Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Embattled Evergreen State Professor Accused of Hiding Racism Behind His Judaism – Algemeiner

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Evergreen State College. Photo: Evergreen State College website.

Abiology professor atEvergreen State College who has been under fire in recent months for allegedracist actionshas beenaccused by Jewish students at the schoolof using his Jewish faith as a prop to deflect pressure over his anti-black language and behavior.

Bret Weinstein was charged with positioning himself as a Jew to invalidate the claims of racism being raised against him in anopen letterpublished last week andsigned by a groupidentifying themselves as [s]ome Jewish students at Evergreen bent on the destruction of white supremacy.

This letter was published amid an ongoing controversy over Weinsteins refusal to participate in an Aprilequity initiative in whichall the white members of the Evergreen community were invited toleavecampus, for a so-called Day of Presence celebratingthe colleges minority demographic.

June 13, 2017 4:53 pm

Weinsten gained national attention forhis decision to hold his lectureas usual despite the program, a move that led to student protesters mobbinghis classroom, shoutinghim down and forcing him to relocate his class toan off-campus park.

There have sincebeencalls frommanyatEvergreen forhis resignation or termination.

Over recent weeks, Weinstein hasdocumented his experience in aWall Street Journalop-ed, as well as taking to other media outlets to articulate his view of the diversity initiativeand describe thetreatment he has received.

The Jewish students who published last weeks letter claimed that in his public appearances,Bret has attempted to position himself as a victim.

They wrote:

Something that Bret may be trying to get to when he talks about himself as a Jew is that Ashkenazi Jews have not always been considered white. This is true, and is very important to think about. What was that process of assimilation that brought some Jews into the folds of whiteness? What was the cost? Whiteness is not a singular tangible thing, it is a construction that evolves as power changes hands and as global structures change with them. The assimilation of most Ashkenazi Jews and some Sephardic Jews into whiteness is not a single event, one cannot point to a time or day when their bubbe abandoned Yiddish or traditional clothing, and say this is the event of assimilationWhiteness is flexible enough to expand its definition of who is welcomed into its fold, when its convenient in maintaining the social order it imposes some Jews, Irish people, Italians, etc., are welcome to be white as long as black people remain the targets of racialized violence. For us to be white, have access to whiteness (power), some groups of people must continually be othered, denied access to power. This is how white supremacy functions, by creating structures of power of exclusion and othering and in doing so relying on anti-blackness.

The students also claimedwhite Jews in the US generally areacting in complicity with and upholding white supremacy, passively and actively.

This is not the first time Jews on campus have been subject tosuch comments.

In March, fliers appeared at the University of Illinois stating, Ending White Privilege Starts With Ending Jewish Privilege,together with a pyramid depicting Jews labeled with Stars of David at the top.Students said the fliers werereminiscent of Nazi-era propaganda.

The next month, a Jewish student leader atthe University of Wisconsin-Madison was told by the then-chair of student government F*** white supremacy, after shespoke out against an anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions effort.

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Judaism, Middle Eastern again – Jewish Chronicle


Jewish Chronicle
Judaism, Middle Eastern again
Jewish Chronicle
Sephardic and Mizrahi Judaism, rather than a curio, is in the greatest sweep of Jewish history the mainstream. Ashkenazi Judaism was the flickering. Next to non-existent in the early middle ages, ballooning suddenly, only to almost vanish from Europe

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Ivanka Trump, Herself Jewish, Gives Incorrect Answer About Judaism – Carbonated.tv (blog)

While talking about her foreign trip, the first daughter inaccurately identified her faith as one of the largest world religions.

President Donald Trumps daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, made an appearance on Fox and Friends where she not only took hypocrisy to new heights but also made a factual error.

During the interview, while recalling President Donald Trumps first overseas trip where she accompanied him and met with religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, Trump incorrectly identified Judaism as one of the three largest world religions.

I feel blessed and privileged to have been there. It was deeply personal for me as you know to be standing at the Western Wall in a moment of privacy because it was really just us. To have covered the three largest world religions over the course of four days, it was deeply meaningful, she said.

She further added, It was beyond special. For each of these moments, its hard to find the words to adequately describe them.

In 2009, Trump converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner who is an Orthodox Jew. However, it looks like she needs a little brush up on facts about her faith.

With nearly 4 billion followers combined, Christianity and Islam are the two biggest religions of the world. However, it is not the same for Judaism as it roughly has 14 million followers. Jews make up less than 0.2% of the worlds population, coming in far behind Hindus, Buddhists, Spiritists, Chinese (or Han) religionists and Sikhs.

During her appearance she further revealed how oblivious she truly is when she said she was surprised by vicious attacks against her father.

It is hard. And there’s a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience, she told the hosts, referring to the widespread backlash to her father’s presidency.

Twitter users also corrected the clueless first daughter.

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Ivanka Trump: Judaism One Of Largest World Religions The Forward – Forward

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Not Your Usual Talking Head : Ivanka Trump shmoozes on ?FOX & Friends? at FOX Studios in New York.

Ivanka Trumps humblebrag backfired on Monday morning when she incorrectly said that Judaism was one of the worlds three largest religions.

Trump gracefully sidestepped a possibly-insensitive question from Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson on what it was like as a convert to be there in Israel and to meet with [Prime Minister] Netanyahu while accompanying President Trump on his global tour to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Vatican City last month.

To have covered the three largest world religions over the course of four daysit was deeply meaningful, Trump responded.

