Religion produces the very best type of people: saintly, humble, compassionate, and genuinely pious. But we cannot help but notice that religion also produces—or at least harbors—the very worst type of people: terrorists, bigoted zealots, and self-righteous egotists. So religion has two faces: one that is righteous and compassionate; and one that is self-righteous and hate-filled. This article appears in issue 12 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Over the last 50 years American Orthodoxy has managed to
create a national community that is successful in the realm of
imparting knowledge, Jewish commitment and continuity.
Over the past years Orthodox rabbis convinced entire communities to
change their eating habits by refraining from “eating out” and to raise a
generation of Jewishly literate and deeply committed youth by sending
their children, at great personal expense, to Jewish day schools. It is precisely
these rabbis, on the heels of these successes, who can galvanize the
One of the remarkable features of the Jewish People is our incredible diversity. As we appreciate the "wholeness" of the Jewish People, we provide ourselves and our new generations with a sense of sharing in the grandness of the Jewish experience.
Our communities will grow stronger in Torah observance and vibrancy with the introduction of mixed-gender communal and spiritual leadership models. We are fully aware that this is only the beginning of the conversation. We look forward to being in partnership with our larger community in thinking about these issues.
Since the end of
World War II, both in America and Israel, Jews
have been at odds with one another for political, ethnic, ideological,
religious and/or denominational reasons.
That different groups have divergent worldviews has been the case since
Biblical times. But the competing
factions today appear more hostile than ever before. The Orthodox -- particularly the
ultra-Orthodox with their high birth rates, expanding schools systems, and
Living as an observant Jew in Israel is comfortable - almost too comfortable . The comfort level stems from the reality that Israel is, indeed, a Jewish state. Its culture, its calendar, its rhythm of life is fundamentally Jewish. These are the elements that express our national personality and which contribute to the feeli
Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa
The Talmud records a poignant story relating to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. Although historians describe various political, sociological, and military explanations for the Roman war against the Jews, the Talmud—through the story of Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa—points to a moral/spiritual cause of the destruction:
To our members and friends,
The institution of yeshiva, or metivta, is a national Jewish treasure in which the soul of the nation resides, a source of living waters for the preservation of the Jewish nation in the form and character unique to it alone. It behooves us therefore to delve into the inner essence of the yeshiva (or metivta) in order to understand its nature and composition, thus enabling us to promote its further development and perpetuation in that unique form that has no analogue among any other nation…..