Author Archives: Rafi Eis

Rabbi Rafi Eis is the Executive Director of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem and has been a teacher for 16 years.

Rabbinic Leadership and Haskalah 2.0

by R. Rafi Eis טוב טעם ודעת למדני כי במצותיך האמנתי: (תהילים קיט: סו) Teach me reason and knowledge, for I have put my trust in Your commandments. (Psalms 119:66) Jewish Continuity As a Minority in the World Successful transmission of Jewish values and traditions requires rabbinic leaders to clearly articulate the centrality of Torah. With ambivalent leadership, outside cultures ...

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The Critical Role of Parents on Pesach and Beyond

by R. Rafi Eis The Pesach Seder places the family, and specifically the relationship of parents and children, on center stage. The Haggadah’s section of the Four Sons makes clear that parents have a duty to respond individually to each child, but it must be with the same overall Exodus story. In this way, the Seder serves as the critical ...

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Orthodoxy and LGBTQ in a Progressive World

by Rafi Eis The 2001 documentary Trembling Before G-d, changed the trajectory of Orthodox Judaism’s approach towards homosexuality. Until that point, a mainstream Orthodox view considered homosexual activity as a promiscuous lifestyle choice.[1] The film, however, profiled several Orthodox Jews for whom homosexuality was nature. They desperately wanted to live an Orthodox heterosexual life and build a family. However, no ...

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Aaron Koller’s Sacrifice of Judaism

by R. Rafi Eis Aaron Koller’s Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought (University of Nebraska Press/JPS, 2020) is a timely analysis of some of the dangers of contemporary forms of religious fanaticism, but his conclusions promote another set of perilous contemporary attitudes. The book has two purposes. Koller first explores the morality of the Akedah, ...

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The Loud Message of MASA’s Budget Cuts

by R. Rafi Eis Nobody likes budget cuts. Delivering the bad news is painful, and obviously being on the receiving end can be devastating. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many organizations to reduce their spending.  MASA Israel, a partnership between the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency to support long term Israel experience, is not immune to these realities. How ...

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Women Rabbis: Jewish Unity and the Limits of Autonomy

by R. Rafi Eis Is this the moment of an irrevocable split? Emotions have been running high in the Modern Orthodox community in the past three weeks over the clerical role of women in Orthodox Judaism. The OU statement expanded the official synagogue roles for women, but also denied them serving as congregational rabbis. The responses and counter responses newly ...

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Jewish Testing Wars?

by R. Rafi Eis Multiple Intelligences, 21st Century Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Blended Learning, Constructivist Education, One for One, Block Scheduling, Interdisciplinary curriculum, Student Agency, and Project Based Learning comprise just some of the major educational trends of the past few years. Yet after each year of implementing these highly acclaimed initiatives, many educators and parents feel disappointed that much more ...

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Let’s Lower Tuition!

by Rabbi Rafi Eis Day school tuition continues to rise five years after the affordability crisis began.  Avi Chai, PEJE, the Orthodox Union, Yeshiva University, the Kohelet Foundation, and many other organizations have devoted significant resources in an attempt to solve the affordability crisis, helping schools raise revenue, cut expenses, and become more efficient.  These organizations have helped schools become ...

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