Thursday, December 29, 2011

Forward.com: "Day Schools Stuck in Neutral: Enrollment Numbers Grow, But Only Among Ultra-Orthodox"

Forward.com: "Day Schools Stuck in Neutral"

Enrollment Numbers Grow, But Only Among Ultra-Orthodox

Declining Numbers: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits Jewish day school students. Despite a massive push, enrollment is down at Jewish schools, except for those serving the ultra-Orthodox.
GETTY IMAGES
Declining Numbers: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits Jewish day school students. Despite a massive push, enrollment is down at Jewish schools, except for those serving the ultra-Orthodox.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published December 29, 2011, issue of January 06, 2012.

The month of December brought some bad news for Jewish day school advocates. According to the Avi Chai Foundation, which tracks these things, day school enrollment saw a "modest decline" of about 1.4% in the 2011-12 school year, compared with the year before.

The sharpest decline was reported among the Solomon Schechter schools of Conservative Judaism, which experienced a 3.8% drop, from 11,786 students nationwide in 2010 to 11,338 this year. They were followed by so-called Community (non-denominational and/or federation-sponsored) schools, which fell 2.5%, and Modern Orthodox schools, which fell 1.6%. Centrist Orthodox schools, which are similar to Modern Orthodox but segregate classes by gender, actually gained 1.7%.

The numbers offer several useful insights. Perhaps the most useful, though hardly the insight the authors intended, is how easily numbers can mislead. Comparing this year with last, we find a slight drop in day school enrollment, presumably due to the economy. When we dig a little deeper, though, we'll find a significant decline in non-Orthodox enrollment, while overall enrollment soars due to an ongoing Orthodox baby boom.

Looking deeper still, we find some eye-popping details. Most dramatic: the calamitous drop in Schechter school enrollment. In 1998, the year Avi Chai first took attendance, Schechter enrollment totaled 17,563 students in 63 schools nationwide. This year, as noted, enrollment is just 11,338 students in 43 schools. That's a 35% decline.

The main reason, several Schechter officials told me, is an exodus of families and whole schools to a network of non-denominational community schools with fewer religious rules. Community-school enrollment rose from 14,849 in 75 schools in 1998 to 19,417 in 91 schools this year. A smaller number may have left for Hebrew charter schools in New York and South Florida.

We'll also find an explosive growth in ultra-Orthodox or Haredi school enrollment, including both Hasidic and non-Hasidic (that is, misnaged or "yeshivish" black hat) schools, reflecting high birthrates. Modern Orthodox schools, by contrast, are essentially holding their own.

Avi Chai compiles its numbers by a census — literally contacting every day school in America and asking for numbers, grade by grade. It's probably the most accurate source of American Jewish demographic information, though limited in range. However, the full census is only conducted every five years. The last one was in 2008.

The figures released this past December are based on a partial census that's conducted annually between full headcounts. The partial tally includes only the five most modern school groupings: the four mentioned above (two Modern Orthodox, two non-Orthodox) plus the much smaller Reform day schools (total enrollment 4,300). Among those not included are the two Haredi groupings, Hasidic and Yeshivish, which account for more than half of all America's Jewish day school students.



Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/148762/#ixzz1hx8i3u79
 
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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Forward's Sisterhood Blog: "The 8-Year-Old Girl Who Woke Up Israel"

The Forward's Sisterhood Blog: "The 8-Year-Old Girl Who Woke Up Israel"

By Allison Kaplan Sommer


Israel has a new and unlikely national heroine. She is a small blond bespectacled Orthodox 8-year-old girl, the daughter of American immigrants who live in Beit Shemesh. Her name is Na'ama Margolese and she was featured in a news broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 about the ongoing Haredi harassment of the girls who attend the Orot Banot School, and about the problem of extreme Haredi control in Beit Shemesh in general.

Naama spoke on camera of her fears while walking the short distance from her home to her school, after numerous occasions when she was cursed at and even once spit on by the Haredi demonstrators. Israeli viewers watched as her mother, Hadassah, holding her hand, tried to convince her to make the short walk as she cried, whined and protested; it's a ritual they go through every school day.

To the residents of Beit Shemesh (and to readers of The Sisterhood) the story of Beit Shemesh and the intimidation of Orot Banot girls is nothing new.

