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?
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.
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.
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.