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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Temple’

A Small Voice

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

This article was originally published in The Jewish Press on May 20, 1960. 


 


 


Yesterday, another Conservative Temple was dedicated.

 

Yesterday, ten more Jews married outside their faith.

 

Yesterday, a hundred thousand Jewish families sat down to enjoy a non-kosher meal.

 

Still yesterday, a million Jews lounged about the house discussing their Saturday auto ride to visit the relatives, while in New York and Cincinnati a score of young men prepared for their coming ordination as rabbis in the Reform movement.

 

Again yesterday, the largest gathering in the history of the Rabbinical Assembly-the national association of Conservative rabbis-convened at Grossinger’s Hotel, while a few miles away, another Conservative body, The National Federation of Men’s Clubs, opened the greatest convention in its existence.

 

Yesterday, Reform rabbis continued to marry and divorce, and convert individuals in violation of Jewish Law.

 

And yesterday, three million Jewish children played in the streets, victims of their elders ignorance and apathy, divorced from the beauties and truths of traditional Judaism, wanderers down a path that could end only in religious destruction.

 

The age we live in is not an age of faith. It is an age of reason, of doctrinal skepticism, of pragmatism, of agnosticism. It is an age of science that questions all. It is an age of Marxism that preaches materialism, not spirit. It is an age where religion is pushed to the side; doubted by the intellect, attacked by the Marxist, played by the masses.

 

It is an age that threatens the values that we hold dear. Torah and its pillar-faith-face a life and death struggle with this new age and its flashing rapiers, doubt and materialism.

 

Day by day the struggle continues. In every hamlet, in the soul of every Jew, the battle rages. Day by day traditional Judaism is faced with greater and greater problems, with an ever-widening gulf between it and the mass of our brother Jews, with ever growing heartbreak. Tragic? Yes. Heartbreaking? Undoubtedly. But far more tragic and far more heartbreaking all too often is the reaction of Orthodox Jewry to the crisis that threatens it.

 

One would imagine that having surveyed the awesome tasks that need be done, Orthodox leadership and organizations would put shoulders to the wheel and begin the holy task building a mighty community of Torah Jewry. One would imagine that our money, time, energy and talents would be carefully hoarded, each ounce to be saved for the building of yeshivas, synagogues, mikvahs, youth groups, and the countless myriads of institutions so vital to the survival of authentic Judaism. One would expect a concerted, dedicated, coordinated pooling of resources for the great battle against the desecrators of Torah. One would imagine that in our poverty, the great enemy would be waste; that in our lack of numbers the watchword would be unity. And yet, we seem to have so much.

 

             We have so many resources. Resources to pay for inexcusable duplication of institutions. Resources to put up fifteen yeshivas in a neighborhood wherein two good ones would suffice. Resources to erect three synagogues per block instead of the one large one that would be ample. Resources to have three major political parties to defend the faith in Israel, and twenty-three rabbinical organizations to defend it here.

 

We have so much energy. Energy to heap abuse on those other Orthodox Jews who might deviate ever so slightly from our particular standards. Energy to painstakingly search out the minutest failings in the other Orthodox Jew. Energy to condemn every Orthodox institution which does not conform every day in every way to our own strictures.

 

The curse of Disunity is an ancient one with us. Its shadow lies across the remains of many of our wrecked hopes. Is there indeed that much of a difference among the Orthodox rabbinical, lay or Zionist organizations? Is our background and practice so different so as to call for ten different bodies claiming to represent the “true” Orthodoxy? Surely not. The same laws of Shabbos, kashrus and taharas hamishpacha are accepted and practiced by all. The duplication and waste, the cross accusations and inter group hatreds, the curse of disunity are all inexcusable. It is something all too often fostered by petty politicians who when screaming denunciation do so merely to contemplate the sounds of their own voices, to admire the noises made by the rappings of their knuckles on the door of opportunity.

 

             The house of Judaism burns, and we debate who shall have the honor of putting out the fire. The Children of Israel wander in a barren desert, and we are too busy fighting our own petty, provincial quarrels. So long as this continues, we will have no moral right to blame Conservatism and Reform. The true enemy continues to be- ourselves.  


 


Has much really changed? We await your thoughts at magazine@jewishpress.com

Gemara In The Morning, Cancer Research In The Afternoon

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

 

Not too many rabbis spend their day trying to cure cancer. Fewer still own three dogs and a killer fish named Shalom on the side. But Rabbi Dr. Robert Shorr does and sees no inherent conflict or tension between his various activities.

