Thanks to the newly appointed Justice Minister of Israel, Daniel Friedmann (you may recall how he became Justice Minister), yesterday 15 new judges were appointed to Israel’s rabbinical court. Israel’s religious movements have religious courts that dictate certain social rules including marriage and divorce. The court has 100 active rabbis and they are appointed for life. Of the 15 new judges who were appointed today, 12 were ultra-Orthodox and the other 3 were what Israelis call religious Zionists referring to Modern Orthodox Israelis with a nationalist ideology. According to Ha’aretz, the majority of the 15 are well connected as well, which may indicate how they got these plum positions.

Of course, no non-Orthodox rabbis were appointed, and even the the religious Zionists are up in arms because the ultra-Orthodox have a far more strict understanding of the observance of laws. Women’s groups, and I am not speaking just about feminist groups, but also women’s organizations that focus on the problem of agunot – women whose husbands will not grant a divorce and who remain in marital limbo until the men do give the divorce – are calling this a black day.

Did Friedmann have to do this? No, he didn’t. He could have waited – the appointment committee has been sitting on these appointments for 4 years because they could not agree as to who should be appointed to the court. Friedmann arrives and END OF LOGJAM! Except that Friedmann has allowed the appointment of rabbis who do not represent the people. He had the nerve to issue a release claiming that the appointments were varied, as if people are stupid.

Not only are people not stupid but there are serious rumblings of rejecting the entire halachic marriage system in Israel if it means that women will potentially be unfairly treated. They are absolutely right. First of all, it is an incredible shame that Israel, the Jewish state, cannot be more open to non-Orthodox streams. This affects a a variety of interpretations of laws including those of conversion. Second, and no less critical is the issue of divorce. Simply put, women should refrain from being married by the rabbinate in Israel or any rabbinate that has not clearly and fairly addressed the issue of agunot. If they would like to be stringent about divorcing, let these rabbis marry each other.

Did I mention that the new Justice Minister, Daniel Friedmann, is a fucking putz?

Here is a clear-headed editorial from the Jerusalem Post about this tragic farce.

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  • Ohh, a putz. For awhile I thought I was wallowing in ignorance, not knowing what a “potz” was.

  • “the other 3 were what Israelis call religious Zionists referring to Modern Orthodox Israelis with a nationalist ideology”

    Religious Zionists are not necessarily Modern Orthodox. There are very few truly Modern Orthodox Jews in Israel and very many people who would define themselves as being RZ.

  • The middle, America and Canada are the ONLY countries with large, non-Torah observant groups led by Rabbis.

    Israel doesn’t have them. The only “reform” and “conservative” religious type programs in Israel, are those FOR North Americans.

    Most Israelis are not very observant, but they know what real Judaism is.

  • Thats right. Jews can’t marry non-Jews in Israel.

    The definition of a Jew is up to the Rabbinical Court which tries to enforce Torah-observant Judaism.

  • No Adam, plenty of secular Israeli Jews (remember, the majority) fly to Cyprus to marry as well. They’re voting with their feet.

    Besides, if you read any of the articles about what happened here, you’ll hear plenty of Orthodox Jews screaming about it. Why? Not because they’re not Torah-observant, but because they reject ultra-Orthodoxy’s interpretation of many rules.

    In any case, what’s done is done. The situation means that any Jewish woman who seeks a divorce in Israel will find herself at an even greater disadvantage and those whose husbands wish to make money or simply harm their wives by leaving them in limbo (especially in their fertile years) will be able to do so, most likely with the disgusting blessing of these rabbis. If that’s what you support, you should consider carefully whether this would be a fate that you’d wish upon your daughters or sisters.

  • … did not see this, but — my first reaction is that he has plenty of more pressing things to do, after all the hopeful talk about reforming the judiciary that accompanied his appointment.

  • Um there are a few things that are off in this article.

    #1 Non-Orthodox “rabbis” arent Rabbis. Reform and Conservative is a new age religion that tried to recreate Judaism. Thank G-d both these movements are completely dying.

    #2 Religious Zionist Rabbis are not Modern Orthodox. Last time I checked Rav Tal, Rav Tau, Rav Steinsaltz are not Modern Orthodox.

  • Correction, its like less than .01% of the population that flies to Cyrus for marriage. That stat is blown way out of proportion by the extremely left wing media to fit into the agenda.

    I live in Israel. I see what the reality really is. Actually, those couples that fly out to Cyrus usually are hated against since that is very NON-Zionistic. There has been a big backlash to those who fly away – people now think all of them that do it are Goyim and need to get out of the country anyway.

  • Um, Scott, Reform is growing very rapidly and Conservative is losing members but many of those whom they lose become more observant and turn “Orthodox” because of the solid Jewish foundation they receive as Conservative Jews.

    Anyway, I won’t be mean and wish upon your daughters and sisters the fate of agunot. In fact, I would encourage them to avoid such a fate by marrying with Modern Orthodox or Conservative rabbis in the US AFTER they’ve signed a pre-nuptial that has been considered kosher by a number of key rabbinic organizations in the US, and that will be of help if they should ever, god forbid, have to divorce.

  • Reform isnt growing the much techinically. It is only growing if you count the intermarried spouses and the children who arent even technically Jewish. Therefore, it has already died.

    also, most of the Bal Teshuva’s Ive come in contact have been from the Reform movement. So saying they’re mainly from the Conservative movement isn’t true.

    G-d forbid should my daughters be in the US. US Jewry is dying expontentially everyday and there are no solid Jewish leaders in America across all sects.

  • Scott, Scott, Scott, there are plenty of Reform Jews who are halachically Jewish and therefore Jewish by your standards as well. Second, the movement is far from dead, it is growing. Third, your anecdotal “evidence” refutes mine about where the new Orthodox are originating.

    However, the most important part of your comment is the part about the death of US Jewry. I would encourage you to look around you in Israel and see how you’ve alienated all the non-Orthodox Jews with the stringency and lack of acceptance of others’ observance that you seem to so admire. This is why these young Israelis wander through India with mouths agape. It isn’t India as much as it is a need for some spiritual well that you and those like you have poisoned with your need for strictness instead of an emphasis on brotherhood and the beauty of Judaism.

