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â–ª NY Times interview with R. Yehuda Krinsky
â–ª How to pick a Hebrew name
â–ª Has Modern Orthodoxy Lost the Plot?
â–ª ‘Hebrew’ Catholics raise Jewish ire
â–ª Archaeologists uncover Philistine temple
â–ª Prop 8 reversal riles, pleases Jewish groups
â–ª The rise of Catholics altar girls causing a decline in altar boys
â–ª Elena Kagan Joins Supreme Court
â–ª Tuition assistance for yeshivas yanked from state funding
â–ª SALT Friday
â–ª Women holding Torahs to send photos to Israeli leaders
â–ª No progress yet in attempt to mend rift over conversion bill
â–ª Steven Greenberg: An Orthodox pledge of compassion
â–ª Judge Rules Against Russia On Jewish Documents
â–ª R. Pruzansky on Sensitivity and Homosexuals
â–ª A Modern Orthodox Rabbi Reacts to Kabbalas Shabbos at HIR
â–ª SALT Thursday
▪ Weiss Moves Beyond ‘Rabba’ (RCA: All actions are on the table)
â–ª New threats as crisis deepens at Young Israel
â–ª Julius Berman: Claims Conference will not be deterred
â–ª Marvin Schick: We should not be surprised
â–ª Newsweek sold to Jewish businessman and philanthropist
▪ Twenty-five percent of Young Israel synagogues propose changes to national group’s constitution
â–ª Interfaith Marriages, Like Chelsea Clinton’s, Stir Conflicting Feelings
â–ª Jewish donors give Catholic schools a lift
â–ª SALT Wednesday
â–ª Marc Stern joins American Jewish Committee
â–ª Meet the new olim (R. Dovid Gottlieb is second interviewee)
â–ª Op-Ed: On conversion in Israel, there is a way
â–ª Of the People: Israeli democracy conquering liberalism
â–ª Tzohar rabbis: Call police even on Shabbat
â–ª New website renders non-profits transparent
â–ª Zionist internet struggle to hit Wikipedia
â–ª SALT Tuesday
â–ª The rabbis and the first thinking machine
â–ª Israel prosperity seen unsustainable as Haredim refuse to work
â–ª NBA player not as Jewish as believed
â–ª More religious kids sexually active (somewhat graphic)
â–ª Evidence grows of problem of clergy burnout
â–ª Lines on plagiarism blur for students in the Digital Age
â–ª Panel on intermarriage
â–ª Poorer people are more generous than richer people
â–ª Controversial Hareidi-IDF rule changed quietly
â–ª Father adopts religion, but loses son
â–ª Change at JTA signals challenges faced by US Jewish media
â–ª Ask the rabbi: Wander no more
â–ª SALT Monday
â–ª Last week’s news & links
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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

47 comments

  1. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Re: “Father adopts religion, but loses son”

    I have no knowledge of this case other than the article, and thus I have no way of judging anything; but just as a theoretical case, isn’t there the story where a child had to choose between divorcing parents, one frum and crazy, the other non-frum and normal, and RYBS said choose the sane one?

  2. I remember hearing R. Hershel Schachter say that. I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere in the blog’s archives but I can’t find it right now.

  3. I have first hand knowledge of Rav Hershel Schachter saying that in a case of an NCSY kid

  4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick first published in 1968. The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter of androids, while the secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-normal intelligence who befriends some of the androids.

    The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where the Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by Nuclear War during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards an animal.

    Deckard, the protagonist, is faced with retiring six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, the latest and most advanced model. Because of this task, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids possess no empathic sense. In essence, Dick probes the existence of defining qualities that separate humans from androids.

    KT

  5. Who’s to say the father became “frum”? He became Lubavitch. Many would argue that’s quite different.

    Joel: And, of course, the basis of the movie “Blade Runner.”

  6. Yes, but derivative :-)- especially to one who read the original in ’68 (I was still into science fiction in those days – highly recommend the Asimov foundation trilogy to give food for thought into predestination vs. free will as well as what is the furthest point from home.)

    KT

  7. I never really got Foundation. I do, however, have a hardcover Prelude to Foundation signed (to me) by Asimov himself. My mother spoke Yiddish with him as he signed it. 🙂

  8. “divorcing parents, one frum and crazy, the other non-frum and normal, and RYBS said choose the sane one?”