But just as the experiences of one individual young woman who refused to sit in the back of buses, student Tanya Rosenblit, last week galvanized mainstream Israeli public opinion regarding gender segregation on public transportation, the televising of Na'ama's plight woke up the Israeli public. Until now, that public had remained relatively indifferent to the trials the Orot Banot girls and the residents of Beit Shemesh were undergoing. Members of an extremist Haredi group that have settled there over the past several years have been pushing for the creation of gender-segregated bus lines, designating parts of the city where women and men were directed to separate on public streets, and harassing the girls of Orot Banot on the ground that they did not dress modestly enough.

Immediately after the piece was aired on Channel 2, Facebook groups were organized and demonstrations in Beit Shemesh planned by angry citizens who wanted to take action. The power of the press had truly flexed its muscles. (The extremists were clearly aware of the damage done to them by the television coverage, as they demonstrated when they attacked the reporter when he returned to Beit Shemesh on Sunday for a follow-up story.)

Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who clearly sensed where the political winds were blowing, went on a public relations push over the weekend to show he was taking action. Ynet reported that he "asked Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Saturday to instruct the police to act firmly against violent attacks targeting women in the public sphere." In the aftermath of the Channel 2 story and the reaction, the ultra-Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh ordered workers took down street signs that directed women to cross the street and "not linger" in front of a synagogue. As they did so, Haredim threw rocks and called the municipal workers 'Nazis.'

The fact that the government took action only after the media paid attention to Beit Shemesh is infuriating. The girls of Orot Banot have been under siege since school opened in September, as detailed here and here. They deserved firm action and government protection long ago: Na'ama should never have had to be terrified in the first place.

But the Orot Banot parents will take what they can get. One of them wrote on Facebook that the Channel 2 piece their "Hannukah miracle" and Na'ama's mother said in a television interview that the numerous expressions of support that their family received following the broadcast felt like "a massive hug from the entire country." They are joining together with their new supporters on Facebook for a massive Hannukah candlelighting, rally, and march on Tuesday night designed to drive the forces of darkness out of Beit Shemesh, and bring the city closer to the meaning of its name: The House of the Sun.



Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/148571/#ixzz1heyYJeWZ
 

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

We are losing Israel from within. Please watch this video.

This video makes me cry. Please watch it. It is 15 minutes long, and must be seen and considered. We are losing Israel from within. It's not an anti-Charedi mindset that makes this upsetting. It's my love of my People, my love of my Homeland that makes me hurt watching this. 

English subtitled link -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFm1tZkEuxI 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Comment on Rabbi Hanan Alexander's OpEd on JPost.com: "Postmodernism in masorti education"

A Comment on Rabbi Hanan Alexander's OpEd on JPost.com: "Postmodernism in masorti education"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The problem with my teacher Hanan's eloquent article (pasted below) is that he sees advocates for Jewish gay inclusion as arguing for autonomy. This is a misrepresentation of halachic progressive advocacy, which argues for the organism of Halacha to continue evolving in response to a growing understanding of ethics and science, including human biology.  Framing the conversation as post-modernism is not helpful. This continuation of the modern critique of Judaism has been the hallmark of Conservative/Masorti Judaism since its birth in the 19th century.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

"I won’t sit at the back of the bus" - Ynetnews

18:17 , 12.18.11

 
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Religious War
Photo: Tzvika TishlerTanya RosenblitPhoto: Tzvika Tishler 
click here to enlarge text click here to enlarge text
I won't sit at the back of the bus
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4163399,00.html 

Ynet special: Tanya Rosenblit recounts clash of civilizations she experienced on Israeli bus; 'until yesterday, I was sure that I live in a free country,' she says
Tanya Rosenblit

Until yesterday, I was sure that I live in a free country. I was certain that a person's dignity and freedom are supreme values in our diverse society. Indeed, there are calls against one group or another, but people, whoever they are, regardless of religion, creed or gender, will be respected, because this is the kind of society I grew up in. These are the values I learned.

 

However, a short while after I boarded Egged's Route 451 bus from Ashdod to Jerusalem, I was proven wrong. As it turned out, not everyone adheres to the dictum: Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah (proper behavior comes before the Torah.)

