A few years ago, the British anti-Semitism scholar David Hirsh remarked that while Israel was the ostensible target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, first in the firing line were diaspora Jews. This shouldn't be surprising if you consider it carefully — Jewish organizations are typically called on by the media to defend Israel, particularly during times of conflict, and many individual Jews have faced ostracism within their own professional communities for speaking in support of Israel and against the boycott.
Change is necessary
One of the very serious questions that faces every posek is what degree of flexibility does he have in determining his decisions, whether in the direction of stringency or that of leniency. Is he inexorably bound by the rulings of the Shulhan Arukh, for example? Or may he take a position which is more stringent than that of the Mehaber ? (It is generally agreed that he may add stringencies to his own private practices.) Conversely, can he take a position of leniency, which would seem to contradict the standard rulings?
It is axiomatic that Modern Orthodoxy and Modern Orthodox Jews value the academic field of Jewish Studies, which functions as the bridge between the Bet Midrash and the academy, both locations in which we seek to situate ourselves. In articulating the value of such study, proponents often highlight the insights it affords in the realm of Talmud Torah.
On Thursday, July 30, 2015, a Haredi former convict named Yishai Schlissel stabbed six marchers in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade; a few days later, one of his victims, 16-year-old Shira Banki died of her wounds. Schlissel had been released from prison only three weeks earlier, having served for 10 years for committing a virtually identical crime in 2005. Although the stabbing made headlines, it was soon overshadowed by the murder of a West Bank Palestinian family, which was quickly attributed to radical settlers.
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I began my Orthodox conversion process when I was 21 years old. I was a junior at New York University studying Jewish Studies and History and had just returned to Manhattan after a transformative semester abroad in Tel Aviv. But my journey with Judaism doesn’t begin there; it begins with my parents.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel is Founder and Director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. Among his books are "Maimonides, Spinoza and Us" and "Maimonides: Essential Teachings in Jewish Faith and Ethics." This article appears in issue 26 of Conversation, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
The Current Chief Rabbinate System Needs an Overhaul. This article by Rabbi Marc D. Angel was originally published in the Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2007. Unfortunately, little has been done to improve the Chief Rabbinate since then; indeed, in many ways, things have actually worsened.
A Braver New World?