October 7, 2013 by Michael Ben Admon
What was the secret of the charm of Rav Ovadiah Yosef?
On the one hand there were his fans and followers through fire and water who related to every word of his as holy; yet on the other, a whole swathe of Jews who saw him as a leader whose statements were hurtful and communally insensitive?
How is it possible that there can be those who saw him as a great leader who established the tent of the Torah, and others who saw him a leader of a crowd of primitives?
How can it be that a man of phenomenal intellect and superlative expertise in all areas of Judaism, failed again and again by shaming and slandering other leaders? To Full Post
October 6, 2013 by Robbie Gringras
For two years at the turn of the millennium, I would ask this same question at every school I visited in Israel.
Studying Jewish Educational Leadership with the Mandel School, we would go out on field trips throughout Israel. Dialogical alternative schools, Shas schools, Haredi schools, different shades of Orthodox schools, Jewish/Arab schools, teaching colleges – the lot. And at every school I would ask only one question, the answer to which would tell me all I needed to know about the school.
“What does your school do on Rabin Day?” To Full Post
September 25, 2013 by Robbie Gringras
I’ve been doing a lot of HaDag Nahash recently. As part of my work for Makom I’ve been translating the latest album at the band’s request, and preparing translation projections for their show at the opening of London’s new JW3 building. Lots of bilingualising and cutting and pasting.
Then a couple of nights ago I took my daughter to see a gig of theirs, at the outdoor amphitheater in Binyamina. Standing there, bopping and singing with my thirteen year-old as I had done some 11 years ago with my then-fourteen year old son at Limmud UK, I was struck by three thoughts.
HaDag Nahash have been going a long time, they keep getting better, and their work has helped me live and thrive in this strange and wonderful country. To Full Post
September 12, 2013 by Robbie Gringras
They say you should never try to translate a joke, but I just can’t resist. These memes flying around the cracking facebook page best translated as “Tweeted Statuses” should not be kept from the non-Hebrew reading world. The interplay between modern Hebrew and liturgical Hebrew is a great deal of fun…
There are the ones that just play on the word slicha – סליחה. It means “sorry”, and also “forgiveness”, but sometimes “excuse me” – hence our opening cutey that initially looks like a standard facebook request for forgiveness.
The small print asks “What is the time?” So the re-read of the meme would be “Excuse me, what’s the time?” Tee hee… To Full Post
September 3, 2013 by Makom
Recently a young college student produced a film about her questions about the Women of the Wall. The film portrays her inner conflict regarding innovation versus tradition in the Jewish religion in general and the Women of the Wall in particular. We’ve added subtitles to the movie subtitles and asked the Makom team what they think about the film.
September 3, 2013 by Robbie Gringras
As we approach the Days of Awe, the process leading from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, I often find myself engaged in questions of forgiveness. From whom I should ask forgiveness, to whom should I grant it, and how prayer and penitence might clear my spiritual slate for the following year. All this busying with my own personal spiritual reckoning sometimes feels like an avoidance of the more scary issue: the Ten Days of Penitence are also played out in the shadow of a looming divine judgment. Forget forgiveness – how shall I be judged?
These days the situation in Syria seems to have focussed the entire world on sin, judgment, and punishment. Governments and nations are asking themselves what is the nature of sin – in what way is the use of chemical weapons more of a sin than the deliberate bombing of civilians? Who has the right or obligation to judge the use of such weapons? And what punishment should be dealt, and by whom?
Sometimes it feels to me that we are so used to referring to our judicial systems, and in so doing banishing the word “judgmental” to the dungeons of poor taste, that we just don’t know what to do when there seems to be no functioning international court of the world.
Such overwhelming questions follow me into synagogue on the High Holidays, as Congress prepares to take on the responsibility that Barack Obama has chosen to share. This year more than many other years, the blowing of the shofar leads me beyond thoughts of personal and communal redemption, and into the darker sphere of judgment, sin, and Syrian agony.
August 1, 2013 by Robbie Gringras
A possible script.
At synagogues throughout the world.
Yom Kippur 2013.
*delete where appropriate:
[The Cantor clears his/her throat, and announces:]
“Just before we/I sing Unetaneh Tokef, I wonder what associations arise when we think about Yom Kippur? I know that we have often/rarely/never talked about this before: For some of us, we think about a cleansing of sins. Some of us contemplate the previous year, some of us think of our relationship with God, and some of us just think about food! But today, I would say that about one out of every two Jews in the world is also thinking about the horrors of war.
Because on Yom Kippur exactly 40 years ago a war broke out in Israel, and it has never been forgotten.
Now I am aware that we rarely/often talk about Israel in synagogue, and that Israel is a controversial/significant part of our community. But I would venture to say that most of our activities to do with Israel happen outside the prayer service. To Full Post
June 20, 2013 by Channah Pinchasi
First appeared in Haaretz blog in Hebrew, 17/6/13
Here’s a story for you: With the help of Makom, the leaders of the Bnei Jeshurun community in Manhattan arrange a meeting with Rachel Azaria, Jerusalem council member of the Jerusalemites party.
They hear of her battles for a pluralistic Jerusalem, the fight for afternoon schooling, the struggle against the exclusion of women, and more. And they look to understand from her what New Politics is all about.
Azaria has three children and a baby. It’s the evening, and she has to be on Skype with New York. Her husband is on reserve duty, and her father arrives at her apartment in Katamonim to help out with dinner and showers. To Full Post
June 9, 2013 by Makom
This video came third in the government’s competition for videos answering the question, What is Zionism? The drummer offers his message, while on Army reserve duty…
June 9, 2013 by Robbie Gringras
This is a follow-up article to the conversation that can be found here. First appeared in The Jewish Week.
Can Jewish religious life be full and fulfilling with no connection to Israel? Must a connection to a concrete Israel live separate from synagogue worship? Should our religious rituals ignore Israel in any way other than the metaphorical, or should it accept that the establishment of the State of Israel affected not just Jews but also Judaism itself? To Full Post