Jews make up less than 0.2% of the worlds population, coming in far behind Hindus, Buddhists, Spiritists, Chinese (or Han) religionists and Sikhs.

According to a 2012 Pew Center report, Judaism is in the top three (actually, number one) of all major world religions in one thing: the oldest median age of its adherents, at 36.

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter, @aefeldman.

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Rabbi Dweck, Judaism and Homosexuality – Algemeiner

Marchers in a past Tel Aviv Pride Parade. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Joseph Dweck in person. But I have been in touch with him online and electronically. I know him to be an exceptional rabbi. After a highly successful career in the United States, he moved to London to head theSpanish and Portuguese Synagogue, where he has enthused many people and brought them closer to the Torah. His rabbinic qualifications are impeccable. He is connected to the most revered and scholarly Sephardi authorities. He is an articulate and an inspiring leader. In addition, and possibly most importantly, he is a very caring person.

A few weeks ago, he gavea lecture in London on homosexuality. It was a brave attempt to grapple with the challenges that other cultures present to traditional Torah texts. He traced the history, the terminology and the ideas behind homosexuality in the pagan and post-pagan world. Heusedsources from Torah, Talmud and great post Talmudic masters to illustrate the nuances and variations in attitudes. And while expressing absolute commitment to Jewish law, he said that he was grateful for the challenges that current Western attitudes towards sexual matters have presented to Judaism because it forces traditional Jews to examine their core values and attitudes towards loving relationships. As with any unscripted lecture, Rabbi Dweckused some infelicitous phrases that Imay have avoided, which he has since sought to clarify. Nevertheless, his brave attempt to grapple with a problem rather than avoid it has brought the wrath of his enemies down on his head.

A public rebuttal of Rabbi Dweck(but not his ideas, which were hardly addressed) has come from Aharon Bassous. He is an Indian-born Sephardi rabbi, educated in Ashkenazi yeshivot, who set up his own synagogue in Golders Green, London. In a faltering, simplistic tirade reminiscent of Savonarola, he attacked the integrity, faith and scholarship of Rabbi Dweck as if he were a heretic. The vindictiveness of his speech, in my opinion, was a far greater betrayal of Torah values than anything Rabbi Dweck might have said.

June 12, 2017 2:28 pm

It is typical of such men that they think that by throwing mud you can stop people thinking for themselves, and by shutting mouths you turn off ideas. To me, at any rate, that is a clear breach of Torah values.

Rabbi Dweck has said nothing new in terms of Jewish law. His sensitive approach was pioneered by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport, who is well known in rabbinic circles as an impeccably Orthodox authority (and a Chabad Chasid). His bookJudaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox Viewwas prefaced by the lateBerel Berkowitz, Dayan of the Beth Din of the Federation of Synagogues. The books forward describes Rapoport as a courageous figure who has written on a difficult subject that many would rather avoid, designed to mitigate the painful consequences of Orthodoxys uncompromising rejection of homosexuality.Interestingly his book was waved before the cameras by Rabbi Bassous. Except he merely used some general words from the introduction that stressed the uniqueness of Torah, instead of quoting Rabbi Rapoports actual views.

Rabbi Dweck said: Homosexuality in society has forced us to look at how we deal with love between people of the same sex, and it has reduced the taboo of me, my children, and my grandchildren being able to love another human being of the same sex genuinely, to show them affection, to express love without the worry of being seen as deviant and problematic.

I agree that this is an infelicitous and ambiguous statement. But youd have to have a devious mind to take this as an endorsement of the act or of rejecting the Torah. Dweck wenton to say, The act remains an issue. But if we can deal with the peripheral issues, it changes how we address these things. Thats good for society. Of course it is. Clearly his attackers had not read or heard what he actually said. It is fine for them to go on living in closed societies and insist on adherence to their worldview without question. But for those of us who live outside and have to deal daily with human problems, simply putting up shutters is no solution.

There are two aspects to the challenge that homosexuality presents to traditional Jews. First, no one would argue that the Bible considers homosexuality to go against its primary value system of heterosexual relationships as the normative way to create families and rear children. But this does not mean that biblical law doesnt allow for exceptionsthose who choose not to marry altogether, for exampleeven if this is not ideal. The Biblecan also accommodate genetic variations. The Talmud certainly did. Modern knowledge of the way that genes influence us, whichwas not available previously, haschanged the way that we understand the nature of freedom and choice. This does not change our laws. But it does affect the way we relate to individuals.

For example, one could well argue that having caring, loving parents of any sex or sexes is preferable to a normative family where there is abuse, conflict and tension.

As for the act of homosexual intercourseitself, we have never posted policemen in bedrooms or sought to make a persons private sexual life a matter of public concern. Not only that, but embarrassing people in public is regarded as one of the most serious moral deficiencies by our great rabbis. As a result, many Orthodox rabbis apply tolerant standards to the private lives of their congregants. And they welcome everyone into their communities, without prying intoprivate lives.

It is true that halacha, despite its preference for leniency and its escape routes, is not completely relativist. We are expected to respect the law of the land, to take measures that mitigate hatred, and to strive for peace and good relations. Yet this does not mean sacrificing ones own values. Regardless of our halachic imperatives, we try to be sensitive and try to find ways of being constructive where possible, as Rabbi Dweck does.

