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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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A high-powered panel of religious scholars and clerics, including Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, President of Shalom Hartman Institute, will be speaking at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday, October 15, 2009. The theme: “Religion and the Challenge of Modernity.”

Along with Donniel, the daylong conference and panel discussion will include Vincent Cornell, a professor of Islamic and Middle East studies at Emory University in Atlanta, and James Carroll, author of the best-selling book “Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews,” and a longtime advocate of efforts toward Jewish-Christian-Muslim reconciliation. Lutheran scholar and writer Martin E. Marty will moderate the discussion. Find more information here and registration information here.

Whether the Twins were three outs or eight outs from a win, the Yankees were never uncomfortable. Instead, the Twins were the club that seemed edgy.“You look up at the scoreboard, and every single player on that team has 175 at-bats in the postseason,” first baseman Michael Cuddyer said. “I think that’s one reason they don’t panic. They’re all 10-, 15-year veterans that know how to play the game. They believe in themselves and they’re good.”

If Nick Punto had not run past third base in the eighth inning of Game 3 and Carlos Gomez had not been caught off second base in the fourth inning of Game 2, probably costing the Twins at least a run each time, would the Yankees have still won both games? The Twins would love to say they had those games clinched, but they did not. Somehow, the Yankees stayed calm and prevailed.

So, even if Punto and Gomez had not made their gaffes, there was a feeling that the Yankees, who were better and more seasoned, would have won anyway. The division series sweep pushed the Yankees’ record to 10-0 against the Twins this season, including four games that they won on game-ending hits.

“Every time we put up a run or two or we scored, they don’t panic,” outfielder Denard Span said. “They seemed like they just took a deep breath. It’s almost like they relaxed even more and answered back. They always answer back.”

Span recalled how when he was 12, he watched in awe as a 22-year-old Derek Jeter helped the Yankees win the 1996 World Series. Thirteen years later, Jeter helped doom Span’s team during another October dash.

“That’s why they’re the Yankees,” Span said. “You got to give them credit. They did what they were supposed to do.”

Great players often cite the importance of being able to slow the game down, even when the game is at its quickest and most stressful. From Alex Rodriguez to Jorge Posada to Jeter, the Yankees made the important plays in the most important situations, while the Twins stumbled through those spots.

Carl Pavano, who was a ghost of a Yankee for four injured seasons, said the Yankees were formidable because they had talented players. But Pavano said the Yankees’ success stretched beyond their talent to the belief that they were going to win. Rodriguez and Posada smashed home runs off Pavano in the seventh inning of Game 3 to erase a 1-0 deficit and propel the Yankees.

“It’s a cliché, but if you’ve done it once, you can do it again,” Pavano said. “And they’ve been doing it. A lot of those guys have been around a while and have done it from behind and from ahead. They keep the game pretty simple.”

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A new survey reported here has found that the current generation of Israelis has a weak – to be charitable – knowledge of Judaism. According to the article:

The survey revealed that 80% of secular Israelis and 59% of Israelis overall define their level of Judaic knowledge and Jewish heritage as mediocre or lower. The percentage claiming a low level of knowledge was relatively high among adults over age 55 (21%), among Jews of Ashkenazi descent (22%), and among those with above-average incomes (20%)….

Among secular Israelis who define their level of knowledge as low, only 25% want to expand their Judaic knowledge.

But nearly half (43%) of all secular Israelis want to increase their knowledge of Judaism and Jewish sources, with many citing such options as a secular beit midrash (Torah study center) (15%) or Jewish academic institutions (14%).

The Hartman Institute’s Be’eri program – now encompassing 50,000 Israeli students in so-called “secular” high schools across the country – teaches Judaism, Jewish culture, Jewish history, Jewish tradition, and Jewish thought without adding on requirements of observance. The program is wildly popular among students (see the video from a visit the Be’eri students made to Hartman Institute last winter), and is set to expand to thousands of additional students in coming years. For more information on Be’eri, write to us at the Hartman Institute.

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Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Shalom Hartman Institute Co-Director, will give the 2008-09 Dr. Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, Wednesday, December 10.

Donniel’s subject is: “The New Narratives of Modern Israel: The Role of the Living and the Role of the Dead.” A reception will be held at 5:30 pm; the lecture begins at 6:30 pm. Admission is free, but a photo ID is required. The location is HUC’s Brookdale Center, 1 W. 4 St.

For more information and to register, click here.

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ReadWriteWeb is a blog that provides Web Technology news, reviews and analysis. It began publishing on April 20, 2003, and is now one of the most widely read and respected blogs in the world. It has nearly 240,000 RSS and email subscribers. Its founder is Richard MacManus, who started out as the classic “blogger in his pajamas” in his home in Wellington, N.Z., and has built a global brand and network of websites by virtue of hard work, consistency and creativity.

Why am I mentioning R/WW on the Shalom Hartman Institute blog? (more…)

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