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February 2006 Archives

The Reconstructionist movement was never supposed to be one. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism in the 1920’s, actually considered himself a Conservative Jew and taught at that movement’s seminary for more than fifty years. (He was also a […]

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Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, sees the collapse of social groupings, from fraternal organizations to bowling leagues, as symptomatic of the modern desire to relate on one’s own terms and schedule with like-minded and demographically similar people. What is […]

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You know something is happening to Jewish denominations when Orthodox Jews (who pray in gender-segregated prayer services) are calling women up to the Torah for honors (aliyot), while many Conservative congregations that have mixed seating still prohibit women from being […]

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Should Judaism proselytize? No. Should it be more welcoming? Yes. For years most rabbis instinctly followed the Talmudic norm that one should push away converts warning them about the difficulties of becoming Jewish. God knows how many conversions stopped with […]

The Reform Movement’s call to convert non-Jews is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, non-Jews are increasingly being told that they are welcome in liberal congregations and on the other their non-Jewish identity is devalued as they receive the […]

When Sex in the City’s Charlotte is rebuffed by the rabbi in her attempts to begin conversion training, series writers evoked the Jewish tradition that potential converts be turned away three times to test their sincerity. There was good reason […]

It was insensitive and inappropriate for the Danish and Norwegian press to print political cartoons that were disrespectful of Muhammad, in particular, and stereotypical of Muslims, in general. We Jews know how painful, and dangerous, such images can be, especially […]

The behavior of Muslims rioting in Damascus over cartoons depicting Muhammad as a terrorist only reinforces the public perception that radical Islam is a danger to humanity. Moreover, sadly, it makes Muslims literally into caricatures of themselves. The rioters’ actions […]

I would be more sympathetic to Muslims’ anger at the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad if it were not accompanied by rampant violence and threats, and if it weren’t being so cynically and opportunistically manipulated by Islamic leaders for […]

Many American Jews do not feel as connected to Israel as they once did, or as Jews living in many other parts of the world do. Israel is far away, perceived as scary, and speaks a language–Hebrew–which is, sadly, Greek […]

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