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The Israeli government announced on Tuesday that, for the first time, it will pay the salaries of a small number of Reform and Conservative rabbis who are considered leaders in their communities, and will also recognize them as rabbis.
Not many Jews lived in Baltimore during the eighteenth century; by 1796 the entire Jewish population of the city consisted of about 15 families. As late as 1825, Solomon Etting, one of the first Jewish residents of Baltimore, estimated the Jewish population of Baltimore to be about 150.
Readers of this column are aware that it was not until 1840 that the first ordained Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Rice,1 settled in America. Other rabbonim soon began to settle in America. One of them was Rabbi Abraham Joseph Ash.
Last month's column dealt with the observance of kashrus by Jews in America during the 19th century. Up until about 1870 German Jewish immigrants went to considerable effort to make sure they could eat kosher meat and poultry. Almost every Jewish community of more than 15 families employed a professional shochet. Smaller communities were served by volunteer shochtim. However, with the spread of the Reform movement in the latter half of the century, Jews began to abandon kashrus.
The rabbi of Hollywood, Florida's original Reform temple, along with a high school teacher and a group of students, recently visited Chabad of South Broward. They were intrigued and inspired by their hour-long visit.
I find quite puzzling the vehement opposition of the American Conservative and Reform movements and Jewish Federations of North America to the conversion bill proposed by Knesset member David Rotem.
Last month we traced the establishment and development of the Jewish Community in Charleston, South Carolina, and its first synagogue, Kahal Kodesh (Holy Congregation) Beth Elokim (KKBE). From its inception in 1749 the synagogue was Orthodox and followed the Sephardic ritual. (This was the case with all of the synagogues founded during colonial times.)
For thousands of years of Jewish history there wasn't a unique nomenclature classifying Torah-deviant Jews. Denominations like Conservative, Reform and Orthodox were non-existent. One was either more observant, less observant, or, in highly atypical cases, nonobservant.
Last month we discussed how Rabbi Abraham Joseph Rice came to America in 1840 and became the rav of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (Congregation Nidchei Yisroel). Rav Rice was the first ordained Orthodox rabbi to settle in North America.
The Jewish Press spoke last week with Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi since 2003, on the contentious issue of conversion to Judaism.
Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman is a man of multiple faces.
JERUSALEM - Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar took the time last week to speak with The Jewish Press at his home in Jerusalem.
One of the burning issues being debated across America is the issue of school tuition vouchers. Many are advocating school choice as a means of allowing parents the opportunity to shop around for the best education for their children. Others, particularly those who send their children to religious day schools, are supporting vouchers as a constitutional means of securing funds for the secular portion of their children's education. That is, they seek the amount allocated by government for the education of all children. To be sure, there is ample room for debate on whether it is good law and whether it is, in any event, good policy.
The almost universal calls for ?solidarity? with Israel following in the wake of Reform leader Eric Yoffie?s announcement of the suspension of youth trips to Israel has underscored a curious dimension to the politics of the left. While the Sarid and Beilin crowd talk about American Jews demonstrating their support for the Jewish state, they continue to rail against Prime Minister Sharon for not agreeing to an immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians despite the continuing violence, and for not ordering an immediate end to all construction on the so-called ?settlements.? Despite the lessons of the collapse of Oslo and the obvious and cynical refusal of Yassir Arafat to end the violence, the left persists in attacking Mr. Sharon for insisting that the violence must stop as a precondition to renewed talks. They would reward violence with political concessions while the prime minister would not.