Sex Segregation
Chief rabbi: Israel isn't haredi land / Ynet
Rabbi Metzger speaks out against sex segregation on buses, says ultra-Orthodox public cannot impose its opinion on rest of population
Full Story

 

The bus I boarded passed through haredineighborhoods. I took it because it stops five minutes from my destination, in Jerusalem. Only after the driver was surprised by my presence did I understand where I was. I sat behind him so he can tell me exactly where to disembark, yet apparently not everyone thought I'm permitted to sit there.

 

It's still hard for me to believe that in the year 2011 there are men who believe they must not sit behind a woman.

 

One of the passangers was unwilling to sit down and stayed on the stairs next to the driver the whole trip, yet another passenger decided to create a commotion. He prevented the driver from shutting the door and called his friends, who arrived at the site and gathered around the bus. There were about 20 of them, they spoke in Yiddish, and it appeared as though a small rally was organized to charge that this bus is theirs, via a deal with the Egged company, and that whoever boards it must adhere to the community's demands.

 

They repeated this claim in Hebrew too, even though the driver attempted to explain to them that this is a regular Egged bus route and is not characterized a "kosher" one.

 

Policeman asked me to move

I must admit I was a little scared at that point. Nobody bothered to turn to me and ask me to do what seemed so logical to them – for me to move to the back. They made do with pointing at me, calling me names, and expressing outrage over Egged's failure to safeguard their rights. I must admit I still don't understand what these rights are.

 

The driver, who saw he cannot continue, called the police. When the police officer arrived, he traded a few words with the driver, spoke at length with the organizer of the spontaneous protest, and then boarded the bus in order to ask me whether I am willing to respect them and move to the back of the bus. He repeated the question twice. He was also the first to turn to me and speak to me all that time.

 

I replied that I showed enough respect for them with my modest dress and that I cannot humiliate myself in order to respect someone else. They must ask themselves how it could be that humiliating a woman shows respect to them. How could it be that a man in this day and age feels that a woman is not worthy of sitting before him? How would he feel if his mother, sister or daughter encountered such contempt?

 

Ultimately, the police officer accepted my refusal, for lack of other choice. The man who organized the protest remained in Ashdod, while the other passengers, including new ones who boarded the bus later, passed me and sat behind me without an incident.

 

Yet I was left with a few questions following this incident: Why is limiting the rights and freedom of someone else considered fair when it comes in the form of adhering to Jewish law demands? Since when does the Torah come before basic manners? How could religion be used so cynically and how come nobody realized until now that this is a social problem, and that its connection to religion is slim to non-existent? How could it be that an entire community chooses to humiliate its daughters, wives and sisters and nobody raises a hue and cry? Who believes that one could really choose to live a life of humiliation and exclusion?

 

I'm not anti-religious

It's important for me to emphasize that I'm not coming out against the haredim or religious. I'm also not speaking out against religion. What bothers me is the State's attitude to these phenomena throughout its existence. The renunciation of the basic rights of so many citizens for the sake of the minority's dignity and welfare, and the indifference shown by the State towards these phenomena, which is even encouraged at times.

 

The State of Israel is a country of minorities, and everyone must show consideration to others. It's important to fight radicalism, wherever it is. Every opinion and every worldview are acceptable, until they are taken to the extreme. There they become dangerous. It can be a hurtful religious edict or anti-haredi calls. It can be a missile fired at Ashdod or "Death to the Arabs" chants.

 

In Israel of 2011, the war is for individual freedom! War between groups leads to nothing with the exception of a long conflict filled with empty slogans: Arabs against Jews, and haredim against seculars. After all, we all wish to live our life in line with our beliefs, abilities and understanding and to be the best and most successful we choose to be; with an emphasis on the word choice.

 

We must not allow one pressure group or another to overrun the unique voice of any one of us. Freedom is not a curse word; everyone aspires for it in every society and in any situation. If we give up the stigmas and approach the person who hides behind the words "haredim" or "seculars" we can produce genuine dialogue and possibly minimize the gap between us.

 

Tanya Rosenblit is a writer and translator. She studies at the Camera Obscura school of arts

 

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Ha'aretz: "Retooling halakhic conversion: Re-imagining halakhic conversion matters is necessary both for the health of Jewish identity in Israel and for the attainment of untapped potential of Jewish possibilities in the Jewish state."

Ha'aretz: "Retooling halakhic conversion: Re-imagining halakhic conversion matters is necessary both for the health of Jewish identity in Israel and for the attainment of untapped potential of Jewish possibilities in the Jewish state."

