2009-2010


 

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Invisible People: We Have The Power to Make Them Visible. The Jeiwsh Week. 31 December 2010.

Having moved between countries and cities throughout my childhood, I recall often standing alone at recess feeling as if I was invisible. In a very small way, I feel like I can relate to the hundreds of people feeling the powerlessness of invisibility in a society that does not see them. Read more…

 

Rosenstock, Natasha. Hazon Conference Focuses On Food And Torah. The Jewish Press. 24 December 2010.

A rabbi, a nun, and a UN official walk into Hazon. No, it isn’t the start of a joke. Hazon is an increasingly visible Jewish en- vironmental organization that recently hosted and co-sponsored the Faith in Food gathering run by the Alliance of Religions and Conser- vation. Its Food Conference, held earlier this month in Falls Village, Connecticut, brought together food activists from every corner of the Jewish community and every area of food production, consumption and activism. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Casino Jack: Are We Trapped in Money Worship. The Jewish Week. 23 December 2010.

Watching “Casino Jack” on its opening weekend was the very first time I ever felt embarrassment for wearing a kippa in a movie theatre. When Jack Abramoff, played by Kevin Spacey, sponsored kosher restaurants and a yeshiva with dirty money, the woman sitting next to me let out a disgusted “My G-d!” I shrunk in my seat. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A Jewish Vision for 2025. The Jewish Week. 17 December 2010.

What do we hope the American Jewish community will look like in 2025? No one knows what the coming years actually have in store for the Jewish community but we can at least attempt to outline a vision for what our future can entail with focused and vigorous efforts. Before we discuss the mechanics of accomplishing our collective dreams -hundreds of leaders, thinkers, and organizations would need to do that work in very different ways-perhaps we can at least advance open conversations of where we, as the empowered and engaged in the Jewish community, are looking to go. Read more…

 

Weiss, Ari. A history of the Jewish people in 30 objects. The JC.com. 16 December 2010.

There seems no connection between a smart phone and one of the world’s oldest religions. What the iPhone signifies, however, says something deep about how Judaism will be practised and lived this century. The iPhone is about creating innovative ways of obtaining access to personalised information. Jews are increasingly thinking about Judaism not as peoplehood (“I’m Jewish because I was born Jewish”) but as identity (“I am a social justice Jew”). As opposed to peoplehood, identity is dynamic; one seeks and searches for information about their identity. Like the iPhone, to be successful, identity needs access to personalised information.Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. The Cost of a Sheitel: Chillul Hashem in People’s Court. Vos Iz Neias. 9 December 2010.

We’ll all be asked 6 questions in shamayyim (Shabbos 31a). The very first question is, “Were you honest in business?” To be financially dishonest is the ultimate rejection of Hashem and divrei Chazal. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. The Calling. The Jewish Week. 3 December 2010.

A calling is like love. Anyone who has been in love knows what it feels like. But one who has never been in love might question whether love even exists since the concept can be totally abstract. So too with personal purpose: one must feel it to know it. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Creatures in the Nation-State. Ideals. 19 November 2010.

In what way are humans and animals distinct? Throughout history, arguments have been made on various grounds including: reason, emotional capacity, language, moral intuition, freedom of will, physical capabilities, and the ability to create sustainable social systems. If humans are created in the image of God, then there must be something unique about our essence. However, with time, each of the above proposals for human uniqueness has been exposed to have flaws. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Post-modern Jewish Identity. The Jewish Week. 17 November 2010.

While packing for a trip to Ghana eight years ago, numerous observant Jews dissuaded me, arguing I could not volunteer abroad and maintain full, authentic observance. I knew that I had multiple identities and this trip gave me no pause. Since then I have worked in ten countries learning that I can be an observant Jew and a global citizen. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Who is a Jewish Hero? The Jewish Week. 5 November 2010.

Historically, heroes are those who have risked their lives as sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. What distinguishes a Jewish hero? Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A Jewish Imperative to live in the Diaspora? The Jewish Week. 15 October 2010.

Living in caravans in a small settlement town during my years learning in Israel, my dream was always to settle the land. As a religious Zionist, I feel that living in Israel is a tremendous and miraculous opportunity, and all Jews can and must consider making this life transition as we are all very familiar with the halakhic obligation ofyishuv ha’aretz, the religious obligation to settle the Land of Israel. I would like to suggest, however, that in addition to this well-known imperative, there is also a crucial duty to reside in the Diaspora. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A reflection on ethical consumption. The Jewish Week. 21 September 2010.

