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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbinical Council of America’

RCA: We Don’t Proactively Seek to Reevaluate Past Conversions

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

The Rabbinical Council of America denied a prominent rabbi’s accusation that it is actively negating past conversions.

The Orthodox rabbinic organization issued a statement Friday responding to a JTA opinion article criticizing the group written by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld. His article, published Thursday, accused the RCA and its Beth Din of America of “retroactively negating and rooting out converts who were for decades fully integrated into the Orthodox Jewish community.”

In their statement, the RCA’s president, Rabbi Leonard Matanky, and the Beth Din of America’s director, Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, disputed this characterization.

“At no time have the RCA or the Beth Din proactively sought to reevaluate conversions; that is not our interest or desire,” they wrote. “However, Halachah does have its standards, and we have acted and will continue to act as a source of information to those rabbinic agencies which seek to determine if halachic standards have been upheld.”

The two officials added that the RCA’s current conversion protocols “have facilitated the acceptance of U.S. conversions throughout the world.”

Herzfeld, the rabbi of Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue in Washington, cited the case of a woman, Karen Brunwasser, who had been converted to Judaism as an infant by a beit din, or rabbinic court, but had difficulty getting the Israeli Chief Rabbinate to recognize her conversion so she could marry. Brunwasser wrote about her experience in The Washington Jewish Week.

An RCA official, she wrote, had raised questions with the Chief Rabbinate about the Orthodox rabbis who converted her because they had served congregations that lacked a mechitza separating men and women. While the Israeli Chief Rabbinate eventually accepted her conversion, she attributed this victory to “powerful connections” who intervened on her behalf.

Herzfeld, in his JTA article, cited correspondence about Brunwasser’s case between the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the Beth Din of America. In an email to the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbi Michoel Zylberman of the Beth Din of America wrote: “We are unable to approve the conversions done by a rabbi who serves in a synagogue without a mechitza.”

Zylberman continued: “Of course, one can argue with this position and if you want to be lenient here on the basis of other authorities you can do that which is right in your eyes.”

While not commenting on any specific case because of confidentiality policies, the RCA officials in their statement wrote that “it is only natural, as a responsible local presence of halachic authority, that we are a resource for rabbinical agencies, in Israel and worldwide.”

Beauty is as Beauty Does; Saphira Products Promote Pure Israel

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

When she was in 10th grade, Saphira Tessler’s parents took her and her brother to Israel for her father’s sabbatical year. Saphira was not happy.  But within months, Tessler changed her mind — and she changed it so dramatically that her mother gave in and moved to Ranaana so that Saphira could complete 11th and 12th grade in Israel, the land which had become her home.

And that country is so important to Saphira, that by the time she graduated in 2012 from the InterDisciplinary Center in Herzliya, she had already married an Israeli and the two committed to starting a business in the Jewish State, one using not just Dead Sea minerals, but in which every single aspect of Saphira Hair is from Israel – from the bottles in which the products are poured, to the boxes in which they are shipped.  The design, production, materials, employees and packaging are all Israeli.

But simply showing support for the Jewish state is not all that Saphira Hair has going for it – Saphira and her husband Aviad Greenberg spent a year meeting with chemists and visiting factories to find the exact right combination of minerals that would work miracles for the hair that Dead Sea minerals do for the skin.

And beyond having a beautiful product with tasteful but glamorous packaging, the woman behind the soon-to-be empire gives meaning to the cliché “beautiful inside and out.” And she’s got talent to boot!

SAPHIRA’S STORY

Saphira and her older brother, Roniel, grew up in Potomac, Maryland, where their father has been the rabbi of Beth Sholom Synagogue for nearly 30 years.  Her mother, Aviva, co-founded and is the executive director of Operation Embrace, a non-profit which provides services to Israeli victims of terrorism.

Both Saphira’s parents are musical.  Her mother was an opera singer and her father thought he was going to become an actor on Broadway.  Instead, her father met up with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, formerly of New York City’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, who told Saphira’s father: “no, you’re going to become a rabbi.”

After receiving smicha from Rabbi Yosef B. Soleveichik, Rabbi Tessler later not only was the spiritual leader of Beth Sholom Synagogue in Potomac, but is also currently the president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship of the Rabbinical Council of America.

With music running in her veins, Saphira also was interested in singing.  She applied and was accepted to New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, but deferred for a year while she attended the Lindenbaum Seminary in Jerusalem.  Although Lindenbaum is a studious seminary, Saphira found the time to attend nightly rehearsals and starred in the musical “Rent” in Jerusalem.

By the time Saphira completed her seminary year, she realized she could not return to the States and instead enrolled at the InterDisciplinary Center, majoring in psychology.

While a student at the IDC, Saphira initiated an empowerment program for pre-adolescent girls at Elazraki, a school for disadvantaged children in Netanya.  She later took the same program, called “Strong Women, Strong Girls” to work with girls from privileged backgrounds in schools around Herzliya.

“The girls from privileged backgrounds needed it even more than did the ones who were ‘disadvantaged!’” Saphira told The Jewish Press in interview on Monday, Nov. 4.

Saphira was the president of the IDC’s Hillel, and one of her responsibilities was to run the Shabbat dinners. Some Israeli students who came to the dinners told their friend Aviad about Saphira, and they two finally met.

“I told him I would go out with him, but not to a coffeehouse, as he suggested,” Saphira said about her first date with Aviad. “I told him we had to go to a cabaret, because although I would only date a religious boy, it had to be a boy for whom women singing in public was acceptable.”

Aviad went to the cabaret, passed the “Saphira Test” and they were married in August, 2011.  The two took the money they received as wedding gifts, and invested it all in starting their hair care business.

BUT WHY DEAD SEA PRODUCTS FOR THE HAIR?

Saphira says she was always fascinated by the incredible benefits from the Dead Sea, and she began to wonder whether it would also work to make hair soft and beautiful, just as it does for the skin.  Aviad, whose father is in the hair care business, encouraged his new wife to explore the idea.

Obama Holds Pre-Rosh Hashanah Conference Call with Rabbis, Clergy

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

President Obama reflected on the High Holidays and offered New Year’s greetings in a conference call with nearly 1,000 Orthodox rabbis and other Jewish clergy.

In the call, on Friday afternoon, Obama extended the greetings on behalf of himself and the first lady for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year. He noted that the Jewish High Holidays provide an opportunity for Jews to reflect on the past year and recommit themselves to core values.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Wednesday evening.

With the United States marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Obama also noted the important role played by American Jews in the civil rights movement.

The president also discussed the upcoming enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act and the renewed Israel-Palestinians peace talks.

Four major organizations hosted the call: the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform); the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative); the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox); and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-holds-pre-rosh-hashanah-conference-call-with-rabbis-clergy/2013/09/03/

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