Mar
22
2010

The Rabbi Elon Sex Abuse Scandal: The Personal,The Political & The Dangers of Charisma

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Rav Elon Scandal

Over the past week a number of people (off-line, of course) have praised my “courage” in writing about homosexuality and Judaism. They all assumed it must have been a very difficult post to write.

In reality, little courage was required for that. It’s actually the subject matter of this post that makes my heart heavy with dread.

The difficulty here is not in dealing with a sexual abuse scandal within the Jewish community. People who commit such crimes deserve exposure and condemnation. Openness in these matters is always the best policy (but more of that in a later post in this series).

My difficulties in writing this post come from the fact that I not only respected and admired the man at the centre of this furore, and not only did I study under him in his yeshiva (seminary) for 18 months, but he also offered the greatest hope for healing the Israeli secular/religious divide. Continue reading The Rabbi Elon Sex Abuse Scandal: The Personal,The Political & The Dangers of Charisma →

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Mar
21
2010

Coming Up – The Rabbi Elon Sex Scandal: The Personal and The Political

Rabbi Motti Elon was once Israel’s great hope for bridging the highly charged secular/religious divide.

A man of enormous charisma and limitless reserves of energy, he was Orthodoxy’s most powerful advocate among Israel’s irreligious.

He was also the head of a key yeshiva (seminary), from which have now emerged allegations of his “sexual misconduct.”

The case is steeped in mystery – no one is sure what the allegations even constitute.

In the light of the most recent Catholic sexual abuse scandals, the Jewish parallel highlights the dangerous mix of religion, closed systems, charisma, and systemic opacity.

This series will begin with Yaron’s memories of Rabbi Elon during his time studying at the Rabbi’s yeshiva. Yaron and I will then to explore the many complex and vexed elements that have characterised this case.

Click here to read a summary of the affair.

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Mar
21
2010

In the Absence of Loving Kindness 2: Between Man and God – by Malki Rose

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series In the Absence of Loving Kindness

By Malki Rose

Over the last few days since my piece “In the Absence of Loving Kindness,” I’ve received a great number of emails from many different people, from all sectors of the community. Some disagreed intensely with my account, suggesting that what the messianists did was so clearly outside of what is permissible in Jewish law, that Rabbi Telsner had no choice but to publicly distance himself from them and their behaviour.

I would like to make abundantly clear that I agree with this completely.

Rabbi Telsner, as leader of the Australian Chabad Community, absolutely had to issue some form of public statement distancing himself and the mainstream Chabad community from these people and their actions. Continue reading In the Absence of Loving Kindness 2: Between Man and God – by Malki Rose →

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Mar
18
2010

Drama and Diversity in The Jewish Australian Blogosphere, and Shabbat Shalom

On Wednesday, I went for my regular dose of the YourJC blog and found that it had been suspended due to a breach of the Wordpress terms of service…. I had no idea what that meant, or what indeed those young  live-wires might have done in the few hours since I last visited.

All I knew was their absence was not a good thing.

Juan Carlos and the other Your JC writers provide a much needed, uncensored view of what many young Australian Jews get up to, think, and care about. Sure they’re bolshy and write things that are going to whizz right over my greying, 34-year-old head. And they occasionally post material that makes me want to have a very big argument with whoever wrote it. But that’s precisely why they’re so important. Continue reading Drama and Diversity in The Jewish Australian Blogosphere, and Shabbat Shalom →

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Mar
17
2010

The Rabbi at the AC/DC Concert by Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb

by Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb

When I recently attended one of the AC/DC concerts in Melbourne, I  would never have guessed that an event featuring a middle aged man in a school uniform could illuminate some of life’s mysteries.

But during some of the songs and while singer, Brian Johnson, was delivering his barely intelligible patter between sets, I glanced around at the crowd.

Behind me there were half a dozen middle aged men (about the same age as the band). During the songs, they barely moved. At the end of each number, they clapped politely.

A rock band was playing to 50,000 screaming fans in a football stadium, with speakers that were several storeys high.

These men, however, gave their polite applause as if anything louder would disturb the peace. Continue reading The Rabbi at the AC/DC Concert by Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb →

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Mar
16
2010

Tip-offs, Surprises, and the Play that Won’t Die

Two Fridays ago, I received an email – almost by accident.

A non-Jewish woman, thinking I was a member of the left-wing Australian Jewish Democratic Society, contacted me to ask for assistance.

The nature of this blog is that for every comment written by a reader, tens of private emails come my way. A number of these emails are tip-offs, of varying usefulness and reliability.

The problems arise when the tip-offs are really good (and reliable), but they come with caveats that prevent me from mentioning key individuals or organisations.

This particular email, however, grew into something more than the usual tip-off. Continue reading Tip-offs, Surprises, and the Play that Won’t Die →

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Mar
15
2010

Homosexuality, Judaism, and Hypocrisy – by Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb

Gay.

This is a word that seems to unite religious people of all backgrounds around the world.

It also drives a knee jerk reaction, causing them to panic, babble incoherently, or simply pretend the word doesn’t exist.

I’ve been asked to explain the Orthodox Jewish response to homosexuality, and while I’m not going to panic or babble, I am going to have to ignore the word for a couple of  paragraphs, to give the necessary background.

The first and fundamental principle of Judaism is love for your fellow human.

In the Talmud (the foundational text for Jewish law) there is a story: the great sage, Hillel the Elder, tells a potential convert that the essence of the Torah is simply, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. The rest is commentary.” Continue reading Homosexuality, Judaism, and Hypocrisy – by Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb →

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Mar
14
2010

In the Absence of Loving Kindness – by Malki Rose

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series In the Absence of Loving Kindness

by Malki Rose

Rabbi Groner (the late head of the Chabad Movement of Judaism in Australia) was a great man.  I did not agree with many of his views; indeed, I’d argued with him about a number of theoretical and practical matters.

But I had enormous respect for him because he was, above all things, a father and teacher to thousands of children and adults over a very long period, nurturing his community in a relatively new and very isolated Jewish outpost.  He was a Manhig HaDor, the ‘leader of a generation’

The fire and fury of his words would cause many to tremble, but then the comforting warmth of this fire’s gentle afterglow offered a protection, a fatherly reassurance, and a promise of guidance and leadership.

Sadly, his departure from this world has left a vacuum in Australian Chabad almost as deep as the one left by the departure of Rabbi Schneerson, the late global head Rabbi of the Chabad/Lubavitch Movement.

Arguably, the Australian vacuum was even more profound. Continue reading In the Absence of Loving Kindness – by Malki Rose →

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Mar
13
2010

J-Wire and The Sensible Jew are Now Working Together.

J-Wire and The Sensible Jew are now working together.

Whenever you feel like a news update, click on the “Breaking News at J-Wire” link at the very top of this website (towards the right-hand side).

J-Wire is completely impartial and reports on events without editorial.

Op-Eds on the news J-Wire reports can be found here, at The Sensible Jew Blog.

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Mar
11
2010

Ayeka, Owning the Religion, The New Week, And Shabbat Shalom

Not being inclined towards religious learning – or indeed religious observance – I’d never imagined voluntarily sitting through a lecture on Job and Maimonides (a central religious commentator from the 12th century). If anything, I’d actively kept myself ignorant – almost as a statement of identity. The youth movement I attended as a kid, Hashy (Hashomer Hatza’ir) was avowedly secular and a place for people like me who felt very Jewish, but could not relate to the religion at all.

It was unthinkable that Hashy could actually be the vehicle for learning about the religion itself. Continue reading Ayeka, Owning the Religion, The New Week, And Shabbat Shalom →

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