Probably no more than the top 10 percent of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jews will ever shop at Pomegranate, the luxury kosher supermarket that New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote about in a column headlined “The Orthodox Surge.”
Brooks chose the upscale kosher version of Whole Foods as the fulcrum of an admiring piece on Orthodox Jewish life in America, writing of the Orthodox “sense of collective purpose” and the “external moral order” that governs Orthodox Jewish lives.
B’khol dor v’dor — in every generation — much ink has been spilled to resolve an array of problems that engaged our sages’ attention upon a careful close reading of the texts in the Haggadah.
Indeed, in the context of the Four Sons composition, two fundamental issues were singled out for special scrutiny.
First the traditional Haggadah allocates a singular place for the Four Sons — the Chakham, or Wise Son; the Rasha, conventionally rendered as the Wicked Son; the Tam, or Simple Son; and the She-eino yode’a li’shol, the son who is unschooled to ask questions.
I want to continue the dialogue regarding day schools, speaking from the inside, and add some realistic points to the discussion.
Even the average day school provides features that are non-negotiable for many families: a Jewish environment, a calendar and a schedule compatible with religious observance, idealistic and professional men and women who are role models for our children, a student body that substantially shares similar values and goals, opportunities to learn Torah and daven on a daily basis. Having begun my own schooling in public school as the only Jew in the school, learning all the Christmas carols word for word as we sat around the tree in the main hall, I am grateful that my children and grandchildren have better alternatives.
As we approach Passover and ready our Haggadot for the seder, we are reminded of the relevance of the exodus from Egypt to our lives today as well as of the struggles of Jews throughout the centuries.
With the arrival of spring, we turn to the Haggadah as a manual for justice and compassion as we contemplate a new season and take some comfort in our status as free people in an open society. Each year, we are blessed with the publication of innovative Haggadot with inspirational readings, fresh translations, and new challenges. But we may not be giving enough credit to our newest Haggadah— the cinema.
As of 2012, one in 20 Americans identified themselves as an atheist, agnostic, or unbeliever.
According to the research done by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released last year, nearly 33 million Americans list themselves with no religious affiliation. While it’s not specified in the Pew study how many Jews are among the ranks of the nonbelievers, doubtless the cultural landscape of Judaism is also impacted by these larger trends in Western culture.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that “all men are created equal.”
We often wonder whether children are included in this statement. Aren’t kids created equal as well?
We only ask this question because there is a stark difference in the treatment of children with special needs, compared with other children, when it comes to our state’s investment in education.
For a chance to find success in the future, these kids require a more specialized educational program, including therapeutic services, than do their peers.
Is it appropriate for a respected institution to sponsor or host a speaker who harshly accuses the Israeli government of standing in the way of Middle East peace or grossly violating human rights because of its policies toward the Palestinians?
While American Jews overwhelmingly disagree with these broad judgments, they are legitimate issues for discussion.
On the other hand, is it appropriate to sponsor or host a speaker who seeks to demonize or delegitimize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people?
During the Vietnam War protests at the University of Wisconsin, students were said to have gathered on the front lawn of noted historian George Mosse, imploring him to stop supporting the university’s policy of allowing the ROTC on campus.
To some students, this alignment with the machinery of war was a “fascist policy,” and they charged their teacher with the same label.
“A fascist,” he was said to have mused. “Which kind?”