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There is no Talmudic evidence at all in regard to any importance attached to Isru Hag

…there is no Talmudic evidence at all in regard to any importance attached to Isru Hag. There is, in fact, evidence to the contrary. The Talmud states: “The days that are written in the Scroll of Fasts the days before and the days that follow them are (also) forbidden; but as for Sabbaths and festivals, on them (on the very day of the Sabbath and festival) it is forbidden but on the day before, and on the day following, it is permissible.” It is evident thus that during Talmudic times, at any rate, the Isru Hag was not an established custom and that there is no convincing halachic foundation for observing the day after a festival, including Pentecost, as bearing some special significance.
It is noteworthy that neither Alfasi nor Maimonides nor R. Asher make any reference to the Isru Hag. The first of the codifiers to refer to it is the Tur. His reference to Isru Hag is however restricted to the day that follows the festival of Passover and has obviously its source in the Roke’ah.

J. Newman, “Isru Hag” 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: Jews’ College, 1967), 304-305.

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When I see a man who has reached the top of a company only by making work his entire life, I think, what about the kids, what about the wife?

Those jobs that refuse to be friendly are often the hardest, most time-consuming, most unpredictable, require the most personal sacrifice and, to me, deserve the best compensation and most corporate status.

Which does not mean that these are the people whom I admire most or want to spend my time with. When I see a man who has reached the top of a company only by making work his entire life, I think, what about the kids, what about the wife? And it’s no different when it’s a woman.

Michael Winerip, “A Man’s View on ‘Having It All’”, New York Times (24 March 2013), SR11.

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No Quick fixes for making plans that involve the future of Jewish community

When making plans that involve the future of Jewish community, we cannot hope for a quick fix, but rather addressing all needs of a disappearing generation of young people will require a concentrated effort of many hands, many hours and a vision of what can be achieved.

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, “Building Our Mishkan”, Jewish Journal (8-14 March 2013), 41.

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No people has been counted out so often – and always outlives those who bet against them

Every few months a national magazine comes out with a bombshell article on how American Jews are vanishing. The article always cites the low Jewish birth rate, the growing rate of intermarriage and the alienation of Jewish college students. The reaction is always the same. Jews panic. The magazine sells out by morning. Jewish masochism is briefly gratifies. For months, the synagogue pulpits of the land resound with dire sermons on the imminent disappearance of the Jews while the congregants, experiencing a mild sensation of déjà vu, sigh sadly, facing the end – once again – with resigned fortitude. Then the article vanishes; the Jews plod on.
This has been going on for three thousand years. It will go on for another three thousand years. If you are a gambling man, put your chips on the Jews. No people has been counted out so often – and always outlives those who bet against them. Believe it – Jews are here for the duration. They are the greatest survivors in history. (Have you seen any Babylonians lately?)

Albert Vorspan, My Rabbi Doesn’t Make House Calls (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1969), vii.

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There certainly remains a wellspring of strong diaspora Jewish support for Israel

There certainly remains a wellspring of strong diaspora Jewish support for Israel, and even for many of its right-wing policies. But that support increasingly is limited to American Orthodox Jews, who themselves are increasingly alienated from the rest of the American Jewish community. (Most Americans who support right-wing Israeli policies are religious Christians, who far outnumber American Jews.) While the high birthrates of the Orthodox point to their growing proportion within the American Jewish community, there could not be an Orthodox majority among American Jews for several more decades. What this means is fairly obvious: If the American political class judges that U.S. interests in the Middle East and in Israel no longer warrant the attention and expense characteristic of the past half century, the power of pro-Israel sentiment in American society is increasingly insufficient to thwart or reverse that judgment.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), 16.

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Paul’s activity was to bring to people the good tidings that through identification with Christ a man could escape the destruction to come

Paul’s activity, reduced to simplest terms, was to bring to people, Jew or Greek, the good tidings that through identification with Christ a man could escape the destruction to come. His message is based on views of man, of life, and of the shortness of time left to this world – views which are poles apart from the views of rabbinic Judaism. The rabbis conceived of man, essentially noble and free, serenely doing God’s will in a world destined permanently to endure. Paul, on the other hand, exhibits not serenity, but charged emotion; the world is about to be destroyed, and helpless, sinful man needs to escape the destruction. God has made eligible for that escape those who believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, transformed them from evil, bodily persons into good, spiritual beings.

Rabbi Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2005), 75.

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The kind of multipurpose national service agency model that was in existence in 1981 isn’t as relevant as it once was

“Even if we had not had the financial crunch, we would have continued to focus our energies more and more around innovation and change, because of other things taking place in Jewish life,” he said. “The kind of multipurpose national service agency model that was in existence…in 1981 isn’t as relevant as it once was.”

Julie Wiener, “For Jewish Education Reform, A ‘Very Messy Period’”, The Jewish Week (1 February 2013), 18.

Re-Imagining Tikkun Olam for America

In the 1950s, Shlomo Bardin, the founder of the Brandeis Camp Institute (BCI) in California, was the first to use the term in the United States, according to Lawrence Fine, author of Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship. By 1970, the Conservative movement named its youth social action program “Tikkun Olam”, and, in 1988, included the doctrine of tikkun olam in its statement of principles.
Tikkun olam took off because “it is so aligned with the cultural values of American Jews,” says Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, author of Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World. At the same time, it also took on political connotations. In 1986, when Michael Lerner founded the bimonthly Jewish magazine Tikkun, tikkun olam took a step toward becoming a universal rallying cry for change that transcends Judaism and includes all of humanity.

Sarah Breger, “How Tikkun Olam Got Its Groove” Moment (May/June 2010), 24, 27.