The Sephardi world has a long tradition of tolerance and open arms. Ashkenazi Orthodoxy has always tended toward rigidity and exclusion it could always shunt people it did not like off to Reform communities. Sephardi communities have no Reform branch. As a result, their rabbis have often had to encounter views that they did not agree with. It would be a tragic betrayal of Sephardi inclusiveness if Rabbi Dweck were to be hounded from his pulpit.

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Ivanka Trump Incorrectly Names Judaism As 1 Of The 3 ‘Largest World Religions’ – HuffPost

Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, incorrectly named Judaism as one of the three largest world religions Monday while recalling the presidents recent overseas trip.

The father and daughter, along with several other members of their family and of the administration, met with religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican last month during a weeklong excursion abroad.

To have covered the three largest world religions over the course of four days, it was deeply meaningful, Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends Monday.

Trump who converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, in 2009 erased the followers of several major religions in her statement.

Christianity and Islam are indeed the two largest world religions with nearly 4 billion followers combined. But with roughly 14 million followers, Judaism trails way behind Hinduism (over 1 billion followers), Buddhism(nearly 500 million followers) and other faiths such as Taoism, Shintoism and Sikhism.

It was beyond special, Trump said Monday about the trip. For each of these moments, its hard to find the words to adequately describe them.

Or accurately, for that matter.

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Josh Jipp Reviews John Gager on Paul and Judaism – Patheos (blog)

Theres a great review of John Gager,Who Made Early Christianity? The Jewish Lives of the Apostles Paul(New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Joshua W. Jipp, Is the Apostle Paul the Father of Christian Anti-Judaism? Engaging John GagersWho Made Early Christianity,HBT39 (2017): 83-92.

Gager offers a Paul within Judaism view, and I think Jipp is dead right in his critique, I argue similarly in myAn Anomalous Jew. Jipp says:

He compliments Gager: There is much to be said for Gagers claim that Pauls seemingly negative statements about Torah and circumcision stem from Pauls attempt to counter the program of missionary competitors who were trying to Judaize his gentile converts. But Jipp is right to insist that there is a problem with the Paul within Judaism school who fail to reckon with the shared anthropological problem facing Jews and Greek, namely, sin and its consequences. Jipp adds: Within Romans Paul speaks of both Jews and Greeks to be under sins (Rom. 3:9b). The problem is anthropological, as Paul presents a list of scriptural quotations that speak of Gods judgment upon all people (3:10a) for giving their body to injustice and wickedness (Rom. 3:10-18). What is surprising about Pauls argument is that most of the biblical texts in their original context make a distinction between the righteous and unrighteous. But Paul doesnotuse the scriptural texts to establish a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous; rather, as the heading to the catena makes clear, all of humanity is unrighteous (Rom. 3:10). And the conclusion to which Paul is driving are universal in scope: the entire world and all flesh is accountable to God (Rom. 3:19-20). This would seem to indicate that the revelation of Gods righteousness in Romans 3:21-31 is addressing a Jewish problem as well as a Gentile problem.

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Conservative Judaism Extends A Hand To Interfaith Families – Forward

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavies research, analysis and essay on officiating at an interfaith wedding is interesting. It is clear that his proposal comes from a place of thoughtfulness and love of Judaism, the Jewish people and those connected to them. Rabbi Lau-Lavie, like all of us, is struggling with our generations most complex problem: how do we navigate a radically inclusive society in an authentically Jewish and dynamic way?

I have great respect for Rabbi Lau-Lavie and am curious to see how his experiment develops as he seeks to strengthen the relationships of non-Jewish partners to the Jewish community.

Will the institutions of Conservative Judaism embrace this approach? I can only speak for USCJ, which is the network of nearly 600 Conservative Jewish communities across North America our role is to strengthen communities, not to make halakhic decisions on behalf of the Conservative movement.

We believe a range of viewpoints and backgrounds religious, racial, ethnic, sexual, socio-political strengthens us all and will continue to partner with kehillot in our network, and others in the movement, to ensure we demonstrate what an authentic and dynamic Judaism looks like.

Rabbi Steven C. Wernick serves as the chief executive officer of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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The Dance of Judaism and Science: Einstein and Beyond – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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Religion without science is Blind, Science without Religion is lame Albert Einstein

This observation by Einstein both captures quintessential insights as well as dispelling core misconceptions of the relationship between religion and science. There are apparent needs which religion addresses but not without a seeming conflict with scientific thinking as it is commonly understood. These relate to the needs for primarily security in the universe or plainly our own mortality as well as the need to find meaning in our lives. Religion provides some comforting answers, but finds itself challenged by many respected individuals armed with the cool light of reasoned thought within the world of science.

How can we reconcile scientific understanding with the wide gap found in the biblical accounts all familiar to us? Firstly, I believe one obstacle is an exclusive literal interpretation of the Torah (only peshat). If we take the bible strictly on a literal level we find that we must reconcile such prospects as the age of the earth, creation period and Noah ark dimensions and content with the bald opposing facts of science. However our tradition through other interpretive avenues found in Talmud and Kabbalah allow at least 3 additional ways of looking at matters in additional to literal namely derash, remez and sod, enabling us not shackled to such a devastating literal reading. These involve at times metaphorical interpretations guided however by rules and systematic approaches considering context and relationships. Derash deals with inferential interpretations, Remez with suggestive clues and sod with mystically driven interpretations.

