Category Archives: Commentary

Peeping Rabbi

Mikvah Chabad PotomacA local Rabbi has recently been accused of secretly observing women as they prepared for the Mikvah. My first reaction was to feel defiled and betrayed, not because this Rabbi might have seen me naked at the Mikvah for my conversion, but because anyone might have insinuated himself (or herself) into such an intensely personal moment.

I checked to see if it was the Mikvah I had used at a Conservative synagogue. It was not. I felt sick to discover it was a well-respected Orthodox Rabbi at an Orthodox Mikvah–and one who had been a Rabbi for 25 years at that. It’s not that I expect Conservative and Reform Rabbis to be voyeuristic perverts. It’s that I never expected an Orthodox Rabbi to be a voyeuristic pervert.

Upon reflection, I’d have to say I hold an Orthodox Rabbi to a higher level for two reasons. One is just plain moral decency. The other is that anyone espousing that level of religious observance had better do more than talk the talk. Until now, it was not within my scope of possibilities for any Rabbi, let alone an Orthodox Rabbi, to behave in this way, just as it was not within the scope of possibilities for a Pope to resign.

I was stunned to see a woman defending this Rabbi on a news report. As far as I remember, she said we must remember that he is a genius and an inspired leader. Really? That makes it okay? It certainly doesn’t for me.

My time at the Mikvah was integral to a moment that remains one of them most significant and personal moments of my life. That anyone would ever dare to intrude on such a moment is beneath contempt.

What Does it Mean to be Welcoming

WELCOME_sI’ve been part of the interfaith community for many years. I’ve felt comfortable, uncomfortable, welcome, tolerated, and most points between on the spectrum. I can tell you which things left me feeling more or less comfortable. I can even give you a definition-in-progress of what I would consider a welcoming congregation. What I hadn’t thought of before last night, is how many aspects of welcome are universal.

Why are we making it so complicated when we sit together as Jews to assess how welcoming our congregations are? Why are we trying to look at ourselves through the eyes of others – especially others who are coming to us from a world view we have not experienced firsthand? Why are we making this such a Herculean task? Continue reading

Job as Everyman

If it’s possible to have a favorite Biblical entity, mine is definitely Job. To me, Job is a particularly virtuous Everyman. He is living his life, loving G’d, and just a generally happy guy. Next thing he knows, the G’d he loves and trusts enters into a wager with none other than Satan. The wager? That even when Satan torments Job, Job will not renounce the L’rd. Continue reading

Adoption: Culturally Trivialized!

I’ve been mulling over the Bognar post on Lilith for a week now. I absolutely share her surprise at the depiction of adoption as anything but a fundamentally positive act. I, too, am surprised when I hear adoption viewed as other than a win-win — at least I am in 90% of the cases. The other 10% – those that involve children from countries without a concept of adoption – leave me with a lot of mixed feelings still to sort.

Ambivalent as I may be about that 10% of adoptions, I am 100% certain that I’m unhappy with the way adoption is trivialized in our culture. More and more, news items about adoption treat the adoptive family as more a foster family or babysitting entity. The”real” mother will look for her “lost” child in time and, when she does, those “nice” adoptive parents will back off.  more…

Adoption: Culturally Persecuted?

I recently read an interesting post on the Lilith site. For those of you who are not familiar with Lilith, it’s a magazine with a demographic of Jewish feminists. I’m not sure I exactly fit, but I am Jewish and I am an adoptive mom, so I figure I’m close enough.

The piece, Are Adoptive Families Culturally Persecuted?, by Tara Bognar, covers Bognar’s experience at a daylong symposium about adoption. Specifically, Bognar reflects on the keynote speech given by Dr. Debora Spar, President of Barnard College. read more…

Shanda

A shanda is “something that brings shame upon oneself, one’s family, and perhaps the entire Jewish community.” If Sandy Koufax had pitched on Yom Kippur – World Series or not – that would have been a shanda bringing shame upon the entire Jewish people.

Check out this article about a more personal type of shanda. It appeared in Reform Judaism in Winter 2012 and is, appropriately enough, entitled The Disgrace of a Nice Jewish Girl.

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