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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He 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.

8 comments

  1. “The Jewish Gangsters Who Went to Yom Kippur Services”

    I once came across a book someone published that was an historical study of Jewish gangsters in the early 20th century.

    One point the author made which struck me was that the Jewish gangsters, every last one, made great efforts to insulate their children from their activities, and made every effort that their children should be educated and enter legitimate, respectable professions. The last thing they wanted was that their children should follow them into their line of work. As opposed to other ethnic groups, where the gangsters actively encouraged their children to become part of the “family business.”

    I guess deep down, there was a spark of something that told them they were doing wrong.

    • I knew someone in yeshiva, now a rabbi, whose father was a gangster

    • As a recent New Yorker article pointed out, sociologists have noted that this pattern of gangsters seeking to have their kids have “legit” careers is quite common to all ethnic groups, the Godfather to the contrary. At most only a few grandkids end up in the family business while the other enter the mainstream middle or upper middle classes. Our thugs are no better than theirs. Catholic gangster went to Mass, why shouldn’t Jewish ones go to shul?

  2. I wonder if Ms. Richman can explain how forcing an orthodox Jewish man who is shomer negiah to sit where he will come into contact with a strange woman is not subjecting him “to discrimination on the basis of…religion….”

    • Joseph Kaplan

      How is he being subjected to “discrimination”? He is being treated the same way every other passenger is being treated; i.e., he is being asked to sit in the seat to which he was assigned. What you mean, I think, is that his religious beliefs are not being “accommodated” but that’s very different from “discrimination.” And even with accommodation, if accommodating him is an imposition on someone else (i.e., the woman who has to move from her assigned seat), should he have any “right” to inconvenience the other person. Plus, no one is “forcing” him to do anything.

      Of course, simple acts of courtesy on both sides might go a long way to resolving these types of problems.

      • The refusal to accommodate a religion observance on a public carrier to the benefit of another person can constitute religious discrimination. That being said, I agree that mutual courtesy is definitely the better way to go. But when legal action is taken, the countervailing arguments must be noted as well.

        • 18 U.S.C. § 245 makes it unlawful to willfully injure, intimidate or interfere with any person, or to attempt to do so, by force or threat of force, because of that other person’s race, color, religion or national origin and because of his/her activity as a traveler or user of a facility of interstate commerce or common carrier. The common law common carrier rule also prohibits discrimination with expect to the offering of services. Neither, however, require a special accommodation to a religious person’s needs. Thus, while it might be good business practice to offer kosher food along with regular meals there’s no legal obligation to do so. IAE, where the “accommodation” would infringe on others as is the case of requiring women to give up their assigned seat, I certainly don’t believe there’s any legal obligation to accommodate. I’d be interested in any citation to a statute or case that says otherwise.

  3. “Neither, however, require a special accommodation to a religious person’s needs. Thus, while it might be good business practice to offer kosher food along with regular meals there’s no legal obligation to do so”

    To agree with Joseph Kaplan-even when airlines offer kosher meals they often do not offer kosher snacks.
    Religious accommodation probably means less than most of us would like to believe- see eg Hardison vs TWA a 1977 SC decision.

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