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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tzohar’

Tzohar Condemns Nullification of Rabbi Lookstein’s Conversions as Chief Rabbi Reverses Ruling

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Following a meeting in New York with Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi David Stav, founder and president of the Tzohar rabbinical organization on Tuesday expressed his full support for the rabbi after the Petach Tikva Rabbinical Court had nullified conversions which had been performed by Rabbi Lookstein.

Also on Tuesday, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi David Lau, overruled a decision by the lower rabbinic court, officially accepting the conversion performed by Rabbi Lookstein.

Rabbi Lookstein, the spiritual leader of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and for many years principal of the Ramaz School, also converted Ivanka Marie Trump, daughter of Republican party preumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump.

However, because in 2009 Rabbi Lookstein participated in the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the primary American modern-orthodox rabbinic association, took exception to his presence, stating that “participation in a prayer service held in the sanctuary of a church is prohibited,” ruling that “any member of the RCA who attends such a service does so in contravention of this policy and should not be perceived as representing the organization in any capacity.”

Last month, a woman who was converted to Judaism by Rabbi Lookstein was refused recognition as a Jew by an Israeli Rabbinical Court in Petach Tikvah, which stirred up the ongoing international controversy over who outside the Israeli Rabbinate is allowed to perform conversions to the Jewish faith. The Israeli court simply couldn’t find Lookstein’s name on the RCA list of accredited conversion rabbis.

“This decision causes three several major problems which cannot be ignored,” Rabbi Stav said in a statement. “First, there is an explicit halakhic ruling that we should not oppress a convert. The conversion that has been nullified by the court was of a clearly well-intentioned, ‘righteous convert,’ and it is inconceivable that simply because of outright bureaucratic considerations a conversion would be nullified.”

“Second, this decision further deepens the already troubling divide between Israel and the Diaspora,” according to Rabbi Stav. “And, most troubling of all, it leads to a situation where assimilation, both here in Israel and in the Diaspora, is allowed to go unchecked. Because when we have a situation where well-intentioned converts are being disregarded simply because their conversion was officiated by a nationalist and modern Orthodox rabbi, what message does this send to those interested in converting according to halakha?”

The rejection of conversions performed by Lookstein was condemned by the Jewish Agency for Israel, which is the world body “responsible for the immigration … and absorption of Jews and their families from the Diaspora into Israel.”

Rabbi Lau said in letters to key Israeli politicians that the Chief Rabbinate Council, due to convene on Wednesday, will hear an appeal of the Petach Tikvah rabbinic court decision, adding he was confident the Chief Rabbinate’s position would clear away all the concerns regarding conversions by non-Israeli Orthodox rabbis.

David Israel

‘Accessibility Shabbat’ Promoting Attention to Handicapped in Synagogue [video]

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

(JNi.media) Conceived by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Chair of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization‘s Committed on Jewish Ethics and one of Israel’s leading thinkers on Ethics in Religious Society, the first ever “Accessibility Shabbat” will take place in communities across Israel this weekend. The program—held in coordination with the International Accessibility Day which takes place worldwide on December 3—highlights the need for greater respect for the disabled in the religious community and Israeli society.

“The reality is that the specific challenges posed by the handicapped are all too often overlooked within our religious community and many of our synagogues and community facilities are not made amenable to the needs of this population,” Rabbi Cherlow said in a letter announcing the initiative. “This cannot be the Jewish way of doing things and we must re-examine our approach and make our facilities and communities more accommodating in every possible way.”

Accessibility Shabbat will includie educational elements as well as proactive initiatives intended to enact practical approaches to benefit the handicapped. Tzohar’s website and its network of community rabbis have distributed educational materials stressing approaches to the disabled in the Jewish sources which community members will be encouraged to learn over the Shabbat.

Rabbi Cherlow said that every participating synagogue should review their facilities to find ways to make them more amenable to the physically handicapped as well as providing prayer books and study materials for the blind and sight-impaired and relevant accommodations for the deaf. “Fundamentally, even while we know that we need to pay attention to caring about the handicapped community, we often fail to take the next step to seeing exactly what we can do to be more inclusive and compassionate. This Shabbat will give us that opportunity and hopefully encourage an ongoing dialogue on this topic.”

Tzohar encouraged synagogues to allot a specific budget for the needs of the handicapped with the goal of making as many religious facilities as possible accessible.

Rabbi David Stav, founder and President of Tzohar, said that the goal of the program is to remind every Jew to be more cognizant of the needs of others. “Compassion for those less fortunate than others is an inherently Jewish value, but at times we need to be reminded of specific ways to take that understanding and put it into practical terms.”

Tzohar Executive Vice President Yakov Gaon said that while the program is currently being launched in Israel with participating communities, plans are already in place to take the initiative globally in coming years.


Hareidim Keep ‘Liberal’ Zionists in Minority on Rabbinical Courts

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Hareidim claimed victory by blocking the appointment of three “liberal religious Zionists” to the country’s 12 regional rabbinical courts.

There now are 22 judges, 7 more than in previous years, but only eight of them are from the national religious community.

The other 14 are divided equally between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Haredim

Absent from the national religious sector are three rabbis from the Tzohar organization, which was termed as “reform” by Hareidim in a report by the Hareidi Kikar Shabbat website.

