A very special Torah reading, four students who studied Torah cantillation via Skype with Cantor SaraLee Shrell Fox, a teacher at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, reached a new milestone and read Torah for the very first time.
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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Israeli society is so religiously polarized that most people are forced to identify as religious or secular with little exposure to the myriad other ways one can be Jewish. TALI schools show that when given the opportunity to engage in pluralistic Jewish expression, students, teachers and parents are eager to take part in the diversity of Jewish experience.
On Friday, June 30th 350 women from around Israel gathered at Schechter for the 19th annual National Masorti Women’s Day of Study. A joint project of the Masorti Movement, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, and the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies, rabbis and lay educators volunteer their time to provide engaging learning opportunities around the theme of “Women Birthing and Nurturing Our Nation: History, Society & The Arts”
On May 29, 2018, 65 students walked the stage and received their M.A. degrees from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. Students concentrated in everything from chaplaincy and Jewish Art to Talmud and Contemporary Jewish Studies.
From May 8th through May 10th, Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin, President of The Schechter Institutes, was in Kiev together with Rabbi Mauricio Balter, Director General of Masorti Olami, and Gila Katz, long-time Director of Camp Ramah Yachad Ukraine and Pedagogic Supervisor of Midreshet Yerushalayim, Ukraine. They held three days of intensive meetings leading to better coordination of all our activities in Ukraine.
Congratulations to Scott Shay, longtime friend and supporter of TALI and Schechter, on the forthcoming publication of his new book, In Good Faith. This book explores the most common atheist critiques of the Bible and religion, incorporating Jewish, Christian, and Muslim voices.
Wow, what a day! So many ideas, so much interest, so many people! The conference devoted to the subject of relations between the State of Israel and North American Jewry dealt with a hot-button, current issue: why are there gaps in the education of children in the two largest centers of the Jewish people today? What is the demographic difference between the two centers and how does this affect religious, civil, political, social perceptions? Do diaspora Jews have the right to criticize Israel? If so, when? Does Israel need American Jews, or not? Most importantly, how can these gaps be bridged?
TALI textbooks are unique in Israel. They offer substantive Jewish content and engaging illustrations that embrace the true diversity of Israeli society – men and women of all different religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.