Comprehensive interview with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in Israeli media

A recent detailed interview with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin appeared in the original Hebrew in Makor Rishon earlier this month, with select paragraphs translated into English below.   Partial translation of Rabbi Riskin’s interview “If I could ask God one thing, I would ask: How is it possible that the Talmud is the most pluralistic piece …

Marriage freedom advocacy: our most united effort

Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, wrote in last week’s Jerusalem Post [link] about the nature of Israeli society. Is Israel the homeland of all the Jewish people, in which all of us can live according to our understandings of Judaism, or is there one recognized Jewish stream and the others have little …

Standing Up to Hate by Rabbi Pamela Frydman, RRFEI Chairwoman

Sinat hinam, free flowing hatred between different branches of Judaism is not new, but it is once again virulent. As we watch the cauldron of intra-Jewish hatred boil over in the Israeli government and the Haredi and Orthodox Zionist establishments, many of us are at a loss for how to proceed toward Jewish unity. Perhaps …

On Orthodox Conversion in the Twenty-First Century

A Conservative colleague once told me that the auspicious Rabbi Max Kiddushin told her that if a person says that s/he wants to convert a rabbi should convert that person immediately and teach the person later. Little did I know at the time that Rabbi Chuck Davidson’s research, found in our newsletter of January 18th, …

The right of Jews to control our own religious lives

The Chief Rabbinate under Rabbi David Lau has instructed all the public mikvahs in Israel to not permit any conversions from any movement [link in Hebrew], and in that manner to prevent Reform conversions to Judaism. This in the aftermath of the Israeli Supreme Court decision two weeks ago permitting conversions in public mikvahs by …

Israel cannot fulfill her role as the truly Jewish State with the Rabbanut in control.

A few years ago a friend from the congregation called to say that Israel had become a regular topic in her home since her daughter’s birthright trip, and the experience reenvigorated her intermarried family’s Judaism. I told her how delighted I was, and then asked, “You know I speak about Israel regularly from the pulpit. …

The Kotel agreement – which path shall we choose?

Since the beginning of the rabbinic era Jews have embraced the ideal of creative debate, makhloket l’shem shamayim (M. Avot 5:17), and contrasted it with the political notion of a conflict for self-aggrandizing and strickly political reasons, like Korach’s rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16). The Report of the Advisory Team for the Issue of Prayer …

The Kotel compromise agreement – an historic moment?

Is this an historic moment? Only time will tell. I have often wished for the gift of prophecy, alas, it has never been granted. We come to this crossroad in history: the expansion of the praying area of the Kotel and a sort of recognition of liberal Judaism, specifically the Reform and Conservative movements, in …

Is “V’ahavta l’reyecha komocha” really only about our relations with Jews?

After the tragedy in France, a local woman said to me, “I know the right thing to do, I just don’t want to do it.” She didn’t want to allow Muslims into the U.S. She knew it was wrong. She knew we have for decades protested that had Jews been allowed into the U.S. before …

Strategy: How to most effectively advocate for religious freedom and equality in Israel

Much praise should be extended to Rabbis Rick Jacobs and Steven Wernick for publicly airing the cause of full religious equality in Israel for all. Their exchange with President Rivlin at the 2015 Chanukah event sponsored by the UJA Federation of NY should encourage us to consider the issues they raised and the best strategy to …