Blogs

Last year, the "Forward" (December 10, 2012) published an article listing the salaries of executives in Jewish not-for-profit organizations. Eighteen of these individuals are earning over $400,000 per year, with the top salary at over $879,000.

I subscribe to the notion that Jewish not-for-profits need to pay proper salaries to their employees. Unless proper compensation packages are offered, these institutions will not be able to attract the best and the brightest executives. Good executives are essential to the fulfillment of the missions of those organizations for whom they work.

(This article originally appeared in the Israeli newspaper, Ha-aretz, December 2012)

Hanukkah is widely observed as a holiday that celebrates religious freedom. The persecuted Jews of ancient Israel waged battle against their Syrian/Hellenistic oppressors, and won the right to rededicate the Temple and to restore Jewish worship and religious practices.

Religious freedom is a wonderful thing. It allows us to worship God freely, without being coerced or intimidated by others.

The Conversion Crisis

This article appears in Haaretz, February 8, 2013: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/converts-to-judaism-are-victims-of-israel-s-insulting-and-cruel-rabbinate.premium-1.502333

Reflections on the Conversion Crisis and the Rabbanut.
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

(Rabbi Angel is Founder and Director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (jewishideas.org); and Rabbi Emeritus of the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City, founded 1654. Author and editor of 31 books, he is Past President of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), and a co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, an association of modern Orthodox rabbis.)

Several Modern Orthodox High Schools have recently allowed female students to don tefillin during the morning prayer services at school. This decision has generated much controversy, rancor and name-calling. On one side are those who think this is an outright break with halakhic norms, and on the other side are those who think this is a wonderful step forward for halakhic Judaism.

This article is not going to pass halakhic judgment on this issue. Halakhic cases can be made on both sides. This article, rather, will deal with the larger question of the nature of prayer and the mitzvah of tefillin.

The goal of prayer is to come closer to God, to bring God into our lives, to experience in some way the reality of the Divine Presence.

Arguably the happiest day of the Jewish year, traditionally originating in the time of the ancient Persian Empire, perhaps the fifth or fourth century B.C.E., Purim is considered an occasion so joyous that its festive atmosphere pervades the entire month of Adar in which it occurs.

In his book “Crowds and Power,” the Nobel Prize winning Sephardic author, Elias Canetti, writes of the tremendous diversity among Jews. He theorizes: “One is driven to ask in what respect these people remain Jews; what makes them into Jews; what is the ultimate nature of the bond they feel when they say "I am a Jew"....This bond...is the Exodus from Egypt.” Canetti suggests that the Israelites’ formative experience as a vast crowd leaving Egypt is the key to understanding the nature of Jewish peoplehood. As long as Jews—however different they are from each other—share historical memories of the Exodus from Egypt, they continue to identify as members of one people. We are bound together by the shared experience of redemption.

(This article has appeared in various publications, most recently the Jerusalem Post of April 22, 2014)

Back in 2008, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) announced a new system of conversion (GPS – Geirus Policies and Standards).

Ostensibly, their goal was to create a universal and centralized standard for all conversions.

We warned then that the GPS system would result in invalidating conversions that had been done in the past in accordance with Orthodox law and approved by the RCA (JTA , March 10, 2008, “RCA Deal Hurts Rabbi, Converts”).

Those of us who were in New York on that fateful 9/11 will never forget the horror of that day, the terrible loss of lives, the great acts of heroism on the part of so many who strove to help victims of the attack. None will ever forget how vulnerable we are to acts of terrorism.

(Yosef Lopez, a member of our Institute who lives in Jerusalem, recently wrote the following letter to Rabbi Marc Angel. The issue Yosef Lopez raises is very serious. What can be done to uproot religious fanaticism that masquerades as "Torah Judaism?")

With the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by terrorists, the Israeli government, defense forces and police have been working tirelessly to bring the boys home quickly and safely. People throughout the world have been praying for the victims’ wellbeing.

