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(Statement of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, prepared by Rabbi Hayyim and Maxine Angel)

Orthodox communities that wish to employ qualified women in rabbinical positions should be free to do so and should have our blessing. Dogmatic and divisive resolutions do not solve controversial issues. The Modern Orthodox community should not fear positive change, but should welcome it.

A Memorial Tribute to Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm
from Rabbi Marc D. Angel

We join the Lamm family in mourning the passing of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, one of the great American rabbis of our generation. His leadership to Yeshiva University and the wider community was marked by wisdom, eloquence, and courage.

Many years ago, when I was still a young boy growing up in Seattle, a fund-raiser from Israel visited our home shortly before the Pessah festival. After receiving his donation, he wished us a “hag kasher ve-sameah”—a happy and kosher Pessah.  My mother was deeply offended!

Here are some thoughts about what we might institute as a way of saying that women are very much counted in the community; that their scholarship is admired; that their presence is critical. 

The question about saying Hallel with a blessing on Yom haAtsmaut has much broader implications. Is halakha a closed system that operates solely within its four cubits? Or is halakha a system of life that responds in a living way to the realities of our lives?

At this historic moment when a visionary religious leadership is so urgently needed…we get, instead, divisive and extreme statements from Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef; divisive and extreme policies vis a vis halakhic conversion; divisive and extreme attitudes that serve to drive people away from Torah and mitzvoth.

Often, being frum is identified with being scrupulous in observing ritual laws—Shabbat, kashruth, taharat hamishpaha etc. But is a rabbi to be considered frum if guilty of rude behavior, if he regularly skips daily minyan, if he takes a full salary from the congregation but doesn’t work to his full capacity?

While all humans need affirmation from others, different people have different sorts of recognition hunger. Some are so internally weak, they need constant validation and applause. They seek publicity for themselves. They want to be noticed, and they ache when they are not noticed. It may seem odd, but it is often very true, that the most “popular” and “powerful” people are also the most lonely and insecure people.

I do not believe that Orthodox Jews are more dishonest than other people, and I like to think that Orthodox Jews are more honest. But why are we not surprised when we read or hear about Orthodox Jews accused of cheating or bribing? Why do we laugh at the assumption that Orthodox Jewish sponsorship guarantees the trustworthiness and honesty of a business venture?