Jewish Reaction To Same-Sex Marriage Decision

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So how has the Jewish community responded to the marriage equality decision?My own Facebook page demonstrates 100% approval. But that’s not really so scientific. Nevertheless, it does reflect the actual American Jewish consensus. The last poll of the community indicated that 83% supported marriage equality.The Forward provided a breakdown of Jewish celebrities. We Jews do love bragging about our celebrities. The 83% support of American Jewry combined with Hollywood’s nearly 100% approval … [Read more...]

Sex Tourism, Hasidic Style

The grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman, Ukraine.

Today’s post falls under the category of religious morality. The Israeli news site Mako has an investigative report about the tourist activities of Hasidim (and others) who participate in pilgrimages to the city of Uman, Ukraine. Each year thousands of Hasidim and other Jewish spiritual-seekers flood the small town during the fall holidays to pray at the grave of Hasidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, founder of the Breslov Hasidic sect.Bu it turns out that there's more than just prayers ha … [Read more...]

Compassionate Jewish Law: When A Dead Baby Is Returned To Parents In A Cardboard Box

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Early in my career, while serving as director and rabbi at a Hillel Jewish student center, I received an emergency call in the middle of the night. This was pretty unusual for a Hillel director. I got to the hospital and discovered that one of my graduate students had suffered a very, very late term miscarriage, a stillbirth really. By the time I arrived, she and her husband were holding their infant for the first and only time. I spent the entire next day trying to convince the local Reform … [Read more...]

Leaving Hasidism

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In the genre of “de-conversion” books, there is a Jewish sub-category of “OTD” memoirs. “OTD” is the English acronym for “Off the Derech [the path or the way]” and refers to Orthodox Jews who leave traditional observance behind. Not all of them love that appellation, but it is what’s generally stuck.There have been many fine memoirs from formerly Orthodox Jews, most of them written by people reared in one of the Haredi varieties. One of the best is Leah Vincent’s Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvati … [Read more...]

Israeli Foreign Policy…Medieval Version

Repeat after me, “The Bible is not a real estate guide.”Obviously, Israel’s brand-new Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, does not understand why reasonable people generally believe that. At least not according to her laughably ridiculous briefing this morning to Foreign Ministry employees. This modern Orthodox woman is currently pursuing a doctorate in law at Tel Aviv University. But never mind all that secular legal baloney. Based on her remarks, what she really wants to be is a mediev … [Read more...]

A New Day In Israeli Politics?

I am a political junkie.  My drug is not domestic, as I prefer to feed my addiction with Israeli politics.  This current round of elections has provided me with a particularly potent dose and it’s one that’s never been concocted before.  Simply put, what’s happening now is unprecedented.Israeli coalition politics has always been a particularly rarefied specimen of the art of compromise.  No party ever accumulates sufficient seats to form a government.  This always makes the search for bedfell … [Read more...]

The Atheist Rabbi And The Orthodox Women’s Seminary

As I mentioned in a previous post, I returned last Sunday from a two-week stay in Jerusalem.The sole purpose of my trip was to visit my youngest daughter who is in an Orthodox gap-year program. (For some odd reason, these are generally called seminaries, even though no one there is entering the rabbinate or priesthood.)I have not written about my children before, but my daughter has given me permission to write this post. … [Read more...]

Crime Wave At The Western Wall

I just returned from Jerusalem to news about the latest round of arrests of Jewish women for the crime of wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) and organizing a women’s prayer service at the Western Wall.I have written before about my antipathy for that place. In my past two visits I haven’t even bothered descending the steps to go see it. This latest appalling arrest is a great example of everything that’s wrong about the site. … [Read more...]

More Drivel From The Great Rav Ovadiah

Rav Ovadiah Yosef, spiritual leader of world Sephardic Jewry, just attacked one of the major bastions of Israeli democracy.  He has labeled the Israeli courts “a court of gentiles.”  That, apparently, is a very bad thing when you are a loyal Torah Jew like his holiness.FailedMessiah.com (from Haaretz which has a big ol’ paywall) relates what happened when Yosef was asked about Israeli judges who are Orthodox Jews: … [Read more...]

Blogosphere Heats Up Over Haredi Internet Rally

The non-Jewish press has taken a great interest in the Haredi internet sobfest held on Sunday.  I guess that’s bound to happen when 40,000 black-suited men take over a baseball stadium on a hot day in May and no bats or gloves are involved.Over at Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker and Sam Biddle have a scathing post.  Leaving aside a few of their inaccuracies (not all Haredim are Hasidim), they hit the nail on the head by identifying misogyny at the core of all of this: … [Read more...]


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