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June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘rabbi’

Jewish Agency for Israel Calls for Special Diaspora Conversion Courts

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

The Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel is calling for the establishment of special religious courts in the Diaspora to handle conversions outside the State of Israel.

A resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority of the board at its meeting Wednesday (June 24) said that in the absence of such courts, the Agency would send rabbis to assist local communal rabbis in the endeavor.

“In light of The Jewish Agency’s responsibility to help ensure the unity of the Jewish people and in recognition of the existence of many interfaith families in various Jewish communities, The Jewish Agency wishes to facilitate these families’ full integration into the Jewish people via conversion, as well as through the possibility of Aliyah. In the absence of conversion courts able to serve those who wish to convert in many Jewish communities, The Jewish Agency will cooperate with the special conversion courts established for this purpose by sending rabbis to assist local communal rabbis.

“The Jewish Agency will accompany the converts through their process of preparing for Aliyah, for those who choose that option.”

“The Jewish Agency serves the needs of Jewish communities around the world,” said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Agency.

“This is one of the very real needs voiced by various Jewish communities. The time has come to respond.”

The issue of Jewish conversion both in Israel and abroad is one that is complex, controversial and fiercely debated between individuals as well as communities.

Recently the community leadership position of a major Anglo-Israeli rabbinic figure came under question, it was believed, in part due to the controversy generated over this topic.

‘No Intention’ to Dismiss Efrat’s Rabbi Riskin, Says Israel Chief Rabbi Lau

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Israelis from the bottom to the top – storekeepers to government ministers and agency heads – have come out to protect Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure.

Israel Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau told journalists on Wednesday there was “no intention to dismiss Rabbi Riskin. While dealing with this issue we have been hearing statements attributed to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel that are inappropriate and inaccurate.

“It troubles me to see that this matter regarding Rabbi Riskin continues to be blown so far out of proportion,” Rabbi Lau told Israel’s Channel 10 News.

The story began two weeks ago, when the issue of tenure for local rabbis was raised at a meeting of the Chief Rabbinical Council. At that time, there was a request to extend the term of office for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. The rabbi is one of the founders of the city in which he serves and lives, located in Gush Etzion, just 10 minutes away from Jerusalem.

Normally the process is pro forma, but apparently there were some on the Council who had reservations about extending Riskin’s tenure due to his views on conversion and a few other issues.

Those issues were reportedly raised at the meeting.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, who joined the Council several months ago, was one of those who supported the extension of Riskin’s term. He asked the Council to postpone any decision on the matter, and it was decided to first invite the Efrat rabbi for a discussion prior to any final move.

News of what went on in the meeting was leaked to the media, however, and a brouhaha resulted.

Education Minister Naftali Minister, Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky and numerous others all spoke out to defend Rabbi Riskin. All had pointed questions for a Chief Rabbinate that would dismiss a community’s chief rabbi who had helped build a city and was still seen as a hugely popular spiritual leader.

The public power struggle began to deteriorate instead into an issue of who gets to make decisions on Jewish issues in the State of Israel and at which levels of government.

Ultimately, said Lau, “the Rabbinical Council reviews extension of a local rabbi’s tenure in a meeting with that individual along with his relevant documents. An exception is made when the extension of his term comes in the month prior to mandatory retirement – and thus the debate over Rabbi Riskin’s term extension was postponed so as to invite him to meet with the Council to discuss the matter.

“This has been the standard procedure in the past, and it will remain so in the future,” he added. The legal authority to extend the statutory tenure of local chief rabbis rests with Israel’s Chief Rabbinical Council, Lau pointed out. “It is not a ‘rubber stamp’ process, nor does the Council automatically confirm the extension of a rabbi’s term in office, unless it first properly examines his application,” he noted. “We repeat: pressure and threats will not force us to make shortcuts or deviate from what is a necessary process.”

Rabbi Riskin’s office responded to JewishPress.com saying, “We hope the matter will indeed be resolved. Our only objective is bringing Am Yisrael closer to Torah and Mitzvot. Rabbi Riskin is dedicated to continue serving the residents of Efrat.”

Rabbi Binyomin Klein, Member of Secretariat to Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l, 79, Passes Away

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Rabbi Binyomin Klein, 79, long-time aide and member of the secretariat of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt’l passed away on Friday morning in Brooklyn, New York. He will be remembered as the “Rebbe’s Ambassador” to Israeli officials.