Our religion teaches that creation provides order in nature, something that science requires in immeasurable degree. Genesis spells out an order and Job, Kohelet and the Psalms magnificently describe and glorify it. Take any such content as Psalm 96: Praise God, sun, and moon, all shining stars. Let them all praise Hashems glory at whose command they were created. At whose decree they endure forever and by whose laws nature abides. Appreciating creation is one core way of appreciating Gods goodness, something we are encouraged throughout our religious teachings and here again science arrives at the scene. Einstein described himself as a believer in Spinozas God and when we read Spinoza we find he speaks of a natura naturans or a creative energy beyond the physical driving the magnificent constant uniform and permanently established principles throughout the universe covering every moment. This certainly is goodness of a high order as Einstein recognizes and without some understanding our appreciation is limited and somewhat short of fullness. This goodness is further evidenced by Gerald Schroeders extension of this reasoning to life forms where he cites the probabilities of life forms or ingredients demonstrating it would require a universe much more ancient than our own to produce the kind of compounds and combinations that life demand. For example it require 90,000 times the number of carbon atoms to produce the forms needed or looking another way 90.000 time the age of universe to produce.

Moreover other scientists and mathematicians support this defiance of the odds required by a random universe, particularly George Wald, Nobel Laurette in uncovering the complex evolution of the retina, asserting and that underlying mind and intelligence was somehow involved but the time durations taking place were not sufficient to deliver these results on a random basis. . Time itself is often claimed to be the plot hero especially in this development but here is rejected. Roger Penrose the world famous mathematician and physicist , joint discoverer of black hole, computes a one in 10 ^123 probability for life through random processes is another Moreover the time for creation conventionally expressed as 5 1/2 days (to Adam) is reconciled well by Schroeder with the accepted 13.8 billion years when we consider relativistic considerations. . According to Einstein relativity asserts Schroeder there is a time dilation that occurs when heavy gravitational forces are involved and reflected in the expansion rate of the universe. Taking this into consideration in general relativity considerations Schroeder demonstrates we are faced with a factor of a million million or trillion in expansion dilation itself. When we consider the time differential applied to the 5 1/2 days to human creation by Einsteins relativity we find 5 1/2 days at the core of the universe when multiplied by the dilation factor of a trillion yields about 14 billion years from the time of creation which is well within a reasonable 1 % margin of uncertainty. Further the process itself by which this happens is amplified by Nachmanides in his anticipation of the big Bang and universe expansion by analyzing the introductory words of genesis and the use of the Hebrew term tohu vavou alluding to primordial substance condensed. The Rambam himself asserts that Judaism consistently respects the findings of science without abandoning its truth in his Guide (2:8) and reference to Talmudic sources (Pesahim 94 b)

However there is something still missing which Einstein does not completely capture. It is true that there is a goodness that is within this appreciation but is it enough provide us the rich meaning and answers we seek in life? Einsteins or Spinoza God is a totally impersonal God not intervening in human affairs. Nonetheless a form of intuition may be brought to bear that Einstein himself did not at all neglect in the world of science. In his theory about gravitation comparing it to acceleration this was evident and his use of conceptual simplicity in his thought process another example. The transition of such instances as Gods goodness here to that of human affairs is another example of something Gerald Schroeder identifies and amplifies through his intuitive sense. The suggestion that such goodness is extended is also linked by Schroeder by examining the connection between consciousness and matter or between wisdom and the physical. Schroeder expresses this connection by appeal to suggestive opening biblical language of Torah when precisely understood: With wisdom God created heaven and earth. Kabballah here itself recognizes the central role of intuition through the notion of chuckmah connoting a deeper wisdom in a flash (second sefaroit) while binah used in conjunction with it connotes a kind of induction and deduction inherent in day to day science.

In this connection particularly the intuition aspect the observation of Blaise Pascal the 17 the century mathematician who laid the foundation for modern probability theory may be relevantly noted. When Louis the 14 confronted him and inquired as the best evidence of a miracle or intervention of God in human affairs he replied why the survival of the Jewish people. Pascals the founder of probability theorys intuitive sense of probability considerations here led him to this mind boggling assertion. We find the same sentiment in the Talmud where it is asserted, The continued existence of the Jewish people is proof of Gods providence. (Talmud Balvi Yoma, 69 b).

When we look again at Einstein we find his intuitions operates against a background of experience or empirical input. It is not operative in a vacuum. Einstein was a great admirer of the philosopher David Hume who emphasized time and time again that causation can take many sided directions without there being any necessity in the outcome. This, moreover, could in many cases land us in a universe with strange happenings. We must therefore be steered by experience and not allow ourselves to intuit too much and exceed experience.

We are often confronted with Darwin theory as a case against religion. However it may be noted that once again we must consider the various interpretive approaches that our religion offers. Moreover interestingly Darwin harbored a sense that the design aspects of his theory could not have arisen if left to the laws of randomness with the law of natural selection being the driving force. In the standard account of utilization of the the theory time is depicted as the hero of the plot in accounting for the development of life form. However here again the unlikelihood emerging in the time allowed is mirrored in Darwins own remarks the concerning complexities of life involved. Significantly a close examination of his views on the matter contained no less than a clear endorsement of something more when asserting that There is grandeur of life with its several powers breathed by God into a few forms or even one this is right from his Origins where he invokes the word creator 9 times and God twice.

The same acts of enlightened intuition that has guided Einstein, Spinoza, Penrose, and Darwin are at the disposal of all of us (less perhaps the exact math) in the many personal worlds we all inhabit. I invite the reader to think about that personal dimension in his/her own life connecting himself/herself with the cosmos gifted by the Creator.