    As for your daughters, perhaps since you’re a man you don’t care too much about what would happen should they, chas vechalila, have to divorce their partners, but then again, that large bribe to the soon-to-be-ex-husband might have to come out of your pocket. At least ask your wife what she thinks. I suspect most honest Orthodox women do not wish to see these ultra-Orthodox Jews control the social aspects of Jewish life in Israel.

  • The Middle. I’ve lived here for a while now and I highly recommend you to try to live here and then you’ll see how things really are.

    The Reform movement is a dead movement. Jews are assimilating and intermarrying in greater numbers than ever before. As regard to Who is a Jew. It isnt some Rabbi who says who is Jewish, but it is the Torah that says who is Jewish.

    the Non-Orthodox Jews arent alienated. Actually, Gadolim are reaching out to those Jews that are interested. The Russians that aren’t Jewish or have no interest in being Jewish honestly have no business being here. Bal Teshuva Israeli yeshivas are reaching all time highs in enrollment and their are satellite offices that specialise in OUtreach Judaism all over Israel. Believe me, the reform movement has failed miserably to get these people. There is no spirituality in the non-orthodox sectors if you tell people that the events in the Torah never happened, or did not happen without certainty people just look at is as a total fraud. The numbers that become Buddhist or Hindu are still small and number.

    When Israelis do see the conservaitve minyan with women doing tefellin and wearing Kippot they do laugh. Secular ISraelis do know what the real thing is.

  • What is a Religious Zionist? I thought that meant, Torah observant, but not affiliated with any black hat community. I thought Religious Zionist meant at least Orthodox, with varying degrees, modern. Is it the same thing as Dati?

  • First off. I think my last post was deleted.

    What you said before isn’t entirely true. It’s a small number of Israels that “quit” Judaism all together. The liberal anti Orthodox left likes to inflate that number beyond belief. Bal Teshuva Israel yeshivas are at all time high in enrollment. Many of the Secular Israelis know that Conservative and Reform is just an American import. They all laugh at the reform and conservative women wearing Kippot and say it looks ridiculous.

    It isnt what a Rabbi says is a Jew – it’s what the Torah says who is a JEw.

    JEWIS MOTHER – A Religious Zionist is anyone that is Religious that believes in Aliyah and believes in working with the State. You have Heredi Zionists, Chardal Luemi (Very strict of the dati lomi), Dati-Lomi which varies in observancy. In Israel, the labels are hard to pin point now.

  • Scott,

    The arguement that Reform and Conservative Judiasm are dying and all their congregants are alienated is just plain FALSE. Step foot in any “Temple” in NYC and see vibrant Hebrew schools and congregations. Yes, some kids may have “two daddies” and there will be female Rabbis, but if people are finding community and spiritual growth in these places, who do you think you are to say there are no solid leaders. Orthodox Judaism doesn’t have a copyright on the term “Rabbi” nor does it have the definative explaination of the Torah.

  • The Reform and Cons. appear to be dying but that is because the congregants are more likely to move neighborhoods than the Ortho who tend to like to stay in the same Shule/Neighborhood. Ortho. need certains services and probably get comfortable and used to them, even if the neighborhood gets a little shabby over time. That is why you have in most Orhtodox Shules a tremendous class disparity. This is both good and bad imo.

    The other groups like to move to a better house/area. So you have some communities where non Ortho. is in fact dying, but that is bec. the children have moved upwards and onwards. Due to the fact that they can drive to shule and then after a while they start a new congregation. I see this happening alot in Northern Jersey and also in Phoenix for example.

  • Scott, don’t get miffed, this is a teaching opportunity. Why DO you wear that thing on your head? You are smart, so you must have a reason. It’s not like it’s pretty or something.

  • Are you asking why I wear a Kippa? It’s Halacha that’s why. You are supposed to cover your head. The Divine schina is over us and a man is supposed to be reminded of that.

    Um actually. Yes. only the Orthodox Rabbis are real Rabbi. It’s medical malpractice if a non-doctor calls himself a doctor. Conservative and REform leaders dont believe in the Revelation at Sinai and that the Torah did indeed come from Hashem (G-d) himself. Therefore they are spinoff new age religions and their leaders are not Rabbis but Fake rabbis.

    Chutzpah of course it’s true! 60% of those in the Reform movements arent halachically Jewish anymore. So yes, its full of active goyim! The definition of a Jew is in the Torah, not man-made like the Reform and Conservative New Age religions.

    There are no Jewish leaders at all in America. That includes Orthodox as well!

  • There are community leaders, people doing a lot in the community. But there are no religious thinkers on the scale of, say, Rebbe Schneerson of the Lubavitch. I see your point.

  • Video killed the radio star, and literalism sometimes kills people’s religious thinking. There is no use combing the sands of the Middle East for G-d’s dropped shirt buttons. That is literalism. It may even be reductionism, but you would have to ask GM.

  • I have no idea what your talking about Jewish Mother. You lost me!

    There are no National Leaders answering the problems facing Jews in America. Everyone died out- Sneerson, Feinstein, Kahane, …. no one left. the AJCongress and AJCommittees are running mucks…

  • Scott, They are entitled to their beliefs just bec. it is diff. than Ortho. does not make them wrong by any standard.

    The point of being a Rabbi, is not only to give a good, juicy, speech. More important is to comfort and heal, and this they are doing on a large scale.

    There is no need to throw bs labels around, it serves no purpose.

    Better to stay united.

  • Can’t we leave off the circular firing squad for a moment and focus on what’s important: Saturday’s 2008 Euro qualifying match between England and Israel? Here’s hoping Israel (including that Nigerian ringer who plays for it) clobbers the Former Colonial Oppressor!

  • Scott,

    You wear a kippah because:
    The Divine schina is over us and a man is supposed to be reminded of that.

    Don’t women have the Divine Schina over them and shouldn’t they be reminded of that?

  • The Middle, a woman naturally has a higher spiritual level than a man … a MAN needs the constant reminder. That is one of the reasons why women are not halachically required to daven (pray) as well. I am sure the Chief Rabbi of Jewlicious can do a piece on this.