Each fall after the High Holy Days have passed, the Jewish people move from comfortable homes into impermanent huts in backyards, driveways and on balconies for the festival of Sukkot. By eating and living in these fragile shelters, we train ourselves to temporarily subordinate our gashmiut (materialism) to the value of ruchaniut (spirituality). Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A Jewish Apology to the World. The Jewish Week. 7 September 2010.

At this time of year, it is common for many of us to pick up our phones and send emails apologizing to others for the ways that we wronged them in the past year. In addition to doing personal repentance (teshuva), Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, explained that we as a people (Knesset Yisrael) must also do teshuva. How do we, as a nation, ask the nations of the world for forgiveness? Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A God That Repents and Seeks Liberation. The Jewish Week. 23 August 2010.

The month of Elul is a time in which we pause and reflect upon our past year to engage in teshuva (repentance). I often ask myself: Are we alone in our attempts to change and grow? The Talmud suggests that God actually engages in teshuva (Megillah 29a). Can this radical suggestion that God grows, evolves, adapts with the times, and experiences redemption pass as an authentic Jewish theology? Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Kiddush Clubs: A Destructive Force? The Jewish Week. 13 August 2010.

A number of years back, I attended a kiddush club gathering in the basement of a synagogue. Right when the haftarah reading began, about 8 or 9 older men snuck out the back and in a small dark room in the basement opened multiple bottles of alcohol. They drank excessively until the sermon was over and then not so inconspicuously returned back for the final portion of the Shabbat morning service. Isn’t it fair for one to enjoy a nice scotch on their weekend, I wondered at the time? Read more..

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Orthodox Solidarity with Frum Homosexuals.” The Jewish Week. 04 August 2010.

Three leading Modern Orthodox rabbis and personal teachers of mine (Nathaniel Helfgot, Aryeh Klapper, and Yitzchak Blau) recently released a statement of principles on how Orthodoxy can and must relate to homosexuals in our community. This document, which has now been signed by over 100 Orthodox rabbis and educators, was carefully drafted over the course of 6 months and “revised based on the input from dozens oftalmidei chachamim, educators, communal rabbis, mental health professionals, and a number of individuals in our community who are homosexual in orientation.” Read more…

 

Hart, Ari. “Sustainable Food, Sustainable Faith” The Huffington Post. 28 July 2010.

The Talmud tells a story about a miracle man and mischief-maker named Honi: One day, Honi was walking down a road and saw an old man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man how many years it would take for the carob tree to bear fruit. The man replied “not for 70 years.” Honi asked “silly old man, do you really think you’ll live another 70 years to see its fruit?” The old man answered “I found this world planted with carob trees. As my ancestors planted for me, so I will plant for my descendants.” Read more…

 

Adler, Tali. “Social Justice and Orthodox Judaism” The Huffington Post. 24 July 2010.

Last summer, Jesse Rabinowitz, a 19-year-old Orthodox Jew, found himself in a hot, dusty Guatemalan village. A participant in a service-learning trip, Jesse built houses and learned about the lives of migrant workers and their families who stayed behind. At the end of his trip, Jesse made a promise to the people he met in the Guatemalan village: he would fight for the rights and dignity of their relatives in the United States. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. “Speak Truth to Power” The Jewish Week. 16 July 2010.

“Speak truth to power!” “Power is corrupt!” These popular mantras have fueled rhetorical wars among the classes for generations and are still voiced by many activists today. The disdain for power long predates the Marxists and the counter-culture activists; it enters the discourse of the early Rabbis in the Mishnah: “Love work, hate holding power, and do not seek to become intimate with the authorities,” (Pirke Avot 1:10). Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Take It to the Streets: Radical Judaism” Patheos. 12 July 2010.

Judaism experiences major threats right now: existential threats concerning Israel, anti-Semitism, assimilation, and apathy to name a few. Yet, aside from this typical list, I believe that the most imminent threat may be the privatization of religious meaning-making. The major challenge for the Jewish community in the 21st century will be whether or not we can translate our rich tradition and holy law to speak to the most pressing contemporary moral problems of our time. Read more…

 

Hart, Ari. “Judaism, Food and Social Justice” The Huffington Post. 12 July 2010.

