Viewing entries tagged
Times of Israel

Operation Last Chance -Efraim Zuroff

“There is a greater consciousness of the Holocaust in Western society than ever before, and Holocaust education can help in the fight against xenophobia and racism.”

Who is a Jew?

Found this article by Rabbi Michael Chernick interesting. He was a professor at Hebrew Union College, holds a doctorate from YU, and is based in Teaneck, New Jersey! This article in his blog at the Times of Israel addresses the Chief rabbinate and diaspora Jews, and the question: who is a Jew? His bio says he regards himself as a “Jew for all Jews.” :)

Full article:

"Since Orthodox rules are in force for Israelis who wish to marry, a person’s choice of spouse may be limited. For example, if a kohen wants to marry a convert or divorcee, he will find his way blocked. Such marriages are not permitted according to traditional Jewish law, which is what the Chief Rabbinate follows. The Rabbinate also maintains a database of who may or may not marry a fellow Jew for easy reference, should any of those people apply to the office for marriage."

"Essentially, such a monopoly implies that Israel recognizes Orthodox Judaism as the only legitimate form of Jewish religious expression. That being the case, the message delivered by Israel to Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jews and their rabbis is that they practice a second-class form of Judaism, or perhaps no Judaism at all. Yet the majority of affiliated Jews in America belong to one or another of these movements."

Reform Jews in America

After the Pew Center's 2013 study of American Jewry, the Times of Israel published an interesting fact sheet about Reform Jews in America. I underwent a Reform conversion before my Orthodox conversion, and my husband is Jewish, so numbers about intermarriage and conversion tend to interest me. Here are some points I wanted to share:

One in three American Jews identifies as Reform; the movement constitutes America’s largest Jewish religious denomination.

Half of all married Reform Jews have non-Jewish spouses. The movement has moved away from discouraging intermarriage and has focused instead on welcoming intermarried families.

Every year, at least 800-900 people undergo Reform conversions to Judaism.

9 percent of all Reform Jews were raised as non-Jews.

About 10,000 campers attend the Reform movement’s 15 summer camps!

About half of new Reform rabbis are women! The gender breakdown of newly ordained Reform rabbis is about 50-50 these days, according to HUC. 

Read the article in the Times of Israel here:

Orthodox in Madagascar?

The Jewish diaspora is everywhere! A new Jewish community has sprung up with 121 Orthodox conversions in remote Madagascar. Read the article here, in the Times of Israel.

According to the article, many of the islanders who converted believe and that their founders were seafaring members of the ten Lost Tribes, meaning that their ancestry is of Israelite origin. 

"Even Prince Ndriana Rabarioelina, a descendant of the Merina monarchy of Madagascar, proudly asserts Jewish ancestry. He told JTA that up to 80 percent of Malagasies can claim Jewish roots. He asserts that portions of the tablets, Moses’s rod and a copy of the Book of Daniel are safeguarded by descendants of Levites in the Vatamasina-Vohipeno region of Madagascar."