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Op-Ed

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Rabbinic Reflections." www.azjewishlife.com. 7 November 2013.

Who is one of your favorite figures from Jewish texts?

Answer: Bruriah - Talmudic Scholar, Feminist Hero, Advocate for Human Potential. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "G-d Prays But Do We? Reflecting on Creation." Times of Israel. 4 November 2013.

In one Talmudic story, G-d asks humans for a blessing (Berachot7a). The rabbis go even further and teach that G-d prays (Chullin60b). Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Unity of Religions? God is Not One!" Huffington Post. 1 November 2013.

I can recall at a global interfaith gathering in Davos, Switzerland, a faith leader stood up and claimed that "we are all brothers and sisters since our faiths are really the same." I recall feeling shocked by the simplicity. That type of unity can be terrifying. We can respect each other while honoring differences in values. The Dalai Lama has argued that "the essential message of all religions is very much the same." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "On Free Will and Revelation." Jewish Journal. 30 October 2013.

The rabbis taught that free will was suspended at the time of revelation. "The Holy One held the mountain over them like a bucket and warned them: If you accept the Torah - good. And if not - here you will be buried" (Shabbat 88a). There is an interesting Talmudic debate regarding how the Israelites responded to the intensity of this revelation at Sinai. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Expert Witnesses: Jewish Legal Requirements for Testimony." Times of Israel. 30 October 2013.

Truth is one of the highest religious values. The Torah requires that we not only refrain from lying but that we also actively seek to perpetuate truth. Consider this Talmudic teaching: Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jews and Halloween: To Treat or Not to Treat?" Times of Israel. 29 October 2013.

I grew up with this funny custom of knocking on strangers' doors once a year to ask for free candy. By the end of the night, I had enough sugar to last a lifetime. Three decades later, we won't be sending our children door-to-door. Purim will be our time for costumes and gift exchanging, but we will always open the door, greet children with a smile, and provide them with their requested trick-or-treat (however I fear my tricks would disappoint a hopeful youngster). Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Genius Fetus." Jewish Press. 27 October 2013.

The rabbis teach that as a fetus we were much more actualized than we could ever imagine. In fact, we were geniuses! Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Value of Reading Novels." Huffington Post. 27 October 2013.

I'll be the first to admit that while I love reading fiction I'm not a consistent novel reader. I enjoy non-fiction loaded with facts, theories, and analysis. I don't always have the patience for narrative. Given the results of some new research, maybe I should reconsider that. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Affirming Justice: Our Relationship to Government and Heaven." Huffington Post. 25 October 2013.

There was a lot of wisdom in the psychoanalytic revelation that our relationship with our parents is interconnected with our relationship with G-d. Perhaps there is a connection between our relationship toward the government and toward heaven as well? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Western Wall: Do Objects Contain Holiness?" Shma. 25 October 2013.

I have always felt something exceptional at the Kotel (western wall), but I have generally had to work to achieve that feeling and it remains unpredictable. There is something holy that I cannot yet fully grasp about that place in the heart of Jerusalem. It may seem counterintuitive to think that our religion (consumed with the heart, mind, and soul) could find holiness in objects or places, but Jewish law is unequivocal in the proposition that there are, in fact, holy objects and places. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Intimidation, Alienation, and Suicide: Creating Nurturing Comunities Together." Times of Israel 25 October 2013.

Suicide is prohibited in the Torah (Genesis 9:5-6,Bava Kama91b). One remarkable passage shows how far one sage went to preserve his own life (prevent his own suicide): Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Theology of Angels: Our Daily Choices." Huffington Post. 22 October 2013.

Throughout history, some Jewish philosophers never took the idea of angels literally. The Rambam, for example, argued that any textual reference to an angel had to be understood as a prophetic vision and not as an actual real-world occurrence. Even further, the talking snake in the Garden of Eden should be considered an allegory, and Balaam's experience with a talking donkey should be considered a dream (Guide, 2:42). In Maimonidean angelology, contrary to the pop-culture flying winged angel in white, angels have form but no matter. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Tevilat Keilim: Transforming our Consumption." Jewish Journal. 20 October 2013.

There is a mitzvah to take one's newcooking utensils to the mikvah(spiritual bath) to give them a spiritual dip (Numbers 31:23). What is the purpose of such a ritual? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "We Need a Revolution in the Pharmaceutical Drug Industry." Huffington Post. 14 October 2013.

Imagine you live in a small village in Africa and your child is dying of a treatable disease. It is brought to your attention that the drug used to treat your child's disease costs less than $1 to produce but you would have to pay more than $1,000 to purchase it (an amount that is impossible for you to pay). Tragically, you watch your child die as you are consumed with grief, confusion, and resentment for global pricing structures. Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "Enter the Word! Social Media and the Story of Noah." Huffington Post. 7 October 2013.

Here╩╝s a thought experiment: Try and remember every single word you emailed, tweeted, of posted to Facebook this week. Ok, got it? No? Can you remember a half of what you said? A third? A tenth? A hundredth? So many words! Read More..

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "An Apology to Jewish Thinkers Throughout History that have been Ostracized." Times of Israel. 4 October 2013.

Historically, the worst punishment one could receive in the Jewish community was herem, or excommunication. One was completely ostracized from the Jewish community, yet - unlike today - generally could not turn to the secular or non-Jewish world for refuge. Many were put in herem for immoral actions but many for unpalatable ideological positions, such as Baruch Spinoza and Leon Trotsky. Maimonides, generally thought to be the greatest of Jewish philosophers, had his own books burnt, as did the great 20th century legal authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Read More..

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Confirmation Bias and the Ethical Demands of Argumentation." Huffington Post. 3 October 2013.

People tend to be one-sided in their perspectives, and this can lead to poor decision making. Confirmation bias is the tendency people have to favor facts or arguments that confirm the beliefs and positions they already hold. The extreme form of this bias is referred to as "belief perseverance" when people hold onto their beliefs even after they've been proven false. Often it is due to wishful thinking or an inability to alter one's emotional attachment to an idea. In daily life as citizens and as religious people, this tendency is destructively blinding, and we must work to combat it. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Discrimination in the Workplace: How Do You Judge?" Jewish Journal. 2 October 2013.

The Torah teaches that G-d does not show favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17). G-d does not discriminate, and we are asked to emulate that example. This command is made explicit (Deuteronomy 16:19): People are to be treated equally. When it comes to procedural justice, all (even the poor) are to be treated equally: "You shall not favor the poor and you shall not honor the great" (Leviticus 19:15). However, when it comes to social justice (dealing with legislative matters rather than judicial matters), the vulnerable must be given extra support. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Adapting to Change: Sending the Dove from the Ark." Times of Israel. 2 October 2013.

Why does Noah send the dove from the ark to see if there is any dry land? Perhaps it is just human nature to want to know what is going on, but the Torah spends multiple verses on Noah sending the dove. Nothing will change for him (and all on the ark) if the dove finds dry land; they will wait for the ark to hit dry land in any case. Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "Parting Gifts from God: The End of the Jewish Holidays." Huffington Post. 30 September 2013.

The two-month marathon of Jewish holidays is over. For many, (myself included), there is a feeling of some of relief -- no more cooking, no more emails piled up after missed days of work, back to regular life. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Spiritual Courage: Fear No Man." Huffington Post. 30 September 2013.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King faced many death threats throughout his life. In the spring of 1968, as he planned a Poor People's March on Washington, D.C., to support economic rights for America's poor, he decided to stop in Memphis to help striking sanitation workers, who were paid very little and also mostly black. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Teaching by Modeling: Living With Inspiration." Huffington Post. 24 September 2013.

We can preach and teach all day long but if we don't live those values there will be no power of influence. Transformative education happens through mentorship and a life of modeled virtue. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "To Dust You Shall Return:The Dignity of Burial." Times of Israel. 22 September 2013.

After the horrific stories of burning bodies in crematoria, the thought of any burnt body haunts me. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Celebrating the Joy of Multiple Perspectives." Jewish News. 18 September 2013.

Simchat Torah is one of the most unique Jewish holidays, where we paradoxically celebrate the most intellectual of Jewish activities (Torah study) through the most emotional expression (singing and dancing). What is it exactly that we're celebrating? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Prophetic Pluraism: Reaching Higher Truth Together." Times of Israel. 15 September 2013.

While epistemic pluralism is generally considered to be a post-Enlightenment phenomenon, we can see the beginnings of this thinking in the writings of the Prophets. Consider the words of Micah. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "On Yom Kippur, Praying Mightily for Syria." Washington Post. 12 September 2013.

I know as an Orthodox rabbi I shouldn't struggle with prayer, especially since atrocities occur throughout the world each day, but this year feels different. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Intelligence of Man and of Beast." Huffington Post. 29 August 2013.

Every day, hundreds of millions of chickens are held in small cages with no mobility. When many of us are confronted with the realities of factory farming, we rely on the rationalization that these animals are for our consumption, and aren't intelligent enough to understand or feel what is happening to them anyway. This is not true, however; animals have a meaningful intelligence of their own. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "For Health Reform to Succeed, Millenials Must Participate." Jewish Week. 29 August 2013.

Jewish law is deeply concerned about and committed to healthcare being a matter of collective responsibility. The American Jewish community is vocal in support of healthcare reform, and and over the past few years there has been great progress in ensuring that the most vulnerable are able to get the healthcare they need. Yet the ultimate success or failure of Obamacare may be up to millenials, many of whom are relucant to participate. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Honoring Our Parents: Can We Learn from China?"
Jewish Press. 26 August 2013.

It is well known that millions of elderly Americans are neglected at their most vulnerable time. Jewish law, however, requires multiple times and in multiple ways that we honor our parents (Exodus 20:11, Exodus 21:15, Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 19:3, Deuteronomy 27:16).Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Cognitive Conflict: Should Educational Debates Be Competitive or Collaborative?". Huffington Post. 26 August 2013.

I recently made the case for the importance of developing argument skills and explored various academic approaches to enhancing cognitive development. We must also explore whether we'll embrace a competitive or collaborative learning environment to further student growth. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Core Values for Strong 21st Century Jewish Leadership." Jewish Journal. 16 August 2013.

There are many different kinds of leaders, different leadership traits, and different processes of leadership. Ultimately, one must be authentic to their values, personality, and social change philosophy. These core principles outlined here helped to motivate me and help me navigate difficult issues where I yearn for better realities. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "What If You Found A Diamond? The Mitzvah of Returning Lost Objects." Jewish Journal. 25 August 2013.

Leaving aside religious conviction, local laws, and even secular morality for a moment, consider this question: What would you do if you were homeless and stumbled across a very valuable object that could help you eat and get back on your feet? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Drinking and Driving: Raising the Bar?" Times of Israel. 22 August 2013.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently suggested lowering the legal threshold assessing drunk driving - the blood-alcohol content (BAC) level - from the current level of 0.08 to 0.05. A 160-lb. man can reach that level of 0.05 with two beers or a single martini; a 120-lb. woman can reach that level with one glass of wine. With current regulation, drunken driving accounts for around 10,000 a year in the United States. The hope is that lowering the legal limit will prevent even more of these tragic deaths; one study shows that this move can save more than 500 lives a year. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Adultery and Marriage: A Jewish Approach to Monogamy."
Jewish Press. 22 August 2013.

It is well known that one of the Ten Commandments is the prohibition of adultery. Extramarital sex has historically been a man's game, since the male sexual desire is stereotypically assumed to be uncontrollable. A recent survey by the National Opinion Research Center has shown, however, that the number of married American women having adulterous affairs has nearly doubled over the last decade. Today, 21 percent of men admit to having such affairs while 14.7 percent of women now admit to having them. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Debt Crisis: National and International."
Huffington Post. 20 August 2013.

Since the economic crash of 2008, millions of Americans have suffered as they drown in debt. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Developing Cognitive Competence: Learning the Skills of Argument." Huffington Post. 19 August 2013.

Earlier I shared an educational problem that scholars have described as a crisis in poor critical thinking training found in American schools today. We must still better appreciate the value of an argument-skills curriculum. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Failing In Order to Succeed." Jewish Press. 19 August 2013.

The rabbis teach that we can only truly understand Torah when we allow ourselves to fail at it (Gittin 43a). Unless we push ourselves to reach for deeper understanding, where we inevitably get it wrong before we can get it right, we will not grasp the very essence of the Jewish enterprise. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Need for Empowering and Ethical Jewish Outreach." E-Jewish Philanthropy. 18 August 2013.

In my personal religious journey, I was fortunate to have found the right mentors and educators who supported and challenged me but also never attempted to manage my life journey. They cared deeply about my growth but the steering wheel was always in my hands. I strive to emulate that model in my own leadership and outreach. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Society With Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for 'Arguement' in Education." Huffington Post. 15 August 2013.

Researchers have shown that most students today are weak in critical thinking skills. They do poorly on simple logical reasoning tests (Evans, 2002). Only a fraction of graduating high school seniors (6 percent of 12th graders) can make informed, critical judgments about written text (Perie, Grigg, and Donahue, 2005). This problem applies to both reading and writing. Only 15 percent of 12th graders demonstrate the proficiency to write well-organized essays that consisted of clear arguments (Perie et al., 2005). Read More...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Noah: My Animal Welfare Hero." Times of Israel. 14 August 2013.

I was a 23-year-old graduate student when I decided to be a vegetarian after attending a lecture by Professor Martha Nussbaum on the neo-Aristotelian capabilities argument, which holds that it is morally wrong to shorten any other being's capability or potential. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "One Special Mitzvah and Paying it Forward" Times of Israel. 8 August 2013.

What does loyalty and commitment to high quality religious performance mean? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "To Bet or Not to Bet: Jewish Concerns with Gambling and the Lottery" The Jewish Week. 6 August 2013.

Judaism is mostly a rationalist tradition that embraces free will, critical thinking, and the importance of the intellect. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Hebrew School: A Failed Experiment" Times of Israel. 5 August 2013.

Growing up, I spent years' worth of Sundays being bored out of my mind, asked to memorize dates and names, playing games well below my level, and singing songs I didn't understand. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Was the Destruction of the Temple Good For the Jews? A Tisha B'Av Reflection." Times of Israel. 12 July 2013.

Also have trouble crying for the Temple? Why is it that we mourn on Tisha B'Av? Paradoxically, one of the most tragic events in Jewish history (the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash) may also have forced the most generative stimuli that ever propelled the Jewish People forward! Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Torah Does Not Heal!" Times of Israel. 9 July 2013.

Religion has rightly been criticized for serving as a justification for oppression, but by the same measure it can be the vehicle for truth, justice, and good in the world. Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "'Damage by Seeing -- Jewish Insights for the Privacy Debate." Huffington Post. 8 July 2013.

What quality makes a society great? Is it justice? Freedom? Opportunity?

