Dec 30, 2011


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This isn't "only" about gender-harassment. It is about a fundamentalism that has pervaded the mindset of a sub-community within Israel that has yet to be truly attended to by the government. The national response cannot be short-lived, because this world-view is deeply rooted and will not be answered within one media-cycle.
-Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Dec. 30, 2011

Dec 29, 2011

Forward.com: "Day Schools Stuck in Neutral: Enrollment Numbers Grow, But Only Among Ultra-Orthodox"

Forward.com: "Day Schools Stuck in Neutral"

Enrollment Numbers Grow, But Only Among Ultra-Orthodox

Declining Numbers: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits Jewish day school students. Despite a massive push, enrollment is down at Jewish schools, except for those serving the ultra-Orthodox.
GETTY IMAGES
Declining Numbers: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits Jewish day school students. Despite a massive push, enrollment is down at Jewish schools, except for those serving the ultra-Orthodox.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published December 29, 2011, issue of January 06, 2012.

The month of December brought some bad news for Jewish day school advocates. According to the Avi Chai Foundation, which tracks these things, day school enrollment saw a "modest decline" of about 1.4% in the 2011-12 school year, compared with the year before.

The sharpest decline was reported among the Solomon Schechter schools of Conservative Judaism, which experienced a 3.8% drop, from 11,786 students nationwide in 2010 to 11,338 this year. They were followed by so-called Community (non-denominational and/or federation-sponsored) schools, which fell 2.5%, and Modern Orthodox schools, which fell 1.6%. Centrist Orthodox schools, which are similar to Modern Orthodox but segregate classes by gender, actually gained 1.7%.

The numbers offer several useful insights. Perhaps the most useful, though hardly the insight the authors intended, is how easily numbers can mislead. Comparing this year with last, we find a slight drop in day school enrollment, presumably due to the economy. When we dig a little deeper, though, we'll find a significant decline in non-Orthodox enrollment, while overall enrollment soars due to an ongoing Orthodox baby boom.

Looking deeper still, we find some eye-popping details. Most dramatic: the calamitous drop in Schechter school enrollment. In 1998, the year Avi Chai first took attendance, Schechter enrollment totaled 17,563 students in 63 schools nationwide. This year, as noted, enrollment is just 11,338 students in 43 schools. That's a 35% decline.

The main reason, several Schechter officials told me, is an exodus of families and whole schools to a network of non-denominational community schools with fewer religious rules. Community-school enrollment rose from 14,849 in 75 schools in 1998 to 19,417 in 91 schools this year. A smaller number may have left for Hebrew charter schools in New York and South Florida.

We'll also find an explosive growth in ultra-Orthodox or Haredi school enrollment, including both Hasidic and non-Hasidic (that is, misnaged or "yeshivish" black hat) schools, reflecting high birthrates. Modern Orthodox schools, by contrast, are essentially holding their own.

Avi Chai compiles its numbers by a census — literally contacting every day school in America and asking for numbers, grade by grade. It's probably the most accurate source of American Jewish demographic information, though limited in range. However, the full census is only conducted every five years. The last one was in 2008.

The figures released this past December are based on a partial census that's conducted annually between full headcounts. The partial tally includes only the five most modern school groupings: the four mentioned above (two Modern Orthodox, two non-Orthodox) plus the much smaller Reform day schools (total enrollment 4,300). Among those not included are the two Haredi groupings, Hasidic and Yeshivish, which account for more than half of all America's Jewish day school students.



Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/148762/#ixzz1hx8i3u79
 
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Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Dec 28, 2011

A Response to "Bishops say rules on gay parents limit freedom of religion"

(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The test of a religion is its ability to speak its truth without denying another's. This is a matter of civil rights which are the very foundation of the Catholic Church's place in our democracy. The decision to jettison Catholic Charities' adoption services rather than comply with US nondiscrimination laws is a statement of principle. But I find the decision repugnant.

Dec 26, 2011

The Forward's Sisterhood Blog: "The 8-Year-Old Girl Who Woke Up Israel"

The Forward's Sisterhood Blog: "The 8-Year-Old Girl Who Woke Up Israel"

By Allison Kaplan Sommer


Israel has a new and unlikely national heroine. She is a small blond bespectacled Orthodox 8-year-old girl, the daughter of American immigrants who live in Beit Shemesh. Her name is Na'ama Margolese and she was featured in a news broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 about the ongoing Haredi harassment of the girls who attend the Orot Banot School, and about the problem of extreme Haredi control in Beit Shemesh in general.

Naama spoke on camera of her fears while walking the short distance from her home to her school, after numerous occasions when she was cursed at and even once spit on by the Haredi demonstrators. Israeli viewers watched as her mother, Hadassah, holding her hand, tried to convince her to make the short walk as she cried, whined and protested; it's a ritual they go through every school day.

To the residents of Beit Shemesh (and to readers of The Sisterhood) the story of Beit Shemesh and the intimidation of Orot Banot girls is nothing new.

But just as the experiences of one individual young woman who refused to sit in the back of buses, student Tanya Rosenblit, last week galvanized mainstream Israeli public opinion regarding gender segregation on public transportation, the televising of Na'ama's plight woke up the Israeli public. Until now, that public had remained relatively indifferent to the trials the Orot Banot girls and the residents of Beit Shemesh were undergoing. Members of an extremist Haredi group that have settled there over the past several years have been pushing for the creation of gender-segregated bus lines, designating parts of the city where women and men were directed to separate on public streets, and harassing the girls of Orot Banot on the ground that they did not dress modestly enough.

