There’s an article on Israel Matzav discussing the troubling political atmosphere at Hebrew Union College, and it raises what I think is an interesting question. Should rabbis preach about political issues from the bimah? The answer to this question is, I believe, no. I believe this for a few reasons. First, the synagogue is a place for prayer and worship. If rabbis want to discuss political issues, they should do so outside the prayers. Secondly, I see a problem with the idea of rabbi as political leader. I’m only familiar with what goes on in more liberal synagogues, but I see this kind of political involvement as getting very close to a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Rabbis are supposed to be spiritual leaders, not political ones, and I don’t think the bimah is the place for political discussion. I would believe this way even if I happened to share the political views of my synagogue. I don’t. As a matter of fact, I think I’m the only one in attendance who would classify myself as conservative. For me, this creates issues, because I know that I’m going to be on the other side of whatever gets discussed, and since political discussions can become very heated, I think that kind of divisiveness should be kept on the sidelines. There’s mention in the linked piece of how the Torah supports what are considered liberal points of view, specifically the view that government is supposed to take care of its citizens. This is true, but only to a point. The Torah also supports some very conservative positions, and I don’t think it’s accurate to try to mold the Torah to our political views, because it does support views on either side of the proverbial isle. I also believe that if those of the liberal persuasion have a problem with clergy of the conservative persuasion preaching on issues from the pulpit, then they ought to take a page out of their own book and refrain from such preaching, or, if they are congregants, refrain from expecting their clergy to preach on said issues. I believe that social action/social justice is a very thin disguise for politics, and I also believe that the two should be separated, because people of very divergent political views can often believe in a socially just cause, for very different reasons. And I think that by confusing the two, the waters are muddied in a way they never should have been.

In conclusion: Keep prayer and politics separate, no matter which side you’re on, and I think the congregational prayer experience will be better for everybody.

This one definitely raises eyebrows. In a dramatic about-face for a movement that a generation ago embraced a Cold War nuclear shield against the Soviets, evangelical Christians are now
spreading the gospel of nuclear disarmament. Once again, politics is the new religion. Christianity is just the outer garment, so to speak. I suppose I could give these Christian leaders the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they’ve seen the error of their ways and so they now realize that it might not be such a good idea to pray for the world to be on the brink of man-induced destruction, but somehow I doubt that such a sign of good faith is warranted. After all, according to some of these people, Jesus likes to micro-manage, and wouldn’t take too kindly to the Iranians stealing his thunder by laying waste to Jerusalem and the Jews who haven’t converted to their flavor of Christianity before Armageddon gets started.
It’s a new school year, but an old fight is brewing in American classrooms. Teachers and administrators around the country are scratching their heads once again over the Pledge of Allegiance.

The courts have consistently ruled that students have the right not to recite the pledge in public schools. But now some First Amendment advocates are arguing that the law compels educators to inform kids at the beginning of school that the decision is hat the decision is entirely up to them as to whether or not they wish to recite the pledge. The original article doesn’t bring this up, but while some students have political concerns, there are others who have religious concerns, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, I think, but am not able to find any information on it, that reciting the pledge presents halachic (Jewish legal) issues, and possibly also Muslim legal issues as well. Given all this, I don’t see a problem with letting students and their parents know that reciting the pledge is optional, and I certainly don’t believe that any student should be humiliated for not reciting the pledge. Read the whole thing for the complete story.

It’s a new school year, but an old fight is brewing in American classrooms. Teachers and administrators around the country are scratching their heads once again over the Pledge of Allegiance.

The courts have consistently ruled that students have the right not to recite the pledge in public schools. But now some First Amendment advocates are arguing that the law compels educators to inform kids at the beginning of school that the decision is hat the decision is entirely up to them as to whether or not they wish to recite the pledge. The original article doesn’t bring this up, but while some students have political concerns, there are others who have religious concerns, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, I think, but am not able to find any information on it, that reciting the pledge presents halachic (Jewish legal) issues, and possibly also Muslim legal issues as well. Given all this, I don’t see a problem with letting students and their parents know that reciting the pledge is optional, and I certainly don’t believe that any student should be humiliated for not reciting the pledge. Read the whole thing for the complete story.

Mirrored from customerservant.com.

From the Planning to Plan Department: Just about everyone opposes President Obama’s planned closure of Gitmo, and even the members of his own party refused to grant the president the $80 million he asked for to close the facility, voting 90 to 6 to strip the requested funds from a war-spending bill. It’s pretty bad when even your allies desert you like that. Maybe this huge lack of support will convince the president to scrap this endeavor and move on to something else, perhaps something a bit more sensible. (Via).

