An article that bears reading

Some recommended reading for you today: this article from The Forward about Chicago-area Rabbi Brant Rosen.

Why? Rabbi Rosen is a noted critic of Israel–he heads the rabbinical counsel of an organization, Jewish Voices for Peace, was named by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the top-ten anti-Israel groups. (Rabbi Rosen states in the article that he finds this ironic since his wife worked for the ADL for fifteen years.)

I’m not going to advance any arguments about Israel, the ADL’s list, JVP’s positions, or the like. But I am interested in the role of the rabbi in a congregation, and in the role of Israel in American Jewish life, and this article brings up both of these issues at some length with a specific case–that of Rabbi Rosen.

Whatever your perspective, this is an interesting–and to people on various sides of all of these issues, no doubt infuriating–article.  Tze u’lmad–go and study.

Who decides?

A thought about an article on Tablet.com about Yair Lapid’s move to require military service and basic secular studies of the Israeli Haredi community.

In response to Lapid’s plan to add English and math to the curriculum, David Saada, a representative of the Haredim in Bnai Brak, says this:

“We’re not willing to give up even one minute of [Torah] study,” David said. “And who exactly decides which part of the tradition and the Torah you give up?”

My thought? You make these choices all the time. When you reject certain scholars and accept others, when you don’t study the Mishneh Torah and instead study the Shulkhan Arukh (maybe with, maybe without Isserles’ glosses), you decide “which part of the tradition and the Torah you give up.”

And if you’re 15% of the Israeli population, you perhaps had best work on figuring out exactly how it is you plan on making choices so that you’re defending yourself and funding your educational institutions. Because there’s a good chance that, at some point, there might not be enough “empty cart” secular middle-class Israelis to keep you in business.

(Steps down from soapbox)