    Steve- they have no business to call themselves Rabbis. I have no beef if they call themselves leaders, but Rabbis, that is just fraud.

  • Scott:

    The definition of a Jew is in the Torah, not man-made like the Reform and Conservative New Age religions.

    Conservative Judaism goes by the Halakhic definition of matrilineal descent, so I’m not sure what you’re blabbering about.

    Hating Conservative Judaism does not necessarily make one an automatic expert in Conservative Judaism. You got you, you know, actually learn something about it first.

    All of the original rabbis that started the Conservative Movement were “orthodox” by any standards. The definition of “orthodox semicha”, AFAICT, is “receiving semicha from an orthodox rabbi”. And depending on your proficiency with induction, you can see where I’m going with this…

  • Scott, I am a little confused. If a woman has a higher spiritual level than a man, wouldn’t you want her to be a spiritual leader like a rabbi? To my knowledge, women aren’t permitted to be rabbis and are greatly discouraged from becoming scholars. When Jews speak about the “gedolim,” the “great scholars,” don’t they relate not only to these men’s intellectual capacity but also to their spirituality? Surely then, you would want women, with their higher spiritual level, to be scholars and rabbis.

    Putting that aside, however, and returning to your comment, I am a little confused by your problem (that brings laughter to your lips) with women wearing a kippah or tefillin. After all, you can be the most spiritual person on Earth, but you remain a mere person. God, on the other hand, is far greater than what we can even comprehend, right? And if that is so, then even the most spiritual person should humble themselves before God and should care to remind themselves of his greatness. Why shouldn’t women feel and act the same way? Of course they should.

    If I were you, I would purchase kippot and tefillin sets for your daughters and wife, Scott. This is no laughing matter – their spiritual sustenance is no less important than yours.

  • I meant, right, women are naturally holier than men. Men have the merit, and difficulty, of struggling with a less holy nature. TM, you seem to want women and men to be interchangeable, as if all differences were merely personal.

    What you are not getting is that they have different tasks. The holiness of woman is not expressed the same way as the holiness of man.

  • TM, why did you leave out tallitot for the ladies?

    BTW, could you drop me a line sometime? I want to write to you directly.

  • Oh Muddled One – Scott is a bit over the top, but don’t put words in his mouth: he never said there is any “halachic problem” with women covering their hair or putting on tefillin – although feminists who do these things are subject to scorn for other reasons.

    Women are allowed to do these things. They are just not obligated to do them as men are.

    And in fact in many times and places unmarried women did cover their heads.

  • Oh Muddled One – Scott is a bit over the top, but don’t put words in his mouth: he never said there is any “halachic problem” with women covering their hair or putting on tefillin – although feminists who do these things are subject to scorn for other reasons.

  • No, no, no, JM, I am a big fan of the differences between men and women. Trust me on this.

    However, those differences are truly minor before the greatness of God, aren’t they? And besides, it’s immaterial that men have a “less holy nature” than women. To be perfectly honest, that sounds to me like complete and utter bullshit, but let’s give those who believe this utter bullshit the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s true. So what? Do women not have the right to reach out to God by becoming great Torah scholars or rabbis? Do women not have the right to pray or wear a kippah to remind them of what’s above?

    Nothing I’ve said makes men and women interchangeable. It merely makes them both have similar approaches to worshipping.

  • A woman wearing talit and tfillin is laughable because it is like running down the street at top speed, using crutches. It is like wearing glasses, when you can see without them. We leave these exercises to men because they need all that. (Do they ever.) Women are so holy, they don’t even KNOW why men need these devotional procedures and exercises. In their naiveté, they want to have fun too, so they put on pink talits and cute little crocheted head-gear and feel cool. They are not sinning, they are just being silly, and slightly useless. Yes, useless. They are neglecting the one game only they can play. The biggest deal in the world.

    Where do Jews come from?

    No, not geographically. The answer is your personal tummy, sweetheart. And nowhere else. At all.

  • Ben David, Scott said that Israelis who see women wear kippot and tefillin laugh at them. I am merely trying to understand why. He’s given me some reasons, JM has chimed in and so far I fail to see the reasoning.

    But okay, you at least are admitting that women are allowed to do these things. Please explain, then, why doing these things makes them subject to scorn. Do you scorn a man who wears a kippah? Why would you scorn a woman if her objective is to be reminded of God?

  • Steve Ricks hit all the self-righteous notes rather succinctly, so we’ll just fisk him:

    Scott, They are entitled to their beliefs just bec. it is diff. than Ortho. does not make them wrong by any standard.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … but does it make them/their teachings JEWISH? That’s the point here.

    Judaism already has a well-established canon of ideas and beliefs. If you stray too far from those beliefs, what you’re doing isn’t Judaism no matter how sincere you are, or who birthed you.

    The point of being a Rabbi, is not only to give a good, juicy, speech. More important is to comfort and heal, and this they are doing on a large scale.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    So are Christian Missionaries – and the missionaries can quote the Jewish Bible more extensively, and draw on that Bible to inspire their good works.

    But they aren’t Jewish. Nor are they Rabbis.
    Concluding with the ultimate identity back-track:

    There is no need to throw bs labels around, it serves no purpose.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    …. and it’s now abundantly clear that the vast majority of R and C Jews think “Jewish” is a “bs label that serves no purpose” – which is why we have 60+ percent intermarriage.

    Better to stay united.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    We are united – here in Israel, there is widespread regret that the Law of Return’s non-halachic definition of Judaism let in a million Russians with no real connection to the Jewish people, and equally widespread disdain for “progressive” streams of Judaism.

  • You seem inconsistent: You are a “big fan of the differences” yet you say these differences are not all that different after all. You invoke the bigness of G-d to highlight the smallness of the differences. You are placing G-d far away. You are creating a very long pointy isosceles triangle, with New York and Washington DC at the bottom two points, and the other point in Tokyo. Yes, then the distance between New York and Washington becomes trivial versus the distance of them both to Tokyo.

    Wrong. G-d is not sitting on a throne far, far away.