    I suspect that in the crazy household, the child wouldn’t remain frum.

    “Who’s to say the father became “frum”? He became Lubavitch. Many would argue that’s quite different.”

    That’s an unfair accusation when we are talking about RYBS’s lifetime.

    “I never really got Foundation.”

    It’s an allegorization of the colonization of America, and of the victory over the Nazis in WW2. (I’m speaking of the first 3 books, I didn’t find anything compelling in the sequels written decades later.)

    BTW I find it funny that in Asimov’s robot stories, the robot’s name is always preceded by the letter R – “R. Daneel Olivaw” for example. Truly a reflection of Asimov’s Jewish heritage.

  9. “Who’s to say the father became “frum”? He became Lubavitch. Many would argue that’s quite different.”

    That’s an unfair accusation when we are talking about RYBS’s lifetime.”

    Lubavitch and messianism go back to when the Rav was very much with us. The dangers were well known 40 years ago.

  10. No, I was not talking about the Rav but about this specific Tel Aviv case.

  11. ““Who’s to say the father became “frum”? He became Lubavitch. Many would argue that’s quite different.”

    That’s an unfair accusation when we are talking about RYBS’s lifetime.”

    Lubavitch and messianism go back to when the Rav was very much with us. The dangers were well known 40 years ago.”

    Much of the yeshivah world regards RYBS and MO in general as not falling in the category of “frum.” I don’t see how the above comments generate any productive discussion on this article.

  12. So what? The “yeshiva world” (funny, I went to a yeshiva called YU) is wrong. The Rav was frum. Believing in a dead messiah isn’t.

  13. MiMedinat HaYam

    there are only two countries in the world where the national govt does not advocate for its citizens in intl child custody cases — the us and israel. every other country provides attornies, files briefs, etc for its citizens in these cases in foreign courts. except the us govt (historicaly) and israel (though the foreign countries regularly file briefs in us courts). (and religion is the background issue in MANY of these cases the world over)

    besides this problem, us courts (and new york state courts, which have these cases all the time) refuse to recognize israeli rabbanut decisions, even though they are the official court system for these cases (let alone, private / charedi batei din, that are de facto recognized by the israeli rabbanut, and the israeli supreme court).

    the us state dept also refuses to file for americans who’se spouses move with child(ren) to yesha.

    so this area has always been political, despite what everyone thinks is purely “best interests of child” ideals.

  14. “So what? The “yeshiva world” (funny, I went to a yeshiva called YU) is wrong. The Rav was frum. Believing in a dead messiah isn’t.”

    There are Lubavitchers who are not meschichisten. This article does not enumerate belief in the Rebbe as the messiah as one of this man’s eccentricities. Children of messianists are also waking up to the craziness of their parents, and the demographics are changing even in a place like Crown Heights.

    You said “Lubavitch,” without such qualifications.

    Additionally, large swathes of MO Americans do not follow in the footsteps of the Rav, and use the label modern orthodox to justify a lax approach to halachah in key areas–particularly kashrus, and tznius. I’m glad you’re willing to dismiss those who would be condemning of the Rav and modern orthodoxy because of the behavior of some of his followers. I don’t see why Lubavithers should be treated any differently.

  15. Maybe because an overwhelming majority (every?) Lubavitcher believes in this nonsense, while a significant minority, at most, of MO are lax. (And it’s not an MO-only thing.)

  16. Nachum: Every Jew in the world is lax at some things, some of the time. The alleged higher laxness in the MO community is an matter of degree, not kind. Chabad messianism, whatever the percentage, is different in kind.

  17. Nu? That makes it much worse.

  18. About 2,000 years ago there was a Jewish messianic movement that at the time of the death of the leader had few followers (12?). However, within a few hundred years it had thousands, then millions, then started killing those who did not agree with their messianic outlook.

    The “current” messianic movement shortly after the death of their leader in Crown Heights is a lot larger than the one of 2,000 years ago. Do we know what this one will lead to?

  19. I’m surprised that there have been no comments on Dr. Schick’s essay. Day schools are the most critical issue for the Orthodox community in the diaspora. Not women rabbis or cantors or shul presidents, not messianism, not even intermarriage.

