(Rabbi Finkelman is a member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. He earned his rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University, and has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the City University of New York. He teaches literature at Lawrence Technological University, as well as adult education classes in his local Federation.)

We've all been reading of tensions in Israel due to the "Hareidization" of standards of conduct involving women and men. Serious problems have emerged in Bet Shemesh, because some Hareidim were disparaging and spitting at a modern Orthodox girl who was dressed modestly--but not according to Hareidi norms. There has been a long ongoing battle over public buses where the Hareidim demand that women sit in the back and the men in the front. They allow no intermingling of the genders, so they impose their values on everyone else.

The Puah Institute, specializing in medical research on women's health and especially on fertility issues, recently held a conference, but would not allow female doctors to present papers or to be on panels.

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate has recently rejected the applications of several Orthodox Jewish converts who have applied to live in Israel. This rejection has been reported widely in the Jewish media, and has generated much discussion--and anger, frustration, disgust. These cases are being appealed, and we hope that these converts will indeed be allowed to settle in Israel as Jews.

The Chief Rabbinate only accepts Orthodox conversions performed under their jurisdiction and/or with their express approval. Orthodox rabbis who refuse to bend to the will of the Chief Rabbinate are excluded from the Chief Rabbinate's "approved" list.

This policy is problematic on many levels.

A member of the Institute recently sent me an email. Here are his comments, although I've deleted the name of the rabbi to whom he referred. (Rabbi X isn't his real name.)

In recent years, there seems to be a proliferation of kasher food products that contain multiple rabbinic supervisions (hashgahot). If you buy a box of cookies or a packaged cake, you are likely to find several symbols of competing kashruth agencies. Why isn't one hashgaha enough?


The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, recently reported:

 In October 2007, Rabbi Avi Weiss and I convened a group of Modern Orthodox rabbis for a conference in West Palm Beach.


Rabbi Daniel Rosen comments on Daniel Schwartz’s article, “I Dread Going to Shul”, that appeared in issue 9 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, and which is posted on the Institute’s website,