    Once you get rid of that picture, other stuff comes into focus. G-d is right here, and extremely interested in which spoon I will use for the ice cream. He cares very much that it is not a meat spoon. If it is, he will say, oh well, it is cold. He will know whether I forgot or just didn’t give a damn.

  • The Muddle asks:
    Please explain, then, why doing these things makes them subject to scorn. Do you scorn a man who wears a kippah? Why would you scorn a woman if her objective is to be reminded of God?
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … that’s just it: the vast majority of feminists doing this are NOT seeking to be reminded of G-d. They are doing it as political street-theater.

    The past century has seen a revolution in the conception of a woman’s role in Orthodox Jewish communities, and an incredible broadening of educational and economic opportunities.

    None – but NONE – of the real progress as come about due to pressure from external value systems such as feminism.

    The revolution in Jewish education for women began with the Bais Ya’acov and Mizrachi school systems in Europe – and continues with Orthodox institutions that allow women to study all branches of Jewish knowledge in depth. All of it spurred on by non-grandstanding, sincere Jewish women working WITHIN the system of Torah and halacha to serve G-d in new times and situations.

    In contrast, the Women Of The Wall types have taken the narcissistic, condescending let-us-liberate-you-poor-dears attitude to their Orthodox “sisters” – an attitude common to other “progressive” streams of Judaism. It’s quite obvious that they are making political, not spiritual, statements – and that their positions are drawn from a value system external to Judaism.

    And the Rest of Us can tell the difference.

  • Scott, Ain’t it funny how Orthodox institutions never care what you call a person or whether they are “halakically” Jewish or not when they are fundraising. I’m sure Aish calls Kirk Douglas “Rabbi” and his kids from a non-Jewish wife “Jews” when they are financing its programs.
    You are sounding a little too freshly brainwashed and maybe you should think a little longer and harder before vomiting back the Party talk points. Just sayin.

  • TM, Judaism doesn’t work like astrophysics. No, it would not be right or fair to deny women doctorates in astrophysics, or deny them positions as high-level astronomers. This is not an academic discipline even though it has an academic aspect.

  • JM, God may be in the ice cream, or in the pimple on the gangly teenager, but this doesn’t make us seem any greater to him – master of the universe – than, say, the way I might look at a couple of gerbils whose food I provide, along with a cage, to ensure their survival and the attendant pleasure of knowing they survived.

    If a woman can study astrophysics, why not become a rabbi? This isn’t an academic discipline? Right! Of course! It’s a spiritual discipline with an academic aspect. But I thought women were more spiritual than men and have a more holy nature than men. Who would you pick to represent you at the king’s court, the advocate who has a clean record or the one who has transgressed and has to keep himself from transgressing again (by, for example, making sure no women sit next to him on a bus)?

  • Ben David,

    It’s amusing to see you call me “muddled” before your a long winded and illogical set of premises. Unless a person has tattooed on their foreheads that this is politics, you have no idea whether it is or isn’t. If the code and dress for worship of God as Jews over centuries and centuries has been wearing a kippah or tefillin, why wouldn’t they want to do the same in their worship? The politicization of the action is a symptom, not the cause. The cause is a desire to worship. Or do you dismiss the accoutrements of worship used by men as nothing more than trinkets that can be emulated?

    I think it’s beyond laughable for you to claim, in a post about newly appointed haredi judges whose mentor and master, Elyashiv, adheres to a very strict line regarding Jewish divorces, that changes for women in Judaism have come about because of Orthodox institutions. I’m afraid you’re wrong. Absolutely wrong.

  • ….the thankless, perpetual task of unMuddlement:

    If the code and dress for worship of God as Jews over centuries and centuries has been wearing a kippah or tefillin, why wouldn’t they want to do the same in their worship?
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    But it WASN’T the standard, widely acceptable code of dress and worship for women.

    And generations of sincerely religious women felt it no barrier to their spiritual development or communal affiliation to worship without these accoutrements.

    You write:
    The politicization of the action is a symptom, not the cause. The cause is a desire to worship.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    The “desire to worship” has nothing to do with the willful – and highly theatricalized, publicity-seeking, breast-beating – adoption of non-normative, though permissible practice that is typical of tefilin-wearing Women of the Wall types.

    Or perhaps you can explain exactly what the politicization of the act of worship is a “symptom” of – other than standard “progressive” scornful impatience with Judaism’s traditional moral and spiritual pathways?

    Are there women who don tefilin because they have researched the meaning of this mitzvah, and want to take it upon themselves as a sincere part of their service of G-d, within a positive, accepting approach to Jewish traditions?

    Probably – but they are not the majority.

    The majority of women doing this have repeatedly, explicitly trumpeted their non-spiritual, politically motivated reasons for these actions. Their stance is fundamentally confrontational and dismissive towards the deeper value of mitzvot, seeing them primarily as markers of social status, in accordance with non-Jewish ideologies.

    That is why they are scorned – because their insincere, grandstanding approach to things dear to Judaism is apparrent.

  • More Muddling:
    I think it’s beyond laughable for you to claim, in a post about newly appointed haredi judges whose mentor and master, Elyashiv, adheres to a very strict line regarding Jewish divorces, that changes for women in Judaism have come about because of Orthodox institutions. I’m afraid you’re wrong. Absolutely wrong.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … which is why Rav Elyashiv was one of the supporters of the “to’anot” – the training of women as advocates to plead cases before the Rabbinical courts.

    Get a clue, TM. And stop mouthing stale cliches about “those Rabbis”.

  • Bottom line is that no one really knows with 100% certainty what G-d wants from the Jews, non-Jews, men or women. We can all agree that there as been plenty of controversy and debate over the centuries and that alot has probably been misinterpreted or lost in translation, so no group can claim that they are the CORRECT ones. A group thinking they have the absolute claim on the truth is what leads to wars.

  • TM, Judaism sees G-d as intensely interested in everything he has created and above all and especially mankind, and on top of that us, as a special relationship. A loving and very interested G-d. You are insisting on the distance again. I took away your triangle, and now you are bringing in gerbils. But G-d made man in his image. And took us to his bosom in a special way, see Passover, then Shavuot.

    We don’t have advocates at the king’s court. We each approach the king ourselves.