One famous Jewish teaching claims none of the above. Rather, it claims privacy makes a society great. The Bible teaches a story about a prophet named Bilaam who was hired to curse the children of Israel, but upon seeing the society, was only able to say blessings, like How good are your tents Jacob... like gardens by the river, like fragrant herbs planted by God." What prompted this blessing when he was hired to do the opposite? What goodness did he see? The Talmud explains: "He saw that their tent openings did not face each other." The Israelite society was structured in a way that people could not see into each other's inner lives. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Work-Life Balance: Valuing Time Off For All in the Workplace." Huffington Post. 8 July 2013.

A 2011 survey found that over 60 percent of childless women between the ages of 33 and 47 believed that their colleagues with children were given more schedule flexibility with employers. It is a positive development that the workplace tends to acknowledge the importance of parenting, but we must also be sure that the life choices and circumstances of other employees are not devalued. Kat Stoeffel in New York magazine questioned whether "children are the only extra-professional pursuit moral enough to justify working a flexible 40-hour week." Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Case For Intellectual Judaism: Adults Can't Rely on Their 3rd Grade Education."
Times of Israel. 8 July 2013.

Piety left the center stage of Jewish life with the destruction of the Temple, when we moved from a religion based in priestly rite to the academic, detailed, and all-encompassing structure of rabbinic Judaism. The paradigm shift not only moved our community from a religion centered on animal sacrifices to a religion of prayer and study; it was also the transition from piousness to an intellectual, legalistic religion. Judaism came and proclaimed to the world, "Ideas matter!" Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Growing Divide: The Ultra-Orthodox in the Army & Workplace."
Times of Israel. 4 July 2013.

As one who has lived and learned among the Ultra-Orthodox, I have a great respect and affinity for the community. I also feel as a religious Jew that I stand in solidarity with that community in our absolute commitment to the Torah. With every love, however, comes concerns and I am not alone in being deeply worried about Ultra-Orthodox spiritual-intemperance, isolation, and poverty. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Not Jews Yet Jewish! Welcoming the 'Seed of Israel'."
Times of Israel. 1 July 2013.

The typical discourse in the Orthodox community suggests that the world consists of a binary between "Jews" and "Non-Jews." Most of the time this makes sense, but at other times it inevitably leads toward unnecessary exclusion. Instead, I'd like to propose that there are three categories: 1) Non-Jews; 2) Halakhic Jews; and 3) Members of the Jewish people. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Next Generation: Empowering Leadership and Learning For Emerging Adults."
Times of Israel. 30 June 2013.

We've all heard the story. People in their 20s and 30s are marrying later, taking longer to complete their studies, switching jobs more often, living at home longer, and not joining and forming their own communities. Jennifer Silva, a Harvard researcher, recently argued that "Adulthood is not simply being delayed but dramatically reimagined along lines of trust, dignity and connection and obligation to others," and that we should not cringe at this "problem" but instead embrace it as an opportunity. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Virtue of Modesty: A Reflection on the Theological Value of Privacy." Jewish Week.
28 June 2013.

In recent years, debates about the right to privacy have emerged stronger than ever. Especially in light of last week's events, there are political issues to explore, but we all also have our own introspective work to do to grow in our own sense of modesty (tzniut). Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Time for A Panentheistic Revolution: An Ethical Theology of Connectedness."
Huffington Post. 26 June 2013.

Ready to embrace a spiritual revolution to raise the stakes for our social justice impact?

Most monotheistic approaches suggest that G-d alone created the world but that G-d is separate and to some degree removed from the world. The resulting view is that either the Divine is "isolated" from humanity or humanity is "alienated" from the Divine. Pantheism, an approach that monotheists reject, suggests that G-d is everything (or literally all is in G-d, pan = all, theos = G-d). There is, however, a middle ground called panentheism where everything is still a part of, or in, G-d, yet G-d created everything and is still greater than everything. Among leading rabbinic thinkers of the last few centuries, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook and Rav Shneur Zalman of Lyady most famously embrace this approach. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Are Watches Forbidden? When Halachic Prohibitions Go Too Far."
Times of Israel. 24 June 2013.

Last year, eighty-five-year-old Ultra-Orthodox posek Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ordered his followers to burn their iPhones. According to Rabbi Kanievsky and many Haredi rabbis, the outside world, especially Internet, must be kept out of consciousness, and anyone who has a cell phone with Internet and video capabilities should be shunned. Not only did he forbid owning one; on grounds thata Jew cannot sell weapons (which iPhones are) to a non-Jew, he also forbade owners from selling it - instead one must "burn it!" (His position on the relative importance of the custom to wear a hat is also cause for concern.) Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Food Aid Bill: We Will Progress Step by Step." Huffington Post. 24 June 2013.

Last week, there was a great opportunity on Capitol Hill to pass a comprehensive, updated Farm Bill, which by a strange arrangement governs foreign food aid as well as the domestic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as the food stamp program). Thus far, there has been a frustrating series of reversals at all attempts to update or improve the bill. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Hitting Children for Obedience? Parenting With Compassion!" Times of Israel. 20 June 2013.

Now, it's true that the Rambam (Talmud Torah 2:2) thought we should hit children (and women) to instill fear in them. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Imperfect Knowledge and Anger Toward Heaven." Jewish Week.
20 June 2013.

We live in a complex world. At its best, religion makes reality more complicated rather than more simple to understand. It reminds us how noble ideas are, how small we are, how little we understand, and how complex the human condition and the world are. We can learn about the interconnected complex nature of our world from an insight in Kabbalah. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Tnuva: Addressing the Current Animal Welfare Crisis." Times of Israel. 20 June 2013.

More than a century ago, Americans became outraged after investigative journalists (derisively called "muckrakers" at first) and novelists uncovered the deplorable conditions under which slaughterhouses operated. The alarming reports of unsanitary slaughtering and processing techniques led to passage of the first legislation to ensure the inspection of meat so as to prevent consumers from coming to harm, and for decades afterward the incidence of food poisoning diminished. At that time, neither the animals who were killed at these plants, nor the workers who labored there, garnered much attention. In this century, a new movement has emerged, one of men and women who stand for the humane treatment of animals, including those that are slaughtered. Some critics argue that there is no such thing as humane slaughter; interestingly, rabbis in Israel have weighed in on this issue during a current legal case. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jesus, Shabbat Violators, and an Ethic of Tolerance." Huffington Post. 19 June 2013.

Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffmann, who became rector of the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin in 1899, straddled traditional Orthodox beliefs with modern thought. He was the leading halakhic scholar in Germany during the early 20th century, but he also used scientific method to analyze religious texts, and he wrote in German, not Hebrew. Rabbi Hoffman dealt very seriously with the question of how Shabbat desecrators are to be viewed in modernity: In Melamed L'ho'il, he wrote one of the most significant and formative halachic rulings of the 20th century: Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Power of Language: Cultivating Positive Emotions." Jewish Journal. 19 June 2013.

Language affects the heart. When we're surrounded by others who speak negatively, it can really affect our mood and disposition. Are we aware of how much negative language there is around us? Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Jewish Service Revolution: Challenges and Opportunities." Huffington Post. 17 June 2013.

Money may make the world go around, but social media has shown that big ideas can achieve big impact and far reach without any money at all. Running parallel to this, when it comes to Jewish values, philanthropy is certainly extremely important, but we can never neglect the equally important value of service. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Essence of Judaism is Obligation: The Foundation for Pluralism." The Times of Israel. 11 June 2013.

The fundamental commitment of being a Jew is to answer the question, "Ayeka" (where are you?), with "Hineni" (here I am), affirming a sense of responsibility and obligation to the other. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly.
"
Mandela, Lincoln and the Tutsis: A Future Built on Forgiveness." Huffington Post. 6 June 2013.

There are hurts so deep that forgiveness of those who did the hurting seems impossible. I have encountered so many who have become alienated from people they love over a disagreement that no longer matters. Neither was able to ask for or give forgiveness and so they parted ways. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Can't Give Up Brisket? Then Start with Veal!"
The Times of Israel. 3 June 2013.

Even those committed to eating kosher meat should consider not eating veal. Baby calves prepared for slaughter often are sick, consume only non-kosher food, and live under extreme conditions to ensure the meat will be white, respectively involving possible terefa, kashrut (Ramah and Shach, Y.D. 60:1), and tzaar baalei chaim issues. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Aish Kodesh: Inflated Success and Positive Reinforcement."
Jewish Week. 29 May 2013.

Many child development books today encourage using only positive language with children. Instead of speaking with discouraging, critical, or punitive language, one should frame the direction in the positive. While there is clearly some benefit to this approach, when done incorrectly it may also further a next generation of inflated egos. There is already no lack of unearned "validation" in our culture. The authors of Switch explain: Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Violence in Sports: Promoting Character Development in Youth Athletics." Huffington Post. 29 May 2013.

I grew up as a hardcore competitive athlete. I learned to cultivate perseverance to run the extra mile at full speed, teamwork to pass the ball, and a disciplined work ethic to challenge myself to the next level. But it was not always pretty. I can recall bloody backyard football games, injuries in varsity basketball, and elbow checks in cross country meets. Growing up as a committed competitive athlete had its thrills but it was not easy or painless. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Limits of Reason and the Ethics of Inclusivity." Times of Israel. 28 May 2013.

Throughout Jewish history, new ideas have emerged and been integrated into Jewish thought. Rationalism is one example of this phenomenon, but the countermotion to this mode of thinking is just as well-established in our tradition. For example, while the Rambam was the great Jewish champion for rational thinking, he also knew its limits. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Bystanders, Levinas, & Our Role as Religious Citizens." Times of Israel. 27 May 2013.

The power of group conformity can lead us to absurd behavior where we do not help others or even ourselves! Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Lessons on Tzedakah from The Sanzer Rebbe." Jewish Journal. 26 May 2013.

Sometimes we are more concerned with not being duped than we are with ensuring that we achieve the right goal. Perhaps it's okay to be naively taken advantage of a little bit if it helps ensure that we don't harden our hearts. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Bangladesh: We Must Prevent Future Industrial Disasters." Jewish Week. 24 May 2013.

Over 700 Bangladeshis have tragically died in the collapse of a building housing several garment factories. It appears that the owners of the Rana Plaza factory building had illegally added three floors to the structure and installed generators and machines that caused the vibrations that led to its collapse. While this is the highest death toll in a single garment factory, the death of workers in this region is not uncommon, as hundreds of Bangladeshi garment workers, women and men, have been badly burnt, suffocated or crushed to death. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Contemporary Politics: Oaths Made in Vain." Huffington Post. 22 May 2013.

The power of speech is one of the most amazing human faculties: The great Bible commentator Onkelos (on Genesis 2:7) goes so far as to suggest that this is the defining feature of being human. How we use our speech ultimately determines what we are about. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Vanilla and Chocolate Swirled With Compassion: The Case for Buying Fair Trade."
Times of Israel. 21 May 2013.

Until 1865, most Americans consumed cotton, tobacco, sugar, and other goods produced by slave labor. Some dedicated abolitionists refused to use these products. Today, we face a similar problem, as many products that we consume daily are produced with forced or child labor, with farmers and artisans working for starvation wages, and in an unsustainable manner that damages and depletes the environment. Fortunately, we now have a better option than merely a boycott: We can insist on fair trade certification. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Distractions and the Spiritual Art of Focusing."
Times of Israel. 21 May 2013.

In the technology era, we are all finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate for long periods of time on one task. Between text messages and phone messages, email, Facebook and other social media, we are constantly responding to communications from all directions. Our brains must continually adjust to these different technologies and forms of communication. Gloria Mark of the University of California at Irvine found that, in the workplace, the average employee gets around 11 minutes to focus on a task before being interrupted. It then takes around 25 minutes to return one's focus to the original task. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Spiritual Start-Up Nation."
Jewish Week. 13 May 2013.

Dan Senor and Saul Singer authored a popular book called Start-Up Nation, showing how Israel has become a mecca for entrepreneurship and business innovation. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Damage by Watching: Drones & Privacy."
Zeek by The Forward. 26 April 2013.

Jeremy Bentham, a leading 18th-century utilitarian thinker, advocated the panopticon prison, where convicts would be placed under constant surveillance by a central control station. The most notable critique of the panopticon prison model came from philosopher Michel Foucault, who viewed it as integral model for a "disciplinary society." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Should Children Be In Solitary Confinement?" Huffington Post. 22 April 2013.

In 1840, Charles Dickens visited a prison in Philadelphia and wrote: "I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body." Read More...


Hart, Ari. "5 Jewish Responses to the Boston Attacks, From Rabbinic and Torah Sources." Huffington Post. 17 April 2013.

As our nation reels and begins to recover from this week's attacks, our religious traditions can offer wisdom and comfort. Below are five primary sources from the Jewish canon. I hope you find some of them helpful in your own grieving and processing. May God protect the wounded, help our national heal and help bring the perpetrators to justice. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Rabbi Michael Broyde: Identity Deception, Apologies, and Forgiveness."
Times of Israel. 14 April 2013.

Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor and the academic director of the Law and Religion Program at Emory University. He holds a JD from NYU, rabbinic ordination from YU, is a leading judge for the prestigious Beit Din of America, and has authored more than 100 important articles and other books. He is known as a very significant scholar in the Centrist Orthodox community. Yet all of his credibility has now been called into question. Read More....


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Eating Stale Popcorn: Holiness Through Consumer Empowerment."
Times of Israel. 10 April 2013.

How much stale popcorn do you eat?

A team of researchers at Cornell University wanted to assess eating patterns, so they gave movie attendees old stale popcorn in buckets of different sizes, weighing the buckets before and after the movie to measure precisely how much popcorn each person ate. The results were striking: People with the largebuckets ate 53 percent more popcorn than people with the medium-size buckets. While each movie attendee was equally hungry, and each had equally bad stale popcorn, those with larger buckets ate the equivalent of 173 more calories and dipped their hands into their buckets approximately 21 more times. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A People of Compassion:Calling for Transparency in Animal Cruelty." Times of Israel. 9 April 2013.

A Jew is expected to be obsessed with compassion. The Sages taught that being compassionate is a prerequisite to truly be Jewish: "Jews are compassionate children of compassionate ancestors (rachmanim b'nei rachmanim) and one who is not compassionate cannot truly be a descendant of our father Abraham" (Beitzah 32b). Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Rabbi Dov Linzer, A Posek for the 21st Century." Times of Israel. 9 April 2013.

For many years, I met poskim (Jewish legal authorities) who were brilliant but I felt lacked a sensitivity to the modern human condition. I met others who I felt were deeply sensitive but were more narrow in their approach to Jewish texts. In recent years, however, I spent a great deal of time learning with Rabbi Dov Linzer, the Rosh Yeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and found his erudition to be unmatched and his deep human sensitivity to be awe-inspiring. The Rosh Yeshiva is under 50 years old but his talmudic scholarship, brilliant insights, and menschlikeit are unmatched. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Strangers, Immigrants and the Eglah Arufah."
Jewish Journal. 5 April 2013.