Immediately after the piece was aired on Channel 2, Facebook groups were organized and demonstrations in Beit Shemesh planned by angry citizens who wanted to take action. The power of the press had truly flexed its muscles. (The extremists were clearly aware of the damage done to them by the television coverage, as they demonstrated when they attacked the reporter when he returned to Beit Shemesh on Sunday for a follow-up story.)

Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who clearly sensed where the political winds were blowing, went on a public relations push over the weekend to show he was taking action. Ynet reported that he "asked Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Saturday to instruct the police to act firmly against violent attacks targeting women in the public sphere." In the aftermath of the Channel 2 story and the reaction, the ultra-Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh ordered workers took down street signs that directed women to cross the street and "not linger" in front of a synagogue. As they did so, Haredim threw rocks and called the municipal workers 'Nazis.'

The fact that the government took action only after the media paid attention to Beit Shemesh is infuriating. The girls of Orot Banot have been under siege since school opened in September, as detailed here and here. They deserved firm action and government protection long ago: Na'ama should never have had to be terrified in the first place.

But the Orot Banot parents will take what they can get. One of them wrote on Facebook that the Channel 2 piece their "Hannukah miracle" and Na'ama's mother said in a television interview that the numerous expressions of support that their family received following the broadcast felt like "a massive hug from the entire country." They are joining together with their new supporters on Facebook for a massive Hannukah candlelighting, rally, and march on Tuesday night designed to drive the forces of darkness out of Beit Shemesh, and bring the city closer to the meaning of its name: The House of the Sun.



Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/148571/#ixzz1heyYJeWZ
 

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Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Dec 25, 2011

We are losing Israel from within. Please watch this video.

This video makes me cry. Please watch it. It is 15 minutes long, and must be seen and considered. We are losing Israel from within. It's not an anti-Charedi mindset that makes this upsetting. It's my love of my People, my love of my Homeland that makes me hurt watching this. 

English subtitled link -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFm1tZkEuxI 

Dec 24, 2011

Women of the Wall - Rosh Hodesh Tevet!

Read all about  Tamuz srevices!

"Praying and chanting with Women of the Wall continues to teach me about the ways that women can come together to advance not only our standing but also our understanding of Judaism."
- Liz Piper-Goldberg


 

Join us to celebrate Rosh Hodesh Tevet at the Kotel on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 7 AM!
Please bring your own siddur.

If you would like to lead a part of the service or hold our Sefer Torah, please contact us.

To sponsor this month's oneg, please contact us.


הינכן מוזמנות לתפילת ראש חודש טבת ביום שלישי ה-27 בדצמבר בשעה 7:00 בעזרת הנשים של הכותל המערבי, ובהמשך, קריאה בתורה בקשת רובינזון.
אנא הביאו עמכן סידור.
  אם את מעוניינת להיות חזנית, לקרוא בתורה או להחזיק בספר התורה, אנא כתבי אלינו


אם ברצונך לקחת חלק במימון הכיבוד שלאחר התפילה, אנא  כתבי אלינו



Copyright © 2011 Women of the Wall, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Women of the Wall
POB 31936
Jerusalem, Israel 91319


Dec 22, 2011

Chag Sameach, everyone - may all our lights shine a bit brighter this year.

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The value of Gilad Shalit's privacy is so important. He isn't a symbol - he is a person, a young man who will now lead the next chapter of his life. But "pirsumei denisa/publicizing the miracle" is also a value during Channukah. Chag Sameach, everyone - may all our lights shine a bit brighter this year. 


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Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Dec 21, 2011

A Comment on Rabbi Hanan Alexander's OpEd on JPost.com: "Postmodernism in masorti education"

A Comment on Rabbi Hanan Alexander's OpEd on JPost.com: "Postmodernism in masorti education"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The problem with my teacher Hanan's eloquent article (pasted below) is that he sees advocates for Jewish gay inclusion as arguing for autonomy. This is a misrepresentation of halachic progressive advocacy, which argues for the organism of Halacha to continue evolving in response to a growing understanding of ethics and science, including human biology.  Framing the conversation as post-modernism is not helpful. This continuation of the modern critique of Judaism has been the hallmark of Conservative/Masorti Judaism since its birth in the 19th century.

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Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Dec 18, 2011

Silence and Air

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Folk meets Jewish mysticism in this expression of soulful longing, a collection of original interpretations of sacred texts, poetry, and wordless niggunim.

Silence and Air

(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

We sat there, transfixed by the unfolding scene,
the wreaths everywhere made it almost-obscene.
For any tradition would hope that its faithful
would see from within that the point is not spatial.

It's not that we Jews feel erased by the clutter,
(though this time of year makes us feel quite 'the other').
It's rather that somehow amidst all the noise,
a wrongness was touching each girl and each boy,
a message that no-one of faith should support,
for it turns something pure into something of sport.

When symbols of faith are repackaged with glitter,
a person with soulful experience jitters.
What's more, when we Jews see the lights and the sales,
the need to 'keep up' sends strange wind through our sails.
Our windows become cluttered and swell
(since garlands of blue and white work just as well).

But then something is lost, though we each comprehend,
that it's natural - and fun! - to fit in with our friends.
So the problem is shared and pervasive these days
and the wisdom we need seems much further away.

The truth of tradition needs silence and air,
and the noise all around makes it seem nothing's there.

And so Teshuvah, Return, is a lesson worth learning,
by the glow of Menorahs and Yule Logs, separately burning.
Return to your heart. Return to your self.
Let seasonal sales gather dust on the shelf.


Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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