Is there more to Jewish food than bagels and Manischewitz? The new Jewish Food Movement, a loose confederation of farmers, religious leaders, health and nutrition buffs, organizers, philosophers, activists, and consumers, says yes. Drawing on deep Jewish religious traditions and values, the movement is inspiring a new generation of Jews to lead lives of faith, justice, environmentalism, and community through their food. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Extravagant Jewish Celebrations – Have We Gone Too Far?” The Jewish Week. 09 July 2010.

$100,000 for a wedding? $20,000 for a bar mitzvah? When did extravagance and luxury become such primary Jewish values? I can’t remember the last simcha (Jewish celebration) I attended at which there were not tremendous amounts of wasted food, overly expensive napkins and bands large enough for a royal banquet.Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Discrimination Within Orthodoxy?” The Jewish Week. 25 June 2010.

Last week, thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews came out for mass protests across Israel. What was the contested issue: defense for Israel? Support of Agunot? Parents against child molestation? An end to violating business ethics and Israeli law? Not in the least bit. Sadly, this mass protest, the largest of its kind in years, was for the right to keep Sephardim out of Ashkenazi schools. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “The BP Oil Spill, Personal Responsibility and Jewish Law” The Jewish Week. 18 June 2010.

This April, an explosion on a BP drilling rig caused the largest oil spill to have ever hit the Gulf of Mexico, which has led to mass public damage and estimates of around 60,000 barrels continuing to flow out each day. There are ongoing debates over who is to blame for this massive spill and who is accountable for the cleanup: The US government? BP? Halliburton? Transocean? Many fingers have been pointed and responsibility needs to be taken, but amid the cacophony of corporate vs. government clashes, we can also learn personal lessons from this fiasco. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Reborn Again? A Jewish Moral Argument for Reincarnation?” The Jewish Week. 11 June 2010.

I fear death. I think about dying frequently and often try to make meaning of my mortality. Until recently, if someone had mentioned reincarnation to me, I would have dismissed it as a non-Jewish theological belief. I imagine most people share my visceral skepticism of the possibility of reincarnation and of its authentic Jewish roots, but perhaps we can temporarily suspend this disbelief and explore the idea together in search of a theology that can improve us. Perhaps, this thought experiment can even promote certain moral virtues. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Banin as Bonim: Does Jewish Traiditon Condone Child Labor?” The Jewish Week. 28 May 2010.

“Halakhah isn’t concerned about child labor.”

These words came from the mouth of a rabbi at a panel at YU, on which I was a panelist. Still shocked by his words, I remain glued to the daily news of the Rubashkin trial where Sholom Rubashkin is charged with 83 child labor violations after having been found employing 57 minors. Tears rolled down one child’s face as she sat in court a few days ago explaining, “I don’t want to remember it,” referring to her work at the Postville factory where she was exposed to harsh chemicals. Another child, a 15 year old, recently explained in court that she was de-feathering up to 45 chickens per minute on a 12-hour overnight shift. Their stories and the many others told by the child laborers brought tears to my eyes. We were enjoying kosher meat at the expense of children for years.Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “The Ethics of Innovation.” The Jewish Week. 14 May 2010.

Faster! Bigger! Newer! More in touch! The innovative sector of Jewish life is thriving as never before through grassroots movements, including hip prayer groups, Jewish farming, and religious community organizing that are emerging to meet an expanding range of Jewish needs. While I consider myself a social entrepreneur within this trend and am excited by its progress and creativity, I can’t help but raise ethical concerns and questions about this progress. Why do so many innovators find it necessary to disparage the larger Jewish establishments? Why is there often so much inter-generational and inter-cultural animosity in the Jewish marketplace of ideas? Can innovators collaborate and support the time-honored institutions and still be avant-garde? Read more…

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Witnessing Haiti: A Call for Transparency in Disaster Relief.” The Jewish Week. 29 April 2010.

When I was in Haiti last week, I was overwhelmed by the lack of accountability. One role that I played in Haiti was as a representative for the Disaster Accountability Project, an organization which calls for transparency and accountability in the allocation of donor and government funds to disaster relief projects. Organizations have received millions of dollars from governmental and philanthropic sources but have provided little to no transparency in the allocation of their funding to the daily human needs in the area of disaster. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Gold for Rubashkin or Guatemalans?” The Jewish Week. 15 April 2010.

