The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a celebrated challenge by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. to the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. At issue is whether closely held for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby – owned by a religious Christian family that opposes several forms of contraception on religious grounds – can claim a religious exemption under federal law from the so-called contraceptive coverage mandate in Obamacare based on the religious beliefs of the corporation’s principals.
The Department of Justice acknowledges that individuals can claim an exemption if they can demonstrate an adverse impact on their religious beliefs. However, the department maintains that if they choose to do business in a corporate form, a common practice in order to provide a limit on financial liability, individuals cannot make that claim on the theory that a corporation, as a legal fiction, can have no religious scruples.
In late January, The Jewish Press reported that COLPA, the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, had submitted a friend-of-the court brief, authored by the prominent constitutional lawyer Nathan Lewin on behalf of seven major national Orthodox Jewish organizations, advising the court that if the government’s position were sustained, “observances of American Jews may be significantly curtailed.”
The brief explained that Americans who observe Jewish ritual laws, which often are at odds with standard societal practices, not infrequently operate individual or family-owned businesses and incorporate for financial security. Since Jewish law does not distinguish between individual and corporate business form for purposes of religious practice, general government regulation could create a particular dilemma for observant business owners if they are not able to claim the right to an accommodation.
Interestingly, this issue was front and center in the argument before the Court. Justices Samuel Alito and Stephen Breyer focused on the problems that would face kosher slaughterhouses that are operated as corporations. Federal and state humane slaughter laws require that an animal be stunned before the throat is cut in order to limit the pain felt by the animal. There are built-in exceptions for Jewish ritual slaughter, which requires that the animal be fully conscious, and Justices Alito and Breyer raised questions as to whether the Department of Justice’s position would in effect put kosher slaughterers out of business, since, as corporations, they could not invoke an exemption based on the religious beliefs of the owners.
A decision is expected by June. It should have a lot to say about the kinds of accommodations the law will henceforth provide for us as we navigate the intersection between our ritual requirements and standard societal practices.
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During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
The gap isn’t between Israeli and American Jews-it’s between American Jews and the rest of the world
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
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