‘Jewish tradition and Halacha have become stagnant’

Many consider Nathan Lopes Cardozo a rabbi for the new millennium. He pulls no punches in telling ‘Metro’ how Judaism and the rabbinic establishment can begin to respond to the current reality, with a ‘completely different type of Halacha’ for the State of Israel’s unique needs

• By SHOSHANNA KEATS-JASKOLL   Originally published in In Jerusalem Sept 15, 2017

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo has an unusual background for a rabbi. Perhaps that is why his thinking is so different from that of other rabbis, and why he can say the things he says. Or perhaps other rabbis feel similarly, but do not have the confidence or fearlessness that is so evident when Cardozo speaks.

Whatever the reason, his belief in the justice of Judaism, the morality with which we are charged, and the capacity we have to resolve the seemingly unresolvable gives hope that the Judaism and ethics we hold so dear can in fact work together to produce the society that many of us want to see.

Cardozo grew up in Holland. His father was a secular Jew of Portuguese-Jewish origin; his mother was a Christian who had always felt at home in the Jewish community, which had taken her in when she was orphaned.

Continue reading

Nathan Englander writes that he remembers every penny thrown at him. He recalls a number of childhood instances of anti-Semitism, and speaks with pride about how this has all changed and anti-Semitism is a thing of the past, with kosher food served at ball games, and overtly Jewish kids not remotely worried about being harassed, even when rooting for the wrong team. He then laments that the events in Charlottesville have, in one fell swoop, erased the progress made in tolerance for Jews.

And, I have to say… huh? Not only did anti-Semitism never disappear, but it’s morphed into something far more insidious and thus dangerous.

Continue reading

I’ve always been jealous of those who were able to directly impact people’s lives for the better. Lawyers who petition the court for people’s civil rights, religious court advocates who work to free agunot, religious court judges who facilitate a divorce with a bit less pain, and rabbis who officiate marriages and conversions. So, when Rabbi Chuck Davidson asked for volunteers to be balaniot (mikveh attendants) for a conversion that he was conducting, I jumped at the chance.

Rabbi Davidson has been promoting Orthodox conversion in Israel outside of the Chief Rabbinate for nearly a decade. He converts those who are fed up with the Rabbinate’s difficult and drawn-out conversion procedure, those who don’t want to be affiliated with the Rabbinate for political reasons, or those who want a friendlier yet still halachic conversion. He also helps people from other countries convert outside of centralized frameworks under the control of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

To date, he’s helped hundreds of men and women join the Jewish people.

Continue reading

Regarding the article thing about woman [sic] and breast cancer, that’s a sobering statistic. Of course it has nothing to do with what I wrote.

In his Mishpacha article, Sruli Besser reflects on his experience on “the other side of the mechitza” during his daughter’s Bais Yaakov graduation. Among the many rebuttals of his piece, which praises Jewish women for being pious and suffering subpar conditions in silence, several people noted that Haredi society’s negligence of women’s needs leads, among other things, to higher rates of breast cancer deaths in the community. According to Israeli studies, Haredi women die 30% more often from breast cancer than women in the general population.

Besser insists this has nothing to do with his jolting experience of what it’s like to be on the women’s side of the mechitza.

But it has everything to do with it.

Continue reading