Some of My Best Friends
A Journey through Twenty-First Century Anti-Semitism
By Ben Cohen
Edition Critic, 2014, 215 pages
Some of My Best Friends
AIDS AND CIRCUMCISION
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen (z’l)
Question: Does the current widespread occurrence of AIDS in any way affect the performance of circumcision?
Identification and Dislocation:
the Breakdown of Worshipful Expression
by Michael Haruni
One of the dilemmas we faced during the preparation of the Nehalel siddur was over the instructions, or “rubric”. For on the one hand there is, undoubtably, tremendous value in the detailed instructions appearing in the major contemporary English-language siddurim on how and where to bow in Amidah, where to kiss tzitziyot during and after Keriyat Shema, how to wave the lulav, and so forth. Baaley teshuvah especially have, since the advent of the ArtScroll siddur, found themselves able as never before to participate competently and confidently in shul procedures. The frum-from-birth users have benefited too, it must be said, filling in finer details previously eluding them.
On this coming Rosh HaShana the Shmita (Sabbatical) year (5775 – 2014-15) will begin. According to its laws, routine agricultural activities are prohibited and its produce is ownerless, free to be taken by all. At the end of the year, Shmitat Kesafim (the remission of debts) also takes effect.
“Excuse me for a moment; I need to take this call,” I said to the rabbis I was meeting with at an important convention for Hareidi professionals dealing with practical halakhic issues and public policy. I had just stopped by the convention to meet some of the rabbis who had taught me and mentored me over the years. I was sitting with my main mentor—a Yeshivishe, Litvishe Rav—and his friend, a close associate of some of the Hareidi rabbinic authorities.
As a child, in my formative years, I grew up on New York’s Lower East Side. I attended Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem and was privileged to know Rav Moshe Feinstein. My grandfather was the b’al koreh at the Yeshiva and a close friend of Rav Moshe, so I was blessed to have visited the Feinstein home on numerous occasions. Rav Moshe had a great influence on me. It was he who taught me how to interact with Jews of a wide range of observance, especially in the way he modeled Torah as an expression of love, patience, tolerance, and universal respect (b’sever panim yafot).
This week, we are commemorating the horrific murder 50 years ago of three civil rights workers, two Jewish and one African American, in Mississippi.
When I began reading up about the freedom riders, groups of mainly white young men and women from the north who spent the summer of 1964 in Mississippi working for civil rights, voting registration etc., and especially Andrew Goodman and Michael Shwerner, two amongst many Jews who were part of this summer, I had a hope.