Preparations for the voting for judges were made last week with a secret deal that was made between Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is not religious but who has close ties with Hareidim, and Ashkenazi and Sephardi Hareidim.

Kikar Shabbat reported that aides to Steinitz and Hareidim met at a Givat Shaul gas station in the middle of the night last week to close the deal after an understanding that “it would be better to cooperate rather than lose appointment to ‘liberal religious Zionists.’

Degel HaTorah won five judges, and Agudat Yisrael won 2. The voting committee rejected a Chabad rabbi.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Religious Zionist ‘ Tzohar’ Group Launches ‘Listening Together for Shofar’

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

More than 55,000 people will be hosted by members of the religious Zionist movement this year in 55 different locations around Israel to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.

It is a new project that celebrates the 16th year of the Yom Kippur ‘Praying Together’ program carried out in 295 locations and sponsored by Tzohar, the religious Zionist rabbinical organization in Israel.

After 15 years of successful and expanding Yom Kippur programs, Tzohar will now also host families to hear and learn about the shofar and its importance during the Rosh Hashana prayers.

Over 350 Tzohar volunteers and their families are being placed all around the country to accommodate all those communities who wish to participate. “Going to a religious synagogue can be an intimidating and sometimes off-putting experience for someone who doesn’t regularly attend or associate with that particular community,” said Rabbi David Stav, co-founder of Tzohar.

“We have seen such an outpouring of desire for Jewish connection by the secular community, especially relating the High Holidays, that we knew something had to be done to accommodate them.

“By moving these important Jewish life cycle events to a neutral locations – such as community centers or event halls – it becomes more much inviting and accessible for anyone interested in connecting with their Jewish tradition.” All attendees are provided with the same siddur or machzor to make it easier to follow along, as well as with explanatory pamphlet written by Tzohar about the customs, prayers and meaning of the High Holidays to help guide the participant throughout the services. “Tzohar is continuously adding additional programs to encourage Jewish participation in life cycle events,” said Yakov Gaon, Executive Vice President of Tzohar.

“The powerful reaction to the Yom Kippur program and our other holiday activities showed the excitement and connection people feel. Adding Rosh Hashana programming was a natural next step.”

Hana Levi Julian


Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat (R) speaks with Rabbi David Stav. Rabbis Riskin and Stav are part of a group of leading rabbis who decided to establish independent Orthodox conversion courts in Israel, breaking the official Rabbinate monopoly.

What happens next remains to be seen.

Photo of the Day

Tzohar Rabbinic Group Focuses on Anglo Immigrant ‘Fit’

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Can an English-speaking immigrant ever truly fit in within Israeli society?

This question forms the centerpiece of this year’s summer conference of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization. Planned for July 8 at the Jerusalem Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma), the gathering will feature a dedicated track for English speakers.

Among the subjects to be discussed is the question of whether English-speaking immigrants to Israel have any influence in Diaspora Jewish communities.

Renowned for its work within Israeli society using Jewish tradition to bridge gaps between communities, Tzohar’s Rabbi Reuven Spolter says the organization has identified many unique issues that deserve to be asked.

Within the “anglo” community, many are coping with questions of Jewish identity and practice, he says.

The conference will include a day-long series of sessions and panels on contemporary issues relevant to Israel and Judaism, including the issue of a “good fit” for English-speaking olim.

“Tzohar has proudly shown that Israel’s rabbinical and communal leadership has a voice that deserves to be shared with people of all backgrounds, which of course includes the English-speaking community,” said Rabbi Reuven Spolter.

“At the same time, we need to appreciate that we as Anglos face unique challenges living and raising our children in Israel. This conference will highlight that understanding while creating a dialogue on many of the key issues important to Anglo olim.”

Among the subjects to be discussed are the challenges and opportunities of parenting Anglo teens within a Hebrew-speaking culture, if and how Anglo-Israelis can influence Diaspora Jewry and a session on maintaining intimacy in marriage.

“The Anglo community in Israel is not simply growing in terms of numbers, but also has a large influence on the character and makeup of our country and in particular within the Religious Zionist world,” says Tzohar’s founder and president Rabbi David Stav. “It was therefore important to us to include an English component to our annual conference and we very much hope that this will be welcomed and embraced by many.”

To find out more or to register to attend, click here.

Hana Levi Julian

Tel Aviv Synagogue Vandalized with Anti-‘Jewish State’ Grafitti

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

A synagogue led by a rabbi from the Tzohar movement has been vandalized in Tel Aviv.

Grafitti was discovered sprayed on the walls of the synagogue on Sunday, reading among other things, “In a place where a ‘national law’ is legislated – books will burn!”

Near the synagogue lay a pile of books that had been torched, but none were prayer books or any other sacred texts.

The Tel Aviv International Synagogue is a modern Orthodox congregation that is administered under the auspices of the Tzohar organization.

The “national law” referenced in the grafitti is the Jewish nation-state law now being discussed by the Knesset that was brought before the government by the Likud party.

The issue was raised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who insisted it was time to formally incorporate into national law those principles that are delineated in the declaration of independence signed by the founders of the State in 1948.



Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/tel-aviv-synagogue-vandalized-with-anti-jewish-state-grafitti/2014/11/30/

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