Rabbi Klein also served on the boards of several major governing bodies of Chabad, including Machneh Israel, the social service arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.

Rabbi Klein was the liaison for Israeli diplomats, political, military and other leaders from Israel who came to see the Rebbe. During the 1977 visit of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Rebbe introduced Rabbi Klein to the Prime Minister as “my general.”

Rabbi Klein was born in 1935 to Menachem and Rochel Klein. His mother died in childbirth and he was raised by his father, who headed the Jerusalem Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish burial society. As a teen he studied in the Chabad Torat Emet school in Jerusalem. In 1956 he traveled to New York to study in the court of the Rebbe.

After his marriage to Laya Schusterman, the couple moved to Australia where Rabbi Klein was among the founders of Yeshiva Gedolah of Melbourne, Australia and New Zealand. In 1963, the Kleins returned to the United States where Rabbi Klein joined the Secretariat of Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbi Klein spoke little about his work in the Rebbe’s office. He was beloved by so many who interfaced with him as they corresponded with the Rebbe. He was also the person with whom many others spoke as they brought their precious tzetlach, their notes and letters to the office in “770” to be handed sometimes immediately to the Rebbe as he sat in his office just a few feet away.

Upon occasion, Rabbi Klein would tell a visitor to wait for a response, rather than the more common written or telephoned reply that often came later — hours or even days later. Despite his high position, One of the Rebbe’s main secretaries, he never forgot a face; he was also unfailingly courteous, gentle and kind.

Rabbi Klein kept long hours, often returning home at 2 a.m. Yet his home was famous for its hospitality, open always to guests and visitors. It was a second home to countless young women who came to Crown Heights as they began to learn about Judaism and return to their roots. It was here that they found a welcome place for meals, a listening ear, some good advice.

The funeral passed by Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway late Friday afternoon before Rabbi Klein’s body was brought to the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens.

Rabbi Klein was laid to rest near the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l and that of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’tl, in the Chabad-Lubavitch section of the cemetery.

Baruch HaDayan HaEmes. May his memory be for a blessing.

Jewish Organizations Raise Relief Funds after Houston Flood

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Jewish organizations are raising disaster-relief funds following the devastating flooding in Texas earlier this week, during which Houston’s Jewish community sat at the center of the damage experienced by that city.

Countless Jewish homes and multiple synagogues were among the structures damaged following rain that exceeded 11 inches in some areas on Monday and Tuesday.

The Orthodox Union, which is raising flood-relief funds, sent its senior managing director, Rabbi Steven Weil, to help assess the damage on site in Houston.

B’nai B’rith International opened its Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund in the city following the Houston flood.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is raising flood-relief funds in Houston, noting that “many in our community have lost everything” in the hardest-hit neighborhood. Other Jewish Federations around the country are raising relief funds for Houston.

At the same time, local Jewish community is trying to focus on the positive, and Rabbi Barry Gelman, the leader of a heavily flood-damaged Orthodox synagogue, wrote to his congregants:

Let us focus on repairing what was ruined and rededicating ourselves to what makes UOS (United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston) so special, the community. After all, what is really special about us are the people that make up our community. That is what is indispensable—the building can always be fixed.

Rare 1,000 Yr Old Ketubah on Exhibit in Jerusalem

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

An extremely rare 1,000-year-old ketubah inscribed in Aramaic is now on exhibit in the National Library in Jerusalem.

The Jewish marriage contract dates from November 28, 1023 (CE), according to Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator for the National Library’s Judaica section.

Written by a scribe named in the ketubah as Yosef HaKohen, son of Yaakov, the document was inscribed in what once was the town of Tzur for a couple named Natan HaKohen, son of Shlomo, and Rachel. Both were from Tzefat (Safed.)

An ancient ketubah written in Aramaic in 1063 CE in the town of Tzur, part of Tzefat, by the scribe Yosef HaKohen, son of Yaakov Hakohen.

An ancient ketubah written in Aramaic in 1063 CE in the town of Tzur, by the scribe Yosef HaKohen, son of Yaakov Hakohen.

The document is especially significant as it provides concrete evidence of a Jewish community in the city of Tzefat (Safed) in the 11th century (CE).

