June 25, 2016

IT'S NOT A FAITH:

Who Is a Jew? Maybe Not Woman Converted by Esteemed New York Rabbi (ISABEL KERSHNER, JUNE 23, 2016, NY Times)

The rabbi, Haskel Lookstein, is one of the most respected Orthodox rabbis in New York, where he has led Manhattan's Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun for decades, after taking over the pulpit from his father. He recently received an honorary doctorate from Israel's Bar-Ilan University in recognition for what it called "the influential role he has played in deepening Jewish values and heritage among American Jewry."

The case raises the question of whether Ms. Trump -- who said in a Vogue magazine interview last year that she and her husband were "pretty observant," keeping kosher and the Jewish Sabbath -- would be accepted as Jewish herself in all quarters in Israel.

More broadly, it illustrates a growing divide between Israel's increasingly strict ultra-Orthodox religious establishment and many Jews abroad over the age-old question of "who is a Jew" that has complicated Israel's relationship with the diaspora for decades.

The Israeli rabbinate, which controls Jewish marriage and most Jewish burial sites in the country, does not recognize non-Orthodox streams of Judaism like Reform and Conservative, with which the majority of affiliated American Jews identify. In rejecting Rabbi Lookstein's conversion and those of others in similar positions, the rabbinical authorities now risk alienating Jews abroad who practice modern Orthodoxy according to Halakha, or Jewish law.\

"Ten years ago, if an Orthodox rabbi in good standing performed a conversion, it would have been a given that it would be accepted here," said Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder of Itim, an Israeli organization that has been critical of the rabbinate and is pressing the case of Rabbi Lookstein's American convert.

He added, "I'd say this is unprecedented in Jewish history, that one group of rabbis rejects another."


Ex-Orthodox Feel Pushed From Their Communities -- But Still Cherish Being Jewish (Ari FeldmanJune 23, 2016, Forward)

Many formerly ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox Jews who no longer hold the beliefs of their communities feel "pushed off the derech," yet still retain their sense of Jewish identity, a groundbreaking new study of the group has revealed.

A third of those surveyed have yet to physically leave their communities, and may maintain outward displays of religious observance while having "left" the community in their beliefs and private lives. When they do leave, over half the respondents reported feeling disconnected to any Jewish community, and nearly a quarter have trouble with dating, holding relationships, or finding a job.

The report surveyed 885 people who once identified (or currently reside in) Chasidic, Chabad, Yeshivish, Modern Orthodox, or other Orthodox communities. Many of these individuals now identify as Off The Derech, or OTD, and go to organized OTD Meetups or are members of OTD social media groups.

Other important factors cited by respondents included the treatment of women within ultra-religious communities and the widespread perception of contradictions, double standards, and hypocrisy. Contrary to widely held assumptions about those who leave Orthodox Judaism, only 2% of respondents cited the influence of the Internet or weak secular education as significant spurs to leaving .



Posted by at June 25, 2016 7:15 AM

  

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