered in synagogues. God has left the building.

But correct as Cardozo may be about widespread disenchantment, he makes one overriding assumption that’s seems faulty: He speaks about God as if God is a given—as if every Jew accepts “His” existence. The average American Jew doesn’t talk about God, lacks the vocabulary with which to articulate what or who God is or means, or doubts whether God exists at all. Most Jews I encounter don’t know where God might be found, or even if God is missing.

Voices in Baltimore

Within a three-mile radius of my home, there are about 60 Orthodox synagogue options. Sixty. It’s a staggering number—and even more staggering that despite this number, new synagogues and minyanim are being formed on a fairly regular basis. In fact, not that long ago, I and my husband, along with about 20 other families, created a new synagogue in Baltimore: Netivot Shalom.

Why would we feel the need, in such a strong Orthodox community, to “break away” from other synagogues?