Posted on March 5, 2012 by Andrea Wiese
Tuesday night I drove up to Oak Brook to have dinner with Katie, Jack, and Gail at Cheese Cake Factory. I also saw Katie and Rick’s new home, which is gorgeous! Then I continued to Buffalo Grove to sleep at my cousins house to be close to the Schechter Jewish Day School that I observed Continue Reading »
Posted on February 29, 2012 by W. Keller
By William Keller Last year, student teaching at Lander Grinspoon Academy, I was thrown into teaching on my first day. Although I was flustered by the flurry of activity I wasn’t ready for, I felt like I was a part of the school immediately. Here at Maimo everybody has been welcoming, but for the most Continue Reading »
Posted on June 16, 2011 by Zach
I know a lot of my posts have been about how holidays are celebrated in Israel, but I hope you’ll bear with me through one more. I promise, no more! Last week we celebrated Shavu’ot – the “Festival of Weeks” and the forerunner to Christian Pentecost. Like most Jewish holidays, it was originally an agricultural Continue Reading »
Posted on April 2, 2011 by Tamara Frankel
Much ink has been spilled over the seemingly cryptic laws of ritual purity and the illness of tzaraat recounted in Parshat Tazria. Actually I learned this week from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (of the UK) that the original translation of the disease of as “leprosy”. This is a misnomer since the biblical disease of tzaraat Continue Reading »
Posted on December 17, 2010 by Barer
This week at Pardes we looked at issues of separatism in Judaism, from the extremely current issue of the letter banning rental of apartments to Arabs to the more theoretical ‘how should Judaism treat those outside of its (exclusive) community?’ We also had a guest speaker talk about how Jews have viewed other religions in previous time periods, specifically how Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) views Christians in relation to the Jewish community.
The key takeaway from our discussion of the story that took over much of the news during the end of Chanukah was not just that the halachik basis on which the rabbis who signed the letter based their arguments was spurious. More importantly, we must remember that no one has the right to make a claim on behalf of Judaism as a whole. The tradition is too complex, too multifaceted and containing too many values that can be put into tension with each other for there to be a single voice on almost any topic that represents all of Judaism.
Looking more theoretically at the same set of issues, it is clear to me that there is a serious ‘conflict of interests’ for many young North American Jews today being exposed to texts that purport that Jews are somehow special and deserving of recognition for that uniqueness, either by themselves or even by the wider communities in which they live. I have commented previously about my views on Jews being “a light unto the nations.” How one relates to that question says a lot about how one will think that Jews ought to treat non-Jewish populations, both locally and abroad. An more positive way to look at spreading wisdom is that Jews should try their best to improve the world, which hopefully would encourage others to do the same, rather than implying that others do not have as much to offer. The fact is that, for most of us, we will always be part of many overlapping and sometimes contradicting exclusive communities, and that is simply part of the struggle of living in the modern world yet maintaining deep ties to the Jewish community.
Finally, I learned a little bit about the work of Rabbi Jacob Emden for the first time, and was struck by two things. First, the concept of a renaissance man seems like a forgotten ideal for the most part – or just simply impractical given the depth of knowledge that would be required to become an expert in more than one discipline – but I think that it should be reinvigorated when it comes to religion. We lack today religious leaders who are truly well read in religions other than their own. Second, I was intrigued that I, nor anyone else who attended the lecture, had never heard of Rabbi Emden. The Jewish tradition has so many gems, even just talking on a textual basis, which are rarely discussed or studied. But I couldn’t help but wonder if his views on Christians – that they should be respected and thanked for helping to spread ‘morality’ much more effectively than Judaism ever did – have played a role in his not being included in the traditional Jewish ‘canon’ of rabbis and thinkers that the mainstream of Jewish students are exposed to.
Special thanks to Meesh, Rabbi Wayne Allen, and David Bookbinder, for teaching me (and others) about all the topics mentioned in this post.
Posted on November 11, 2010 by Shibley
From my blog: No, it’s not what you think. This past Kabbalat Shabbat, I was in a youth hostel in Jerusalem, where all of the guests who are so inclined gather together, and hope to assemble enough people and know-how to create a smooth and meaningful davening. Since we are in Jerusalem, the numbers were Continue Reading »