  • I agree with Chutzpah that factionalism and absolutism are not good.

    But I don’t agree that the debates have been fruitless. I think the debates have been fruitful and produced truth.

    I know perfectly well you can get a variety of rabbinic opinions about side issues. But not about core issues. If you are citing wrong-doing, cite where you heard about it. Let’s not make things up.

  • Chutzpah actually not that much has been lost.

    There’s a reason why Reform has a huge intermarriage rate and why the Conservative movement is at 40% —– TORAH keeps Jews together, not nonsense make up man made religions.

    Rabbi Eliyashuv might be more strict on Halacha than i’d like but Eliysahuv is a Rabbi….unlike a reform or conservative leader.

    OYSTER- I know Conservative movement very well after have studied in their seminary for 2.5 years. Almost become a Conservative *cringe* ‘rabbi’ until I realised that the entire religion is man-made. The movement does not believe the Torah is from heaven. They believe smart men wrote it. I studied in the seminary JTS, did you?

    Bottom line is – The Reform movement says Pigs are Kosher and the Conservative movement says its OK To be Gay. Both of these movements are not halachic and never were.

  • Ben David, you keep making claims without any evidence. Some women may wear kippot and tefillin out of ignorance and a desire to emulate, but the ones who I know who do it happen to know a great deal. I also know many men who wear kippot and don’t have any clue as to why. I don’t read much into it.

    The women are simply saying that just as men wish to feel closer to God by participating in certain mitzvot, they do as well and with the same mitzvot. You see this as politics but they see this as worship. I mean, seriously, what is the problem with having a woman wear tefillin? Is that like eating pork? Is that a rejection of the Torah or its mitzvot?

    The stance of women may appear confrontational to you because you reject their desire to worship in the same way that you do. What, they want to read from the Torah? What, they want to becomes rabbis? What, they want to have equal space at the Western Wall? What, they want to wear tefillin? It’s all perfectly legitimate stuff if you want to worship as a Jew, but for some reason you want to claim that because it’s women doing it and therefore different from patriarchal traditions going back to an age when women were bought and sold and did not inherit or own property, that somehow it’s “political” or “confrontational.”

    Pretty small minded of you, if you ask me.

    With respect to Elyashiv, cut it out already. Everybody who reads a newspaper knows that he is stringent. There’s a reason the religious Zionist parties and members are speaking out against these court appointments.

    JM, we approach the king ourselves, but in the meantime we apparently have ultra-Orthodox judges making sure that women have to pay ransom or live in limbo for years before getting a get.

    Scott, which came first, dinosaurs or Adam and Eve?

  • The men you know who wear a kippa – have you ever ASKED them why? How do you know they don’t have a clue why?

    Women were never bought and sold and could always have inheritance. There is an incident about that in the Torah, and Moses said some sisters could keep their father’s property even though he had had only daughters and no sons. No, it didn’t have to go to an uncle.

  • Scott, sounds like you have the compassion, sympathy & Ahavas Yisroel it takes to make a typical Orthodox Rabbi.

  • Scott, Let us all know when you get your McSmicha, we will all cringe, I mean, celebrate.

  • JM, who inherits land in the Torah and who moves to the spouse’s household?

    And with respect to buying, I wonder if perhaps you can tell me what Jacob was doing for 7 years in order to gain a wife.

  • Certainly a woman can be a Torah scholar and a leader. see for example Devorah. She gave Halachik rulings as well that were observed. Nechama Leibowitz published Seforim that are highly regarded and studied.

  • Amen Steves, along with the other prophetesses Sarah, Chana, Miriam, Esther, Avigail and Hulda.

    Not to mention Beruria from the Talmud. Some of her opinions on Halakha were accepted as *the* Law!

  • Obviously years of patriarchal oppression has allowed for only a handful, or perhaps just one, Nechama Leibowitzs to come forth.

  • What rabbis accept Leibowitz’s rulings?

    We’ve discussed the two women who were pseudo-ordained as Orthodox rabbis on Jewlicious previously, and even they can’t get their own community to consider them rabbis.

  • Ok, I’ll restate the above:
    Years of patriarchal oppression has produced almost no female spiritual leadership during both ancient and modern times.

  • OYSTER- would you still like to challenge me on Conservative Judaism? Like I said I spent almost 3 years in their seminary, both JTS NY and in Jerusalem. I can comment quite well on them. i know the ideology and everything very well. Did you study there? If so what years? They believe man wrote the Torah and that you can vote out their own halacha. They even said while I was there “we are not a halachic movement”. They do not believe G-d dictated word for word the Torah to Moses every word of the Torah and that the events in the Torah actually occured. When I started seeing this and what I believed that- they told me my beliefs are enligned with Orthodoxy. The Conservative and Reform movements are new age religions that started after the break of the enlightenment.

  • Scotto, it’s still a belief one way or the other.
    All I am saying is to respect the others path. You have no proof that your belief is any more real or correct than the other one.

  • Steve Ricks, read the Torah and youll see. It says very clearly Pigs are not Kosher (Reform) and that you can’t be a homo (Reform and Conservative). LOL, I highly advise you to read the Tanach for starters, then work your way into Rashi, Rambam, Ramban, maybe throw in Hirsh and others.

  • TM, Laban, who made Jacob work seven years to marry Rachel, is considered a bad man. He is thought a sneak and worse, and no one uses his name for their sons.

    No, patriarchy has not produced anywhere near as many female thinkers as male. But it has produced us. We are here. We are typing.

    The other systems will produce silence. No typing.

    Solve that, then get back to me.

    Judaism is a creative, enlightened compromise in an imperfect world. We are not in the Garden of Eden, where everybody can have a everything with no burdens.

    It seems that this strict rabbi who is bothering you has tried to create a cadre of women legal advocates for agunot. He has tried to solve a religious problem religiously. That is actually useful. There are people who still want to be religious, meaning traditional, even very traditional. He has done more for them than you have, because your solutions brush aside the way they live, and propose they live entirely differently.

    TM, you assume, in your sympathy for the plight of the agunot, that when there is a divorce, the woman must always be the good guy. That may be true in most cases. But that view resembles the doctrine of the greater holiness of women. So we agree.