By Rabbi Adam Frank
http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/retooling-halakhic-conversion-1.401758?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.212%2C2.215%2C

Historically, radical change has been an essential element in the survival of Jews and Judaism. This has been true not only with offshoots from, or "reformers" of the Jewish establishment, but also with that establishment itself, when it has recognized the need to adapt.

After the destruction of the Second Temple, in 70 C.E., for example, the sages changed the focus of Jewish worship from sacrifices to prayer and study. Not long thereafter, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi broke with normative Jewish law and compiled a heretofore prohibited written record of the Oral Law - the Mishnah - and in the 13th century Rabbi Menachem Hameiri unilaterally declared Christianity as non-idolatrous, thus allowing Jews to conduct business with a population previously prohibited to them.

The definition of Jewish identity has also undergone radical change over the past 2,000 years. During the times of our forefathers and foremothers, patrilineal descent was the key to being Jewish. Thus, Jacob's Jewish identity was passed on to all 12 of his sons, who then became the heads of the 12 Tribes of Israel, and further in Leviticus 24, a man born to an Egyptian father and a Jewish mother is not given the status of an Israelite.

Culturally, patrilineal descent made sense in the ancient world, as it was the most reliable way to insure continuation of the Jewish people, for whomever a man married became part of his clan.

Critical to this conversation is the fact that prior to the Temple's destruction, a person was considered to have converted to Judaism if he or she lived among Jews (as Ruth says to Naomi, in Ruth 1:16, "For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy People shall be my People, and thy God shall be my God"), and underwent ritual immersion, and, if a male, ritual circumcision.

The earliest mention of the move to matrilineal descent is found in the Mishnah (Kiddushin 3:12/13). Most believe it was a response to wars waged against the Jews of Palestine by the Greek-Assyrians and Romans, which threw into question the paternity of babies born to Jewish women.

When the Jews were dispersed, the sovereignty of Jewish society was lost. For the next 2,000 years, Jews were hosted by, and lived among, strictly gentile societies. It can be argued that one consequence of that dispersion was yet another radical change in the definition of a Jew - this time with respect to conversion requirements, which evolved to include a commitment to observance of Jewish law. Proof of such an unprecedented requirement is found in the commentary of the Tosafot - the post-Talmudic, early-Medieval rabbinic voices who demanded halakhic observance to accompanyconversion. Since then, standards of observance have continued to be requisite for conversion in the halakhic Ashkenazi world.

Fast forward to modern times. Though the Jews' proportion of the world's population decreases yearly and the number of people opting out of Jewish identification is rapidly growing, halakhic observance requirements for conversion to Judaism remain in place. And in the Diaspora, these requirements maintain their historic relevance, as they ensure the commitment to Judaism and public expressions of Jewish identity for a Jew-by-choice.

However, for those people who move to Israel under the Law of Return but do not have halakhic status as Jews; who have left the birthplaces to come to the world's only Hebrew-speaking society; who are prepared to serve or have their children serve in the Israel Defense Forces; who take upon themselves the challenges of living in an Israel that is under constant threat specifically because it is a Jewish state - a return to the Jewish societal milieu model for those who are prepared to undergo circumcision and ritual immersion should be sufficient for a halakhic conversion.

It is a well-known halakhic tool - the very same tool employed by Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi to circumvent the prohibition on writing down the Oral Law: to permit an action that has heretofore been prohibited when doing so will result in benefit to the Jewish people, God and the Torah.

Retooling halakhic conversion in Israel will increase the number of Jews living here; increase the number of Jews engaging in Torah study; increase the importance and relevance of Jewish identity for citizens of Israel; and decrease the number of halakhically prohibited marriages.

Most non-halakhic beneficiaries of the Law of Return come here with a desire to be recognized as Jewish, and many seem willing to undergo formal conversion. But the strictures imposed by the Israeli rabbinate are so great that only a small fraction of those wanting to convert are allowed to do so. Consequently, as time passes, their interest, motivation and urgency to be recognized as Jewish among all wane. For both this immigrant population and for those secular Israelis who see prohibitive halakhic definitions of status as prejudicial and anachronistic - efforts to rethink halakhic conversion may stem the weakening relevance of Jewish identity among Israelis, and give our Education Ministry a chance to correct the error of not teaching Judaism in the secular schools.