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Embattled Evergreen State Professor Accused of Hiding Racism Behind His Judaism – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “Embattled Evergreen State Professor Accused of Hiding Racism Behind His Judaism” to a friend Evergreen State College. Photo: Evergreen State College website. Abiology professor atEvergreen State College who has been under fire in recent months for allegedracist actionshas beenaccused by Jewish students at the schoolof using his Jewish faith as a prop to deflect pressure over his anti-black language and behavior. Bret Weinstein was charged with positioning himself as a Jew to invalidate the claims of racism being raised against him in anopen letterpublished last week andsigned by a groupidentifying themselves as [s]ome Jewish students at Evergreen bent on the destruction of white supremacy. This letter was published amid an ongoing controversy over Weinsteins refusal to participate in an Aprilequity initiative in whichall the white members of the Evergreen community were invited toleavecampus, for a so-called Day of Presence celebratingthe colleges minority demographic. June 13, 2017 4:53 pm Weinsten gained national attention forhis decision to hold his lectureas usual despite the program, a move that led to student protesters mobbinghis classroom, shoutinghim down and forcing him to relocate his class toan off-campus park. There have sincebeencalls frommanyatEvergreen forhis resignation or termination. Over recent weeks, Weinstein hasdocumented his experience in aWall Street Journalop-ed, as well as taking to other media outlets to articulate his view of the diversity initiativeand describe thetreatment he has received. The Jewish students who published last weeks letter claimed that in his public appearances,Bret has attempted to position himself as a victim. They wrote: Something that Bret may be trying to get to when he talks about himself as a Jew is that Ashkenazi Jews have not always been considered white. This is true, and is very important to think about. What was that process of assimilation that brought some Jews into the folds of whiteness? What was the cost? Whiteness is not a singular tangible thing, it is a construction that evolves as power changes hands and as global structures change with them. The assimilation of most Ashkenazi Jews and some Sephardic Jews into whiteness is not a single event, one cannot point to a time or day when their bubbe abandoned Yiddish or traditional clothing, and say this is the event of assimilationWhiteness is flexible enough to expand its definition of who is welcomed into its fold, when its convenient in maintaining the social order it imposes some Jews, Irish people, Italians, etc., are welcome to be white as long as black people remain the targets of racialized violence. For us to be white, have access to whiteness (power), some groups of people must continually be othered, denied access to power. This is how white supremacy functions, by creating structures of power of exclusion and othering and in doing so relying on anti-blackness. The students also claimedwhite Jews in the US generally areacting in complicity with and upholding white supremacy, passively and actively. This is not the first time Jews on campus have been subject tosuch comments. In March, fliers appeared at the University of Illinois stating, Ending White Privilege Starts With Ending Jewish Privilege,together with a pyramid depicting Jews labeled with Stars of David at the top.Students said the fliers werereminiscent of Nazi-era propaganda. The next month, a Jewish student leader atthe University of Wisconsin-Madison was told by the then-chair of student government F*** white supremacy, after shespoke out against an anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions effort.

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Judaism, Middle Eastern again – Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Chronicle Judaism , Middle Eastern again Jewish Chronicle Sephardic and Mizrahi Judaism , rather than a curio, is in the greatest sweep of Jewish history the mainstream. Ashkenazi Judaism was the flickering. Next to non-existent in the early middle ages, ballooning suddenly, only to almost vanish from Europe … and more »

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Ivanka Trump, Herself Jewish, Gives Incorrect Answer About Judaism – Carbonated.tv (blog)

While talking about her foreign trip, the first daughter inaccurately identified her faith as one of the largest world religions. President Donald Trumps daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, made an appearance on Fox and Friends where she not only took hypocrisy to new heights but also made a factual error. During the interview, while recalling President Donald Trumps first overseas trip where she accompanied him and met with religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, Trump incorrectly identified Judaism as one of the three largest world religions. I feel blessed and privileged to have been there. It was deeply personal for me as you know to be standing at the Western Wall in a moment of privacy because it was really just us. To have covered the three largest world religions over the course of four days, it was deeply meaningful, she said. She further added, It was beyond special. For each of these moments, its hard to find the words to adequately describe them. In 2009, Trump converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner who is an Orthodox Jew. However, it looks like she needs a little brush up on facts about her faith. With nearly 4 billion followers combined, Christianity and Islam are the two biggest religions of the world. However, it is not the same for Judaism as it roughly has 14 million followers. Jews make up less than 0.2% of the worlds population, coming in far behind Hindus, Buddhists, Spiritists, Chinese (or Han) religionists and Sikhs. During her appearance she further revealed how oblivious she truly is when she said she was surprised by vicious attacks against her father. It is hard. And there’s a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience, she told the hosts, referring to the widespread backlash to her father’s presidency. Twitter users also corrected the clueless first daughter.

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Ivanka Trump: Judaism One Of Largest World Religions The Forward – Forward

Getty Images Not Your Usual Talking Head : Ivanka Trump shmoozes on ?FOX & Friends? at FOX Studios in New York. Ivanka Trumps humblebrag backfired on Monday morning when she incorrectly said that Judaism was one of the worlds three largest religions. Trump gracefully sidestepped a possibly-insensitive question from Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson on what it was like as a convert to be there in Israel and to meet with [Prime Minister] Netanyahu while accompanying President Trump on his global tour to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Vatican City last month. To have covered the three largest world religions over the course of four daysit was deeply meaningful, Trump responded. Jews make up less than 0.2% of the worlds population, coming in far behind Hindus, Buddhists, Spiritists, Chinese (or Han) religionists and Sikhs. According to a 2012 Pew Center report, Judaism is in the top three (actually, number one) of all major world religions in one thing: the oldest median age of its adherents, at 36. Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter, @aefeldman.

