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Posts Tagged ‘rabbis’

The question of how to sustain and maintain Jewish identity in a democratic State of Israel will be the subject of a daylong conference at the Knesset, May 27, 2010, expected to draw more than 400 participants and leading rabbis from all streams of religious thought in Israel.

The conference was set up by Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni, who told the Jerusalem Post:

The attention of the leaders and the public naturally is devoted first and foremost to security and diplomatic issues, but the challenges related to the character of internal Israeli society are no less important. We must work on developing the Zionist vision of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Success dealing with the challenges of civil and social issues will make the state better able to deal with its challenges on diplomatic and security issues.

Hartman Institute participants include Ron Margolin, Ariel Picard, Gili Zivan, and Shraga Bar-on are scheduled to be the chairs of four sessions, at which lecturers will talk on various aspects of the subject. Margolin helped organize the panels. Hartman Institute’s Micah Goodman is among the participants.

“This is an attempt to have a serious conversation in the Knesset and discuss issues of Jewish identity and democracy in a rational manner,” said Ariel Picard.

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Noam Zion is in a “historic one-month scholar-in-residence program” at Congregation Shearith Israel, Dallas, Texas: “The Bernard “Beanie” Siegel Scholar-in-Residence Program – “GPS Judaism: Finding Your Place in the Jewish Tradition.” Click here to see the entire month-long program. More details here and here.

Alick Isaacs spoke on the subject, “The Meaning of Israel in Contemporary Jewish Life,” at University of California, Irvine, on January 27, 2010.

Menachem Lorberbaum spoke on the subject, “Religion and Politics in a Post-Secular Age,” on January 25, 2010, at Taube Center on Jewish Studies, and Department of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, Stanford University.

Moshe Halbertal is scheduled to speak at the upcoming AIPAC Policy Conference, March 21-23, in Washington, DC, on a panel titled, “Israel Today – Ethical Defense: Israel’s Unparalleled Moral Battle Code.” For more information, click here.

Halbertal is also scheduled to speak at the University of Chicago, on the subject, “The Moral Challenges of Asymmetrical War: The Case of Israel,” on February 18, 2010. Click here for details.

Halbertal will also speak at the University of Chicago Divinity School as part of a three-lecture series titled, Political Theory. Legal Theory. Classical Jewish Texts: Three interdisciplinary presentations engaging the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Literature.” His February 17, 2010, lecture is titled, “At the Threshold of Forgiveness: Law and Narrative in the Talmud.” Details here.

Halbertal led a discussion at Queens College in New York City on February 16, 2010, on the subject:  “’War Crimes’” and “’Just Peace’”: Ethical Battles in the Arab-Israeli Conflict” at the University’s Center for Ethnic, racial and Religious Understanding.

Bill Berk is scheduled to give a Passover teaching at Congregation Beit Shalom, Visalia, California, on the topics, “What Was the Real Pesach Miracle?,” and “How to Prepare for a Transformational Seder?” on March 28, 2010. Click here for details.

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Hartman Institute Rabbinic Fellows have concluded their Winter 2010 retreat at the Institute. They are nearing the end of their three-year program. Some of their comments from recent blog posts give you a sense of how highly they have valued the program:

Rabbi Jonah Layman: “Another week of study at the Shalom Hartman Institute has concluded and I am still amazed at how wonderful the program is. No matter the topic of study for the week – this week it was individual and community – the classes are first rate and engaging. The teaching is engaging and provocative and there is always something that I can bring home to shul to teach.” Rabbi Layman posted a nice gallery of photos on Picasa. Click here to view them.

Rabbi Steve Moskowitz: “Rabbi David Hartman created the Shalom Hartman Institute where I am now studying. He is a remarkable rabbi.  It is an honor and privilege to study with him….He is unafraid of questions.  He is unafraid of struggle, and therefore no stranger to controversy.  What is most remarkable is that I have found him to be loving and caring when addressing people and especially us, his students, yet tenacious and unforgiving when struggling with our texts.”

Rabbi Moskowitz also posted several videos on YouTube. Here’s one he titled, “Jerusalem Montage”

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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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