    There may be an occasional aggrieved husband who says, why should I let her marry her boyfriend? She let me down.

    If I could see some results from the other system, I would be more sympathetic. Much, much, more sympathetic. But all I see is empty chairs. I do not like empthy chairs.

  • Scott, as Chutzpah wisely noted, you have the fresh-faced fanaticism of the newly initiated. I have to admit that it’s amusing to read.

    Laban may have been a “bad” man but my point remains: Jacob had to purchase his wives through work.

    Your other comment is silly. Why is it better to exclude 50% of the population from becoming scholars?

    As for the rest of your comments, I will tell you that at the very least, if you remove the ethical considerations involved of tying up women in their fertile years, the real impact is that you force those women out of the faith. That is definitely how you end up with empty chairs, not the other way around.

    You should read this article to become a tad more enlightened about how this hijacking of the rabbinical court is perceived…by other Orthodox.

  • Scotto, The Reform offer a new interpretations to what is written in the Torah. I happen to not agree w. most of their tenets but that does not give me the right to disrespect them. That is to say, once again, you do not know for certain that maintaining the same ways of doing things is correct or not, It is steadfast and continual of the same that is all. And while we are at it, there is much, much that is changed by Orthos in their various new chumros and adaptations of modernity that were not done in the Shtetl.

  • OK, I will read it.

    So, forcing them out of the faith results in empty chairs? You admit that the traditional life is the path to full chairs? Theoretically, an aguna could marry a nice reform man and have a bunch more children. Does that happen?

    What is silly about saying that a life time of commitment to intense study can limit the time a woman has for child rearing? I thought it was obvious that both child rearing and serious scholarship take all day!

    There may be self-cleaning ovens and self-defrosting refrigerators, but there are no self-raising children.

    How do you know Scott is all that young? At least he has put in time at the best (Chutzpah: very, very expensive) Conservative Seminary, the JTS. He has been through the process. His orthodoxy may have MORE validity than what you usually see, because he has come to it voluntarily.

    As for Jacob purchasing his wives through work, consult Chutzpah on the reception a penniless man, with a few courses in folklore but no degree, will have in her home, if he has turned the head of her daughter. Quite rightly, she will ask him what he thinks he has done to deserve a precious young woman! That never changes. No pink talit and crocheted head covering is going to make that go away, alas. Few parents want a house-husband as a son-in-law, while their daughter sweats and groans in a high level career.

    Do I have to mention that pregnancy is not always smooth? Or birth? Some people don’t want to nurse in the company lounge, between deals. Some can’t.

    And that is only for the first, last and only.

    Some people actually want several children. That means a lot of pregnant time, a lot of infant time.

    Right. Just tie them onto you back and get back to work. Sure.

  • JM sweetie: trust me, plenty of conservative and reform women are marrying, having children & blogging. You really must tstop thinking that none of them are reproducing or doing mitvot. My Mom and her friends from Hadassah all have children who married Jews and are giving them Jewish grandchildren; and, when the Haddasah ladies are not playing Mah Jong they are raising money for all kinds of tzedakahs both here and in Israel and visiting nursing homes. My Grandma Chutzpah (obm) was also a lifetime Hadassah Honoree. The Emunah women don’t have the exclusive right to nachas and mitvot.

    Homosexuality is here to stay in all walks of life. I hope your studying the Torah will teach you to have some compassion and that it’s not up to you to judge others.
    Also, if you have any male friends from JTS between the ages of 37 & 52, please hook me up…I’d love to find a spouse who studied there.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  • I printed the link and will study it at home. I do not claim to be an expert on the agunah problem. I was just weighing in on the validity of the old-fashioned way of doing a Jewish life.

    The whole point of a get is the right to re-marry. But I can’t help wondering how many men are available in traditional communities, or even any community, WILLING to be second husbands to formerly married women who already have a child or children. Maybe a few. My guess is that this nicer second husband is possibly a little bit mythical. I hope not.

    One reason men in general don’t leave their wives is they know it will cost them their children, one way or another.

    So, maybe an aguna SHOULD leave the traditional community, taking her children to the nearest liberal family-help center! Serves him right! Meaning the husband.

    She can then join the ranks of all the other Jewishly identified, but less strictly observant people out here. If she can find a secular Jew to marry, fine, that might lead him toward more engagement with tradition. He might find her fascinating. She knows a lot more than he does.

  • Chutzpah, thanks for the good news. You know the right people. I am still worried about the national picture.

    Scott, get on it.

  • Leave the worrying to Hashem.

    Does anyone know how to say “step-mother” in Hebrew?

  • Don’t know, my daughter just wants to call her “the bitch” and I can’t have her calling her “Ima”. The Bitch doesn’t want to be called by her first name. Anyone have suggestions? Whore-Get…sounds appropriate to mem, pretty much sums up where I think that relationship is going. Seriously though…suggestions appreciated.

    Don’t mean to highjack the thread, this sorta relates to the speculation above that there are not alot of good second husbands around. This Choreget did not win a prize.

  • Chutzpah,

    That’s the kind of situation that intrigues me for some reason. I mean, if this lovely creature doesn’t want to be called by her name (and presumably wouldn’t regard “the bitch” too favorably either), why not have your daughter ask her what she’d like to be called? If she responds with Ima (or some variation thereof), why not have your daughter simply stare incredulously for a few moments, and then say, “No; really.” I wonder if that might get the point across.

  • “Scott, as Chutzpah wisely noted, you have the fresh-faced fanaticism of the newly initiated. I have to admit that it’s amusing to read.”

    TM, yes, while you’re still a Jew lost thinking like a goy 😉 Bizrat Hashem one of these days you’ll wake up. Yes, belonging to a feeble movement that has no backing and falling apart must be great! Yes doing Kiddush and not believing in it! Yes doing a sedar and not believing the events took place! Have fun with your fanatic fake movement ! Cheers!

