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Dec 11, 2014, 8:53 AM
Tikkun Olam isn’t in the Torah: it’s liberal orthodoxy, not Jewish Orthodoxy
To thunderous applause, President Barack Obama described himself in a March 2013 Jerusalem speech as “a man who’s been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience – tikkun olam… the work of repairing...
Dec 5, 2014, 10:16 AM
Vayishlach: You name it
Something very strange happens at the juncture of last week’s parsha (Vayetze) and this week’s (Vayishlach). In the last verse of Veyetze (Genesis 32:3), Jacob saw angels and said, “This is the camp of God” – and he named...
Nov 27, 2014, 10:48 AM
Why does a shul need a Maharat?
A recent opinion piece in the Washington Jewish Week by Barbara Zakheim praised her Orthodox congregation (the National Synagogue in Washington, DC) for hiring a Maharat, a female spiritual leader. She describes herself as “ECSTATIC!!” (formatting hers) about the role...
Oct 31, 2014, 5:37 AM
Shmita points to the Torah’s Author
From the medieval Kuzari to Lawrence Kelemen’s Permission to Receive to Aish HaTorah’s “Discovery Seminar,” Orthodox Jews have promoted many arguments to support the idea of the Divine origin of the Torah. Many focus on the impossibility of a...
Oct 23, 2014, 1:35 PM
TV’s Jewish Characters of Color
As of last month, ethnic minority characters with half-Jewish hyphenated last names are now featured on three of the most popular shows on television. Having one such character was interesting, two was a coincidence, but three is a trend. The characters...
Oct 21, 2014, 2:49 AM
“The Frum Tax” for Public Schools
While many American Jews have been big backers of public schools, our current system discriminates against traditionally religious Americans through what I call “the frum tax.” (Frum is Yiddish for observant.) Here’s how the frum tax works: If you’re secular...
Oct 15, 2014, 12:48 AM
Is Pope Francis a model for our rabbeim?
The shift in tone that Pope Francis is bringing to the Catholic Church has serious repercussions for people who follow that religion – and those of other faith systems. As the most prominent religious figure in today’s world, the...
Oct 12, 2014, 10:34 AM
Call to Action on Triangle K
Jewish consumers can help expand trustworthy kosher options by contacting Triangle K-certified companies such as Frito-Lay, Sun-Maid, and Del Monte with polite and personalized communications, such as this E-mail: Dear Frito-Lay, I am writing to express my concerns about your kosher...
Oct 7, 2014, 2:09 PM
Letter to the senior rabbi who “came out”
Dear Rabbi Gil Steinlauf: You sure made a splash yesterday when, as the senior rabbi of Adas Israel (the largest Conservative synagogue in Washington DC) you announced that you are divorcing your wife and coming out as gay. In a letter...
Sep 24, 2014, 7:26 AM
Doing teshuvah for 1948
The policy of Israel, the Palestinians, and the United States toward Arab refugees from the Israeli War of Independence is that the “Right of Return” is too contentious for now, and must be postponed until final-status talks. But the Arabs...
David Benkof is a St. Louis-based writer and former faculty member at Yeshivat Darche Noam/Shapell’s in Jerusalem. He has a master's degree in modern Jewish history from Stanford. Follow him on Facebook or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.