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Posts Tagged ‘rabbis’

I don’t usually mention the same column by Donniel Hartman twice, but clearly this issue is one that is not only not going away, it is heating up: In articles such as this one and this one, we are learning more about the rabbis who are preaching disobedience of orders that may occur in the IDF to participate in evacuations of illegal outposts and settlements and those who are struggling with the issue.

Donniel Hartman, in his latest column, referenced here and also below on this blog, has come out forcefully and clearly as to why this just cannot happen. And Donniel doesn’t just criticize, he, as usual, puts the matter into context and calls on all of Israeli society to engage in the deep and complex debate of how the Jewish religion must be intertwined – or not – with the political and civil life of the Jewish state.

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Donniel Hartman writes about how the Israeli army must limit the reach of the army rabbis, and how Religious Zionists must declare their loyalty to the State of Israel over the religious aspects of the Land of Israel:

A soldier may thus rationalize that if the army cannot command him to violate the Shabbat, and such a command is deemed illegal, it is even more evident to him that the army cannot command him to dismantle a settlement, as settling the land of Israel is deemed even more important than observance of Shabbat.

I therefore suggest the following practical direction: not only must the army be free from pursuing internal political debates, so too it must be free from any religious discourse outside of the private ritual practices of its soldiers. Every soldier must be told upfront and recognize that he or she must follow unquestioningly the orders of the civilian government of Israel and the laws that it enacts, and the military chain of command so long as those laws are legal….

Anyone serving in the army must swear allegiance to this principle. If they cannot, then they must be designated as conscientious objectors who are not allowed to serve. Religious Zionism and religious communities have thus a critical decision to make: If they believe that their commitment to the holiness of the Land of Israel is so central that it must override all other concerns and that the State has value only to the extent that it brings more Jews to live in more of the land of Israel, then they must declare up front their conscientious objection to serving in the army, and go the path of the ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews.

Click here to read the full article.

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Rabbi Elyse Wechterman of Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, Mass., has a nice piece in a recent edition of her local paper, in which she says our job is not only to survive the immediate crisis, “but also to reexamine what is truly important, what it is we want to do with what little time, money, strength, will we have – here, now.” In the piece, she generously quotes from Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman several times:

“When suffering comes to you, you may not be able to do much about it (the specific crisis), but you can do something about yourself (your stance, perspective, attitude in the world).”

Excellent and useful thoughts.

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The Marker, Israel’s leading Business newspaper, profiled the Shalom Hartman Institute in an article about a recent survey (Summer 2009) of North American rabbis at the Institute for the Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar and the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative programs about the economic crisis, and how the financial scandals of Jewish financier Bernie Madoff may help American Jews re-find their moral and spiritual centers. The article did not run online (huh?), and so we reproduce it here for you to read, courtesy of Scribd.

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Come and study in Jerusalem at the Shalom Hartman Institute with your fellow rabbinic students from other movements in an open and supportive atmosphere.

Faculty

  • David Hartman
  • Melila Hellner-Eshed
  • Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi
  • Rut Kaniel Kara-Ivanov
  • Israel Knohl
  • Micah Goodman

Topics

  • Reading the Zohar
  • The Soul of the Sinner: From Chet to Geulah
  • God After Auschwitz: Dilemmas in Post-Holocaust Theology
  • Morality in War
  • Where Do We Come From?

The Experience

  • 6:00 – 7:00 PM “Processing” issues dealing with ruchaniyut, the Israeli experience (yisraeliyut) and becoming a rabbi. Half of the processing will be through reflection on Israeli poetry and half will be through small group reflection (talking circle)
  • 7:00 – 7:45 PM Dinner (homemade vegetarian soups & trimmings)
  • 7:45 – 8:30 PM Havruta study
  • 8:30 – 10:00 PM Shiur: Half of the shiurim will be with Melila Hellner-Eshed (Reading the Zohar); the other half will be with other Hartman Faculty

Details:

  • When: Twenty-seven Tuesday nights, beginning October 27, 2009
  • Cost: $750 (includes all study materials and 27 dinners)
  • For more information contact: Rabbi Bill Berk, 054-424-8702, billberk@shi.org.il
  • For information, and to register, contact Marlene Houri, 02-567-5336, marlene@shi.org.il

ONLINE REGISTRATION COMING SOON!