  • Scott, yes, while you’re Jew lost thinking like it’s 2500 years ago, 😉 B’ezrat Hashem one of these days you’ll wake up. Yes, belonging to a movement that instills rejection of other Jews must be great! Yes doing Kiddush while denying that dinosaurs came before Adam and Eve must be amazing! Doing a seder and believing that a God who saved his people from slavery, gave them a covenant and nothing less than his Torah and mitzvot would bring about the murder of 6 million of those same people including many of the most observant must be very easy for those who blindly believe. Believing that women are good for breeding children but not good for study of God’s gift to the entire Jewish people, male and female, and being so small minded as to think that only those with penises can lead congregations must be very convenient. Have fun praying that your daughters don’t end up marrying some schmuck who won’t destroy their lives if their marriage, chas v’shalom, goes awry. After all, you’ll be in complete agreement and support with whatever harm these ultra-Orthodox rabbis on the rabbinical court might cause to your daughters with their stringent ways. Cheers!

  • Wow the Middle, you just show how unlearned you really are. Maybe the Rabbi on Jewlicious can take you under his wing and educate you.

    No one denies that dinosarus came before Adam. You seem to be uneducated on the Orthodox version of why the Holocaust took place. Women are allowed to learn Torah. There are Midreshets flourishing throughout Israel. Too bad you’re too feeble brained to understand why the Rabbis made that ruling.

  • And it’s another thrilling season of Battle of the Judaisms, a beloved Jewlicious tradition wherein yet another journeyman Orthodox lightweight contender extolling the virtues of frumkeit with all the verve and intellectual poise of an acned 15-year-old who’s just discovered “Atlas Shrugged” is thrown into the Polemic Ring to trade blows with the Champion of Liberal Judaism, a man who battles for the acceptance of non-Orthodox religion with all the passion and arch haughtiness of a black-clad 17-year-old whose newfound passion for “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” has finally given him the courage to stand up to the popular kids, the self-appointed Greatest of all Time, floats like Zecarias Frankel, stings like Mordecai Kaplan, the ONE, the ONLY, the MIDDLE! Condescensions clash! Tempers flare! Sweeping pronouncements thunder down from the heavens! Schoolyard barbs echo like the terrible and mighty voice of the Lord on High himself! DING DING FUCKING DING! ONLY – ONE – WILL -TRIUMPH – OR – AT – LEAST – AN – IMPASSE – WILL – BE – EVENTUALLY – REACHED – WHEN – MUTALLY – BALLOONING – SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS – PRECLUDES – THE – POSSIBILITY – OF – FURTHER – DEBATE – AND – EVERYONE – DIES – A – LITTLE – INSIDE!! DON’T MISS IT!!!!!

    As they say ’round these parts: כבר הייתי בסרט ×”×–×”

  • Well Michael, it’s either that or debate the merits of hash during wartime, who makes better Jewish music, and who’s army has the hottest babes.

    I do like how quickly Scott and TM took off the emoticon gloves.

  • Michael..funny!

    David: She is pushing Ima and I told my kids over my dead body so now they just don’t call her anything. If they need something they will just say “will you please unlock the refrigerator so we can have some food?” or “may I please use more than one towel after a bath without you throwing a fit?”

    I suggested “Mrs. X” and she said no. I have dibs on “Mom”, “Mommy” “Mother” “Imeleh” “Mamme” “Mamma” “Mameleh” and “Ma”

    Her Rabbis told her going by the first name was “inappropriate”. The kids came up with “D.W.” which stands for “Daddy’s Wife” but she didn’t like that.

    My x-father in law just does a dog whistle when he wants my x-mother in law’s attention, and I should’ve cancelled the wedding the first time I witnessed that.

    I will concede to “Mudder” which I assume “mother” in Yiddish or “Muddy” for short.

  • Oh good grief. Not this again. Well, allow me to steer this conversation into some kind of productive area.

    You all know that I do not recognize the authority of non-Orthodox Rabbis. That’s old news. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t believe in those movements. That having been said, I would say that most of my friends aren’t Orthodox and we still manage to get along.

    But just as I have issues with the more liberal branches of Judaism, so too do I have issues with the overly stringent branches. Let’s see what Orthodox MK Rabbi Melchior has to say about the issue. His comment deals with marriage in Israel where about 7,000 Israelis a year go to Cyprus for a civil ceremony rather than have to deal with the rabbinate – in fact, more Israelis get married in Cyprus than do Cypriots. Anyhow, here’s what he said:

    Let me my make my opinion clear, I am an Orthodox rabbi, I believe in the Torah and Halakha, and therefore I believe that conversion, marriages, etc. should be done according to the Halakha. However, this is the business of the Beit Knesset (synagogue) and not of the Knesset. We are elected to the Knesset not in order to be ruling in religious law, for that we should be elected to the Beit Din (religious court). The Knesset should define who is an Israeli, and not who is a Jew, and in this respect we have to respect that the vast majority of Jewish communities are not orthodox, and have a different interpretation then we have to Jewish law. And the practice and the conversions of the non-Orthodox communities outside Israel and inside Israel must be accepted in the future. This framework and this part of the law of return, likewise we naturally have to give equal support from the state of Israel to religious institutions from all denominations. When it comes to marriages, Israelis have found solutions which although they are far from ideal, they are very innovative. Today more Israelis get married in Cyprus than Cypriots get married in Cyprus. I have even been approached and asked to open a rabbinical center in Cyprus to serve the religious needs of the young Israelis who have created a boom to the Cyprus tourism industry. By the way, if we had instituted compulsory circumcision as was proposed from some of the religious parties, we would have seen 50 percent of our population going for “eight-day tours” to leave the country for the decisive days and not as now have 99-something percent of our male population being circumcised. That is what coercive religious legislation leads to. The monopoly does not bring one single Jew closer to the Almighty, and does not make this country any more Jewish.

    Those are very wise words. Folks in the Orthodox camp need to contemplate these issues seriously and see what can be done to repair this serious rift in Israeli society. I mean, I’ve studied Gemarah. In Kedoshim the requirements for a halachically legal marriage are surprisingly minimal. Give a woman anything worth say, a dollar, and tell her that with this thing you are “mekudeshet li,” roughly, betrothed to me, and boom, if she accepts it, y’all are married. You may do the same thing by exchanging a document or having sex with the intent of getting married. So why the big hullabaloo?

