June 29, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Right Wing Bob finds early Dylan Zionist lyric!

Before he recorded "Neighborhood Bully," Bob Dylan was singing about Israel... in a little noticed, never released or published Gospel song, "I Will Love Him," perfomed in 1980:

He said when the fig tree was blooming
He would be at the gate
He was talking ’bout the state of Israel
From nineteen forty-eight
And the time is near, and

I will love Him
I will serve Him
I will glorify His name

Thanks to Right Wing Bob for finding the clip on YouTube, and digging up the context.

June 26, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Raphael Ginsberg asks: Why did Evangelical Christianity launch the Crusade on Drugs?

Noting that

Many of the most onerous and unfortunate federal drug policies... were spearheaded by legislators who are members of small, conservative evangelical congregations.
he asks:
What is the connection between evangelical Christianity and punitive drug policy?... What scriptural evidence do conservative fundamentalist and evangelical Christians utilize to argue that drug use is a sin rather than a health problem? How and why is such scripture interpreted differently by evangelical Christians than liberal Christians? Finally, how do evangelical or fundamentalist faith systems understand punishment to be the appropriate response to drug use?
Good questions. Anyone have any answers?

June 24, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Ben Yehuda Press helps bring Rav Yoel Bin Nun to Teaneck, Sunday, June 24th

In conjunction with Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Congregation Rinat Yisrael, Ben Yehuda Press is proud to announce a lecture by renowned teacher, Rav Yoel Bin Nun, Rosh Ha-Yeshiva of Yeshivat Kibbut ha-dati.

The topic is "Kol She Omar David Hatah Eino Eleh To'eh:" Rabbinic perspectives on the David and Bat-Sheva Narratives.

The shiur will take place on Sunday, June 24th at Rinat Yisrael, 389 West Englewood Avenue in Teaneck, NJ, between Mincha at 8pm, and Maariv at 9:15pm.

The shiur, in Hebrew, is free and open to the public.

For Ben Yehuda Press the shiur celebrates this year's publication of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Tanakh Companion to the Book of Samuel.

June 22, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Is Yori Yanover the next Shmuely Boteach?

That's the question raised by Gawker.com as they review Yori's latest effort in fast-on-his-feet video: Yori Is The Next Shmuley: A Talmudic Guide to Alternate Side Parking in the LES says Gawker, referring to the longtime YudelFriend -- and author of The Cabbalist's Daughter, forthcoming from Ben Yehuda Press -- as a "vivacious Jew". Gawker describes the video itself as
kind of like Russian Ark meets "Shalom in the Home" meets that part in "The Sopranos" where Meadow can't parallel park.
But why take some blog's word for it? Watch for yourself:

June 20, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

The wine is Kosher... but is it ethical?

A while back, Andy pointed out that Reform Judaism magazine had an article on Kosher wine. Also noting the phenomenon -- new for Reform -- was Rabbi Jill Jacobs, who on Jspot challenged the Reform movement to not ignore its principles when it (re)considers tradition:
I scoured the section for the articles on “Here’s how Reform Jews grapple with the kosher wine issue,” or “Here are some ways to think about kosher wine vis a vis our changing relationship with non-Jews” or “Should an intermarried couple raising a Jewish family buy only mevushal wine” but to no avail.

The picture here is only rosy– boiling wine is a “tradition” that reminds us of the good ol’ days when Jews were Jews and Romans were Romans; and there is no mention of the fact that most Reform Jews would not be considered sufficiently “sabbath-observant” to qualify “to come in contact with the wine,” and that those whom the Reform Movement considers Jewish by means of patrilineal descent would not be considered Jewish at all for the purposes of making kosher wine. (that is–unless the Reform Movement starts its own wineries, with its own hashgachah (kosher certification)

Worth reading in full. The original Reform critiques of halacha deserve to be re-debated, not simply cast aside, and it's good to see that it's happening.

June 13, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

A YUtopian view of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Josh Yuter compares and contrasts YU and YCT through the lense of their respective semikha programs in an excellent post, YUTOPIA: The Yeshiva And The Bazaar

What I find particularly interesting in all this is how well the tone of the Chagei Hasemikha reflect the overall attitudes of the respective institutions and their approaches to Jewish leadership. In this dichotomy, YU represents the traditional establishment where participation and benefits are predicated on group affiliation and conformity. For most of the YU population Judaism is based on following the approved status quo and adaptive innovations are generally discouraged. On the other hand, YCT promotes what it calls "Open Orthodoxy," an empowering slogan allowing for people to independently incorporate the myriad of opinions and possibilities in the broadest definition of "Orthodox Judaism."

June 7, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Truth vs PR: Reflections on last night's Metro Schechter meeting

Another Metro Schechter board-meets-parents meeting last night. Overall, the mood from the board has shifted to a good place: The re-organized board is committed to the school's future, realizes that working in a vacuum doesn't work, and is investing a lot of time and energy (and apparently money) in starting the next school year on the right foot. "There will be bumps in the road," said new board president Alan Tannenbaum, not least the failure to commit to continuing the school until a yet unknown but probably not insignificant number of teachers signed contracts elsewhere.

And I'd like to take a moment to personally thank Sy Sadinoff who, while apparently being quite financially generous, seems to have been the central shmuck that led Teaneck's Schechter to the abyss.

It was Sy Sadinoff, if you remember last year's Jewish Week reporting, who was the New Jersey Schechter board member who was central to the merger.

And it was also Sy Sadinoff -- so I have been told -- who personally turned down an offer of near-pro-bono consulting help that might have enabled the merger to go smoothly.

I suspect it was also Sy Sadinoff who was counseling despair last February when some scheme or another for the school fell through.... and who advocated quietly closing the school altogether.

I don't really know anything about Sy Sadinoff. (I would love to hear more, of course!) But "penny wise and pound foolish" might explain his disastrous refusal to seek professional help for the merger.

Last night, the board took responsibility for the fiasco that led to school last year being held in anadequate space. Given that it was a collective admission of responsibility, I can't help but believe that silly old Sy was at the center of that too.

Speaking of the lack of space: Clearly Metro Schechter will be a better place in September '07 than it was in September '06, because the school will be shrinking back to an appropriate size. "We'll fit the shoe better," is how Jay Dewey put it.

The real problems caused by the space shortage last year -- painfully articulated by one of the parents of a current 9th grader -- should put to rest the canard (voiced by more than one parent last night) that Gary Rosenblatt reporting on the school hurt the school. I think it's clear that I am second to noone when it comes to criticizing the Jewish Week's coverage of Metro Schechter. But as I wrote at the time, even bad reporting was good for the school.

As a Doonesbury cartoon long ago noted about Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia, the secret was kept from the Congress and the American people -- not the Cambodians:

"They weren't secret. 'Look, Martha, here come the bombs,' I said."

"That's right. He did."

At Metro Schechter, it wasn't a secret to the students that the school was too small and too disorganized.

And it wasn't a secret to prospective students and their parents.

So shame not Gary Rosenblatt, but on myself and the other parents who didn't raise a larger ruckus.

If Metro Schechter really wants to reach their goal of 30 freshman in 2008, it would behoove them to conduct "exit interviews" with this year's graduates of the New Milford Schechter who don't continue on in Metro Schechter. It has been a rather open secret that the Schechter middle school has had some severe problems in recent years.... and it is clear that dissatisfaction with the junior Schechter experience is part of the reason the school's large 8th grade class will translate into an expected small class at Metro this fall. Good luck to all those brave enough to try to undertake the necessary forensics!