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From our colleague Rabbi Jonah Layman:

So I just hung up and I must say that President Obama is quite impressive. He framed his presentation around the “unetaneh tokef” prayer quoting who shall live and who shall die, etc. and the shofar blast. This season he says prompts serious reflection and debate about matters of life and death and that’s what the health care issue is. Reforming health care is essential especially for the 46 million Americans without health insurance. Everyone knows the system is broken and we need to trust each other to fix the system. We need to take bold steps to do that.

Background: NY Times article that mentions the conference call. NY Times blog on the overall debate.

BETTER: NY Times blog on the call with rabbis.

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President Obama is set to call a group of religious leaders today – that’s Aug. 19, 2009 -  to push his health care reform proposal. At least one rabbi with ties to Shalom Hartman Institute is going to be in on the call. Rabbi Jonah Layman, rabbi of Shaare Tefila Congregation of the Washington, DC, suburb of Silver Spring, MD, and a member of the current cohort of rabbis in the Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, told us he is going to be in on the call.

That’s not surprising, as Rabbi Layman is co-chair of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Social Action Committee and Washington Board of Rabbis.

There are several faith-based groups supporting the president’s program, including Faithful America’s faithforhealth.org, and Reform Judaism’s jewsforhealthcarereform.org.

According to the LA Times, the president actually will be speaking with rabbis twice today (Shaharit and Mincha?). The first call is strictly to rabbis, a sort of Rosh Chodesh Elul, pre-Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) health-care pep talk, and then the second call where rabbis are part of the larger group of pro-health-care-reform religious leaders:

First up is a “High Holy Day” call this morning with rabbis from Judaism’s Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. Organizers hope the call will provide fodder for synagogue sermons when the Jewish holidays arrive next month.

To listen in on the call, go to the Faith For Health website.

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Rabbi Steven Moskowitz, who is here in Israel for the summertime residency of the Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, has been carrying around a little Flip video camera, showing that not only Chabad rabbis can make good use of high-tech gadgets. His video shows a sampling of Ben Yehuda Street (Jerusalem) street life – religious hippie with electric guitar, dancing “Na Nan Nachman” types, a harpist (!) and some hellos from “real” Israelis.

His surprise guest at the end is Rabbi Josh Zweiback, also a leadership initiative rabbi, but one who is not at the Institute this month – for a good reason. He has just made aliyah from the SF Bay Area to work for the Reform movement here in Jerusalem. Mazal tov to Josh on his aliyah!

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Nice post here summarizing some of the lectures Rabbi Dan Fink attended as part of the Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar:

Rabbi (David) Hartman finished with an important charge, which I have been thinking about a great deal as this two week seminar draws to an end. The question, of course, is: how do we take the heightened reality we enter on Shabbat—or during this sacred study time—and bring it with us into our daily lives? This is a real challenge. Moments of enlightenment are not so difficult to achieve; it is much harder and far less romantic to keep them alive day after day. Rabbi Hartman said: the alternative that lifts us out of crisis cannot be an escape. It must translate into the structure of the every day. We must bring kodesh—the holy—into chol, the ordinary. I hope that I am able to do this upon my imminent return to America.

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Steven Moskowitz, rabbi of the Jewish Congregation of Brookville on Long Island’s North Shore, is a Senior Fellow of the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. His blogging includes video shot in the Old City of Jerusalem, and a nice post on a rabbinic hike through Wadi Kelt, just south and east of Jerusalem in the Judean Desert. Why IS a rabbi from Long Island wearing a St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat?

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