Why the RCA Are in Denial

Rafi Dover

For those of you who aren’t in as many ortho-fem facebook groups as me, and maybe haven’t seen what has happened this week, the RCA (the main accreditation body for Modern Orthodox Rabbis in North America, and a body that has strong links with Yeshiva University) issued a statement reiterating their opposition to women becoming members of the ‘Orthodox Rabbinate’.

The main argument that is used across the statement is that the acceptance of women would be ‘a violation of our mesorah (tradition)’. What has been said raises several points:

There is no Halakhic obstacle to overcome. The RCA, and particularly its leadership, are a group of extremely learned men, with rigorous smakhot from venerable institutions. If there was a halakhic argument to be made against stopping excluding women from the Rabbinate, it would have been made by them already. That they haven’t tells us that there isn’t one. Continue reading “Why the RCA Are in Denial”

A Home for All: On attitudes to homosexuality in BAUK

By Gideon Bratt

(To mark the shloshim of Shira Banki, a victim of the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade attack, and as a challenge to BAUK, I decided to write about something which has been talked about a lot, but not necessarily ‘on our terms’ and specific to our community/movement. This article does not aim to criticise past practices ‘for criticism’s sake’ but does assume that some criticism may be necessary. It also does not necessarily seek to give answers (though I do give some suggestions) but, rather, seeks to encourage the movement to be asking the difficult questions and suggesting ways to improve in the future.)

“Ben Zoma said: Who is honored? He who honours others.” (Pirkei Avot, 4:1)

This phrase is often cited as one of the sources for the concept of Kavod Habriyot –  human dignity – and establishes what should be a basic and obvious tenet of any religion or ethic: relating to the ‘other’ (whoever that may be) with a level of respect and human dignity that befits us as humankind ‘created in the image of God’.Continue reading “A Home for All: On attitudes to homosexuality in BAUK”

On the Streets of Jerusalem

Jojo Weiner

A few days ago in my comings and goings I found myself in the heart of the Hareidi neighbourhood of Me’ah She’arim. I’d done some shopping there and was on my way back to the army: trundling along the crowded pavement, bags flailing about, full IDF garb with all my pins and stripes intact of course. The weather had cooled down a little and I was rather enjoying the walk, when, quite suddenly, from around the corner came a middle-aged hareidi man who started bellowing at me, literrally screaming, at the top of his voice:

“תוריד את הכיפה! תוריד את הכיפה! פושע! אתה לא יהודי!”

(“Take off your kippah! Take off your kippah! Criminal! You’re not a Jew!”)Continue reading “On the Streets of Jerusalem”

A Parent’s Perspective

Lynne Dover

I owe Bnei Akiva an enormous debt of gratitude both personally and on behalf of my children. It has given us all so many wonderful opportunities, socially and educationally and memories that will last forever.

In the spirit of constructive criticism I have been moved to put pen to paper (OK, I know there is neither pen nor paper, just showing my age!). As some of you may know, we are a ‘Northern’ family viewing the goings on in London from a distance. It seems to me that the structure and management of London/UK Bnei Akiva needs to be examined and some changes made in order to move forward.Continue reading “A Parent’s Perspective”

Agreeing to disagree: A response to Rabbi Willig for Bnei Akiva

Sam Gross

A couple of weeks ago certain sectors of social media and Jewish news outlets exploded in response to an online parsha post by a Rosh Yeshiva of YU, Yeshiva University, a Rabbi Mordechai Willig. In his post (although it is absolutely recommended that you read what he said for yourself), Rabbi Willig expresses his opposition to a series of things – specifically focussing on gay marriage (specifically in the secular sphere) and female Rabbis. Rabbi Willig then goes on to associate these phenomena with Open Orthodoxy, the most progressive wing of Orthodox Judaism in America, which has far more readily adopted feminist and egalitarian ideals and practice.Continue reading “Agreeing to disagree: A response to Rabbi Willig for Bnei Akiva”

Why I Made Aliyah

Jonny Sherman

Exactly one year ago today, I took the plunge and made Aliyah. That flight into Ben Gurion was the culmination of a fairly long process for me, starting with generally disliking the heat, dust and Israeli pushy-ness when I went on Israel Machane, moving through to learning during my time on Torani to live with the heat, dust and Israeli pushy-ness, whilst appreciating the warmth and the welcoming nature behind Israel’s prickly exterior.

Then came the long years spent as a Boger in Bnei Akiva going on about Aliyah to anyone who would listen. Then I thought I might go in January ’15. Then I decided I might as well go July ’14. Then came the forms: Name – Jonathan Sherman, date of birth – 25/10/88, do you believe Jesus is the Messiah – errrmmm…no? Then came the interview at the Jewish Agency:Continue reading “Why I Made Aliyah”

Torani in Retrospect

Rafi Cohen

I have just returned from a year studying in Yeshivat HaKotel, and although the main part of the year was taken up by learning in Yeshivah, the Torani track of Hachshara from BAUK was a huge part of the year for me for many reasons. It added to my experiences and growth by many extra degrees and I believe I can speak for everyone who was there in the group when I say it made our year infinitely better.Continue reading “Torani in Retrospect”

Is Tanakh Relevant to Our Lives?

Rafi Dover

“So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has returned to her people and her gods. Go follow your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth replied, ‘Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your G-d my G-d. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus and more may the L-rd do to me if anything but death parts me from you.”    [Megillat Rut 1:15-17, JPS translation]

Over Shavuot, I remember it being remarked that Rut may well be the only book in Tanakh that passes the Bechdel Test. Continue reading “Is Tanakh Relevant to Our Lives?”