Recognition of the radical difference in Jewish life afforded by the State of Israel - a phenomenon unknown in the world for 2,000 years - certainly qualifies as justification for a re-imagining of halakhic conversion matters. Such a change is necessary both for the health of Jewish identity in Israel and for the attainment of untapped potential of Jewish possibilities in the Jewish state.

Adam Frank is rabbi of the Masorti Movement's Congregation Moreshet Yisrael in Jerusalem.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rabbi Reuven Hammer: "Hanukkah: We Kindle These Lights"

We Kindle These Lights
Rabbi Reuven Hammer

Hanukkah is a holiday that is both simple and profound. It is simple is that very little is required in order to observe it according to all the requirements of Jewish practice. According to the Talmud, all that is required is the lighting of one light each night.

The lighting of more than one candle, which is standard practice today, was an addition to the requirement of one light per household performed by those who are "particularly zealous" in their observance. We, who follow the ruling of the school of Hillel, add one more light each night (Shabbat 21b).

The original reason for kindling lights each night is uncertain. The well-known story of the miraculous can of oil does not appear in the books of Maccabees or in the Mishna, but only in the Talmud. It may be connected to the fact related in First Maccabees 4:50 that "They burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the menorah and they lighted the Temple." Certainly the rekindling of the Menorah, the most important symbol of God's presence in the Temple and eventually the most important visual symbol of Judaism, was a central feature of the Temple rededication and one that could be easily replicated in each home by the kindling of a light. The tale of the oil only added greater significance to that action.

Of course it should not be forgotten that the lighting of lights at the season of the winter solstice, the time when the hours of daylight are the shortest, was an ancient practice of many religions. The Talmud records a legend that as the days became progressively shorter, Adam was frightened, thinking that eventually there would be no light at all. "Perhaps because I have sinned," he said, "the world is becoming dark and returning to the state of chaos and confusion. This is the 'death' to which I have been sentenced by Heaven!"  He then fasted for eight days, but as the days began to become longer again he realized that this was simply the natural way of the world and then kept a festival for eight days. He observed this festival every year in thankfulness to God, but idolaters later observed it in honor of their gods (Avodah Zarah 8a). This was the Sages' explanation of the origin of the Roman festival of Kalenda at that time of year.

The eight days of Hanukkah is actually based on the fact recorded in Second Maccabees 10:6 that they celebrated the rededication of the Temple for eight days "like Sukkot, recalling that on Sukkot they had been wandering in the mountains and caverns like wild animals." That also explains why we recite Hallel on Hanukkah each day, since Hallel is recited each day of Sukkot.

Although the historical events leading to the Maccabean revolt are quite complicated and include an inner conflict among various Jewish groups as well as the struggle between Jews and the Syrian Greeks who ruled the land, the holiday has come to represent the triumph of religious freedom over the attempt to force an alien culture upon the Jewish people. As such it is a time to celebrate the right of a people to determine its own destiny and to worship God according to its own beliefs.

The lights that we light, then, do not simply represent the renewal of the physical light that has diminished at the turn of the year and will then increase each passing day, but the light of the spirit, the light of religious freedom, the light of the Divine presence in our lives. Thus the simplicity of the holiday and the ease of its observance is balanced by the weight of the importance of that which it celebrates: religious freedom for all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From an Israeli former Mishlei Student at Schechter

Dear Chevreh,

Reactions to the open letter from Bay Area Masorti regarding the resignation of Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum from Machon Schechter have ranged from rejection (mostly from American-born Conservative rabbis and American rabbinical students) to appreciation (mostly from Israeli-born Masorti Rabbis and Jews). 

This email (below) was just sent to the ShefaNetwork by Noa Raz (also available online here: http://shefanetwork.blogspot.com/2011/12/from-noa-raz-regarding-machon-schechter.html). For those who might remember Noa's name, she was the Israeli woman assaulted one year ago at a bus station by a Charedi man for having evidence of having put on tefillin on her arms. Her experience, reflected below, is important to consider, in that light and on its own.  This isn't about gay inclusion. It's about Israeli Masorti leaders aching to be trained, embraced, and empowered by a resonant Israeli institution whose mission is the support of the  Masorti Movement.

Again, it is natural and expected that any institution would protect itself. But the experience of students, Israei-born Masorti-raised students who would be the next rabbinic leaders of the Israei Masorti Movement, is not reflected in Rabbi Hanan Alexander's eloquent statement in defense of Machon Schechter. 