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Rabbi Dweck, Judaism and Homosexuality – Algemeiner

Marchers in a past Tel Aviv Pride Parade. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Joseph Dweck in person. But I have been in touch with him online and electronically. I know him to be an exceptional rabbi. After a highly successful career in the United States, he moved to London to head theSpanish and Portuguese Synagogue, where he has enthused many people and brought them closer to the Torah. His rabbinic qualifications are impeccable. He is connected to the most revered and scholarly Sephardi authorities. He is an articulate and an inspiring leader. In addition, and possibly most importantly, he is a very caring person. A few weeks ago, he gavea lecture in London on homosexuality. It was a brave attempt to grapple with the challenges that other cultures present to traditional Torah texts. He traced the history, the terminology and the ideas behind homosexuality in the pagan and post-pagan world. Heusedsources from Torah, Talmud and great post Talmudic masters to illustrate the nuances and variations in attitudes. And while expressing absolute commitment to Jewish law, he said that he was grateful for the challenges that current Western attitudes towards sexual matters have presented to Judaism because it forces traditional Jews to examine their core values and attitudes towards loving relationships. As with any unscripted lecture, Rabbi Dweckused some infelicitous phrases that Imay have avoided, which he has since sought to clarify. Nevertheless, his brave attempt to grapple with a problem rather than avoid it has brought the wrath of his enemies down on his head. A public rebuttal of Rabbi Dweck(but not his ideas, which were hardly addressed) has come from Aharon Bassous. He is an Indian-born Sephardi rabbi, educated in Ashkenazi yeshivot, who set up his own synagogue in Golders Green, London. In a faltering, simplistic tirade reminiscent of Savonarola, he attacked the integrity, faith and scholarship of Rabbi Dweck as if he were a heretic. The vindictiveness of his speech, in my opinion, was a far greater betrayal of Torah values than anything Rabbi Dweck might have said. June 12, 2017 2:28 pm It is typical of such men that they think that by throwing mud you can stop people thinking for themselves, and by shutting mouths you turn off ideas. To me, at any rate, that is a clear breach of Torah values. Rabbi Dweck has said nothing new in terms of Jewish law. His sensitive approach was pioneered by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport, who is well known in rabbinic circles as an impeccably Orthodox authority (and a Chabad Chasid). His bookJudaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox Viewwas prefaced by the lateBerel Berkowitz, Dayan of the Beth Din of the Federation of Synagogues. The books forward describes Rapoport as a courageous figure who has written on a difficult subject that many would rather avoid, designed to mitigate the painful consequences of Orthodoxys uncompromising rejection of homosexuality.Interestingly his book was waved before the cameras by Rabbi Bassous. Except he merely used some general words from the introduction that stressed the uniqueness of Torah, instead of quoting Rabbi Rapoports actual views. Rabbi Dweck said: Homosexuality in society has forced us to look at how we deal with love between people of the same sex, and it has reduced the taboo of me, my children, and my grandchildren being able to love another human being of the same sex genuinely, to show them affection, to express love without the worry of being seen as deviant and problematic. I agree that this is an infelicitous and ambiguous statement. But youd have to have a devious mind to take this as an endorsement of the act or of rejecting the Torah. Dweck wenton to say, The act remains an issue. But if we can deal with the peripheral issues, it changes how we address these things. Thats good for society. Of course it is. Clearly his attackers had not read or heard what he actually said. It is fine for them to go on living in closed societies and insist on adherence to their worldview without question. But for those of us who live outside and have to deal daily with human problems, simply putting up shutters is no solution. There are two aspects to the challenge that homosexuality presents to traditional Jews. First, no one would argue that the Bible considers homosexuality to go against its primary value system of heterosexual relationships as the normative way to create families and rear children. But this does not mean that biblical law doesnt allow for exceptionsthose who choose not to marry altogether, for exampleeven if this is not ideal. The Biblecan also accommodate genetic variations. The Talmud certainly did. Modern knowledge of the way that genes influence us, whichwas not available previously, haschanged the way that we understand the nature of freedom and choice. This does not change our laws. But it does affect the way we relate to individuals. For example, one could well argue that having caring, loving parents of any sex or sexes is preferable to a normative family where there is abuse, conflict and tension. As for the act of homosexual intercourseitself, we have never posted policemen in bedrooms or sought to make a persons private sexual life a matter of public concern. Not only that, but embarrassing people in public is regarded as one of the most serious moral deficiencies by our great rabbis. As a result, many Orthodox rabbis apply tolerant standards to the private lives of their congregants. And they welcome everyone into their communities, without prying intoprivate lives. It is true that halacha, despite its preference for leniency and its escape routes, is not completely relativist. We are expected to respect the law of the land, to take measures that mitigate hatred, and to strive for peace and good relations. Yet this does not mean sacrificing ones own values. Regardless of our halachic imperatives, we try to be sensitive and try to find ways of being constructive where possible, as Rabbi Dweck does. The Sephardi world has a long tradition of tolerance and open arms. Ashkenazi Orthodoxy has always tended toward rigidity and exclusion it could always shunt people it did not like off to Reform communities. Sephardi communities have no Reform branch. As a result, their rabbis have often had to encounter views that they did not agree with. It would be a tragic betrayal of Sephardi inclusiveness if Rabbi Dweck were to be hounded from his pulpit.