The Jewish tradition places a strong emphasis on our duties toward the stranger. The Rabbis returned repeatedly to the injunction: "you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20). Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch elaborated on this teaching, explaining that there are no preconditions for receiving basic rights other than being human: Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Close Gitmo Now." Jewish Journal. 5 April 2013.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught "You see, if there is one place on earth that is most un-G dly, it is prison. In prison a person is stripped of that which makes him uniquely human: his freedom. For this reason there is no punishment of jail in Jewish law." This is even truer when one never experienced a fair trial yet is subject to isolation and torture. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Five Years After The Postville Immigration Raid: Revisiting Immigration Reform."
Jewish Journal. 4 April 2013.

It feels like yesterday that Rabbi Ari Hart and I were in Postville, Iowa speaking with workers to learn about their suffering and to offer our solidarity. The tears and pain of the immigrant women and children we encountered will always be with me. But it has been five years since the kosher scandal and the immigration raid shook the Jewish community and the world. What has changed since then? Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Cost of A Tombstone: Another Approach."
Jewish Journal. 3 April 2013.

In preparing to officiate at a funeral yesterday, I met with a family to make the arrangements and prepare the eulogy. I informed the mourning children that they might consider wearing an old garment at the funeral so that we could rip it before the ceremony ("tear keriah") as is traditionally done. The response I received was the first I had ever received of its kind. The son told me that he would not do it. He said that for his father, he would only tear his nicest new garment. His father deserved it. I was very inspired by his unique commitment and how much this ritual meant to him. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Stealing from Special Needs Children and the Taxpayer: Does it Get Any Lower?"
Jewish Journal. 3 April 2013.

Just when we thought Orthodox scandals couldn't get worse, we learn that millions of taxpayer dollars have been illegally diverted to Jewish institutions by unscrupulous and self-interested parties. Bnos Bais Yaakov, an ultra-Orthodox school in New York, was one of the city's largest recipients of funding for disability services. Read More...



Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jewish Business Ethics: Proper Marketing and Selling." Jewish Journal. 31 March 2013.

There is a famous business concept called caveat emptor (buyer beware). In secular society, as long as a seller does not blatantly lie or actively conceal a defect, it is the full responsibility of the buyer to exercise due diligence and to inspect what is being purchased. Jewish law takes a totally different approach: It is presumed that no defects or problems exist in a product or property if they are not disclosed explicitly by the seller. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "We Are Still in Egypt."
Jerusalem Post. 30 March 2013.

THE PASSOVER Seder is designed to bring about joy, but even more than that, its purpose is to remind us of human struggle. Through this moral consciousness, our human conscience is rebooted. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Do You Really Know What You're Buying? Another Kosher Scandal." Jewish Journal. 29 March 2013.

The rabbis teach that the paradigmatic case of chillul Hashem (descreation of the Name of G-d) is how we buy and sell meat (Yoma 86a). That's why what seems to be the most recent scandal this week is another major blow to the credibility of American kosher establishments. Read More...


Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Feeding Our Workers."
Jewish Week. 21 March 2013.

I recall my experiences as a teenager working waiting tables in various restaurants. There was a high-paced energy that was difficult to maintain, but the greatest challenge was constantly being hungry while serving others food. Today, many have it much worse than anything I experienced, because they work long shifts with no breaks at all to eat. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Reclaiming the Morality of Our Torah: A Response To Rabbi Hershel Schachter." Jewish Journal. 20 March 2013.

Recently, a scandal emerged within the Orthodox community when Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a halakhic leader and member of the faculty of Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), made an overtly racist comment that was recorded at a London conference. The greatest objections (including from Yeshiva University) revolve around his reluctance to sanction the reporting of sex crimes directly to the police (mesirah), warning that if a Jewish sex offender were sent to a state prison, he might be killed by the warden, or beput "in a cell with a shvartze, in a cell with a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews." Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "Authenticity in a False World." Huffington Post. 6 March 2013.

What is the realest thing you know?

A few weeks ago, I posted this question as my Facebook status. These were some of the answers my friends wrote: Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Special Report from Washington DC: This Year, AIPAC Should Support the Syrian Rebels." Jewish Journal. 3 March 2013.

What would you do if I told you Hezbullah was multiplying its strength? If international jihadists from across the world were setting up camp on Israel's border? This is not hypothetical. These situations--both of them--are taking place in Syria right now, as the beleaguered autocratic regime of Bashar el-Assad struggles to contain an armed uprising against his rule. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Steipler Rav & Kapishnitzer Rebbe - Loving Family Through Acts of Kindness." Jewish Journal. 28 February 2013.

In the Jewish tradition, love is considered to be more of an action than an emotion. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik wrote:
The Bible spoke of the commandment to love one's neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). However, in Talmudic literature, emphasis was placed not only upon sentiment, but upon action, which is motivated by sentiment. The Hoshen Mishpat, the Jewish code of civil law, analyzes not human emotions but actual human relations. The problem of Hoshen Mishpat is not what one feels toward the other, but how he acts toward him (Family Redeemed, p. 40). Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "How Do We Relate To Morally Difficult Texts in Jewish Tradition?" Jewish Week. 27 February 2013.

We have all become familiar with the tactics of bigots who distort our religious beliefs or make up horrible lies to advance their hatred. Fortunately, most people in our pluralistic society recognize and reject these tactics. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Pope and Jewish Communal Professionals: Staying in a Job Too Long? The Need for Term Limits!" Jewish Journal. 27 February 2013.

I have been involved with many institutions where someone clearly overstayed his or her welcome in a certain position. That person should have retired, transitioned, or resigned years (maybe even decades) earlier, but found ways to maneuver such that he or she could stick around, with the majority of folks involved in the organization becoming deeply resentful and the organization itself having its growth stunted. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Rousseau, Civilized Man, and Chametz in the Heart!" Jewish Journal. 23 February 2013.

It is generally viewed as a success of the Enlightenment that we have cast off what philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau called "homme sauvage" (the natural, free, wild man) and built up the "homme civilize" (the civilized, enlightened, modern man). As Rousseau, who paradoxically opposed much of what the Enlightenment brought about, famously wrote in The Social Contract: "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is Haman Alive Today? Purim & Happiness!" Jewish Journal. 22 February 2013.

The Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins tonight, is a joyous time of celebration. The story of the Book of Esther is familiar: In the 4th century BCE, the Persian King Ahasuerus fell under the influence of his evil prime minister Haman, who resented the Jews who refused to bow down to him. In revenge, Haman persuaded the King to issue a secret decree to kill all the Jews on the 13th of Adar, and he made preparations to hang Mordechai the Jew for his refusal to prostrate himself before Haman in submission. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Force of the Orthodox Union." Jewish Journal. 21 February 2013.

The Orthodox Union (OU) is the leading organization supporting and building the American Orthodox community. Its teen and young adult engagement efforts stretch across North America through NCSY and JLIC; its lay and rabbinic community building efforts are significant, with its work in supporting synagogues around the country, those with disabilities through Yachad, and rabbinic leaders through the RCA; its advocacy work is also noteworthy, with significant resources devoted to domestic and Israel policy lobbying. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Combatting Sloth!" Jewish Journal. 21 February 2013.

Classically, the vice of sloth (laziness) had two components:

1. acedia - a lack of caring or indifference
2. tristtitia - sadness, sorrow, or despair

I would argue that the negative aspect of individualism that exists today in 21st century is furthered by acedia. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Activisms of Love and Hate." Jewish Journal. 21 February 2013.

Should we fight for justice with hearts full of love or hearts full of anger? Which is more rewarding? Which is more productive? Which must we cultivate as religious activists? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Mitzvah of Adoption, Denied Orphans in Russia, and The Baal Shem Tov." Jewish Journal. 19 February 2013.

A Chabad family in Nepal recently made a great public Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name) by adopting a starving child. While definitions for these terms vary, what is clear is that there are millions of orphans around the world and we must all do our part. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Justice in this World!" Jewish Journal. 14 February 2013.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the 19th century work of Jewish law by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, teaches that "it is prohibited for a person to appeal for judgment from Heaven (i.e., Divine retribution) against his fellow who wronged him. This prohibition applies only if he has recourse to attain justice here on earth. And anyone who cries out to Heaven about his fellow, he is punished first" (29:14). Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Reflection on the Actualization of Human Potential." Jewish Journal.
13 February 2013.

Our work is never done! This is what makes Jewish activism so intimidating and also so invigorating. We never complete the larger goals. We are never whole. Until the day that we pass from the earth, we are unable to fully step back and "throw the towel in." The Maharal M'Prague taught: Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Reflection on the Pursuit of G-d in Justice." Jewish Journal. 12 February 2013.

"Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human and have prevailed," (Bereshit 32:29). Yaakov Avinu is blessed with a new name only once he has struggled both with G-d and humanity together. The Jewish people are named Israel only after existential encounters with divinity and humanity! Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Reflection on Messianic Yearning." Jewish Journal. 12 February 2013.

Religious Jews are taught at a young age to yearn for the geulah (redemption). With sophistication, the student comes to learn that messianism is not just about seeking an end but is also a worldview, a process of living with a vision and with a dream. What is one to do if they lack this excitement for life, drive to make change, idealism to envision a better world? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Reflection on the Pace of Life: Patience vs Alacirty." Jewish Journal. 11 February 2013.

Activism requires a very calculated and sensitive balance between patience and alacrity. On the one hand, one must have the patience for teaching and engaging the apathetic and the uninformed. On the other hand, one must also have the alacrity to respond to crises and injustices at the most crucial time. Most often the precise timing that necessitates immediate action precedes the completion of the essential education and mobilization of the public. This is one of the reasons why the uninformed segments of the public at times view the activist as radical. One must have the courage to act in the name of shalom and tzedek while maintaining patience and respect for more passive critics from one's own constituency. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Rabbi David Hartman: A Transformative Force and a Unique Legacy." Huffington Post Blog. 11 February
2013.

Yesterday, we lost a gadol (a great leader). The world was blessed for more than 80 years (1931-2013) with the presence of a hero of Torah, a progressive force for good, a religious pluralist, and an astounding teacher of ethics and spirituality. Rabbi David Hartman was my teacher and the rebbe of thousands around the world. His reach extended from secular Israelis to religious Israelis, from Reform through Orthodox, from the young to the elderly, from the homeland to the diaspora. He was a rabbi's rabbi, a philosopher for philosophers, and a teacher for teachers. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Reflection on Humility." Jewish Journal. 10 February 2013.

Anivut (humility) has a very special priority in Jewish positive self-development. Rav Kook wrote (The Moral Principles, page 174) that "Humility is associated with spiritual perfection. When humility effects depression it is defective, when it is genuine it inspires joy, courage, and inner dignity." In short, humility should not diminish our special personality traits; rather it should help us to become unique moral courageous agents of change. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Reflection on Responsibility."
Jewish Journal. 10 February 2013.
Responsibility is one of the most important midot (character traits) to cultivate in one's soul. Acharayut (responsibility in Hebrew) comes from the root "acher" (other). To take responsibility means to cultivate the "ability" for response" to an "other." This responsibility to another is born in the moment where no one else is present to assist. As Hillel said (Avot 2:6) "uveemkom sh'ain anashim hishtadail lihiyot ish:"in a place where there aren't people of moral courage taking responsibility, one needs to step up. The Rabbis learned this lesson from Moses himself (Shemot 2:12). He looks both ways to see if someone will help and when he sees that there is no one he takes responsibility. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Immigration Reform: A Jewish Imperative." Jewish Journal. 31 January 2013.

This week, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators announced a new immigration reform effort. The next day, President Barack Obama gave a speech outlining his own plan for immigration reform. We hope these comprehensive efforts help resolve the continuing confusion over this issue; in just the first half of 2012, hundreds of bills and resolutions, often contradictory and misguided, were adopted by 41 state legislatures addressing immigration. Anti-immigrant extremists around the country are moving to amend the 14th Amendment to the Constitution's guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States, recognizing only those born of citizens. This would affect the 350,000 children born in the United States each year to at least one undocumented immigrant parent. With an estimated 11.5-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States today, who face deportation regardless of how long they have been here, change in our country is long overdue. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Kwame Appiah, Jewish Empiricism, and the Guns Debate." Jewish Journal. 30 January 2013.

Philosophers have long debated how knowledge is acquired. Empiricists believe in the primacy of our senses for determining human knowledge. Rationalists believe that many of our most important ideas and knowledge can be attained by methods independent of our senses and experiences, such as by intuition and deduction. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Martin Luther King Day, The Presidential Inauguration, and A Reflection of Conscience." Jewish Journal. 27 January 2013.

One of the key tests of the quality of one's faith is whether it moves us to live in accordance with our conscience. Faith cannot cover up our innate moral compass. Rather, it should enhance and refine our spiritual conscience. Our faith should provide us with the fuel to charge forward with what we already know in our essence we must do. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Affirming Life: The Eternal Recurrence." Jewish Journal. 31 December 2012.

In his work The Gay Science (Aphorism #341), the renowned 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) explained his theory of the "Eternal Recurrence":
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.' Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Looking Back at 2012 - And Forward to Building Communities of Hope in 2013." Jewish Journal. 27 December 2012.

This week, we close out 2012 and celebrate the start of the New Year. It is worth pausing to reflect upon this past year before we enter 2013. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Lost Art of Small Talk." Jewish Journal. 25 December 2012.

During airplane travel, not only do I fail in limiting my consumption of bags of airplane peanuts, I've also never quite mastered the art of how to successfully avoid long conversations with talkative strangers sitting next to me on the plane. Sometimes these conversations can be forced and awkward, but other times, I must admit, these conversations can be pleasant small task and surprisingly insightful. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Micro-Finance, Kiva, and Uri L'Tzedek." Jewish Journal. 24 December 2012.

Jewish tradition focuses heavily on the importance of gemilut chasadim, or charity. One way today's globalized world engages in large-scale charity is through microfinancing, a way of offering financial services to the poor or those without access to typical bank lending. The movement is based upon the belief that low-income people can achieve their goals and lift themselves out of poverty if given access to loans. Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) help people in developing countries as well as in developed ones, including the United States. Microfinance includes a number of financial services, such as microcredit, micro-lending, micro-insurance, savings, and money transfer. Today, anyone with access to the Internet can join and contribute to an MFI. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Fighting for the Innocent!" Jewish Journal. 23 December 2012.

We all agree that a stable society must have a strong, punitive justice system that maintains order and security. One flaw in every justice system, however, is the perpetual possibility of mistakenly punishing the innocent. Unfortunately, in our justice system, this happens too often. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Putting Ethics into Our Celebrations: The Launch of "Just Simchas!" Jewish Journal. 21 December 2012.

Jewish celebrations are not merely about throwing a party but rather can be transformational events that express our core values. For this reason, Uri L'Tzedek, the Orthodox Social Justice Movement, has launched Just Simchas to educate, inspire, and empower others to include more social justice into their lifecycle celebrations. Whether one is celebrating the birth of a child, a wedding, or a bar or bat mitzvah, one can now learn how to add more meaning and impact with a "Just Simcha." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Assault on Rabbi Rosenberg: Ignoring Sex Abuse." Jewish Journal. 20 December 2012.