It is important to realize, as many do not, that the Jewish Agency's funding of Masorti is divided approximately in half - split between Machon Schechter and the Masorti Movement. Realize that Masorti communities are severely underfunded, and our heroes, the Masorti rabbis who are the next wave of Chalutzim, pioneers in a spiritual war to reclaim the fundamental pluralistic vision of Judaism from a fundamentalist Rabbinate. They can't make a living, and half of the funding that would secure their work (and lives) is being allocated to a school where only the rabbinical school purports to be connected to the Masorti Movement, and which claims a small handful of students. Many Masorti rabbis have lost their jobs, and many communities struggle to organize themselves without rabbis, which is certainly possible but far from ideal.

In other words, the Masorti Movement would be strengthened enormously by a correction to the Jewish Agency's policy, which is enormously influenced by American Conservative Rabbis whose understanding of Schechter is vastly different from the Israeli Masorti's. This isn't about JTS students studying abroad. This is about the Israeli Masorti Movement's welfare. Just think about what the Israeli Masorti Movement could accomplish with double its allocation.

In addition to Noa's email (pasted below) please also see this official statement from the Masorti Movement's chair, Emily Levi Shochat, online here: http://bamasorti.blogspot.com/2011/12/this-topic-will-continue-to-generate.html.

The original Jpost article has been taken down yet again. But it is archived here: http://bamasorti.blogspot.com/2011/12/jpost-rabbi-quits-machon-schechter-over.html.

Shavuah Tov,
Menachem


Re: [Shefa] "We Have a Problem" - An Open Letter from Bay Area Masorti

Boker Tov and Shavua Tov from Israel :-) i would like to drop my 2 cents to this discourse. I'm sorry for the lame English, i'm writing out of great frasturation. I'll followo Jonah's steps...

I was the onlyout LGBT student in Shechter. It was last year, when I atended Mishley, headed by Rabbi Tamar. At the end of the year I was expelled, I will collaborate more on that later. It wasn't homophobia, i think, but it surely was very disturbing behavior of Shechter's leadership.

1. I think Jonah is up to something. Raba Tamar did requested not to discuss the issue of her resignation. Even though i'll be the happiest person on earth to learn that this was indeed the reason, i still think we should respect her request.

2. The fact that Shechter didn't respond is just another layer in Shechter's dissability to lead something, let alone the most important institution is shoulb be.

3. As for Mishlei, last year. when my class enrolled, we were promised that this is a Masorati leadership progrem that will lead evantually to 2 extra years for Rabbinical ordination. About 50% of my class enreolled just for that. we want to be Masorati rabbis, and this was the way to do that. Sadly enough, at the end of the year everything changed. Mishlei now is nothing but a MA program for people that want to do it in the easy way, 2 days a week in Beit Midrash. It has nothing to do with Rabbinical aspirations or leadership, and my classmates who stayed are highly frasturated. The reason I was expelled together with two other students is that we don't have a BA yet (something that Shechter knew all the way and still enrolled us). I'm about to finish mine, but the other two are far from that and Shaechter knew it. It was perfectly fine for leadership-rabbinical program (dependong of coursr on us completing the academic demands), but it's not okay for MA program of Machon Shechter, so we're out. They told us that during summer vacation, without really letting us deal with it, discuss it, or ask our classmates how will they feel without a half of the class, three of its best students, all of them want to go on for ordination. As for now i'm working on my MA in the Talmud department in Bar Ilan University, studying torah from Rabbi Prof. Shama Friedman and Dr. Aaron Amit, i guess Bar Ilan now is more Conservative than shechter :-)

4. I'm glad to hear that. But please ask your Isreali classmates about THEIR experience as for now. You'll get a different picture. 

5. Gee, thanks Shechter for letting us use Ani Tfilati. Jonah just forgot to mention that students in shechter are not allowed to mention the Imahot in Amida, so in fact there's no reason to use Ani Tfilati, since the verses are orthodox. 

It's time for Shechter to ordain gays, but even before that, it's time for Shechter to be part of the Masorati movement in Israel, and to train its leadership. Without doing that, as it is now, it's time for the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel to initiate a real Conservative seminary in here, and let Golinkin's Shechter to be the modern-orthodox seminary it is. Without our students, and yes, without our money.

Shavua Tov U'Mvorah
Noa


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