    I’m currently outside the US, visiting a community for which the government makes a significant contribution to the costs of the local Jewish schools. It makes a big difference.

  20. I’ll be shocked if any change happens at the NCYI, the leadership will pull rank and get every “defunct” YI shul to give them ringers to help them out. There is too much money at stake for the leadership to let this happen. It directly impacts their bottom line.

  21. MiMedinat HaYam

    to charlie (who is apparently in europe, where the govt supports all officially recognized religions (prob in germany, where the support is “significant” )):

    besides preaching to the choir, what kind of comment do you expect regarding mschick? perhaps he should get in touch with RAW’s congregant, whom the article doesnt mention is the majr funder of yct (while discussing yct in the same sentence)? and other people like him. supporting day schools is not “sexy”. supporting yeshivot is somewhat sexy. supporting hospitals and major universities is sexy. dont ask me why. thats how it is. perhaps change it.

    oh, and supporting graduate biostatistics programs for foreigners is sexy. (humor)

  22. “I’m surprised that there have been no comments on Dr. Schick’s essay. Day schools are the most critical issue for the Orthodox community in the diaspora.”

    Dr Schick’s article is worth reading. A separate question is :are day schools responsible for the lack of increase of MO?
    Day schools require family income of way above average-thus eliminating non above average income families from MO-and also require an above average IQ-dual language requirements. Thus, even if family has the money kids who could survive easily in a public school fail at a day school. Once they fail they will find a welcoming environment which is highly unlikely to be frum welcome.

  23. “I’m currently outside the US, visiting a community for which the government makes a significant contribution to the costs of the local Jewish schools”

    US a first amendment-which by the 14th also applies to states. NYS in its constitution is even more restrictive.

  24. Mycroft, contrary to popular belief, the Constitution makes no mention of a “wall of separation” between church and state. What New York has is a Blaine Amendment- other states have them as well- passed in the heyday of anti-Catholic sentiment in the late 1800’s.

    Whether such aid would be wise is another question, of course. But then again, I think all government-sponsored education should be ended.

  25. WADR, while I agree with R Pruzansky’s conclusions as posted in his blog, I disagree with his reasoning and observations. In a similar fashion, I found his JP op ed simply ove the top and simplistic in its discussion of a whole range of topics.

  26. WADR, while I agree with R Pruzansky’s conclusions as posted in his blog, I disagree with his reasoning and observations. In a similar fashion, I found his JP op ed simply over the top and simplistic in its discussion of a whole range of topics.

  27. Nachum: “Nu? That makes it much worse.”

    I agree with your bottom line, but I wasn’t so confident in your defense of the MO community, so I used a different line of argument.

  28. http://groups.google.com/group/bring-the-jo-back

    Please join us to discuss how we can convince the Agudath Israel of America to bring The Jewish Observer back into print. Even if you don’t have any ideas to share, your joining the group is tantamount to signing a petition to see the JO brought back to life!

  29. Why would anyone want to bring back the JO? The Charedi world now has Yated, Hamodia and Mishpacha, all of which are far more respectul of RYBS ,RIETS and its RY, than the JO ever was in its years of publication.

  30. I think that R Lapin is correct. Any and all intermarriages between a Jewish man and Gentile woman are a Halachic and Hashkafic tragedy. R Shach ZL once offered a comment on Chillul Shabbos in TA and stated that it was due to a lack of proper Shmiras Shabbos in Bnei Brak. Perhaps, when we realize the precious nature of every Jew as a vessel for spiritual growth as a Jew, we will view intermarriage as a tragedy, as opposed to some sort of celebration of the so called “Judeo Christian” faiths.

  31. I think the biggest Jewish story about Chelsea’s wedding, is the attendence of Chancelor Eisen at the wedding, on Shabbos no less.

    Its amazing and telling that there is no outrage in the Conservative movement for this.

    Its also sad in a sense that the Conservative movement has been reduced to this, that even the pretense of it being a halachik movement has disappeared.

  32. “I think the biggest Jewish story about Chelsea’s wedding, is the attendence of Chancelor Eisen at the wedding, on Shabbos no less.”

    The Forward reported that he did not attend the ceremony but came only to the reception after Shabbat was over. It also reported: “Eisen was invited as a result of his friendship with the couple, which began when they were his students at Stanford University.”