    And with all these Torah geniuses passing judgement, is there really no way to solve the problem of Agunot? It’s ridiculous and frankly evil that women who can reproduce again are prevented from doing so by the malicious intent of their ex-husbands and a well meaning rabbinate who doesn’t have the imagination and the courage to right a patently obvious injustice.

    Look at what else is going on. This continued travesty is forcing otherwise traditional people like me to express contempt for my ostensible religious leadership. Yikes!

    So no one’s perfect. We all have some work to do here. It is clear to me that overly Liberal Judaism has severe problems of its own, but it is also clear to me that a rigid doctrinaire approach will only encourage smug self-righteousness and not serve the interests of justice and core Jewish values.

  • now now TM you just keep showing how unlearned you really are. This is quite amusing I must say! What else can you say that is completely innacurate.

  • Scott, TM: I wish either of you would address what I just wrote. Stop with the inane pissing contest and let’s try something novel: a productive discussion.

  • Why would we want to try that when instead they can just keep on rhetorically stroking their own cocks and throw a groovy bukakke party all over Judaism’s face?

  • Actually, Michael and ck, both of you were welcome to come in and add your “productive” comments to this conversation far earlier. In fact, ck actually wrote a post about this without having looked at this discussion. I guess pretending that you take the high road after years of, well, not quite doing so, seems far more interesting…if a tad disingenuous. Bukakke indeed.

  • Michael – using “groovy” as an adjective for “bukakke”… that’s a good one. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t what “bukakke” means unless you’ve been surfing the internet for… i mean, not that i do or have any idea what it means… I’m not into that stuff… but I read a lot about it and read expose and I want to try it now to see how bad it is, just once.

    (Leave me open for Lenny, you get Lenny.)

    And now, back to “Who’s A Jew”, with our guest host Howie Mandel…

  • Ramon – I’m not into felching, pegging or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I still know what they are

  • I’ll be honest with you Michael, I only recognized two of the three. And one of those only because it was from a rumor involving cocaine, Stevie Nicks and her personal assistant (which has never been proven). The other one involves an Angel named Maroni or Martoni or something…

    This is why I only surf Jewish/Israel-oriented blogs. To learn things. How come no one’s talking about our wonderful (former) Israeli ambassador to El Salvador? I think that’s called that BSDM or something…

  • OMG MICHAEL! I just wanted to learn the term for “Stepmother” – – not the terms for various sexual acts that were NOT on my “To Do If I Am Blessed Enough To Have Sex Again” list (which is long enough already)!


    But while we are at, what was the actual Wiki term for the pee drinking, just in case I come across any other Orthodox guys who don’t like non-kosher wine…

    “Step-mother” suggestions still welcome….

    P.S. Ramon,
    Middle and I scooped you on the breaking news from El Salvador days ago, gotta pay attention here dude.

  • OMG MICHAEL! I just wanted to learn the term for “Stepmother” – – not the terms for various sexual acts that were NOT on my “To Do If I Am Blessed Enough To Have Sex Again” list (which is long enough already)!


    Kinda leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

  • Chutzpah – I wasn’t disavowing the journalistic skills of you and TM. I was just wondering why we weren’t talking about him more. (Considering where this discussion was going.)

  • Re El Salvador: proof of Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal return. Jewish history begins, and ends, with bondage.

  • Morrissey! Excellent!

    By the way, Tom, that soccer match fizzled into a 0-0 tie between Israel and England. On the other hand, notoriously insane English soccer fans who visited Israel for this match (4000 of them!) went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, and were so moved that they have vowed from now on to refrain from drunken hooliganism at international soccer matches and instead intend to identify Jews in the crowds at these matches and kiss them gently on cheeks and foreheads for, uh, still being around.

  • I am not sure about that Choreget word. I think it refers to a foster mom but not positive.

    I would deffo check out the ex for signs of physical abuse . He looks quite unhappy. I run into them on my sales rounds of the food stores over there.

    He really messed up his life imo, he would have been better off trying to patch things up.

  • Wow Ricks..your stalking of me is kinda coming in handy, thanks I guess. Yes, he’s miserable because he ruined the good relationship he had with his daughter and she doesn’t trust him at all any more.

    I am willing to pay $$ for information leading to information about where he works. [email protected]. He is not paying his alimony for a change.

    Yes, where else would he find someone as intelligent, creative, sexyand nuturing as myself with parents who were constantly giving him thousands of dollars to help out. This mail -order bride doesn’t have half the common sense, emotional maturity or brains of my 8 year old. “Ima” my ass, I’d like to call her “Peg” or maybe “Felch”.

    P.S. Please don’t ever introduce yourself to me if you see me on the street…that would just be too creepy and I have no idea who you are.

  • Hilarious, Middle!!

    Israel didn’t know from terrorism until those Brit hooligans showed up….

  • True statement. Not just Israel, Britain also divvied up the rest of the area so that virtually all of the modern Arab states, including Iraq, are defined by British-set borders.

  • Air-drop the English team into Basra for a friendly…. Alas, the nation that gave us Churchill also gave us Iraq.

  • NO worries Chutz, 2 women is more than enough for me at my age, lol.

  • Eh, what’s the point of adding anything into the discussion.

    because the ultra-Orthodox have a far more strict understanding of the observance of laws.

    Maybe they have a generally far more strict interpretation of the observance of laws,

    But frankly that’s not the issue either. The major difference between Religious Zionist Rabbis and Haredi Rabbis are that one participates in State, the other sits on the sidelines.

    Sure we are generalizing by basing the arguments on the high ratio of Haredi rabbis
    without discussing the actual individuals and their views, and frankly, I love Haredis, but there is nevertheless something warped about the way the committee worked. So Friedman showed that he can’t care less about the Jews and that he rather concetrate on reforming the supreme court judges committe instead.

    W/R to cyprus weddings, negligible percentage. Nowhere close to the percentage of Israeli Jews who eat bread on pesach or don’t fast on Yom kippur. Jewish mothers still want Jewish brides and grooms.

    Hey middle, wassup. You haven’t changed, well, neither have I really. Sorry to be gone for so long.