Extremism Works Both Ways

Pamukkale, Turkey - July 20, 2011: Tourists on the travertines

I spend most of my days and nights highlighting problem areas in Orthodox communities as well as viable solutions, with the intention of bringing about much needed changes. Said problem areas include the need to address the treatment and prevention of abuse, the agunah crisis, the erasure of women from publications, the lack of leadership roles for women in Jewish communities, the need to allow for healthy disagreement when we think or interpret law differently, etc.

Posted on August 25, 2016

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OAD: On Another Derech

Landscape with fork rural roads in forest

I recently heard Rabbi Joseph Telushkin speak about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe believed that words mattered so much that he petitioned Israel to change the Hebrew word for hospital, Beit Cholim (house of the sick), to wording that indicated it was a house of healing. He urged people to use positive language as a way of bettering our world. 

Posted on August 16, 2016

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The Gender of Our Clergy Need Not Dictate Where Women Breastfeed

Gentle Hands of Mother Holding Her Precious Newborn Baby Girl.

In her JOFA post, “I Wasn’t Asking for Your Opinion,” Rabbanit Sharona Halickman rightfully criticizes the Orthodox Union for “only now thinking about whether they want . . . women to work in their shuls.” She recalls how Rabbi Avi Weiss hired her as a rabbinic intern at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale eighteen years ago, back in the last century–the first women to fill a pastoral role in an Orthodox synagogue.

Posted on August 15, 2016

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Tisha B’Av: Transforming Victimhood, Accessing Our Most Powerful Selves

Western Wall

The great challenge is learning how to honor the past while being able to create a future based on fresh vision of the present. This Saturday night and Sunday we will commemorate Tisha B’Av, the destruction of the Holy Temples. The rabbis in Tractate Yoma 9b attribute the destruction of both Holy Temples to the behaviour of the Jews themselves as opposed to external factors. The First Temple’s destruction is attributed to idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed, and the Second Temple’s destruction is attributed to the senseless hatred that prevailed between people even though they were following the Torah and giving charity. There is something inherently powerful in this framing, where the rabbis take responsibility for the fate of the people, instead of blaming others and seeing the rest of the world as inherently hostile to Jewish flourishment.

Posted on August 12, 2016

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Judaism After Orthodoxy: Insights into the “OTD” Movement

Star of David on metal fence of Old Synagogue in jewish district of Cracow - Kazimierz on Szeroka street in Poland

Many of us have read some of the recent memoirs written by people who have left their Orthodox community of origin, usually in the Hareidi (ultra-Orthodox) segment. The stories told have offered insights into a world with which most of us are not intimately familiar, and they have been gripping but sad. Perhaps because I grew up in a Yeshivish community and some of my close relatives are Hasidic, I have found these memoirs to be intriguing, and was particularly intrigued by Shulem Deen’s, “All Who Go Do Not Return.”

Posted on August 11, 2016

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I Wasn’t Asking For Your Opinion.

Pulpit with Stained Glass

Over 18 ½ years ago I was chosen to be the first Congregational Intern at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. When Rabbi Avi Weiss hired me, he explained that the position may be controversial as this was the first time that an Orthodox woman would be working in an Orthodox shul (synagogue) in a role similar to that of a rabbi.

Posted on August 8, 2016

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