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg is a refreshingly bold advocate against child sexual abuse which occurs in the ultra-Orthodox world. He works within his own Satmar Hasidic and other communities across the ultra-Orthodox spectrum, publicizing claims of sexual abuse and providing victims with the strength and support to speak out about what was done to them. This brave and courageous man was recently a victim himself - of an attack in which chemicals were thrown in his face with the intent to harm or kill him. Thankfully, Rabbi Rosenberg survived the attack, and he is in recovery in the hospital. Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "The Weapon's Shame: A Case for Gun Control in Jewish Law." Huffington Post. 18 December 2012.

Newtown, Auruora, Tuscon, Littleton: hearing the names of these picturesque American cities once evoked images of the American dream. Now they evoke an American nightmare -- mass gun violence. The wounds in Newtown are the freshest and probably the most horrific, but the scars of gun violence run deep throughout our country. Sometimes the media pays attention, bringing light to this horrific problem. Sometimes not: just last Friday afternoon and evening, hours after the Newtown shootings, at least 10 people in my hometown of Chicago were wounded by gunfire. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Addressing Famine: Ancient Egypt and Today." Odyssey Networks. 17 December 2012.

We do not help others in their time of need by increasing their dependence on us, but by helping them become more self-reliant and independent. This is as true in parenting and primary education as it is in international affairs. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Levinas: On Ritual and Justice." Jewish Book Council. 14 December 2012.

The great French Jewish philosopher and Talmudist Emmanuel Levinas, in his Difficult Freedom (pp. 176-177), taught about the power of Jewish ritual to inform and inspire our work to make the world more just, which is of paramount importance. He wrote: "The Justice rendered to the Other, my neighbor, gives me an unsurpassable proximity to God... The pious person is the just person....For love itself demands justice and my relation with my neighbor cannot remain outside the lines which this neighbor maintains with various third parties. The third party is also my neighbor." Thus, when we pursue justice in a Jewish way, we come closer to G-d. This is because "[t]he ritual law constitutes the austere law that strives to achieve justice. Only this law can recognize the face of the Other which has managed to impose an austere role on its true nature..." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "What Is Fair Taxation?" Jewish Book Council. 12 December 2012.

If one listened only to the avalanche of political ads during the recent election campaign, one might believe that Americans were being crushed under the heaviest federal tax burden ever, and that raising taxes on the wealthy (the "job creators") was tantamount to national economic suicide. This view, bolstered by much of the record $4-6 billion raised for the Presidential and Congressional campaigns, was heavily supported by a small group of billionaires, perhaps topped by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who reportedly made contributions of a record $150 million himself. In total, billions of dollars were spent by people who claimed that they were forced to spend too much in federal taxes. Read More...

Press, Eitan. "Light Up the Night: Hanukah Wisdom and Eight Organizations that Shine Light in the Darkness." Huffington Post. 1 December 2012.

Some people say Ha-nukha, and some people say Cha-nukah, but it's holiday season and Hannukah is upon us, which means Jews everywhere are going to be lighting menorahs, playing with dreidels, giving presents and eating latkes. But besides the spinning the dreidel and raking in the Hannukah Gelt, there is a deep message to this holiday that is very relevant to today. Hannukah is called the "festival of lights." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Hurricane Sandy, FEMA, and the Need for Big Government." Jewish Book Council. 10 December 2012.

The Rabbis teach (Ta'anit 11a) that "At a time when the community is suffering, no one should say, 'I will go home, eat, drink, and be at peace with myself.'" To effectively aid those who are suffering, we need the cooperation and collaboration of each and every individual. We need strong individuals, effective non-profits, and committed states. However, we also need to recognize the most powerful collective body available to address the suffering. In our society, the mechanism that represents the people is the government, and it must be effective. Government does not always have to be big to be effective, but oftentimes it does, especially when responding to disasters on a large scale. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Atrocities in Syria: Standing in Solidarity with the Victims!" Jewish Journal. 5 December 2012.

We are all painfully aware of the genocides of the last two decades in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur, and we have watched the ongoing violence and suffering taking place across the Middle East, but did you know that there is an urgent human rights crisis in Syria right now that demands our attention? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Can Anger be Constructive? A Reflection on Activism & Life!" Jewish Journal. 2 December 2012.

Anger is universally considered a vice. We are asked to emulate the Divine who is "erech apayim," slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Deuteronomy 11:22). The rabbis, in fact, refer to anger as a form of idolatry, where one worships oneself. Thus, the rabbis teach that one must be slow to anger and easy to appease (Avot 5:10). Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav taught: "there is no peace in the world because there is too much anger. You can only make peace with joy." The rabbis teach us, 'One who sees an idol that has not been destroyed pronounces the blessing, 'Blessed is He who is slow to anger"' (Tosefta, Berakhot 7:2). I would suggest that this wording was chosen because God should be angry at how much evil there is in the world that is unchallenged. Yet God has humbly allowed us to be the ambassadors of truth and the defenders of justice on earth. We can emulate this Divine patience frustrated at an unredeemed world while still feeling a great sense of urgency. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jewish-Hispanic Relations:Long Overdue!" Jewish Journal. 24 November 2012.

I recall, as a child, overhearing very derogatory and racist remarks about Latino Americans where everyone below the border was referred to as "a Mexican" or as "cheap labor." Over the last few years, I've had the opportunity to do work in Central and South American countries such as Argentina, Guatemala, and El Salvador and had the chance to spend time in Panama, Mexico, and Belize. I learned a lot about these cultures and gained a much deeper appreciation for Latino Americans in my home American community and where they have come from. I also learned a deeper narrative of why and how so many have immigrated to the U.S. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Book Burning: Prelude to Persecution." Jewish Journal. 22 November 2012.

In July 2012, the Bible Society in Israel ["Messianic Jews"] sent Christian Bibles to all 120 Members of the Knesset. In response, one MK, Michael Ben-Ari, publicly cut his up and threw it in the trash. In December 2001, a teacher in Beit Shemesh led his students in burning a copy of a Hebrew translation of the New Testament that had been given to a student by missionaries. In another episode in 2008, kids burnt hundreds of copies of the New Testaments sent by missionaries, arguing it was a commandment to do so. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Should Jews Celebrate Thanksgiving?" Jewish Journal. 22 November 2012.

In modern times, Jews are often wary of engaging in non-Jewish practices, even non-religious ones, since participation could lead to assimilation or a perversion of our values. In the case of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, not only should we, as Jews, not be hesitant to participate-we should embrace the spirit of this day and lead! Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "Of Prayers and Deeds." Haaretz. 9 November 2012.

Last week I had the great privilege of joining New Yorkers of every stripe in coming together to and address the profound, human needs left in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In my own synagogue, where I serve as assistant rabbi, we opened our collective doors to hurricane victims, reached out to vulnerable seniors, coordinated meals and places to stay, even temporarily housed a school. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Organ Donation: Holiest of Mitzvot." Jewish Journal. 8 November 2012.

When we pass from this world and our bodies enter the ground, do we merely wish to be remembered or do we wish to give the gift of life to others? For the medical, economic, and moral wellbeing of our society, the United States must change its policy on organ donation requirements. Read More...

Hart, Rabbi Ari. "Sandy: A Spiritual, Scriptual Response." Huffington Post. 5 November 2012.

This is a powerful moment. It's our first time together in large numbers as a community after witnessing and experiencing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Space Travel: Is it Worth It?" Jewish Journal. 29 October 2012.

NASA just embarked upon its most ambitious Mars mission to date, spending a whopping $2.5 billion on this 1-ton rover, hoping to find some evidence as to whether or not Mars once supported life. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Making College More Affordable: Calling for Higher Ed. Reform." Jewish Journal. 28 October 2012.

Is higher education only for the privileged? Over the last few decades, between rising tuition costs, the ongoing economic determinism in admissions, and the impossibility of paying off student loans, the answer increasingly seems to be yes. As Americans and as Jews, we believe this state of affairs is neither necessary nor desirable, and our advocacy can help bring positive change on this issue. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Buber, Gandhi, and Rabban Gamliel: Human Dignity Over Absolute Ownership." Jewish Journal. 25 October 2012.

Every year around this time I begin to look forward to the holiday season here in America: spending Thanksgiving with my family, the familiar sounds of ubiquitous holiday tunes on the radio, the crispness in the air after the fresh snow. As I reflect on recent news, social trends, and the thought of admired leaders in justice and Judaism, the spirit and reality of consumerism gives me pause. Perhaps this feeling of ownership the holiday season brings out in us is not the ideal we, as religious people and thinkers, should strive for. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Survivors Guilt After the Flood: Shame and Healing." Jewish Journal. 23 October 2012.

The flood has ended. The waters have dried up. The survivors completed their aveilut (year of mourning) for all those who passed and leave the ark to attempt to rebuild the world. Noah, the captain and leader, exits and - what does he do? He gets drunk. In fact, he gets so drunk that his sons find him unclothed in his tent. Cham enters the tent, looks at his father naked and then tells his brothers, Shem and Yafet, who walk in backwards, without looking, and virtuously cover their father with a blanket. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Repetition and the Cultivation of Virtue." Jewish Journal. 18 October 2012.

Repetition is one of the most powerful Jewish tools for the cultivation of wisdom and virtue. We learn this lesson, repeatedly, at this time of year as we finish the reading of the Torah, when we immediately start again from the beginning. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Physical Boundaries: The Social Justice Base for Shomer Negiah." Jewish Journal. 16 October 2012.

Questions around the boundaries of physical touch are emerging more and more in American legal and political discourse. When has an employer crossed the line with an employee? When has a teacher crossed the line with a student? Which parts of the human body is the Transportation Security Administration allowed to mandate for touching during a security check? What is the propriety of the New York Police Department's "stop and frisk" policy? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Clouds of Glory and Human Responsibility!" Jewish Journal. 4 October 2012.

After the spiritual intimacy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we subversively break from the walls of institutions and the comforts of home into our modest sukkot (outdoor huts). It is in these huts that we rediscover the religious foundation of our human responsibility. Read More...

Weiss, Rabbi Ari. "Solving Hunger Means Sharing the Wealth." JTA. 3 October 2012.

To eat: a cup of black beans, a few ounces of pasta and a bit of tuna. To drink: water.

This was my dinner menu one Friday night last November as my fellow dinner guests dined on standard Shabbat fare: homemade challah, two types of salad, chicken prepared three ways, three bottles of wine, four side dishes, cake and fruit for desert, tea. I generally look forward to Shabbat dinner, but I had decided that week to join rabbis and faith leaders across the country to participate in a food stamp challenge. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "All Jews in One Sukkah!" Jewish Journal. 3 October 2012.

Rabbi Avi Weiss often tells his students that one of the most important traits to be an upstanding Jew, and certainly a Rabbi, is to have a deep sense of "Ahavat Yisrael," love for our fellow Jew. For many, this can be challenging. To cultivate a love for the values of the Torah, for the holiness of Israel, for the Jews we know is one thing, but can we cultivate a deep love and connection to a random Jew we never met or have anything in common with? What is the origin of this love, and is it genuine? In theory, as a historical construct, it sounds beautiful, but what is its emotional foundation? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Yom Kippur: An Encounter with Death & Life!" Jewish Journal. 25 September 2012.

"Mitah v'Yom HaKippurim Michaprin." The two ways to truly atone are Death and Yom Kippur. But are the two really so different? On Yom Kippur, we reject food and drink, similar to one close to death. We say vidui (our confessions) just like someone preparing to die. Many wear white on Yom Kippur-the kittel, the same plain shroud that one will be buried in. We remove ourselves from leather shoes, bathing, anointing, and marital relations on Yom Kippur again as though we are mourners. Our lives are lived in our bodies. On Yom Kippur we step out of our bodies as if we were gone. We visit the cemetery at this time to honor those who have passed away and to soften our hearts to our mortality. We ask ourselves on Yom Kippur in Unetaneh Tokef: "who shall live and who shall die." Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Yom Kippur: Expanding Our Communal Roles." Jewish Journal. 23 September 2012.

The Jewish community at large is struggling to find common spaces where all can be together. After all, where can we be united as 21st-century Jews? In religious belief? On Israel? In Jewish education? On some type of mitzvah day or day of learning? Only a small fraction of the community shows up to anything or agrees to anything. We have become so fragmented. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Runaway Slaves in the Torah." Jewish Journal. 21 September 2012.

What would you do if an escaped slave showed up on your doorstep in Canaan in 1400 B.C.E., or in Memphis in 1810, or in Tel Aviv in 2012? The problem of the runaway slave is both ancient and modern.

Slavery plagued America for more than two centuries, beginning with its evolution in the British colony of Virginia. Many people are unaware that the proponents of slavery, beginning in the 1830s, actually increased their militancy and sought further legal sanctions for human bondage. From 1836-1844, Congress was under the "Gag Rule," which effectively prohibited the discussion of slavery. Southern states routinely intercepted and burned anti-slavery tracts that were sent through the postal system. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Where Are You? Keeping our Dreams Alive!" Jewish Journal. 21 September 2012.

Jews (and the 3,300 year-old project of Judaism) are pretty meshugana! We believe in the most radical way that everything we do matters and that we can and must change the world. Even though there are only about 13 million of us, we believe that every one of us matters in our national and global commitments to transform the world. Is it okay that we are so radically hopeful? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Deuteronomy 31:1-30:A Call for Universal Education." Huffington Post. 19 September 2012.

Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to teach in classrooms in villages around the world, from Central America to Southeast Asia, and from Africa to the former Soviet Union. One unexpected and saddening phenomenon I have encountered in several poorer countries is empty classrooms. Many students do not show up or are pulled from school by their families due to intense economic or social pressures. There is an education crisis around the world that is at the root of countless other social and economic problems. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Addressing Serious Ethical Issues in Public: Misunderstandings about the Tav HaYosher." Jewish Week. 3 July 2012.

"Tav HaYosher (the ethical seal for kosher restaurants) issued by Uri L'Tzedek has expanded rapidly. We just celebrated awarding the Tav to our 100th restaurant. There has been widespread support across the spectrum of the Jewish community for this seal certifying nothing more or less than the adherence to American labor laws around minimum wages, overtime, breaks and abuse. Kosher restaurant owners with the Tav have shared that they have earned thousands of dollars more through increased business. The Tav has been accepted and supported by proprietors from across the spectrum of Orthodoxy. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is All of Jewish Leadership Work Holy? The Notion of Meta-Holiness." Jewish Journal. 27 June 2012.

We often think of clergy, scrolls, and the synagogue as the realm of the holy. But is the work of all Jewish communal leadership holy? What does it even mean to do holy work?

In searching for a compelling Jewish notion for the holy, we can review many different approaches. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Numbers 19:1 - 27:1:The Case for Humility." Huffington Post. 26 June 2012.