I recently encountered signs posted around Brooklyn calling the community to rally to Rubashkin’s defense. Surprised and confused, I wondered how a small segment of the Jewish community was now holding values that were a complete anathema to me. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Jewish Feminism Beyond Ritual?” The Jewish Week. 8 April 2010

In the past half century, North American Jewish feminists have made leaps and bounds – across the various denominations – in ensuring the inclusion of women in ritual life, as well as in the elevation of women to positions of respect and leadership in the community.

More recently, Jewish feminism has grown to include more systemic issues such as advocacy for comprehensive forms of sex education and the plight of agunot. Read more…

 

Hart, Ari. “The justice in giving.” Haaretz. 23 March 2010.

How we make and spend our money is also central to Judaism year-round. Judaism’s concern with money is manifest most nobly through the eternal practice of tzedakah: using money to pursue tzedek – justice – by providing financial support to individuals and institutions in their struggles against hunger, poverty and injustice.Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “A Vision For Street Torah.” The Jewish Week. 22 March 2010

This column is a protest: its intent is to help prevent Jewish thought from being hijacked to the monastic serenity of quiet mountaintops where peace is chosen over truth and the self over the collective. Authentic religion today is lived in the hustle and bustle of the streets and it is here that Torah can be most transformative for 21st century Jews. As Moses is reassured (Deuteronomy 30:12), “Lo bishamayim hi” – The Torah is not in the heavens! Read more…

 

Brickman, Michal and Dani Passow. “A Jewish Call for Employee Rights.” The Jewish Press. 11 March 2010

Last May, our organization, Uri L’Tzedek, officially launched the Tav HaYosher – “ethical seal” – to certify kosher restaurants that uphold three basic employee rights: the right to fair time, the right to fair pay, and the right to a safe work environment. As an Orthodox organization guided by Torah and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression, we are motivated by the Torah’s prohibition “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is of your brothers, or of your strangers who are in your land inside your gates.” Read more…

 

Hart, Ari. “Right of Reply: Young US Jews – Self-centered and Individualistic?” The Jerusalem Post. 29 October 2009.

In his recent column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine (“The I’s have it,” October 16), Daniel Gordis informs us that out of all the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish world today, this is the real crisis: America’s “unfettered individualism” is corrupting the minds and souls of young American Jews, leading them to abandon Israel. Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “An Annual Call to Justice.” JTA. 7 September 2009.

“The Talmud teaches that the three types of shofar blasts heard on Rosh Hashanah represent three types of cries: the teruah (brief whimpering cries), the shevarim (groaning cries of medium length), and the tekia (long clear cries). Each cry represents a different kind of suffering in the world that we are called to internalize: the intermittent sob of those afflicted with disease and physical and mental suffering; the groan of an oppressed laborer in a cell, a factory and a field; and the plaintive keening of one entrenched in the deepest form of poverty in the developing world.” Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “The Shofar’s Cries Are Our Call to Action.” The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. September 2009.

“The Talmud teaches that the three types of shofar blasts heard on Rosh HaShanah represent three types of cries: the teruah (brief whimpering cries), the shevarim (groaning cries of medium length), and the tekia (long clear cries).” Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Jewish Wisdom, and a ‘Wise Latina.'” The Forward. 21 August 2009.

“With tears and gratitude, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the 111th United States Supreme Court justice – the third woman and the first Latino to make it to our high court.” Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “The Shame of Orthodoxy.” Haaretz. 2 August 2009.

“‘Is nothing sacred?’ read a newspaper headline last week that accompanied a photo of one of many Orthodox rabbis in New York and New Jersey who had been caught in a vast criminal scandal. Seeing the images of the rabbis allegedly involved in the laundering of tens of millions of dollars and in black-market trafficking of kidneys, I felt an all-too-familiar shame.” Read more…

 

Milgram, Rabbi Goldie. “What Is Next For Kosher Living?” The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. June 2009.

“Ideas about renewing Jewish ethics regarding kashrut (kosher products, their production and distribution) coming from the far left of Judaism have now made it almost all the way across the spectrum of the Jewish people. It has been several decades since Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (widely known as Reb Zalman, founder the phenomenon known as Jewish Renewal) began urging a return to Torah values regarding care for the planet, for workers and food-related health issues. Some in orthodoxy are now taking notice of these ideals.”Read more…