 

The son of a well-regarded rocket scientist who once collaborated with former Nazi scientist Wernher von Braun, Shorr, 55, is the CEO of Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals, which is currently conducting clinical trials of CPI-613, a drug designed to kill cancer cells by starving them of the glucose they need to survive.

 

“It’s important to promise little and deliver much,” Shorr told The Jewish Press, but so far, he said, the trial results are encouraging.

 

             With his white beard and long black coat, Shorr doesn’t fit most people’s mental image of a 21st-century scientist. Indeed, Shorr said he often hears people argue that “you can’t be in the world and look like that.” His reply? “Well, obviously I am in the world, and I look how I look.”

 

             Shorr, however, did not always sport a rabbinic appearance. Brought up in a relatively secular Jewish home, Shorr moved toward ritual observance slowly, beginning his journey as a young boy of five.

 

“We were living in Sacramento, California at the time,” Shorr recalls, “and belonged to a Conservative Temple. One Shabbos my father walked me over to the aron hakodesh – the shul was empty at this time – took my hand and put it on the sefer Torah. I looked up and my father was crying, and he said to me, ‘Rob, when I’m gone, look for me here because this is the home of the Jewish people. And when you look here you will also find yourself.’ I’d never seen my father cry before.”

 

As Shorr grew older, he started reading the Bible during services. “I would read ‘Do this’ and ‘Don’t do that,’ and we didn’t do any of it. And I said to myself, ‘If I’m a Jew and this is my job, then I have to do my job honestly.’ ” By the time he was bar mitzvah, Shorr had resolved to become observant.

 

Although Shorr didn’t immediately carry out his resolution, he never forgot it. Many years later, in 1978, as a graduate student at the University of London – where he would later receive his doctorate in biochemistry – Shorr was returning home from eating a Friday night restaurant dinner with his wife when he saw Shabbos candles burning in a house in the distance. He was transfixed.

 

“Both of us saw this amazing glow,” Shorr recalled, “that seemed to be shooting through the roof of the house . We looked at each other and said, ‘You know, this is what we want to build.’ So we resolved that when we would return to the United States, we would learn what it meant to be Jews.”

 

A few years later, the Shorrs moved to Wayne, Pennsylvania where they encountered Project SEED, a Torah Umesorah project geared toward non-observant Jews. They subsequently came under the influence of Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia and Rabbi Abraham Levene of the Lower Merion Synagogue. Soon, Shorr was spending several hours every day studying Torah.

 

“I got so excited about learning,” Shorr said, “that I wanted to quit my job and go learn. So I asked Rabbi Levene and Rabbi Kamenetzky, but they both told me ‘no’ – that my job is to develop medicine and bring healing to the world.”

 

             Shorr believes his increased Torah knowledge has helped his medical research. “The most classic guide to healing,” Shorr said, “is the asher yatzar brachah. It states that if something [in the body] is closed that should be open or open that should be closed, there’s illness. How do you fix it? Open what should be open and close what should be closed. No matter how you think about it, at one level or another, that’s how every drug works.”

 

              His scientific knowledge has also aided his Torah study, he said. “I’ll never forget, we were learning a Gemara about whether or not a person can go out on Shabbos with a silver coin in his shoe for healing purposes. The guys in the shiur asked me at the time, ‘Rob, why would anyone want to put a silver coin in his shoe?’ Well, the answer is that silver when combined with sweat and in the atmosphere will form silver nitrate. Silver nitrates are among the most powerful antibiotics in existence.”

 

              Shorr tires of hearing about conflicts between Torah and science. “Anybody trying to position science against the Torah lacks understanding of both . People look to science as a substitute for religion, but science has never and will never be able to do that. They do different things.”

 

              Shorr continues pursuing both.  He recently received his semicha, and over the years has finished Shas several times. Concurrently, Shorr has also authored over 150 scientific articles and possesses over 200 issued or pending patents.

 

              His latest cancer-related research, however, may prove to be his most important. Shorr doesn’t want to promise anything, but he said CPI-613 could potentially help patients with pancreatic, lung, colon, or breast cancer. “Really everything is in the hand of heaven,” he said.

 

              Depending on what the clinical trials show, Shorr said, the drug could be on the market in as little as three years.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles//2009/08/19/

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