Last year, the "Forward" (December 10, 2012) published an article listing the salaries of executives in Jewish not-for-profit organizations. Eighteen of these individuals are earning over $400,000 per year, with the top salary at over $879,000.

I subscribe to the notion that Jewish not-for-profits need to pay proper salaries to their employees. Unless proper compensation packages are offered, these institutions will not be able to attract the best and the brightest executives. Good executives are essential to the fulfillment of the missions of those organizations for whom they work.

(This article originally appeared in the Israeli newspaper, Ha-aretz, December 2012)

Hanukkah is widely observed as a holiday that celebrates religious freedom. The persecuted Jews of ancient Israel waged battle against their Syrian/Hellenistic oppressors, and won the right to rededicate the Temple and to restore Jewish worship and religious practices.

Religious freedom is a wonderful thing. It allows us to worship God freely, without being coerced or intimidated by others.

The Conversion Crisis

This article appears in Haaretz, February 8, 2013: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/converts-to-judaism-are-victims-of-israel-s-insulting-and-cruel-rabbinate.premium-1.502333

Reflections on the Conversion Crisis and the Rabbanut.
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

(Rabbi Angel is Founder and Director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (jewishideas.org); and Rabbi Emeritus of the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City, founded 1654. Author and editor of 31 books, he is Past President of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), and a co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, an association of modern Orthodox rabbis.)

Several Modern Orthodox High Schools have recently allowed female students to don tefillin during the morning prayer services at school. This decision has generated much controversy, rancor and name-calling. On one side are those who think this is an outright break with halakhic norms, and on the other side are those who think this is a wonderful step forward for halakhic Judaism.

This article is not going to pass halakhic judgment on this issue. Halakhic cases can be made on both sides. This article, rather, will deal with the larger question of the nature of prayer and the mitzvah of tefillin.

The goal of prayer is to come closer to God, to bring God into our lives, to experience in some way the reality of the Divine Presence.

Arguably the happiest day of the Jewish year, traditionally originating in the time of the ancient Persian Empire, perhaps the fifth or fourth century B.C.E., Purim is considered an occasion so joyous that its festive atmosphere pervades the entire month of Adar in which it occurs.

In his book “Crowds and Power,” the Nobel Prize winning Sephardic author, Elias Canetti, writes of the tremendous diversity among Jews. He theorizes: “One is driven to ask in what respect these people remain Jews; what makes them into Jews; what is the ultimate nature of the bond they feel when they say "I am a Jew"....This bond...is the Exodus from Egypt.” Canetti suggests that the Israelites’ formative experience as a vast crowd leaving Egypt is the key to understanding the nature of Jewish peoplehood. As long as Jews—however different they are from each other—share historical memories of the Exodus from Egypt, they continue to identify as members of one people. We are bound together by the shared experience of redemption.

(This article has appeared in various publications, most recently the Jerusalem Post of April 22, 2014)

Back in 2008, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) announced a new system of conversion (GPS – Geirus Policies and Standards).

Ostensibly, their goal was to create a universal and centralized standard for all conversions.

We warned then that the GPS system would result in invalidating conversions that had been done in the past in accordance with Orthodox law and approved by the RCA (JTA , March 10, 2008, “RCA Deal Hurts Rabbi, Converts”).

Those of us who were in New York on that fateful 9/11 will never forget the horror of that day, the terrible loss of lives, the great acts of heroism on the part of so many who strove to help victims of the attack. None will ever forget how vulnerable we are to acts of terrorism.

(Yosef Lopez, a member of our Institute who lives in Jerusalem, recently wrote the following letter to Rabbi Marc Angel. The issue Yosef Lopez raises is very serious. What can be done to uproot religious fanaticism that masquerades as "Torah Judaism?")

With the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by terrorists, the Israeli government, defense forces and police have been working tirelessly to bring the boys home quickly and safely. People throughout the world have been praying for the victims’ wellbeing.