The market is on the rise!" "We will win the playoffs!" "As President, this nation will be rebuilt." Whether it is politics, business, medicine or sports, there is little news that we read every day that doesn't propose certainty of belief. In the news, we hear politicians and analysts speak with surety about world events, the effects of proposed policies, and the potential outcomes of war. We have been plagued in all sectors of society by a surfeit of confidence and certainty.
The Torah takes a very different approach to human knowledge. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Culture of Bullying:It's Not Just Kids!" Jewish Journal. 25 June 2012.

ABC News reports that close to 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and around 160,000 kids stay home from school every day out of fear of being bullied. Up to 10 percent of students either drop out or transfer to another school due to bullying. In the Internet age, cyberbullying has become a significant additional problem. According to research on cyberbullying by the PEW Research Center Internet & American Life Project, 88 percent of students surveyed have witnessed peers being mean or cruel online. This translates to 2.7 million students being bullied by 2.1 million other students, according to 2010 statistics. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Addressing the Plight of the African Refugees in Israel." Jewish Journal. 22 June 2012.

A few days ago, 120 refugees were sent back to South Sudan, where they will face existential danger in the shape of hunger and threat of war. Things have been getting worse in Israel, with militant violence. There is some hostile, intolerant language coming not just from crowds at protests, but also from politicians. Authorities are arresting refugees and deporting them. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has termed this anti-foreigner wave "the largest one in scope and severity" in Israel's history. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Present and the Future: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle!" Jewish Journal. 21 June 2012.

In 1927, Werner Heisenberg set the world of quantum physics on its ear with his Uncertainty Principle. In relation to a subatomic particle (e.g., electron), Heisenberg stated that the more precisely we measure its location, the more imprecise becomes our calculation of its momentum, and vice versa. Thus, in a physical seesaw, we cannot measure both an electron's location and momentum simultaneously, for measuring one thwarts the measuring of the other. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Religious Value of Rest and Leisure." Jewish Journal. 21 June 2012.

We are immersed in responsibilities and commitments to work, family, community, society, and the world. I do believe that a primary purpose for human existence is to toil, work, and serve. The value of work is expressed throughout Jewish sources: "Great is work because even Adam did not taste food until he had performed work" (Avot d'Rebbe Natan, ch. 11). But we might ask: is there a religious value to rest and leisure? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Why I am Fasting Today!" Jewish Journal. 18 June 2012.

Today and tomorrow, I am fasting as an individual in solidarity with tens of thousands of American individuals in solitary confinement. I am also fasting in solidarity with hundreds of faith leaders across the country calling for an end of solitary confinement. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is College Working? The Decline of the Humanities." Jewish Journal. 13 June 2012.

As a campus educator who has taught students on more than 30 campuses around the country, I see how stressed students are to compete for grades, jobs, and organizational positions. Most students seem more focused on achievement than on their personal life search and intellectual journey. They are, of course, not to blame as a transactional culture has become overwhelming but we have much to fear for the future of the university and the intellectual culture of our country. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Exposed Roots: The Importance of Faith-Rooted Spiritual Activism." Jewish Journal. 12 June 2012.

The other day my wife and I walked passed a massive tree and marveled at how its roots were exposed above ground. These roots can still fulfill their function to absorb water, store nutrients, support the tree, and prevent erosion of the soil, but the tree seemed exposed, perhaps even naked. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is Our Labor System Broken? A Jewish Call for Minimum Wage Increases." Jewish Journal. 11 June 2012.

Lessening the gap between the rich and the poor is one of the most crucial moral issues to address in America today. Much of the problem has to do with fair wages. Some progress has been made. At the beginning of 2012, eight states raised their minimum wage, yet the federal wage floor for most workers today remains at $7.25 an hour. The integrity of our labor system is broken and we must respond. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Rabbi Herschel Schachter's Chumra on Milk:Abuse in the Dairy Industry." Jewish Journal. 7 June 2012.

It is prohibited by Jewish law to consume the milk of a terefah (a sick or injured animal (Exodus 22:30; Bekhorot 6b; Chulin 116b; Hilchot Shechitah 10:9; Shulchan Aruch YD 81:1); the Talmud lists eighteen different organic diseases or conditions, and the Rambam has 70 (Hilchot Shechita 10:9). However, since milk from different cows is all mixed up, as long as we know that the majority of the milk ("rov," Exodus 23:2) comes from healthy cows, then we may consider it all kosher without any examination (Chullin 11a-12a). However if there a frequently encountered minority (mi'ut ha'matzui) of the cows that are sick then Jewish law requires that we must examine the animals to confirm there is no problem (Hullin 11a, 12a; Bi'ur ha-Gra YD 1:4). Milk production has generally not been considered a problem and thus we have been lenient on consumption. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Dishonest Kiruv! The Building of Responsible Jewish Outreach Movements." Jewish Journal. 6 June 2012.

I have been serving as a Jewish outreach professional for the last 2 years as the Senior Jewish Educator at the UCLA Hillel. I am so fortunate to be able to spend my days talking and learning with students about their life journeys. At its best, Jewish outreach provides a student alienated from Judaism with a warm, inclusive, sophisticated, honest entry point into finding his or her voice and place within the Jewish tradition and community. At its worst, outreach is deceptive, closed, and arrogant. It can be hard to tell the difference, because both types of outreach are done with a smile and bowl of cholent. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Problem of Frum Hedonism." Jewish Journal. 4 June 2012.

Is there anything that we will not put a heksher on? Has pleasure become the guiding religious principle? Many pockets of the American Orthodox community have become so consumed with Jewish law that values and limits on pleasure have been dismissed. Read More...

Weiss, Rabbi Ari. "A Nazir's Guide For The Activist." Jewish Week. 29 May 2012.

There are young people who become becomes disillusioned by the world, looking for meaning over and beyond the conformity of the workplace with its codes of how to look and what to be. They find no comfort in the illusory escapism of strong drink. Instead, they intend to dedicate themselves to a noble purpose, to a transcendent life, to a sacred calling. Today they might become an activist or a rabbi. In the days of the Temple, they might take vows and become a nazir. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jewish Social Justice in Post Apartheid South Africa?" Jewish Journal. 28 May 2012.

I have been full of curiosity since arriving in Cape Town two weeks ago as scholar-in-residence. What would an Orthodox Social Justice movement look like in post-apartheid South Africa? What unique opportunities does the Jewish community have in 2012 to address the racial and economic dynamics that still plague the region? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Becoming Builders of Jerusalem: The Model Just Society." Jewish Journal. 20 May 2012.

his morning I was honored to deliver the Cape Town, South Africa, community-wide keynote address for Yom Yerushalayim. Hundreds gathered together in a powerful celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem 45 years ago (28th of Iyar 1967). I was reminded of the power of Jerusalem to unite the Jewish people. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Who Wrote the Torah? Committed Theolgy in the Age of Skepticism." Jewish Community Voice. 16 May 2012.

It is the question that so many wonder but few investigate, about which we are long on opinion but short on fact: "Who wrote the Torah?" One might think this would be the most basic question in Jewish learning and thought since of the three primary theological paradigms of religion-creation, revelation, and redemption-revelation most profoundly captivates our human lived experience. How in an age of skepticism can we fully embrace the Jewish tradition? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Religious Freedom:Should the 10 Commandments be Promoted in Public?" Jewish Journal. 13 May 2012.

One of the great debates in America today is over the role of religion in the public sphere. To what extent is the United States government embracing religion? Are we "one nation under G-d?" Most concretely, should religious teachings such as the Ten Commandments be allowed on the walls of courthouses and classrooms? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Meant to Reflect Jewish Values, Kosher Food is Often Unethical." Haaretz.com. 10 May 2012.

Four years ago, on the morning of May 12th, 2008, dozens of federal agents descended on the small town of Postville, Iowa for the largest workplace immigration raid in American history. At the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant, the main employer in Postville, agents arrested nearly 400 undocumented workers, and promptly deported 300 arrestees on false identity charges. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Bible and the Los Angeles Riots:Role of Religion in the Public Sphere?" Jewish Journal. 9 May 2012.

In the 21st century, there is one primary role for religion in the public sphere: Radical Spiritual Intervention.

Riots sometimes occur when people within a community become so enraged at authority that they unleash their fury. This often overflows into an indiscriminate attack on anyone in the rioters' path. It takes enormous courage to face this uncontrolled violence. As Fidel Lopez, an innocent victim, was being viciously beaten, cut, and burnt in the streets during the Los Angeles riots, Reverend Bennie Newton entered the dangerous streets waving a Bible in the air, warning the attackers: "Kill him, and you have to kill me, too." Risking his life, the holy reverend saved the innocent victim's life as the attackers backed away. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Torture, War, And Bin Laden: A Jewish Perspective." Jewish Week. 8 May 2012.

For those of us far removed from the torture cell and battlefield, it is all too easy to be misinformed about intelligence gathering and its efficacy and morality. But to maintain our national integrity, we must all gain clarity on this crucial moral and political issue. Torture is ineffective, illegal and immoral, and it makes us less safe. It must be stopped at all levels. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Ari Hart, Maria Corona, and Flaum: A Big Win For Worker Justice."
Jewish Journal. 8 May 2012.

Last month I accidentally bought a barrel of Flaum pickles. My wife Shoshana's mouth dropped when she saw it in the house, knowing that my organization Uri L'Tzedek was leading the campaign to end Flaum's labor violations including wage theft, overtime violations, and more. We gave the pickles away to a gentleman working valet. Tonight, I would like to celebrate a massive social justice victory with a Flaum pickle. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is the Torah political? Thoughts on the Nature of Language." Jewish Journal. 4 May 2012.

One of the most common and polarizing debates in America today is about the relationship between religion and politics. To what extent should church and state be separate? Should our religious values and principles influence the way we participate in civil society, and should our texts and laws inform how we vote? These questions assume that religion and politics are completely separate entities, a notion this article will challenge. Is it, perhaps, that the Torah not only addresses the political but is fundamentally political? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Caged and Traumatized: A Closer Look at the Egg Industry." Jewish Journal. 29 April 2012.

For years, my favorite Sunday morning breakfast was scrambled eggs. Once I learned about what was going on in the egg industry that breakfast lost its innocence, and I found egg alternatives. Do you know where your eggs come from? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "An Obesity Problem in the Orthodox Community?" Jewish Journal. 25 April 2012.

It is beautiful how much emphasis there is on Shabbat and holiday celebration in American Orthodoxy. However, the celebration of the values of health and exercise are sorely lacking in the community. Parents often do not stress health and exercise for their children, and day schools fall short on creating rigorous health programs. Happily, religious celebration need not compromise our commitment to health. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "I'm Coming out of the Closet!" Jewish Journal. 19 April 2012.

Last night I spoke on a campus interfaith leader panel about the subject of LGBT and religion. One of the questions we were asked was, "When did you come out of the closet or when did you come out as an ally?" As the only heterosexual panelist, I announced: "I'm coming out right now!" I'm coming out of the closet right now as an Orthodox rabbi who is a proud ally with those of LGBT orientation. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Actualizing Democracy:Can Change Really Be Bottom-Up?" Jewish Journal. 19 April 2012.

New York Times columnist David Brooks, writing about today's social reformers, argues that "it's hard not to feel inspired by all these idealists, but their service religion does have some shortcomings. In the first place, many of these social entrepreneurs think they can evade politics. They have little faith in the political process and believe that real change happens on the ground beneath it." Is Brooks correct that we can only create bottom-up change if we address the political process? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Gadamer, Nozick, & the Splitting of the Sea: Choosing How to Interpret the World." Jewish Journal. 19 April 2012.

In one of the most dramatic scenes of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, a former prisoner who has become beloved mayor of his adopted town, is faced with the challenge of throwing away the life he has built for himself to defend an innocent man. Jean Valjean, standing in the courtroom, asks himself: "Who am I? Can I condemn this man to slavery. Pretend I do not feel his agony. This innocent who bears my face. Who goes to judgment in my place. Who am I?" Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Smoke-Free World: A Jewish Ban on Tobacco." Jewish Week. 18 April 2012.

We have been very aware of the addictive nature of nicotine and the serious health risks of lung cancer (which kills more Americans than any other cancer), cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (eventually leading to emphysema). About 20 percent of Americans still smoke, around 450,000 Americans die prematurely every year from smoking, and researchers have shown that a smoker loses an average of 14 years of life. Even though we have over 1,200 Americans dying every day from smoking, for every death, two more people under the age of 26 takes up smoking. One in five American teens smoke and 80 percent of them will remain addicted as adults. Cigarettes are also the most frequent cause of fires that lead to death in homes. And these numbers do not even account for the harm of second-hand smoke. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Building Healthy Communities: What Type of Congregant Are You?" Jewish Journal Blog. 11 April 2012.

My rabbinic colleagues often remark to me how much they care about and even love their congregants. In particular, they appreciate the compliment-giver, volunteer-giver, and the humble servant. The compliment-giver feels deep appreciation for all the community provides and likes to express this gratitude. The volunteer-giver does not just make suggestions for improvements but jumps at the opportunity to contribute to improve the community. The humble servant is rarely seen in public leadership but is consistently contributing behind the scenes to ensure that things operate smoothly. Serving these individuals makes the strenuous work of rabbis an utter delight. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "'I am Seeking my Brothers: The Lost Jewish Virtue of Friendship." Jewish Week. 11 April 2012.

"And a man found him, when he was wandering in the field, and the man asked him, 'What are you seeking?' And he said, 'I am seeking my brothers'" (Genesis 37:15). This story about Joseph strikes me so deeply. As a child who moved to different cities every few years, I constantly felt like I was seeking "my brothers." To some degree, we are all wandering in search of our "brothers." Friendship is a challenging virtue to cultivate, even more challenging in our transient times. Yet, in an age that is increasingly interdependent our culture strangely is moving toward an illusion of independence. Cultivating spiritual friendship ensures we remain grounded in the types of human relationships that cultivate virtue. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Become an Inspiration Addict." Jewish Journal Blog. 5 April 2012.

In my senior year of high school, I drank the juice of inspiration, and all of a sudden everything in the world started to matter. I used to think inspiration could be found anywhere, but I learned there are indeed bad books, pointless movies, and invites worth turning down. These comprise the "cold zone." They take energy from you, as compared with the "hot zone" people and activities that you leave with more energy. Our task is to fine tune our spiritual antennae to detect the hot zones that charge us. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Revolutions of Chabad and AJWS!" Jewish Journal Blog. 4 April 2012.

This is the story of two Jewish organizations. Neither receives the proper credit they deserve for the global diaspora revolutions they are inspiring.

Chabad-Lubavitch is politically right-wing, religiously ultra-Orthodox, and prizes Jewish ritual above all else, working to raise the profile and increase observance of mitzvot. The American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is politically left-wing, not religious, and prizes universalism, working to alleviate poverty around the world. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Shoes We Wear: A Statement of Identity and Values." Jewish Journal Blog. 3 April 2012.

A few days ago in the Argentinian shantytown where we were volunteering, a four-year-old boy said he liked my zapatos (shoes). Our shoes can reveal much about our socio-economic status, as I have been told many times while traveling in developing countries. While I am always surprised by this, since I think of my shoes as utterly basic, never have I been as affected as I was this time. This boy, who is not wearing shoes today and is unlikely to be wearing them anytime in the future, opened up my heart. Read More...