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Ivanka Trump Incorrectly Names Judaism As 1 Of The 3 ‘Largest World Religions’ – HuffPost

Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, incorrectly named Judaism as one of the three largest world religions Monday while recalling the presidents recent overseas trip. The father and daughter, along with several other members of their family and of the administration, met with religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican last month during a weeklong excursion abroad. To have covered the three largest world religions over the course of four days, it was deeply meaningful, Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends Monday. Trump who converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, in 2009 erased the followers of several major religions in her statement. Christianity and Islam are indeed the two largest world religions with nearly 4 billion followers combined. But with roughly 14 million followers, Judaism trails way behind Hinduism (over 1 billion followers), Buddhism(nearly 500 million followers) and other faiths such as Taoism, Shintoism and Sikhism. It was beyond special, Trump said Monday about the trip. For each of these moments, its hard to find the words to adequately describe them. Or accurately, for that matter.

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Josh Jipp Reviews John Gager on Paul and Judaism – Patheos (blog)

Theres a great review of John Gager,Who Made Early Christianity? The Jewish Lives of the Apostles Paul(New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Joshua W. Jipp, Is the Apostle Paul the Father of Christian Anti-Judaism? Engaging John GagersWho Made Early Christianity,HBT39 (2017): 83-92. Gager offers a Paul within Judaism view, and I think Jipp is dead right in his critique, I argue similarly in myAn Anomalous Jew. Jipp says: He compliments Gager: There is much to be said for Gagers claim that Pauls seemingly negative statements about Torah and circumcision stem from Pauls attempt to counter the program of missionary competitors who were trying to Judaize his gentile converts. But Jipp is right to insist that there is a problem with the Paul within Judaism school who fail to reckon with the shared anthropological problem facing Jews and Greek, namely, sin and its consequences. Jipp adds: Within Romans Paul speaks of both Jews and Greeks to be under sins (Rom. 3:9b). The problem is anthropological, as Paul presents a list of scriptural quotations that speak of Gods judgment upon all people (3:10a) for giving their body to injustice and wickedness (Rom. 3:10-18). What is surprising about Pauls argument is that most of the biblical texts in their original context make a distinction between the righteous and unrighteous. But Paul doesnotuse the scriptural texts to establish a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous; rather, as the heading to the catena makes clear, all of humanity is unrighteous (Rom. 3:10). And the conclusion to which Paul is driving are universal in scope: the entire world and all flesh is accountable to God (Rom. 3:19-20). This would seem to indicate that the revelation of Gods righteousness in Romans 3:21-31 is addressing a Jewish problem as well as a Gentile problem.

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Conservative Judaism Extends A Hand To Interfaith Families – Forward

