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During the period of Elul and the High Holy Days, it is customary to increase our charitable giving. While many charities are worthy of our support, we ask you please to include the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals high on your list. We need to stand together for an intellectually vibrant, compassionate and inclusive Orthodox Judaism. If we don't do so, who will? And if not now, when?

There are, unfortunately, people of various religions and races who are indeed racists and/or anti-Semites. They are a threat to society, and a threat to themselves.However, there are people who are branded as racists or anti-Semites, but who are incorrectly stigmatized with these terms.  One must think very carefully before labeling someone as a racist/anti-Semite.

Henry Adams, a 19th century American historian and author, distinguished between a politician and a statesman. A politician is someone who listens to what people are saying, and then molds his/her agenda accordingly. A statesman is someone who thinks carefully and arrives at intelligent conclusions—and then works to persuade the public to adopt his/her policies.

Modern technology makes it quite easy for people to post hostile remarks against those with whom they disagree. These ad hominem attacks gain lives of their own, being forwarded to readers who then forward them to others etc.  People feel that it’s fine for them to vent, to call names, to discredit others. In their self-righteousness, they don’t realize the gravity of their transgressions.

The Jewish Press has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are posed to several rabbis. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc Angel, and here are Rabbi Angel's answers to several of the recent questions.

Dr Denis MacEoin's letter to the Edinburgh University Students' Association

(reprinted from the London Jewish Chronicle, in an issue several years back.)

With all the hundreds of millions of dollars that we have spent and continue to spend on defending ourselves, it seems that it’s never enough. All our defense organizations, museums of tolerance, holocaust memorials—while obviously having a positive influence on many—have not succeeded in eliminating hatred of Jews.

Our financial records are a clearer reflection of our values than anything we say. It is disheartening that leading American politicians—who earn far more than the national average of incomes—share so little of their wealth with charitable causes and humanitarian assistance.

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.

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?