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Some words get overused, misused and abused. The words become degraded so that they no longer can be taken at face value.

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.

I believe that elected officials are a reflection of the values of the electorate. If the electorate votes for people who are not viewed as being trustworthy, then this is apparently what the public wants...and deserves.

Demonization of any one group threatens the moral fabric of the entire society. Unless society as a whole can address the plague of dehumanization and demonization, all of us—of whatever background—are at risk. Each of us, in our own way, can contribute to creating a more harmonious, tolerant, humane society.

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.

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.

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?

From time to time, we read about polls taken among Israelis, asking if they are religious or secular. These polls reflect a popular Israeli division of its population into "dati" (religious) or "hiloni" (secular).

Some words get overused, misused and abused. The words become degraded so that they no longer can be taken at face value.

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.

I believe that elected officials are a reflection of the values of the electorate. If the electorate votes for people who are not viewed as being trustworthy, then this is apparently what the public wants...and deserves.

Demonization of any one group threatens the moral fabric of the entire society. Unless society as a whole can address the plague of dehumanization and demonization, all of us—of whatever background—are at risk. Each of us, in our own way, can contribute to creating a more harmonious, tolerant, humane society.

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.

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.

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?

From time to time, we read about polls taken among Israelis, asking if they are religious or secular. These polls reflect a popular Israeli division of its population into "dati" (religious) or "hiloni" (secular).