  33. RE: MO loses the plot (Sometimes I scare myself with my foolish consistency:-)).

    See the following exchange:On Sun, Sep 21, 2003 at 09:54:19AM -0400, Joelir…@aol.com wrote:
    : Does anyone know/is there a good work out on what caused R’ Gershom to
    : make his takkana disallowing polygamy? Given the oft repeated position
    : that Halacha defines morality, was there some non-moral(eg economic)
    : basis for this takana?

    Try R Yisrael Shtepansky’s 4 volume work on takanot(Takanot BeYisrael) I’m
    sure it is in Gottesman Library, published by Mossad Harav Kook. Vol 4,
    pages 78-129 on Rabbeinu Gershom’s takanot. Of interest is the novel (page
    114 ) opinion of R YaAvetz, ( R Yaakov Emden (Sheilat Yaavetz V 2 15) who
    surmises influence of Christian surroundings on Ashkenazi R Gershom, as
    opposed to Sephardim who never accepted the cherem, because they were used
    to 2 wives of the Moslems. See also Ginot UVradim who refers to R Gershom
    “HaShochen BeArei Edom” (who dwelled in the cities of the Christians), and
    other Achronim mentioned by Stepansky who support or reject the explanation
    of RY Emden.

    KT

  34. Mechy Frankel

    i’ve never heard of r. dov fischer whose extraordinarily dyspeptic essay deserves at least passing comment, if only because its internet posting here may guarantee some measure of ill deserved circulation. In short it is replete with misstatements of fact, strawmen arguments, irrelevant non-sequitors reflecting personal bugaboos, and a general tarring- with-broad-bush-throw-everything-he-doesn’t-like-into-the-same-basket insensibility.

    since i stay far away from such matters, i do not know what the composition of the IRF actually is but on timeline considerations alone doubt very much that it is identical with “YCT rabbis” (sic). The signers of statement of principles causing r. fischer such angst clearly includes rabbonim who are not just YCT rabbis – and incidentally, many readers not as caught up in the internecine anti-YCT rabbinical politics at play here do not find the position paper on homosexuality anywhere near as egregiously beyond the pale as r. fischer and his ilk seem determined to do. and of course a so called demand to “refocus the Orthodox agenda” is a product of r. fischer’s overheated extrapolations which appears nowhere else. he is of course free to pursue his personal priorities of, inter alia, settlements Judea/Samaria/Gush Katif activism/the politics of building freezes and whatnot, but when he claims that “not (only?) is “gay-bashing” not tolerated in the Orthodox community, but it does not exist”, he is either disingenuous or woefully ignorant of the reality in many day school situations – especially when the MO “yeshiva” education is imparted by basically charedi rabbonim. rereading the statement i also see that homosexually inclined individuals are exhorted to conduct themselves according to community norms and that local shuls and rabbis are the ones to determine membership and associated policies. i do not see r. fischer’s bugaboo of position papers “compelling” him to sign a “promise” of public honor or acceptance those who flout such norms.

    and put down r. fiscer’s dislike of various “cool stuff”under the category of a non-sequitor. (“wedding with a quasi-double-ring exchange.. albeit with a romantic Judaic recital like “Ani L’dodi v’Dodi Li” — .. or, can the groom walk around me seven times? .. it sounded so romantic. (BTW, that’s what most of us non-yekke ashkanazim do. what’s the problem?) ..) Or: “Can I have a woman recite each brakhah under the chupah after the guy?..)

    i find r. fischer’s entire essay lacking any compassionate nuance and am alarmed, though not surprised given the RCA’s recent track record, that r. fischer – doubtless reflecting the perspective of like minded colleagues – feels “An era seems to have dawned when there no longer can be effective compromise..”. but I defer to his cultural expertise in such matters as jersey shore and the streaming of ipod shmutz, the first of which i’m unaware and the latter I am not technologically ept enough to either accomplish or assess, but – since they sound ominous enough – i am comforted by the thought that such cultural warriors as r. fischer and r. pruzansky continue to man the chomos
    .

