Articles

Safe Jewish Homes

A few years ago, I spoke about domestic violence on Yom Kippur. Afterward, two very sweet members of my synagogue came up to me and said, "Rabbi, you shouldn't speak about such ugly things from the pulpit. That doesn't happen here."

I thought to myself, "Two rows behind you and a little to the left, it does."

Domestic violence happens in Jewish homes. This article is the reopening of the conversation, because we need to confront this issue. I wish we didn't have to. But this isn't only an issue in the Catholic Church. It is much closer to home than we'd like to admit.

Abuse happens within Jewish families. Physical and verbal abuse happen in Jewish families.

The Conversion Crisis--a New Glitch

Questions of personal status are among the most sensitive issues in Judaism and thus require responsible rabbinic leadership.
That is one reason why there was such an outcry last year when Israel’s Chief Rabbinate refused to allow my teacher, Rabbi Avi Weiss, to vouch for the Jewishness of a couple marrying in Israel. While the Chief Rabbinate ultimately backed down and agreed to accept Rabbi Weiss’ word, there are still unanswered questions regarding this episode.

On Jan. 4, 2014, the Rabbinical Council of America — a leading Orthodox rabbinic association — issued this statement: “Recent assertions that the Rabbinical Council of America advised the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to reject the testimony of RCA member Rabbi Avi Weiss are categorically untrue.”

Tampering with Tradition

(A Devar Torah relating to Parashat Shemini - Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47)

There are times when the Torah tells us a story that serves as a metaphor for issues that we face today. This week's Torah Portion - Parashat Shemini - relates the strange story of Aaron's sons Nadav and Avihu. As sons of the first Kohen Gadol (High Priest), Nadav and Avihu were also Kohanim who received instructions from their father on how to conduct the sacrificial services inside the newly inaugurated Mishkan. When they entered the sacred space designated for the Kohanim to offer sacrifices, the Torah relates a peculiar incident:

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

The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals has been co-sponsoring a ten-part series of weekly classes with Lincoln Square Synagogue in the First Book of Samuel (68th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan). Wednesdays from 7:15-8:15 pm from January 29-April 2. With this series winding down, we are discussing the possibility of future classes. Stay tuned for further announcements.

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 jewishideas.org

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).