Hart, Ari. "A Passage Song About...the Food System? Dayenu!" Huffington Post Blog. 3 April 2012.

If God had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years -- dayenu!

If God had fed us manna -- dayenu!

It's arguably the most famous Passover Jewish song. Each year, sing-song verses and repetitive chorus stick in my head almost as long as the matzah sticks in my stomach. But here's a twist you might not have heard about: when singing the song, some Sephardic Jews take long stemmed green onions or leeks and use them to playfully whip each other on the head! Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Establishing Community Medicine Banks Around the World." Jewish Journal Blog. 30 March 2012.

Did you know that about 30,000 individuals die every day from curable diseases? Some evils are entirely dreadful because they are not preventable; there is little we can do in the face of a hurricane or tsunami. But it is even more tragic when we ignore preventable human suffering. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "AMIA and Minority Insecurity: How Do We Attack Corruption?" Jewish Journal Blog. 29 March 2012.

A few days ago, I took my students to visit AMIA, the Jewish community center of Buenos Aires, Argentina, that was bombed in 1994, leaving 85 killed and hundreds injured. It was heart-wrenching to hear the personal stories only a few days after the attack at the school in Toulouse. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Living and Leading with Soul." Jewish Journal Blog. 27 March 2012.

Since the beginning of time, humans have sought to discover the essence and location of the soul, the Divine essence constitutive of our humanity. Some scientists today claim that le siege de l'ame (the seat of the soul) is in the temporal lobe of the human brain ("the God spot"), and V.S. Ramachandran demonstrated in the 1990s that patients with temporal lobe epilepsy were particularly affected by religious experiences. Others reject the claim that the soul has a physical location, thus preserving its mystery. But more important than knowing the soul's location is to understand the soul's value. Today, in a world flooded with external stimuli, we often forget the greatest treasure we have access to-the depths of our own souls. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Transformative Power of Ritual." Jewish Journal Blog. 26 March 2012.

I wake up to an inbox full of dozens of emails, global news demanding reaction, and a daily agenda triple the size of what will prove achievable. How am I to pause to turn inward? When I put on my tefillin each morning, I consider what I need to become liberated from in order to fully return in servitude back to my highest callings. The straps bind me to that mission. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is the Synagogue a Relic of the Past?" My Jewish Learning. 23 March 2012.

Many Jews today claim that they are "spiritual not religious," that organized religion is not relevant, or that they would rather spend their free time alone than with others. Those who attend synagogue weekly often reserve the service, especially the sermon, for a special naptime. Others prefer a 20-person basement setting for a quick prayer service rather than a formal, large gathering at shul. Around two-thirds of Americans claim to be members of a house of worship, which is more than 25% higher than Jewish synagogue membership. Is the synagogue becoming extinct? If so, should we seek to prevent extinction? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Do We Prioritize the Vulnerable in Justice?" My Jewish Learning. 21 March 2012.

In Jewish law, we are told that it is unjust to be biased and be swayed by poverty, to favor the case of the poor over the rich in a dispute. Within the realm of a formal court's judgment this is crucial (Exodus 23: 3, 6). However, does this notion still apply today, where the disparity of wealth between the poor and the rich has become so large that the poor often can no longer properly advocate for themselves? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Is Prayer for Activists?" My Jewish Learning. 19 March 2012.

Our basic premise as activists is human responsibility. We, not someone else, must step up to create change in the world. To turn to others before ourselves is for cynics and critics, not change-makers. What about prayer? Is it a cop out? I would suggest that prayer offers us three vital opportunities as activists: 1) Reflection and Self Awareness, 2) Reminder of Values and Recharge, and 3) Humility. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Sex Education in Orthodox High Schools." Jewish Journal Blog. 13 March 2012.

Yesterday, I sat in on a sex education course at an Orthodox high school. The class was for seniors, the first one they had been offered on the subject; they were understandably full of questions. I realized, based upon the nature of their questions, how vital this course is. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Judaism's Value of Happiness: Living with Gratitude and Idealism." Jewish Journal Blog. 9 March 2012.

The weekly reader of the Jewish news might come to believe that Judaism opposes happiness and favors worry, guilt, and conflict. We seem to be so down and obsessed with our problems: anti-Semitism, anti-Israel propaganda, assimilation, intermarriage, scandals, and on and on. But actually, Judaism very much embraces the importance of happiness. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Challenge of Offering Moral Rebuke in the Workplace." Jewish Journal Blog. 7 March 2012.

At work, we consistently offer positive reinforcement and constructive feedback to others to improve the quality of our collective efforts. From a Jewish perspective, we are not only concerned with the efficacy of our work but also the ethics of the workplace. In addition to personal accountability, all Jewish workers have a sacred duty to be a moral presence as well. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jewish Education - Teaching Emotional Intelligence." Jewish Journal. 6 March 2012.

For centuries there has been an ongoing debate as to where ethics are grounded as universal attributes in the human condition. The philosopher Immanuel Kant grounded ethics in reason, whereas David Hume looked toward emotions such as sympathy, empathy, and compassion. Today, neuroimaging may offer a new way to resolve this issue. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Purim: The Importance of Democracy." Jewish Week. 05 March 2012.

One year ago, Libyan dictator Muammar Kaddafy's troops were marching toward Benghazi, the unofficial capital of the Libyan rebels. Kaddafy was calling the rebels "rats," and a 10,000-person massacre seemed inevitable. But on Purim itself, in Libya (historically part of the Persian Empire), NATO made the decision to intervene, saving the pro-democracy rebels. "Nahafoch hu"-the opposite of the tyrant's plan occurred. Fortunately, Purim has been a bad time for tyrants in modern as well as ancient times. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Are Taxes Good, Fair, or Jewish? A Defense of the Progressive Taxation." Jewish Journal. 5 March 2012.

For several months, the whole nation has been intensely debating what constitutes a fair system of taxation. It is very peculiar that there are American Jews today who adhere to the Tea Party mantra that all government is bad, that taxes should always be reduced, and that a flat tax should be embraced. While Jewish law cannot be applied to the U.S. tax system to advocate for an individual policy, it is clear that Jewish values support taxation to achieve a just society. A flat (regressive) tax system will harm the middle and lower classes, so we are obliged to embrace a progressive system. Read More...

Hart, Ari. "King Ahasuerus' Tax Lesson." Haaertz. 02 March 2012.

The concluding chapter of the Scroll of Esther is three verses long. Two of them, not surprisingly, celebrate the triumphs of the Jews. The other verse reads: "And the king Ahasuerus laid a tax upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea."

What a strange ending to our triumphant story. Why are taxes included in the Megillah's triumphant coda? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Who Wrote the Torah? Committed Theology in the Age of Skepticism." Jewish Journal. 24 February 2012.

It is the question that so many wonder but few investigate, about which we are long on opinion but short on fact: "Who wrote the Torah?" One might think this would be the most basic question in Jewish learning and thought since of the three primary theological paradigms of religion-creation, revelation, and redemption-revelation most profoundly captivates our human lived experience. How in an age of skepticism can we fully embrace the Jewish tradition? Read More...

Hart, Ari. "Is the Iphone Kosher?" Huffington Post. 23 February 2012.

I bought my first iPhone in January. After only a few short hours, I was hooked by the sleek design, ease of use, and power. After a few weeks, I couldn't remember life without it. And then, on my iPhone, I read the following email from SumOfUs. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A New Look at Idolatry and Slave Labor." Jewish Week. 21 February 2012.

Idolatry (avoda zara) is one of the gravest sins in the Torah. In fact, it is one of three sins for which one must accept death before succumbing (Yoma 82a). But is it merely an ancient relic? As 21st-century Jews who have demythologized the world, we simply cannot relate to the worship of trees, rivers, and statues. Nonetheless, today's desire for idolatry is as strong as ever, clothed deceptively in new forms such as slave labor and unethical consumption. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The American Jewish Vote: Not All About Israel." Jewish Week. 14 February 2012.

Whether or not a candidate for public office supports the state of Israel is important to American Jews, but it is not the only issue we care about.

Indeed, in 2012 it is highly likely that all major Presidential candidates will be pro-Israel, so American Jewish voters can concentrate on voting for the candidate who best embodies the principles of the Torah and the American republic. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Moral Case for Brit Milah." Jewish Week. 06 February 2012.

Brit milah (Jewish ritual circumcision) may be uncomfortable to watch, and naturally makes many of us ambivalent in a time of celebration. But is it cruel? Living in California, where calls for the outlawing of circumcision have recently proliferated, I have not heard anyone make the moral case for circumcision. The Shulkhan Arukh says that "this commandment (milah) is greater than (all the) other positive commandments," (Yoreh De'ah 260). As someone who believes strongly that mitzvot have an ethical foundation, I will attempt to make the case for the moral benefit of brit milah. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Most Important and Dangerous Jewish Value: The Messianic Impulse." Jewish Week. 01 February 2012.

"We want Moshiach now!" Have you sung it? What did you mean?

The Torah teaches us about the 4 stages of redemption (Shemot 6). Through God's miraculous interventions in the world (the 10 plagues), there was a mass exodus, perhaps the greatest story of liberation and redemption in human history. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jewish Law on Texting While Driving." Jewish Week. 23 January 2012.

The Orthodox community has been in a panic about the recent news that observant teenagers are texting on Shabbos. However, we must address a much greater life-and-death concern. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Gambling: More than A Fun Game of Cards?" Jewish Week. 16 January 2012.

Anyone who has held a lottery ticket knows the thrill of taking a gamble. Personally, I recall the emotional intensity of the poker games in the basement of my friend's house as a child. With money on the table, even as a 12 year-old, this friendly get together was no longer a game. Five years later, I recall passing through an Atlantic City casino on a family trip shocked to see it full of yarmulke-wearing Jews. I wondered if gambling was an acceptable Jewish sport. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Jewish Imperative for Child Adoption." Jewish Week. 9 January 2012.

Millions of children fall asleep every night hungry, wearing an unchanged diaper, and with no one to hold them as they cry themselves to sleep. There is perhaps no greater suffering than to feel unloved, unwanted, and uncared for by anyone. This is the story of the orphan. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Spiritual Transformation Through Our Dream Interpretations." Jewish Week. 4 January 2012.

Every night of our lives, we enter the dream state. Sometimes we are very aware of our dreams upon waking, sometimes not at all. I often wonder about the theological implications of our unconscious thoughts that occur while we dream. How are we to interpret these ideas and how can those interpretations help us to grow to become who we need to be? Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Skydiving Through Life: We are Responsible for the Present." Jewish Week. 28 December 2011.

When I was in college, I went skydiving over the plains of Texas. Three years later, wanting to relive that unique moment of transcendence and tested limits, I went skydiving again, this time over the Swiss Alps. Ten years later, I've learned to embrace a spiritual alternative to jumping out of planes. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Chanukah and the Value of Giving Gifts." Jewish Week. 19 December 2011.

I love to give and receive gifts. I enjoy the suspense of the unwrapping, the strengthened relationship that can emerge, and the opportunity to provide another with something new that they didn't expect to receive. After all, life is about giving and giving gifts is just another way to fulfill our purpose. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Role of the Divine in Social Change: Where is God in Tikkun Olam?" Jewish Week. 14 December 2011.

Why is it that, at a typical American Jewish social justice event, no one invokes one of God's names? When our movement openly accepts the role of the Divine in social change and in moral development, we embrace the most powerful part of our tradition. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Why Should We Care About the Religious Views of Our Candidates." Jewish Week. 5 December 2011.

As the Presidential race progresses, once again the role of religion in politics has re-emerged as a common tension that cannot be dismissed. American Jews have often feared bringing religion into the political discourse out of fear of anti-Semitism, but this concern has hopefully lessened since Senator Lieberman was a serious Presidential candidate while being open about his traditional Jewish practices and perspectives. In our commitment to build a just society, we have an imperative to ask questions about the religious views of our politicians. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Bodies Exhibit & The Jewish Value of Honoring the Body." Jewish Week. 30 November 2011.

Could you imagine arriving at a museum and seeing one of your loved ones who passed away on display for others' amusement?

The Body Worlds exhibitions are the world's most popular touring attraction, having been visited by more than 32 million people. Another exhibit opened in 2005 and there have been serious allegations that the bodies displayed in this Bodies Exhibit were stolen or otherwise unethically obtained in China. In addition to the very problematic origins of the bodies, the use of human bodies for public entertainment or "education," which could be achieved through multiple other means such as an animated 3D exhibit, is inappropriate and must be condemned. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Problem with Overpopulation and The Command to Procreate." Jewish Week. 22 November 2011.

The United Nations has declared that the 7th billion person in the world was just born. Further, they have announced that since 1960, we've been adding a billion people to the earth every 12 to 13 years. Read More...

Hart, Ari. "Prison Reform: An American Spiritual Crisis." Huffington Post. 19 November 2011.

"Welcome to the Waldorf Astoria," said the jail guard as he showed me the room I would sleep in, my prison issue bedding (top sheet, bottom sheet, two pillowcases, no pillow) and the vacuum-packed kosher meals that had been prepared for me. This was the beginning of the three days of this High Holy Day season that I would spend on Rikers Island, New York City's jail complex located in the East River. Here, where some 14,000 inmates await their trials, I prayed, ate and slept over during Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat as the rabbi of a community of 60 or so Jewish inmates. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Recovering the Transformative and Ethical Power of Music." Jewish Week. 16 November 2011.

After decades of dry piano, violin, and guitar lessons, I finally retired without any real merits forfeiting my hopes of ever becoming a rock star or fiery composer. Only recently have I realized that music is still at the core of my Jewish spiritual and ethical passion. Singing at protests, including melodies into activist storytelling, and opening my heart to new ideas and ideals while listening to powerful symphonies have changed the way I feel and interact with the world. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Embracing the Lost Art of Creativity." Jewish Week. 9 November 2011.

I was 5 years-old and my father was the President of Crayola Crayons. This gave me significant popularity points as a kindergartner. One day, my parents came home to find that I had taken my Crayola markers and painted all over all of the white walls in the house. As protocol for this type of normal occurrence, my mother scolded me while my father, as a marketer of ideas, stood back and thought. It was in this precise moment that the washable marker was invented. I take some credit for this invention. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Torah and Science: The Jewish Moral Case For Embracing Evolution." Jewish Week. 1 November 2011.

The Jewish tradition embraces a very positive approach toward secular wisdom. The Talmud even transforms a mundane encounter with a wise gentile into a religious experience: "On seeing one of the sages of the nations of the world, one makes the following blessing: 'Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given of His wisdom to mortal human beings," (Berachot 58a). The leading scientists of our age have fully embraced evolution as a given, yet for some reason, a literalist approach toward the Creation story is embraced by some rabbis today. Read More...

Hart, Ari. "Rabbi Learns Repentence From Prisoners." The Jewish Daily Forward. 28 October 2011.

