January Update from Rabbi Hayyim Angel, National Scholar of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

January, 2015

To our members and friends, I hope you are enjoying your winter.

We have completed the year’s first semester with a host of programs and classes, and eagerly anticipate our upcoming offerings.

Here are some of the major highlights coming up in January and February:

Sunday, February 22, 10:00am-1:00pm: I am organizing a symposium to be held at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan on the topic of “From the Academy to the Religious Community: How we can gain religious insight from academic Jewish Studies.”

A nice review by "The Kosher Bookworm"

The Kosher Bookworm
The Study of Bible Commentary--Fascinating
by Alan Jay Gerber

This past week the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst hosted one of America's
leading interpreters of the Bible text and commentaries, Rabbi Hayyim Angel.
Rabbi Angel's presentments that Shabbat to a total of over 700 attendees was
both impressive as to their attentiveness of the listeners as well as to the
comprehensiveness of the content of his message. As reflected in his literary
output over the past decade Rabbi Angel's message is to parse the inner workings
of the text of the holy writ, to define to "amcha" the methodology of peshat and
derash, so as to enable the average layperson to better understand the basic

Study links synagogue affiliation to better health

Study links synagogue affiliation to better health
January 14, 2015 6:50am

(JTA) — Regular synagogue attendance may make you healthier, a new study indicates.
A study of four large American Jewish urban communities by Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion found that “adults who affiliate with a Jewish religious denomination and attend synagogue report significantly better health than secular or non-practicing Jews,” Jeff Levin, director of the institute’s Program on Religion and Population Health, said in a statement issued Tuesday by the Texas university.

Of Walls and Bridges: Teaching and Studying

I can trace the seeds of my abiding interest in the intersection of Jewish/Israeli and Arab culture to two specific events that occurred while I was a high school student on a kibbutz in the eastern Galilee. The first took place when the group of American high school juniors of which I was a part travelled to the nearby Arab town of Daburiyya, at the foot of Mt. Tabor. We met Arab Israeli youth of our age in their classroom, where we bashfully introduced ourselves to each other. From there, our hosts took us to their homes where we were graciously hosted.

GETT- The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Israeli films receive large audiences worldwide. Many of them show the realities of life in the holy land, some with humor and some with sadness. Almost all of them demonstrate that Israel is a democratic country which is not afraid to show even its darkest aspects.

Currently one can watch such a dark story at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in Manhattan “Gett- the Trial of Viviane Amsalem”. Gett is Hebrew for divorce. This is a sad story of the difficulties, and one should say, impossibilities for a Jewish woman to obtain a divorce when the husband does not want it. Indeed the husband has to agree to GRANT a divorce. I purposely emphasize the word “GRANT” as the husband is all powerful in that procedure.

Update from Rabbi Hayyim Angel, National Scholar of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, March 2015

March, 2015 To our members and friends, Our ongoing programs for the Institute continue full throttle, including several great recent highlights.

On Sunday, February 22, I organized a symposium, “From the Academy to the Religious Community: How we can gain religious insight from academic Jewish Studies.” Over seventy people attended at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.

Thoughts for Yom Ha'Atsma'ut

At around the time that the State of Israel was being recognized by the United Nations, the Chief Rabbis of Israel wrote a letter in Arabic to the Arab world. The Sephardic Chief Rabbi Benzion Uziel, who was fluent in Arabic, likely wrote this letter that was signed by him and the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog.

Although so many years have passed since the formal establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the message of peace conveyed in this letter has largely been eclipsed by the ongoing hostilities and warfare.

Yom Ha'Atsma'ut, Israel Independence day, is observed this year on Wednesday night April 22 and Thursday April 23. It's worthwhile to review the words of Rabbis Uziel and Herzog, and pray that the message of peace will prevail...sooner rather than later.