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Is there a way to remove the shame and stigma that so often go hand in hand with sex and at the same time promote sexual morality and protect against exploitation?

We often seem caught in a dilemma between prudishness and promiscuity. Is there a way to remove the shame and stigma that so often go hand in hand with sex and at the same time promote sexual morality and protect against exploitation?
In fact, this question is at the heart of the approach to intimacy in the Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Michael Bernstein (9 May 2013).

The American Jewish community has been radically decentralized

Without a master plan, the American Jewish community has been radically decentralized. Thirty-five years ago, local federations owned the Jewish community. They were, as they loudly claimed to be, “the central address of the Jewish community.” The three-and-a-half denominations (sorry, Reconstructionist friends) were in rather placid waters, with the Reform movement growing, the Conservative just beginning its protracted journey into the wilderness and the Orthodox, many of us mistakenly believed, half asleep. To the extent that younger Jews wanted “in”, they wanted into the existing structures, which now and then grudgingly made room for them. Here and there, there were local innovations and initiatives but, by and large, Jews were not into new and self-organized modalities.
Today, the action has shifted quite dramatically. Everywhere one turns, there are bands and choirs, newspapers and magazines (in particular, the electronic kind), worship and study minyanim, Moishe Houses, Chabad Houses, new day schools, new vehicles for adult Jewish education and film festivals. There are more groupings of Jews who may not receive funding from their local federations but instead rely on either individual philanthropists, including young ones, or one of the growing number of consortia of such philanthropists in search of compelling innovations in Jewish life.

Leonard Fein, “Oh, The Things I Have Seen…” Moment (May/June 2010), 22.

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The Acceptance of Students in the Talmudic Era

While the rabbis continued to express different views on the subject of teaching “wicked” students, the general tendency was to admit all those who thirsted for knowledge, even if their character was not all that might be desired. It was very rare for a rabbi to refuse to teach a student who genuinely wanted to learn, except in the case of specialized studies which were not part of the normal curriculum.

M. Aberbach, “The Relations Between Master and Disciple in the Talmudic Age” in Essays Presented to Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie on the occasion of his seventieth Birthday, eds. H.J. Zimmels, J. Rabbinowitz and I. Finestein (London: The Soncino Press, 1967), 23.

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Sages had Different Views

We tend to talk in collectives: Hazal—hakhameinu zikhronam liverakhah, “our Sages, blessed be their memory,” “the Sages”—plural, the nevi’im, the Tannaim, the Amoraim, the Rishonim and Aharonim, but on another level we are—or should be—aware that each one of our Sages was himself a treasure-house of Torah, and had shittot and darkei limmud of his own, some of which he had in common with other members of his yeshiva or beit midrash. We are also aware of the fact that our Sages’ words were spoken with great precision and express concepts and principles that are internally consistent. We all know that the Ramban has certain shittot that differ from those of the Rambam, for example, and this is true in areas of Halakhah, Aggadah and hashqafah. The Gemara already notes that that is true of the Tannaim, and, to some extent, it does the same for the Amoraim. If we want to understand the Rambam ki-peshuto, we cannot mix the Ramban’s kabbalistic teachings with the Rambam’s Aristotelian ones….

Yaakov Elman, “Rava as Mara de-Atra in Mahoza,” Hakira 11 (Spring 2011), 59.

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Being a Jewish professional deepens one’s own experience as a Jew, as does giving tzedakah

…hopefully at all Jewish organizations, the act of working there should be part of their Jewish Journey. She hoped to connect this personal growth to the act of giving as being another important step on one’s Jewish Journey. Being a Jewish professional deepens one’s own experience as a Jew, as does giving tzedakah. Both can be seen acts of generosity which ultimately reward the giver.

Adam Naftalin-Kelman, “Staff Giving to the Nonprofits for Which They Work”, eJewish Philanthropy (8 March 2013).

One teacher’s measure of engagement is whether the teens are on their phones or not during class

One teacher shared with us that his measure of engagement is whether the teens are on their phones or not during class. In fact, he identifies potential participants for his program by looking for those who are texting during a service. He invites those students to a religious school class to learn about the prayers so that they can eventually return to services with a greater appreciation and understanding of what is going on – and at that point, they no longer feel a need to be on their phones during a service.

Barb Shimansky, “One Hundred Jewish Professionals Walk Into a Church…”, eJewish Philanthropy (22 February 2013).