Although all ketubahs – including those written to this very day – list a section detailing the obligations of the husband to provide for the wife, and her rights in the event of divorce, some have additional sections as well. In fact, ketubahs have not changed much at all over the past 2,500 years; they still are written in the same format, more or less, and with the same intent: to list the obligations of the groom towards his bride, to list the contents of the dowry, and the amount of money the groom is providing to the bride as security should the marriage fail and end in divorce, as well as any other conditions that might apply.

The Tzefat Ketubah is one of these, commented Finkelman, noting an additional section in this case. “For instance, if the woman has expensive jewelry or her parents give gifts in honor of the wedding and then the couple divorce, those items are returned to her,” he explained. In the ancient document, there is indeed a list of Rachel HaKohen’s jewelry, household items and clothing – including the weight and monetary value of each item. Moreover, the disposition of each item is discussed, should various events take place – even should the wife become “mentally unstable.”

Regretfully, in today’s world, the ketubah is sometimes disregarded when marriages become fractured. Some Jewish husbands reverse the document, forcing the wife’s family instead to pay a bribe in order to win a divorce contract that by Jewish law can only be granted by a husband. In other, more rare cases, sometimes an estranged wife refuses a divorce contract, likewise holding a disenchanted husband hostage as well.

In any of the above scenarios, expert rabbinic negotiators are usually sought in order to resolve the conflict. In severe cases, the struggle can sometimes take years.

Obama’s Adas Israel Speech and Keeping Kids Kosher

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai rejects what he sees as the “Israel-is-to-blame” narrative of President Obama’s speech at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington DC.

Then, Yishai is joined in-studio by Orthodox Union senior managing director Rabbi Steven Weil and director of leadership development Rabbi Ari Rockoff to discuss the future of American Jewry. They discuss their latest initiative: meeting with 18-year-olds spending a gap year in Israel, to encourage them to involve their counterparts in the US, who have grown distant from their Judaism.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Report: Rabbinate May Be Plotting to Dump Rabbi Riskin of Efrat

Monday, May 25th, 2015

The Chief Rabbinate met in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss whether to extend the term of Efrat’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, but it postponed a decision until he appears personally for another hearing.

An extension of Rabbi Riskin’s term requires a special meeting because he is now 75 years old, but the Kipa website reported, “Senior officials in the Rabbinate plan to hold a discussion on his term of office and not automatically renew it in order to block his re-appointment because of his opinions. If there will be another discussion of the entire Rabbinate, a majority will vote against Rabbi Riskin.”

Rabbi Riskin supports establishing more religious courts to oversee conversions, a move that is stiffly opposed by the Hareidi establishment. He also has been active in promoting women’s rights in the Orthodox world, another move that the Hareidi establishment considers near blasphemy.

Rabbi Riskin’s office told The Jewish Press that it was not aware of the report by Kipa, but previous rabbis over the age of 70 have been asked to retire, regardless of their opinions. The spokesman for the Rabbinate told The Jewish Press that there have been cases where the term of a rabbi over the age of 70 has been extended, depending on his health.

Nevertheless, Monday’s discussion raises several questions to which the spokesman for the Chief Rabbinate said, “I don’t know.”

He said that Rabbis Riskin will be asked to appear personally, probably in the next several weeks, to answer questions about his health.

If that is the case, why didn’t the Chief Rabbinate ask for his medical records?

I don’t know.

Why didn’t the Rabbinate invite Rabbi Riskin today?

I don’t know.

Will Rabbi Riskin’s views on conversion be discussed in the upcoming hearing?

I don’t know.

However, the spokesman did confirm that the issue of conversion was not discussed today.

A decision to retire Rabbi Riskin, the founding rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side of New York City, without any other basis than opposition to his views could spur a legal battle in the Supreme Court. The Religious Affairs Ministry is now under the control of the Shas party, which may influence the Rabbinate’s decision in favor of ousting Rabbi Riskin.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri is close to Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, son of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef who founded the Shas party and was its spiritual leader until his death less than two years ago.

Hopefully, this report by The Jewish Press.com will arouse public opinion, influence the Rabbinate, and pave the way for the distinguished rabbis to extend Rabbi Riskin’s term.

Read: TZOHAR’s statement on the upcoming hearing.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-rabbinate-may-be-plotting-to-dump-rabbi-riskin-of-efrat/2015/05/25/

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