"Welcome to the Waldorf Astoria," said the jail guard as he showed me the room I would sleep in, my prison issue bedding (top sheet, bottom sheet, two pillowcases, no pillow) and the vacuum-packed kosher meals that had been prepared for me. This was the beginning of the three days of this High Holy Day season that I would spend on Rikers Island, New York City's jail complex located in the East River. Here, where some 14,000 inmates await their trials, I prayed, ate and slept over during Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat as the rabbi of a community of 60 or so Jewish inmates. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Gun Control Vs. Gun Rights." Jewish Week. 25 October 2011.

While I was recently giving a class at a Modern Orthodox synagogue in New York City on the topic of halachic approaches to weapons I asked this group of 25 people (most between 50-65 years old) how many of them owned guns. I expected 1 or 2 hands to emerge but was astonished to find that about 50-60% admitted to having a gun at home. Shortly after, I learned that there is an Orthodox organization now training Orthodox Jews to use guns and to bring them to synagogue as a form of "protection." If the religious Jewish community in America has joined the consumers of guns then we must also enter into the national gun discourse. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Conflict Resolution: A Spiritual Approach." Jewish Week. 18 October 2011.

It seems as if there is disagreement and tension everywhere. Most days, I feel surrounded by conflicts that emerge globally, nationally, locally, professionally, and personally. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Right People Are In The Room." Jewish Week. 10 October 2011.

There were times, when I was one of three students that would stay awake late enough to hear Rabbi Shlomo Riskin when he would stop by our beit midrash at Yeshivat Hamivtar to give a late night class. What I was so profoundly moved by was the fact that Rav Riskin would speak to the 3 of us as if there were 200 people present. He offered his normal passionate and engaging class since we were the right people in the room. Read More...

Hart, Ari. "Confronting the Oppression of our Hands: A Social Justice Reflection for Yom Kippur." Huffington Post. 06 October 2011.

It is dusk on Yom Kippur. As the holiest day of the Jewish year comes to a close, the Neilah service arrives. Neilah means closing, and the Jewish tradition understands that this fifth and final prayer service occurs when the gates of prayer begin to shut. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Purpose of Creation." Jewish Week. 6 October 2011.

I found myself consumed in the liturgy by the phrase "HaYom harat olam" (today the world is created) and with questions about the purpose of creation and of my personal existence. As we reflect on the direction of our lives between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we might ask ourselves why humans, generally as well as individually, were created. Read More...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Yom Kippur of Mercy or Cruelty?" Jewish Week. 26 September 2011.

Some Jews have a medieval custom to sacrifice a chicken before Yom Kippur, "kaporos." One grabs the chicken's legs while pinning its wings back and swings it around one's head. These chickens are packed into crates before this procedure and then usually sent to be slaughtered after. Others are often just left in crates to die. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Religious Freedom and Sharia Law." Jewish Week. 21 September 2011.

In Paris, last week, when a Muslim cab driver picked me up I noticed a slight discomfort came over me. I realized, at that moment, that American religious fanatics had succeeded at convincing me to be afraid. Religion, at its best, furthers deep value formation and creates bridges and connections whereas religion at its worst is destructive and spreads fear throughout society. There is a growing religious fanaticism, with diverse manifestations, that seeks to promote fear of the other and that fear almost inevitability leads to hate. This fear and hate is unfortunately not absent from major segments of the Jewish communal discourse. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Jewish Perception of Tattoos: A Fair Prejudice?" Jewish Week. 14 September 2011.

I recently spoke with young former gang members undergoing tattoo removal at Homeboy Industries, a job-training site in LA for at-risk and gang involved youth. Their tattoos serve as serious barriers to employment and acceptance into mainstream society. A Harris Poll taken in 2008 estimated that 14 percent of Americans now have tattoos and the Pew Research Center shows that a whopping 26% of those between 18-25 have at least one tattoo. Is the typical Jewish perception toward these individuals with body art fair? Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Remembering and Erasing Evil: 9/11 and Amalek." Huffington Post. 8 September 2011.

For most Americans, Sept. 11, 2001 was a day we can never forget. Where we were when we heard, the images on TV, the fear in the voices of our loved ones, the horrible loss of life: every time the anniversary rolls around, we encounter our own traumatic experiences. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Global Unity or Chaos: Special Report from the World Economic Forum!" Jewish Journal Blog. 6 September 2011.

I have returned to Switzerland this week as the Rabbinic Representative to join global partners and interfaith leaders at the World Economic Forum. Here, we continue to plan the annual gathering in Davos this winter and to think-tank the greatest moral, economic, and political issues of our time. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Chassidic Approach to Spiritual Materialism and Ethical Consumption." Jewish Week. 2 September 2011.

One of the primary areas in daily life where I strive for piety is in my eating choices. Jewish tradition is rich with wisdom pertinent to our greatest moral problems related to food consumption today: hunger, just labor practices, treatment of animals, fair trade, environmental impact, and access to healthy food options. I have become more interested in exploring the degree to which the lifestyles advised in Chassidic thought can assist the moral life choices of one seeking to eat and consume more justly. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Why Does God Test Us?" Jewish Week. 24 August 2011.

Walking in Seattle yesterday, I smelled one of the most amazing unkosher cuisines I could ever remember smelling. As I stared at my food enemy, I had a thought which I imagine most religious Jews have at one point or another. I wondered: Was God testing me with this great smell? Was this amazing scent a way to bring my downfall? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Intertwining Inner and Outer Religious Life: Yehuda haLevi's Human and Divine Law." Jewish Week. 19 August 2011.

The Orthodox Jewish community in the United States for the last few decades has been experiencing a move toward higher ritual observance, as demonstrated by Samuel Heilman's study, "Sliding to the Right," and, in many communities, prioritizes ritual observance and religious conformity over spiritual leadership, natural morality, and common sense ethics. Instead of committing time and effort to addressing local poverty, many devote resources to the search for the perfectly-shaped lulav. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "How Should We Treat Undocumented Workers?" Jewish Week. 29 July 2011.

How should the American people treat a population which only has a marginal economic impact yet still manages to stimulate job growth and consumption in the country? The presumed answer is sadly far from the reality of how America behaves towards "illegal immigrants." Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "The Forgotten Population: Domestic Workers in Our Homes." Jewish Journal. 15 June 2011.

Ever stop to ask the salary of the woman washing dishes on Shabbat in your neighbor's home, or the gentleman mowing your friend's lawn about his vacation, or the nanny raising the children down the block whether she had time to sit down for lunch today? If you did, you most likely discovered an unpleasant situation of inadequate pay, few or no breaks, no paid sick or vacation days, and perhaps even bullying or verbal abuse. But how can it be? Those employers (neighbors) seem so nice, and their domestic workers always seem to be smiling and content. Read more

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Yeridat HaDorot, The Descent of Man: Is Progress Possible in Our Time?" The Jewish Week. 10 June 2011.

Will we ever end poverty, hunger and genocide? Is there hope that tomorrow will look brighter than today? The social justice movement is guided by a messianic vision that a world that is more just and free is possible. Can we, as Jews, embrace this promise of progress? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Solitary Confinement: When Solitude is no Longer a Virtue." The Jewish Week. 05 May 2011.

Last week there was a major Congressional briefing on the effects of long-term solitary confinement. Experts demonstrated that prolonged, isolated confinement causes serious psychological damage. Yet most courts and legislatures have been unwilling to declare this harsh practice unconstitutional or to change this nation's current unethical practice. Can anyone hear the cries from the "hole?" Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Food Justice at your Seder Table." Huffington Post. 18 April 2011.

The Passover seder is Jewish drama. Over the evening, a tale of slavery and liberation, despair and hope, narrow straits and open possibilities unfolds. We experience this drama through food. We lift high the matzah, the bread of affliction, for all to see; we taste the painful maror to remind us of embittered lives and oppressive work; we drink four cups of redemptive wine. Food brings these experiences to life. Through eating, we bring these symbols into our bodies. Read more...

Raisner, Yitzi. "Food Justice at the Seder Table." Jewschool. 13 April 2011.

The Seder is an orchestrated affair with fourteen movements, from Kadesh to Nirtzah. At my family's Seder, though, there is a prelude which marks the true beginning of the meal, long before the first cup of wine is poured. One might call it Bechira, "The Selection." For you simply cannot approach the Pesach table without a thoughtfully chosen Haggadah (and pillow, for that matter). My grandmother is loyal to the Szyk Haggadah for its aesthetic offerings. My sister, on the other hand, appreciates the Abarbanel's unique insights. It's a highly personal choice and no two people end up at the table with the same one. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Pregnant Inmates Chained During Labor: On theDignity of Childbirth." The Jewish Week. 12 April 2011.

Childbirth is one of the most sacred events of the human experience. All women deserve the dignity to give birth free of danger, restraint, or oppression. Unfortunately, this is not the case in America for inmates who are forced to go through labor in shackles - not metaphorical shackles; real ones. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "A Pesach Plea for Prison Reform." The Jewish Journal. 12 April 2011.

Last week, here in Los Angeles, we read with horror of an inmate in a local county jail who was strangled to death in his cell. This inmate had been complaining to a judge that he was being "hassled" by other inmates. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions have plagued L.A. County's jails for more than 30 years, along with a culture of violence and fear that includes prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and the use of excessive force by deputies. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Alternatives to Incarceration: A Jewish Approach." The Jewish Week. 07 April 2011.

Many prisoners keep knives in body cavities, an ex-convict explained to me last week, to ensure they can protect themselves from brutal prison violence and rape. This horrific description haunts me. Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Tax Season: The Most Spiritual Time of Year?" Huffington Post. 04 April 2011.

Forms. Number-Crunching. Headaches. Worry. Going through the year's spending and income and applying it to the nitty-gritty of our tax code often feels like the least religious, least spiritual activity possible. While doing our taxes can be a source of frayed nerves and aggravation, they can also be a spiritual lens that reflects our priorities, values and the effects of our labors on the world. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Jewish Hotel Ethics." The Jewish Week. 31 March 2011.

Hotel workers are among some of the most poor and abused laborers in America today. Over 90 percent of hotel housekeepers have reported suffered work-related pain due to the demands of the job. How can the Jewish tradition inform an authentic Jewish ethic for hotel guests? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Another Kosher Scandal: What's at Stake?" The Jewish Week. 24 March 2011.

Yes, once again kosher is not yosher (just)!

Pickles used to be my favorite snack, but now I can't help but think of the workers in a pickle at Flaum Appetizing before taking a bite.

Just a few years ago, Flaum, which also produces Sonny & Joe's and distributes Tnuva and Bodek products, fired seventeen Latino workers who stood up against over a decade of abusive treatment and unlawfully-withheld benefits and overtime pay. Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Holding God Accountable: Faith and Disaster." Huffington Post. 21 March 2011.

"Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked ... ?" Genesis, 18:23

These words echoed in my spirit as I watched the images of the tsunami strike in Japan, and as the situation continues to unfold it evokes profound spiritual anxiety in me. How do we make sense of such enormous tragedy within the context of our faith? For we who believe in an active God who cares about what happens in this world, how do we make sense of wide-scale catastrophe? How do we respond when horrible things happen to innocent people?

We hold God accountable. Read more...

Hart, Ari. New York Muslims and Jews: Serving Together. Jew School. 30 January 2011.

It sounds like a dream: a Muslim woman wearing a full head covering, laughing and joking with an orthodox rabbi as they paint a mural of Run-DMC for Brooklyn schoolchildren. But on Martin Luther King Day, 2011, that dream was real.Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Where are the Women in the Global Future Discourse? Special Report from the World Economic Forum. Jewish Journal. 27 January 2011.

It has been hard not to notice that speaker after speaker here in Davos are men. Where are the women in these conversations? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Gloal Affairs: A Balancing Act? Special Report from the World Economic Forum. Jewish Journal. 28 January 2011.

As global politicians, corporate executives, and thought leaders exchange business cards at a rapid rate here in Davos, two things are clear: on the one hand these brilliant powerful leaders have great influence over the global economy, and on the other hand no one is in control of this extremely complex system. The conversations are empowering and humbling. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A life without limbs, a life without limits: Special Report from the World Economic Forum. Jewish Journal. 27 January 2011.

One major CEO explained to me after the presentation that he could not return to the normal sessions about the state of economy after his heart had been so touched and transformed by Nick's story of survival and persistence. I personally left amazed and awed at Nick's achievements to inspire millions around the world through his motivational speaking and even saving lives by motivating communities not to kill infants born with deformations or disabilities. Read more...

Fuchter, Dasi. Queens College Hillel Social Justice Group Take on Labor Violations. The Jewish Week. 12 January 2011.

Two years ago, during my freshman year at Queens College, I found my passion for Jewish social justice when I started a Challah for Hunger chapter on campus, an organization that raises money and awareness for hunger and disaster relief through the production and sale of challah bread. Read more...

Hart, Ari. Peoplehood, Universalism and Particularism. Jewish Philanthropy. 5 January 2011.

During a steamy Chicago August a few years back, I led a summer program called Or Tzedek that brought Jewish high schoolers to Chicago neighborhoods. Our goal was to explore Judaism and social justice. On the second day of the trip, I brought my students to Chicago's predominantly African-American South-West Side. Our project for the day was knocking on doors and distributing leaflets to people in the neighborhood about prenatal health opportunities available to pregnant women. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Invisible People: We Have The Power to Make Them Visible. The Jeiwsh Week. 31 January 2010.

Having moved between countries and cities throughout my childhood, I recall often standing alone at recess feeling as if I was invisible. In a very small way, I feel like I can relate to the hundreds of people feeling the powerlessness of invisibility in a society that does not see them. Read more...

Rosenstock, Natasha. Hazon Conference Focuses On Food And Torah. The Jewish Press. 24 December 2010.

A rabbi, a nun, and a UN official walk into Hazon. No, it isn't the start of a joke. Hazon is an increasingly visible Jewish en- vironmental organization that recently hosted and co-sponsored the Faith in Food gathering run by the Alliance of Religions and Conser- vation. Its Food Conference, held earlier this month in Falls Village, Connecticut, brought together food activists from every corner of the Jewish community and every area of food production, consumption and activism. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Casino Jack: Are We Trapped in Money Worship. The Jewish Week. 23 December 2010.

Watching "Casino Jack" on its opening weekend was the very first time I ever felt embarrassment for wearing a kippa in a movie theatre. When Jack Abramoff, played by Kevin Spacey, sponsored kosher restaurants and a yeshiva with dirty money, the woman sitting next to me let out a disgusted "My G-d!" I shrunk in my seat. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A Jewish Vision for 2025. The Jewish Week. 17 December 2010.

What do we hope the American Jewish community will look like in 2025? No one knows what the coming years actually have in store for the Jewish community but we can at least attempt to outline a vision for what our future can entail with focused and vigorous efforts. Before we discuss the mechanics of accomplishing our collective dreams -hundreds of leaders, thinkers, and organizations would need to do that work in very different ways-perhaps we can at least advance open conversations of where we, as the empowered and engaged in the Jewish community, are looking to go. Read more...

