David Ellenson

Reform Judaism Isn’t an Island

These days, everyone seems to have something to say about what they think is wrong with Reform Judaism. We have heard that the Reform movement is, at best, in stasis and, at worst, facing a significant decline in its membership rolls. Some argue that Reform institutions are insufficiently nimble and overly bureaucratic. Others point to what they see as an underlying ideological or theological malaise, suggesting that Reform Judaism does not galvanize Reform Jews to acknowledge and act upon their covenantal obligations.

Mourning: Avi, far right, with his family.

Remembering Avi Gross Schaefer: Student, Soldier, Future Peacemaker

Avi Gross Schaefer, a 21-year-old veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and a freshman at Brown University, was killed almost instantly February 12, after being hit by a car driven by a drunken driver. Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer and his wife, Laurie Gross, a prominent artist, have lost a son, and the wider world lost someone who was primed to make a difference as a peacemaker.

Obscene Orthodox Hatred Demands a Clear Denunciation

Several weeks ago, the former Israeli chief Sephardic rabbi, Mordecai Eliyahu, charged that the Holocaust was divine punishment meted out against our people on account of the sin of Reform Judaism. Such an accusation is infuriating, and unleashes unnecessary hatred and incitement among Jews.

Students Seek Spiritual Growth Through Service

“It is vital to learn how to stand before God,” said Abraham Joshua Heschel, explaining his participation in the famed 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. “Even without words, our march was worship.”

Being Ourselves By Being For Others

There is a Hasidic allegory in which a rebbe explains why the stork, known in Hebrew as the hasidah, is characterized as a non-kosher animal. At the outset of his homily, the rebbe observes that the stork is labeled the hasidah (the merciful one) because the kindness and compassion this animal displays for its own kind is unlimited. However, the rebbe goes on to point out that precisely because the stork reserves these traits only for its own, the stork must always be defined as treyf. He concludes that the Jew must always extend compassion and mercy to all.

Conversion Is Not An Outreach Strategy

For more than a decade, a group of Jewish communal leaders has been arguing that the challenge of intermarriage can only be met by a policy of converting non-Jewish partners. They cite statistics indicating that among children raised in interfaith families in which the non-Jewish partner has not converted, only a small minority identify as

You’re in the Army Now

On the first Friday night of July, I attended Sabbath eve services at Kehillat Ra’anan, a Progressive congregation in Ra’anana, Israel. The services — a prelude to the bat mitzvah of my niece Shirah, which was to be celebrated the next day — contained a memorable and moving new ritual, one I had never witnessed before.As the Kabbalat

Religious Revival

Judaism has a long, complicated, fascinating history, and no chapter offers developments more unique than those written in the 350 years since the Jews first arrived in America. There are a number of reasons for this, though the most illuminating is perhaps that offered by the late Marshall Sklare, who noted that the United States was created as a

Abortion Ban Degrades And Devalues Women

President Bush recently signed a ban on so-called “partial birth abortions” into law. Enactment of this legislation marks a great victory for the religious right, and such passage surely reflects — as many commentators have pointed out — how successful the proponents of the ban have been in their campaign to restrict the scope of Roe