In October 2007, we opened our Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Will our mainstream synagogues revitalize themselves by once again becoming spiritual centers for those searching for authentic Jewish religiosity? Will they once again focus on quality of spiritual experience rather than on quantity of dollars? Will they once again become the gathering place for Jews who are searching for truth, for God?
In the "old days", it was normal within the Orthodox world to have youth groups that included boys and girls. Day schools were often co-ed. Synagogues sponsored events where young men and women could meet and socialize. Men and women sat together at weddings and wedding banquets. Modest, religiously proper behavior was encouraged within a context where males and females could interact in respectful and appropriate ways.
Should the music of Rabbi Carlebach—or any other composer—be banned because of alleged or real private moral failings? Or should the music stand on its own merits, regardless of the personal life of the musician?
All halakhic converts must understand: they are 100% Jewish according to halakha. Their Jewishness is not contingent on “acceptance” by the Chief Rabbinate or by any Hareidi dominated rabbinic courts. Halakhic converts are Jewish, their children are Jewish, they are obligated to fulfill the mitzvoth as are all other Jews. Anyone who casts aspersions on their Jewish status is a sinner, plain and simple.
The lessons to be learned from this campaign run the gamut. And the fact that there are so many insights to be gleaned indicates that there is in fact one larger, meta lesson to be learned: Men, and particularly male educators, leaders and aspiring leaders, must listen before any of the larger lessons can be absorbed.
MK Aryeh Deri derided Modern Orthodoxy as “Borderline Reform” as reported by Israel TV’s Channel 2. This head of the Haredi Sefardic political party, Shas, has served a prison term for criminal corruption, hardly a badge of honor for an Orthodox spokesman we would expect to be committed as a matter of conscience to “doing what is right and good” [Deut 6:18].
I have never had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Joseph Dweck in person. But I have been in touch online and electronically. I know him to be an exceptional rabbi.
Rabbi Yona Metzger served as the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel from 2003 to 2013. He was indicted in 2015 for various crimes, including fraud, bribery, breach of public trust, theft, money-laundering, tax violations, conspiracy to commit a felony—all while serving as Chief Rabbi.
(This article originally appeared in The Jewish Journal, February 23, 2016)