  35. Mechy Frankel

    on August 6, 2010 at 10:19 am
    YGB http://groups.google.com/group/bring-the-jo-back
    Please join us to discuss how we can convince the Agudath Israel of America to bring The Jewish Observer back into print. Even if you don’t have any ideas to share, your joining the group is tantamount to signing a petition to see the JO brought back to life!

    i would be happy to sign a petition to endorse the put-a-stake-through-its-heart-support-group to ensure it continues to enjoy its well deserved death. i can think of few other jewish publications so deserving of its fate. (ok, there’s always the odious yated but that’s an easy call. maybe the young israel viewpoint, but that would deprive me of my little game of counting the number of r. lerner pictures in each volume, always hoping for a new record).

  36. Mechy,
    I asked R’DF on C-C the following:Also, just out of curiosity, is it your opinion that white wedding dresses and use of rings for marriage ceremonies were originally of Jewish origin?

    No response yet.

    KT

  37. MiMedinat HaYam

    the whole non jewish wedding ceremony is obviously a “mesorah” from adam harishon.

    shoshvinim — marching down the aisle — from the zohar’s description of adam and chava’s wedding.

    ring — as mentioned — a monetary transaction.

    mesader kiddushin — when rush limbaugh was married next to last time, the judge performing the ceremony was noteworthy.

    hints of these in christian, (western) secular, and hindu ceremonies. i presume others, too.

  38. Joseph Kaplan

    Mechy, you make me proud that we were classmates.

  39. ring — as mentioned — a monetary transaction.
    ========================
    Always found it interesting that a ring per se was never mentioned in the talmud.
    KT

  40. MiMedinat HaYam

    because the talmud emphasizes the monetary transaction aspect of the deal.

    “biah” is frowned upon as a method, masked, etc.

    today’s (non orthodox) society would allow “biah”. (which would create pblms with later gittin, so lets not go there).

  41. Mechy Frankel

    Joseph Kaplan on August 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm
    Mechy, you make me proud that we were classmates.

    omigawd – joey. now people will think i’m also some kinda pinko fellow traveling commie bleeding heart just like you! or worse, they’ll suspect i might have voted dem!

  42. I actually didn’t think I could find someone criticizing LWMO to be more offensive than R Pruzansky, but R Dov Fischer succeeded! He presented very little of substance and lots of absurd rhetoric.

  43. On the name article:

    We were somewhat stunned to learn that when our daughter Adina, who recently made Aliya, received her t’udat zehut they had spelled “Adina” with an alef.

  44. “Any and all intermarriages between a Jewish man and Gentile woman are a Halachic and Hashkafic tragedy. ”

    True-but the best pragmatic response by various people is not obvious-see eg The Sreidei Eish on how to treat intermarried kids.

  45. “supporting day schools is not”

    I’ve heard suggested that we need to get philantropists to fund Jewish education. While that is a good idea, there simply is not enough wealth in the frum community to pull this off: The total annual cost of Jewish education in the US is in the billions.

    I’ve turned around 180 degrees on this issue as the result of having visited places where the government makes a significant contribution to Jewish schools (specifically, Ireland, Spain, and parts of Canada). At first I was worried that government funding would mean government dictates. Now I am convinced that the government dictates aren’t all that bad and that the funding is necessary. I am ready for an all out fight to repeal New York’s Blaine Amendment. (An attempt in 1967 got less than 30% of the vote statewide.) After that we will need to get public support for the large tax increases that will be necessary. (Consolidation of public school districts, a good idea by itself, would result in large tax decreases that could help to offset this.) But I don’t see any alternatives.

  46. i would be happy to sign a petition to endorse the put-a-stake-through-its-heart-support-group to ensure it continues to enjoy its well deserved death. i can think of few other jewish publications so deserving of its fate. (ok, there’s always the odious yated but that’s an easy call. maybe the young israel viewpoint, but that would deprive me of my little game of counting the number of r. lerner pictures in each volume, always hoping for a new record).

    Of course, the absence of The JO allows far more free-flowing malignancy vis-a-vis the sector that it once represented, as they are far more easily condemned as mindless and useless without a publication that might just prove the antithesis. Come, come, Mechy, such intellectual cowardice does not behoove the champion of Modern Hungarian Orthodoxy.

  47. Ya, because it did such a good job of “proving the antithesis” while it was around.

    Oh, and if it really *did* do such a good job, why isn’t it still around?

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