In Ethics of the Fathers, the rabbis teach that we must grant respect and honor to an individual who teaches us even the smallest bit of knowledge.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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
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
Last March I spoke out publicly to express my distress when a scheduling difficulty made it impossible for Uri Lupolianski, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who was then the acting mayor of Jerusalem, to meet with a delegation from the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion’s Board of Governors. We had come to Israel to express solidarity with