From the Planning to Plan Department: Just about everyone opposes President Obama’s planned closure of Gitmo, and even the members of his own party refused to grant the president the $80 million he asked for to close the facility, voting 90 to 6 to strip the requested funds from a war-spending bill. It’s pretty bad when even your allies desert you like that. Maybe this huge lack of support will convince the president to scrap this endeavor and move on to something else, perhaps something a bit more sensible. (Via).

Mirrored from customerservant.com.

More of the idolatry which goes by the name of Americanism, this time from the left. On Friday, Newsweek’s editor, Evan Thomas, brought adulation over President Obama’s Cairo speech to a whole new level by declaring on MSNBC: “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above above the world, he’s sort of God.” And the really sad partt is that this sort of thing isn’t immediately declared sick. I’m still waiting for the President Obama holy cards and icons, and I hope that President Obama has enough sense to eschew this sort of worshipful praise. After all, he has an example to look to from his own scripture, in the story of Paul and Barnabas being declared Zeus and Hermes by the people of Lystra, (see Acts 14:11-18). I won’t hold my breath. (Via).

More of the idolatry which goes by the name of Americanism, this time from the left. On Friday, Newsweek’s editor, Evan Thomas, brought adulation over President Obama’s Cairo speech to a whole new level by declaring on MSNBC: “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above above the world, he’s sort of God.” And the really sad partt is that this sort of thing isn’t immediately declared sick. I’m still waiting for the President Obama holy cards and icons, and I hope that President Obama has enough sense to eschew this sort of worshipful praise. After all, he has an example to look to from his own scripture, in the story of Paul and Barnabas being declared Zeus and Hermes by the people of Lystra, (see Acts 14:11-18). I won’t hold my breath. (Via).

Mirrored from customerservant.com.

Here’s another anti-tech alert. Why doesn’t this surprise me?

Rabbinic Conversion Court judges are more likely to reject prospective converts who were partially trained via the Internet, a senior source in the Conversion Authority said Sunday.
According to the source, about 70% of prospective converts who are interviewed by the conversion court are accepted. However, among prospective converts who were trained in part via the Internet, only about half are accepted, said the source.
The issue of conversions comes to the forefront ahead of Shavuot, which is celebrated with the reading of the biblical story of Ruth, the archetypical convert to Judaism.

According to the above-referenced conversion court source, the court can tell the difference between people who study partially using the internet, and those who study using only books and a face-to-face teacher. I maintain, however, that this isn’t a matter of the internet producing lower-quality students, or the internet providing lower-quality material, but students either not utilizing it properly, or students finding alternative oppinions of rabbis who don’t necessarily hold like the rabbis sitting on the conversion panel, and thus these students are disqualified. During my conversion studies in 1999/2000, if it hadn’t been for the internet, I would have never gotten the information I needed. I devoured JewFaq, and to this day I use it as a partial reference, along with Project Genesis and Aish Hatorah due to the almost complete inavailability of seforim in any sort of accessible format. And until this complete inavailability is changed, I’ll continue to do so, or I’ll have to buy print seforim and then scan them, correct the mistakes that creep in through OCR, and then, finally, read it. So in my eyes, this annti-tech decree strikes me as a luddite one at best.
Hat-tip.

Here’s another anti-tech alert. Why doesn’t this surprise me?

Rabbinic Conversion Court judges are more likely to reject prospective converts who were partially trained via the Internet, a senior source in the Conversion Authority said Sunday.
According to the source, about 70% of prospective converts who are interviewed by the conversion court are accepted. However, among prospective converts who were trained in part via the Internet, only about half are accepted, said the source.
The issue of conversions comes to the forefront ahead of Shavuot, which is celebrated with the reading of the biblical story of Ruth, the archetypical convert to Judaism.

According to the above-referenced conversion court source, the court can tell the difference between people who study partially using the internet, and those who study using only books and a face-to-face teacher. I maintain, however, that this isn’t a matter of the internet producing lower-quality students, or the internet providing lower-quality material, but students either not utilizing it properly, or students finding alternative oppinions of rabbis who don’t necessarily hold like the rabbis sitting on the conversion panel, and thus these students are disqualified. During my conversion studies in 1999/2000, if it hadn’t been for the internet, I would have never gotten the information I needed. I devoured JewFaq, and to this day I use it as a partial reference, along with Project Genesis and Aish Hatorah due to the almost complete inavailability of seforim in any sort of accessible format. And until this complete inavailability is changed, I’ll continue to do so, or I’ll have to buy print seforim and then scan them, correct the mistakes that creep in through OCR, and then, finally, read it. So in my eyes, this annti-tech decree strikes me as a luddite one at best.
Hat-tip.

Mirrored from customerservant.com.