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavies research, analysis and essay on officiating at an interfaith wedding is interesting. It is clear that his proposal comes from a place of thoughtfulness and love of Judaism, the Jewish people and those connected to them. Rabbi Lau-Lavie, like all of us, is struggling with our generations most complex problem: how do we navigate a radically inclusive society in an authentically Jewish and dynamic way? I have great respect for Rabbi Lau-Lavie and am curious to see how his experiment develops as he seeks to strengthen the relationships of non-Jewish partners to the Jewish community. Will the institutions of Conservative Judaism embrace this approach? I can only speak for USCJ, which is the network of nearly 600 Conservative Jewish communities across North America our role is to strengthen communities, not to make halakhic decisions on behalf of the Conservative movement. We believe a range of viewpoints and backgrounds religious, racial, ethnic, sexual, socio-political strengthens us all and will continue to partner with kehillot in our network, and others in the movement, to ensure we demonstrate what an authentic and dynamic Judaism looks like. Rabbi Steven C. Wernick serves as the chief executive officer of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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The Dance of Judaism and Science: Einstein and Beyond – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: wiki Religion without science is Blind, Science without Religion is lame Albert Einstein This observation by Einstein both captures quintessential insights as well as dispelling core misconceptions of the relationship between religion and science. There are apparent needs which religion addresses but not without a seeming conflict with scientific thinking as it is commonly understood. These relate to the needs for primarily security in the universe or plainly our own mortality as well as the need to find meaning in our lives. Religion provides some comforting answers, but finds itself challenged by many respected individuals armed with the cool light of reasoned thought within the world of science. How can we reconcile scientific understanding with the wide gap found in the biblical accounts all familiar to us? Firstly, I believe one obstacle is an exclusive literal interpretation of the Torah (only peshat). If we take the bible strictly on a literal level we find that we must reconcile such prospects as the age of the earth, creation period and Noah ark dimensions and content with the bald opposing facts of science. However our tradition through other interpretive avenues found in Talmud and Kabbalah allow at least 3 additional ways of looking at matters in additional to literal namely derash, remez and sod, enabling us not shackled to such a devastating literal reading. These involve at times metaphorical interpretations guided however by rules and systematic approaches considering context and relationships. Derash deals with inferential interpretations, Remez with suggestive clues and sod with mystically driven interpretations. Our religion teaches that creation provides order in nature, something that science requires in immeasurable degree. Genesis spells out an order and Job, Kohelet and the Psalms magnificently describe and glorify it. Take any such content as Psalm 96: Praise God, sun, and moon, all shining stars. Let them all praise Hashems glory at whose command they were created. At whose decree they endure forever and by whose laws nature abides. Appreciating creation is one core way of appreciating Gods goodness, something we are encouraged throughout our religious teachings and here again science arrives at the scene. Einstein described himself as a believer in Spinozas God and when we read Spinoza we find he speaks of a natura naturans or a creative energy beyond the physical driving the magnificent constant uniform and permanently established principles throughout the universe covering every moment. This certainly is goodness of a high order as Einstein recognizes and without some understanding our appreciation is limited and somewhat short of fullness. This goodness is further evidenced by Gerald Schroeders extension of this reasoning to life forms where he cites the probabilities of life forms or ingredients demonstrating it would require a universe much more ancient than our own to produce the kind of compounds and combinations that life demand. For example it require 90,000 times the number of carbon atoms to produce the forms needed or looking another way 90.000 time the age of universe to produce. Moreover other scientists and mathematicians support this defiance of the odds required by a random universe, particularly George Wald, Nobel Laurette in uncovering the complex evolution of the retina, asserting and that underlying mind and intelligence was somehow involved but the time durations taking place were not sufficient to deliver these results on a random basis. . Time itself is often claimed to be the plot hero especially in this development but here is rejected. Roger Penrose the world famous mathematician and physicist , joint discoverer of black hole, computes a one in 10 ^123 probability for life through random processes is another Moreover the time for creation conventionally expressed as 5 1/2 days (to Adam) is reconciled well by Schroeder with the accepted 13.8 billion years when we consider relativistic considerations. . According to Einstein relativity asserts Schroeder there is a time dilation that occurs when heavy gravitational forces are involved and reflected in the expansion rate of the universe. Taking this into consideration in general relativity considerations Schroeder demonstrates we are faced with a factor of a million million or trillion in expansion dilation itself. When we consider the time differential applied to the 5 1/2 days to human creation by Einsteins relativity we find 5 1/2 days at the core of the universe when multiplied by the dilation factor of a trillion yields about 14 billion years from the time of creation which is well within a reasonable 1 % margin of uncertainty. Further the process itself by which this happens is amplified by Nachmanides in his anticipation of the big Bang and universe expansion by analyzing the introductory words of genesis and the use of the Hebrew term tohu vavou alluding to primordial substance condensed. The Rambam himself asserts that Judaism consistently respects the findings of science without abandoning its truth in his Guide (2:8) and reference to Talmudic sources (Pesahim 94 b) However there is something still missing which Einstein does not completely capture. It is true that there is a goodness that is within this appreciation but is it enough provide us the rich meaning and answers we seek in life? Einsteins or Spinoza God is a totally impersonal God not intervening in human affairs. Nonetheless a form of intuition may be brought to bear that Einstein himself did not at all neglect in the world of science. In his theory about gravitation comparing it to acceleration this was evident and his use of conceptual simplicity in his thought process another example. The transition of such instances as Gods goodness here to that of human affairs is another example of something Gerald Schroeder identifies and amplifies through his intuitive sense. The suggestion that such goodness is extended is also linked by Schroeder by examining the connection between consciousness and matter or between wisdom and the physical. Schroeder expresses this connection by appeal to suggestive opening biblical language of Torah when precisely understood: With wisdom God created heaven and earth. Kabballah here itself recognizes the central role of intuition through the notion of chuckmah connoting a deeper wisdom in a flash (second sefaroit) while binah used in conjunction with it connotes a kind of induction and deduction inherent in day to day science. In this connection particularly the intuition aspect the observation of Blaise Pascal the 17 the century mathematician who laid the foundation for modern probability theory may be relevantly noted. When Louis the 14 confronted him and inquired as the best evidence of a miracle or intervention of God in human affairs he replied why the survival of the Jewish people. Pascals the founder of probability theorys intuitive sense of probability considerations here led him to this mind boggling assertion. We find the same sentiment in the Talmud where it is asserted, The continued existence of the Jewish people is proof of Gods providence. (Talmud Balvi Yoma, 69 b). When we look again at Einstein we find his intuitions operates against a background of experience or empirical input. It is not operative in a vacuum. Einstein was a great admirer of the philosopher David Hume who emphasized time and time again that causation can take many sided directions without there being any necessity in the outcome. This, moreover, could in many cases land us in a universe with strange happenings. We must therefore be steered by experience and not allow ourselves to intuit too much and exceed experience. We are often confronted with Darwin theory as a case against religion. However it may be noted that once again we must consider the various interpretive approaches that our religion offers. Moreover interestingly Darwin harbored a sense that the design aspects of his theory could not have arisen if left to the laws of randomness with the law of natural selection being the driving force. In the standard account of utilization of the the theory time is depicted as the hero of the plot in accounting for the development of life form. However here again the unlikelihood emerging in the time allowed is mirrored in Darwins own remarks the concerning complexities of life involved. Significantly a close examination of his views on the matter contained no less than a clear endorsement of something more when asserting that There is grandeur of life with its several powers breathed by God into a few forms or even one this is right from his Origins where he invokes the word creator 9 times and God twice. The same acts of enlightened intuition that has guided Einstein, Spinoza, Penrose, and Darwin are at the disposal of all of us (less perhaps the exact math) in the many personal worlds we all inhabit. I invite the reader to think about that personal dimension in his/her own life connecting himself/herself with the cosmos gifted by the Creator.

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed


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