What happens on the streets of Jerusalem during Selichot? Dr. Einat Ramon

Dr. Ramon describes the beautiful scene that takes place at the Western Wall, the Kotel, in the early pre-dawn hours during the month of Elul. She talks with yearning and wonder that will make you want to close your eyes and join her in the next Selichot prayer.

How did Mount Herzl Get its Name? Professor Doron Bar on Herzl's Final Resting Place

In August 1949, Theodore Herzl’s remains were moved from Vienna to the newly established State of Israel. Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, tells the story of how Jerusalem was given the honor of reinterring Herzl and how all of Israel paid tribute to the founder of Zionism by sending small bags of dirt from their communities around the country to be included in the grave. How else was Herzl honored? 

Breaking News: Schechter Rabbi Dubi Hayoun Detained for Wedding Officiation

Rabbi Dubi Hayoun, director of Midreshet Yerushalayim and a Schechter Rabbinical Seminary (SRS) graduate, was detained by Israeli police in Haifa this morning at 5:30am. Crime committed? Conducting a wedding according to the laws of Moses and Israel – in Israel. Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of SRS, stated: “The Rabbinical Seminary ordains Masorti/Conservative rabbis who will officiate at weddings in Israel even though it is “forbidden according to the law.” According to the law, a wedding must be officiated by the chief rabbinate and anyone who does not want to register with a religious council is at risk. The paradox is that in order to accuse someone of having a wedding outside the rabbinate, they have to admit that what we did was indeed a wedding. And if they do not recognize our weddings then on what is this accusation based?”

Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin, President of the Schechter Institutes issued this statement: “It is ironic that Rabbi Hayoun was brought in for questioning right before Tisha B’av, which commemorates among other events the destruction of the Second Temple which was destroyed because of sinat hinam, senseless hatred. Indeed, Rabbi Hayoun will be speaking today at the President’s house about pluralism and tolerance in honor of Tisha B’av!

 The Chief Rabbinate of Haifa refused to perform the wedding of a young couple because the young woman was a “safek mamzeret,” might have been conceived by a man other than her father.

 After the rabbinate refused to perform the wedding, the couple came to Rabbi Hayoun. After a thorough investigation during the course of one week, he concluded that the problem was invented by her father who wanted revenge against her mother. A year and a half after Rabbi Hayoun performed the halakhic wedding, the Chief Rabbinate of Haifa came to the exact same conclusion and issued an official document that the young woman may marry! In other words, It took them 18 months to conclude what Rabbi Hayoun concluded in one week! And to top off their incompetence, they asked the police to arrest Rabbi Hayoun!

This is exactly why the Marriage and Divorce Law of 1953 must be changed. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is very strict, very slow, and very insensitive to the needs of the young couples whom they are supposed to serve. This is why 25% of young couples now get civil licenses abroad; most of them are “kosher” in the eyes of the Rabbinate, but they refuse to be married there. This is also why many Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis now perform hundreds of marriages every year, which are not recognized by the Rabbinate and by the State of Israel. These young couples would rather have a meaningful ceremony with a rabbi on their wavelength than by a rabbi in a black coat who represents a coercive bureaucracy.

The bad news is that this incident will further harm Israel-Diaspora relations. The good news is that it will lead to hundreds of additional couples who will come to Rabbi Dubi Hayoun and other Conservative, Reform and Orthodox rabbis in order to avoid the Chief Rabbinate. It is my hope and prayer that the 1953 law will be changed and that couples will be able to marry according to their religious beliefs.”

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Tisha B’Av and the Mourning and Survival Patterns of Jews

As a modern-day researcher of Jewish thought, I especially love the personal descriptions that Jewish philosophers insert parenthetically into their Jewish philosophical text. These descriptions allow us to learn about central customs in Jewish community life, as well as the educational values and philosophical insights that were etched into the Jewish consciousness of the philosopher in question.