Weiss, Ari. A history of the Jewish people in 30 objects. The JC.com. 16 December 2010.

There seems no connection between a smart phone and one of the world's oldest religions. What the iPhone signifies, however, says something deep about how Judaism will be practised and lived this century. The iPhone is about creating innovative ways of obtaining access to personalised information. Jews are increasingly thinking about Judaism not as peoplehood ("I'm Jewish because I was born Jewish") but as identity ("I am a social justice Jew"). As opposed to peoplehood, identity is dynamic; one seeks and searches for information about their identity. Like the iPhone, to be successful, identity needs access to personalised information.Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. The Cost of a Sheitel: Chillul Hashem in People's Court. Vos Iz Neias. 9 December 2010.

We'll all be asked 6 questions in shamayyim (Shabbos 31a). The very first question is, "Were you honest in business?" To be financially dishonest is the ultimate rejection of Hashem and divrei Chazal. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. The Calling. The Jewish Week. 3 December 2010.

A calling is like love. Anyone who has been in love knows what it feels like. But one who has never been in love might question whether love even exists since the concept can be totally abstract. So too with personal purpose: one must feel it to know it. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Creatures in the Nation-State. Ideals. 19 November 2010.

In what way are humans and animals distinct? Throughout history, arguments have been made on various grounds including: reason, emotional capacity, language, moral intuition, freedom of will, physical capabilities, and the ability to create sustainable social systems. If humans are created in the image of God, then there must be something unique about our essence. However, with time, each of the above proposals for human uniqueness has been exposed to have flaws. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Post-modern Jewish Identity. The Jewish Week. 17 November 2010.

While packing for a trip to Ghana eight years ago, numerous observant Jews dissuaded me, arguing I could not volunteer abroad and maintain full, authentic observance. I knew that I had multiple identities and this trip gave me no pause. Since then I have worked in ten countries learning that I can be an observant Jew and a global citizen. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Who is a Jewish Hero? The Jewish Week. 5 November 2010.

Historically, heroes are those who have risked their lives as sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. What distinguishes a Jewish hero? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A Jewish Imperative to live in the Diaspora? The Jewish Week. 15 October 2010.

Living in caravans in a small settlement town during my years learning in Israel, my dream was always to settle the land. As a religious Zionist, I feel that living in Israel is a tremendous and miraculous opportunity, and all Jews can and must consider making this life transition as we are all very familiar with the halakhic obligation of yishuv ha'aretz, the religious obligation to settle the Land of Israel. I would like to suggest, however, that in addition to this well-known imperative, there is also a crucial duty to reside in the Diaspora. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A reflection on ethical consumption. The Jewish Week. 21 September 2010.

Each fall after the High Holy Days have passed, the Jewish people move from comfortable homes into impermanent huts in backyards, driveways and on balconies for the festival of Sukkot. By eating and living in these fragile shelters, we train ourselves to temporarily subordinate our gashmiut (materialism) to the value of ruchaniut (spirituality). Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A Jewish Apology to the World. The Jewish Week. 7 September 2010.

At this time of year, it is common for many of us to pick up our phones and send emails apologizing to others for the ways that we wronged them in the past year. In addition to doing personal repentance (teshuva), Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, explained that we as a people (Knesset Yisrael) must also do teshuva. How do we, as a nation, ask the nations of the world for forgiveness? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. A God That Repents and Seeks Liberation. The Jewish Week. 23 August 2010.

The month of Elul is a time in which we pause and reflect upon our past year to engage in teshuva (repentance). I often ask myself: Are we alone in our attempts to change and grow? The Talmud suggests that God actually engages in teshuva (Megillah 29a). Can this radical suggestion that God grows, evolves, adapts with the times, and experiences redemption pass as an authentic Jewish theology? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. Kiddush Clubs: A Destructive Force? The Jewish Week. 13 August 2010.

A number of years back, I attended a kiddush club gathering in the basement of a synagogue. Right when the haftarah reading began, about 8 or 9 older men snuck out the back and in a small dark room in the basement opened multiple bottles of alcohol. They drank excessively until the sermon was over and then not so inconspicuously returned back for the final portion of the Shabbat morning service. Isn't it fair for one to enjoy a nice scotch on their weekend, I wondered at the time? Read more..

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Orthodox Solidarity with Frum Homosexuals." The Jewish Week. 04 August 2010.

Three leading Modern Orthodox rabbis and personal teachers of mine (Nathaniel Helfgot, Aryeh Klapper, and Yitzchak Blau) recently released a statement of principles on how Orthodoxy can and must relate to homosexuals in our community. This document, which has now been signed by over 100 Orthodox rabbis and educators, was carefully drafted over the course of 6 months and "revised based on the input from dozens of talmidei chachamim, educators, communal rabbis, mental health professionals, and a number of individuals in our community who are homosexual in orientation." Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Sustainable Food, Sustainable Faith" The Huffington Post. 28 July 2010.

The Talmud tells a story about a miracle man and mischief-maker named Honi: One day, Honi was walking down a road and saw an old man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man how many years it would take for the carob tree to bear fruit. The man replied "not for 70 years." Honi asked "silly old man, do you really think you'll live another 70 years to see its fruit?" The old man answered "I found this world planted with carob trees. As my ancestors planted for me, so I will plant for my descendants." Read more...

Adler, Tali. "Social Justice and Orthodox Judaism" The Huffington Post. 24 July 2010.

Last summer, Jesse Rabinowitz, a 19-year-old Orthodox Jew, found himself in a hot, dusty Guatemalan village. A participant in a service-learning trip, Jesse built houses and learned about the lives of migrant workers and their families who stayed behind. At the end of his trip, Jesse made a promise to the people he met in the Guatemalan village: he would fight for the rights and dignity of their relatives in the United States. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly. "Speak Truth to Power" The Jewish Week. 16 July 2010.

"Speak truth to power!" "Power is corrupt!" These popular mantras have fueled rhetorical wars among the classes for generations and are still voiced by many activists today. The disdain for power long predates the Marxists and the counter-culture activists; it enters the discourse of the early Rabbis in the Mishnah: "Love work, hate holding power, and do not seek to become intimate with the authorities," (Pirke Avot 1:10). Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Take It to the Streets: Radical Judaism" Patheos. 12 July 2010.

Judaism experiences major threats right now: existential threats concerning Israel, anti-Semitism, assimilation, and apathy to name a few. Yet, aside from this typical list, I believe that the most imminent threat may be the privatization of religious meaning-making. The major challenge for the Jewish community in the 21st century will be whether or not we can translate our rich tradition and holy law to speak to the most pressing contemporary moral problems of our time. Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Judaism, Food and Social Justice" The Huffington Post. 12 July 2010.

Is there more to Jewish food than bagels and Manischewitz? The new Jewish Food Movement, a loose confederation of farmers, religious leaders, health and nutrition buffs, organizers, philosophers, activists, and consumers, says yes. Drawing on deep Jewish religious traditions and values, the movement is inspiring a new generation of Jews to lead lives of faith, justice, environmentalism, and community through their food. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Extravagant Jewish Celebrations - Have We Gone Too Far?" The Jewish Week. 09 July 2010.

$100,000 for a wedding? $20,000 for a bar mitzvah? When did extravagance and luxury become such primary Jewish values? I can't remember the last simcha (Jewish celebration) I attended at which there were not tremendous amounts of wasted food, overly expensive napkins and bands large enough for a royal banquet.Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Discrimination Within Orthodoxy?" The Jewish Week. 25 June 2010.

Last week, thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews came out for mass protests across Israel. What was the contested issue: defense for Israel? Support of Agunot? Parents against child molestation? An end to violating business ethics and Israeli law? Not in the least bit. Sadly, this mass protest, the largest of its kind in years, was for the right to keep Sephardim out of Ashkenazi schools. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "The BP Oil Spill, Personal Responsibility and Jewish Law" The Jewish Week. 18 June 2010.

This April, an explosion on a BP drilling rig caused the largest oil spill to have ever hit the Gulf of Mexico, which has led to mass public damage and estimates of around 60,000 barrels continuing to flow out each day. There are ongoing debates over who is to blame for this massive spill and who is accountable for the cleanup: The US government? BP? Halliburton? Transocean? Many fingers have been pointed and responsibility needs to be taken, but amid the cacophony of corporate vs. government clashes, we can also learn personal lessons from this fiasco. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Reborn Again? A Jewish Moral Argument for Reincarnation?" The Jewish Week. 11 June 2010.

I fear death. I think about dying frequently and often try to make meaning of my mortality. Until recently, if someone had mentioned reincarnation to me, I would have dismissed it as a non-Jewish theological belief. I imagine most people share my visceral skepticism of the possibility of reincarnation and of its authentic Jewish roots, but perhaps we can temporarily suspend this disbelief and explore the idea together in search of a theology that can improve us. Perhaps, this thought experiment can even promote certain moral virtues. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Banin as Bonim: Does Jewish Traiditon Condone Child Labor?" The Jewish Week. 28 May 2010.

"Halakhah isn't concerned about child labor."

These words came from the mouth of a rabbi at a panel at YU, on which I was a panelist. Still shocked by his words, I remain glued to the daily news of the Rubashkin trial where Sholom Rubashkin is charged with 83 child labor violations after having been found employing 57 minors. Tears rolled down one child's face as she sat in court a few days ago explaining, "I don't want to remember it," referring to her work at the Postville factory where she was exposed to harsh chemicals. Another child, a 15 year old, recently explained in court that she was de-feathering up to 45 chickens per minute on a 12-hour overnight shift. Their stories and the many others told by the child laborers brought tears to my eyes. We were enjoying kosher meat at the expense of children for years. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "The Ethics of Innovation." The Jewish Week. 14 May 2010.

Faster! Bigger! Newer! More in touch! The innovative sector of Jewish life is thriving as never before through grassroots movements, including hip prayer groups, Jewish farming, and religious community organizing that are emerging to meet an expanding range of Jewish needs. While I consider myself a social entrepreneur within this trend and am excited by its progress and creativity, I can't help but raise ethical concerns and questions about this progress. Why do so many innovators find it necessary to disparage the larger Jewish establishments? Why is there often so much inter-generational and inter-cultural animosity in the Jewish marketplace of ideas? Can innovators collaborate and support the time-honored institutions and still be avant-garde? Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Witnessing Haiti: A Call for Transparency in Disaster Relief." The Jewish Week. 29 April 2010.

When I was in Haiti last week, I was overwhelmed by the lack of accountability. One role that I played in Haiti was as a representative for the Disaster Accountability Project, an organization which calls for transparency and accountability in the allocation of donor and government funds to disaster relief projects. Organizations have received millions of dollars from governmental and philanthropic sources but have provided little to no transparency in the allocation of their funding to the daily human needs in the area of disaster. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Gold for Rubashkin or Guatemalans?" The Jewish Week. 15 April 2010.

I recently encountered signs posted around Brooklyn calling the community to rally to Rubashkin's defense. Surprised and confused, I wondered how a small segment of the Jewish community was now holding values that were a complete anathema to me. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Jewish Feminism Beyond Ritual?" The Jewish Week. 8 April 2010

In the past half century, North American Jewish feminists have made leaps and bounds - across the various denominations - in ensuring the inclusion of women in ritual life, as well as in the elevation of women to positions of respect and leadership in the community.

More recently, Jewish feminism has grown to include more systemic issues such as advocacy for comprehensive forms of sex education and the plight of agunot. Read more...

Hart, Ari. "The justice in giving." Haaretz. 23 March 2010.

How we make and spend our money is also central to Judaism year-round. Judaism's concern with money is manifest most nobly through the eternal practice of tzedakah: using money to pursue tzedek - justice - by providing financial support to individuals and institutions in their struggles against hunger, poverty and injustice. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "A Vision For Street Torah." The Jewish Week. 22 March 2010

This column is a protest: its intent is to help prevent Jewish thought from being hijacked to the monastic serenity of quiet mountaintops where peace is chosen over truth and the self over the collective. Authentic religion today is lived in the hustle and bustle of the streets and it is here that Torah can be most transformative for 21st century Jews. As Moses is reassured (Deuteronomy 30:12), "Lo bishamayim hi" - The Torah is not in the heavens! Read more...

Brickman, Michal and Dani Passow. "A Jewish Call for Employee Rights." The Jewish Press. 11 March 2010

Last May, our organization, Uri L'Tzedek, officially launched the Tav HaYosher - "ethical seal" - to certify kosher restaurants that uphold three basic employee rights: the right to fair time, the right to fair pay, and the right to a safe work environment. As an Orthodox organization guided by Torah and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression, we are motivated by the Torah's prohibition "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is of your brothers, or of your strangers who are in your land inside your gates." Read more...

Hart, Ari. "Right of Reply: Young US Jews - Self-centered and Individualistic?" The Jerusalem Post. 29 October 2009.

In his recent column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine ("The I's have it," October 16), Daniel Gordis informs us that out of all the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish world today, this is the real crisis: America's "unfettered individualism" is corrupting the minds and souls of young American Jews, leading them to abandon Israel. Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "An Annual Call to Justice." JTA. 7 September 2009.

"The Talmud teaches that the three types of shofar blasts heard on Rosh Hashanah represent three types of cries: the teruah (brief whimpering cries), the shevarim (groaning cries of medium length), and the tekia (long clear cries). Each cry represents a different kind of suffering in the world that we are called to internalize: the intermittent sob of those afflicted with disease and physical and mental suffering; the groan of an oppressed laborer in a cell, a factory and a field; and the plaintive keening of one entrenched in the deepest form of poverty in the developing world." Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "The Shofar's Cries Are Our Call to Action." The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. September 2009.

"The Talmud teaches that the three types of shofar blasts heard on Rosh HaShanah represent three types of cries: the teruah (brief whimpering cries), the shevarim (groaning cries of medium length), and the tekia (long clear cries)." Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Jewish Wisdom, and a 'Wise Latina.'" The Forward. 21 August 2009.

"With tears and gratitude, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the 111th United States Supreme Court justice - the third woman and the first Latino to make it to our high court." Read more...

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "The Shame of Orthodoxy." Haaretz. 2 August 2009.

"'Is nothing sacred?' read a newspaper headline last week that accompanied a photo of one of many Orthodox rabbis in New York and New Jersey who had been caught in a vast criminal scandal. Seeing the images of the rabbis allegedly involved in the laundering of tens of millions of dollars and in black-market trafficking of kidneys, I felt an all-too-familiar shame." Read more...

Milgram, Rabbi Goldie. "What Is Next For Kosher Living?" The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. June 2009.

"Ideas about renewing Jewish ethics regarding kashrut (kosher products, their production and distribution) coming from the far left of Judaism have now made it almost all the way across the spectrum of the Jewish people. It has been several decades since Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (widely known as Reb Zalman, founder the phenomenon known as Jewish Renewal) began urging a return to Torah values regarding care for the planet, for workers and food-related health issues. Some in orthodoxy are now taking notice of these ideals." Read more...


 

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