Open Orthodoxy

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kol Isha for some, not for others

Drew Kaplan (a Chovevei Torah seminary student) stated that he attended a musical performance of Pharaoh's Daughter.

Here is the chat transcript when someone questioned him about the potential transgression of Kol Isha:

Eliyahu said...
Drew, with all due respect, doesn't going to Pharaoh's Daughter violate Kol Isha?
9/25/2006 5:06 PM

Drew_Kaplan said...
Eliyahu,It all depends on one's understanding of kol isha. So, for me, Pharoah's Daughter is fine, although, for example, listening to Neshama Carlebach live is something with which I am not comfortable.

Here's an interesting continuation of that discussion in the same thread:

jdub said...
could you explain the distinction b/w Pharaoh's daughter (lead singer, Basya Schechter) and Neshama Carlebach? Not challenging, just questioning the distinction. Is it because Basya (a college classmate of mine from way back) is backed by a band? I'm not sure I understand how you draw the line.
10/04/2006 3:44 PM

Drew_Kaplan said...
JDub,It's not necessarily that Schechter is backed by a band, but in this case, it is. Such that Schechter's voice doesn't hit my ears the same way that Carlebach's does. It's about how it sounds.
10/04/2006 4:11 PM

jdub said...
so it's a subjective thing? I don't think that's exactly supportable by halacha. I personally draw a live vs. recorded distinction, which is well supportable, but I don't think the "how it sounds" has any textual support. Can you support that?10/05/2006 5:50 PM

Drew Kaplan is an Orthodox seminary student. I wonder if terse statements like his give a misguided perception of the halachos of Kol Isha.

Kol Isha halachic sources
- Sources Regarding Kol Isha
- Cherney, Ben. Kol Isha Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 10, 57-75.
- Kol Isha by Rabbi Saul Berman

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Feeling passionate about...Christ?

Here are comments from Rabbi Darren Kleinberg (YCT class of 2005) about the "Passion of the Christ" movie:
Darren Kleinberg, 27, another Orthodox rabbinical student in New York, said the movie made him feel passionate toward Christians for their having to wrestle with the painful story.

"I wanted to hug everyone in the room," Kleinberg said. "In Judaism, we don't have that kind of weight."
- As Passion Movie Premieres, Debate--and Dialogue--Continue
Do comments like these implicitly denigrate Judaism...especially from someone being portrayed as an "Orthodox rabbinical student"? I don't like the ambiguity that "weight" can either be interpreted as "burden" or "clout".

Is there a point when empathy becomes misguided and compromises the integrity of one's own beliefs?

It is interesting that in the same article, Rabbi Avi Weiss (Dean of YCT) presented a harsher viewpoint:
The Passion "casts Jews as being Jesus-killers," said Rabbi Avi Weiss, veteran activist and president of Amcha-The Coalition for Jewish Concerns. "This lie planted the seeds of the Holocaust."


Coming out of the closet for Purim!

Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow (YCT class of 2004) analogized the story of Esther into a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) coming-out-of-the closet narrative:

… two years ago Keshet members handed out hamentashen to students on campus. The message was to "come out for Purim." Rabbi Orlow explains, "Esther was a young Jewish woman who closeted her Jewish identity to keep a favored position with the Persian king. When she learned of Haman's plot she revealed her identity and saved her people. It was a very courageous act." The moral: "Take a risk and share your identity and speak truth to power," Rabbi Orlow says. "It was a wonderful moment any student could join in. Who would think the hamentashen could be a traditional yet current articulation of Jewish life?" He says Keshet members are planning to repeat the event next Purim.
- Some find things have changed, but challenges remain St. Louis Jewish Light

Is this how Tanach should be interpreted?

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Open Orthodoxy is like open marriage...

In reference to Open Orthodoxy, I just saw the following comment on YudelLine.
"Open Orthodoxy must be like Open Marriage. You get to fool around." Posted by: Yori yanover at May 23, 2006 05:57 AM
What do people think about it?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Haggadah, yetzias mitzrayim, and gay liberation

Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah class of 2004) participated in the creation of a Haggadah for an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) seder. He endorsed it so strongly, that he "incorporated a lot of it into [his] own seder."
Keshet also sponsored an LGBT seder. "In preparation for it, the group wrote a haggadah and put it up online," Rabbi Orlow says. "Not that the traditional haggadah is homophobic, but this was a tremendous opportunity in the traditional seder to talk about liberation in many ways. It's a wonderfully rich haggadah, and I've incorporated a lot of it into my own seder."
- Some find things have changed, but challenges remain St. Louis Jewish Light

The Spring 2005 edition of the YCT newsletter published a full-page profile on Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow. Rabbi Orlow stated:
"We created a meaningful Haggadah for the GLBT [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, transgender] community, which spoke to their understanding of what it means to be liberated. Our sages teach us that in every generation we must come to see ourselves as having left Egypt’s enslavement. The Torah that emerged from these students’ serious study of the Haggadah shows their keen awareness of the Sages’ teaching and will remain with me for every Pesach to follow."
Since this was published in the YCT newsletter, does this mean that YCT validates the LGBT Haggadah concept and Rabbi Orlow's participation in that Haggadah?

Some Torah commentary
Taking a Torah approach, I discuss the incongruity between the concept of an LGBT Haggadah and what the traditional Haggadah actually represents. This is NOT my personal commentary or opinion concerning individual sexual preferences/orientation. Jews should outreach to all Jews. I merely question if participation in and endorsement of an LGBT Haggadah is appropriate for an Orthodox rabbi.

In the book of Vayikra, parshas Achrei, chapter 18, verse 2, Hashem states, "Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled…"

The Torah then admonishes Eqypt for engaging in specific behaviors, listing the laws of "Forbidden Relationships". One of those laws forbids male homosexuality - which the Torah labels as Toevah (abomination). In the book of Vayikra, parshas Achrei, chapter 18, verse 22, Hashem states, "You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination."

In the last pasuk of parshas Achrei, Hashem reinforces the severity of emulating the Egyptians, "You shall safeguard my charge not to do any of the abominable traditions that were done before you [in Egypt] and not contaminate yourselves through them; I am Hashem your G-d."

In the sefer Gvuros Hashem (chapter 4) the Maharal explains that the galus (exile) is suffering that is the exact opposite of the composite spiritual makeup of the Jewish people. The Maharal specifically refers to "abominable acts" as an example of that suffering. Hence the Jews were being liberated from the behaviors of Egypt…including homosexuality.

I wish I had a copy of the LGBT Haggadah to evaluate, but I don’t. I will give the benefit of the doubt that the Haggaddah has no references at all to LGBTs. Even so, is it appropriate to associate the liberation of the Jews from Egypt and its "abominable acts" with the promotion of an act that the Torah says is abominable? Isn’t a Haggaddah that represents Gay liberation completely antithetical to the Jewish people’s liberation from Egypt?

Does anyone have a link to download this Haggadah?

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Open Orthodoxy

In the title "Open Orthodoxy" I use "Open" as a verb, not as an adjective:
  • "to become disclosed or revealed."
  • "to come into view; become more visible or plain."

This blog is focused on ultra-left-wing Orthodox Judaism. Topics include: A-Open Orthodoxy (adjective "Open" Orthodoxy), pluralism, non-normative shul practices, interfaith participation, Orthodox membership on non-Orthodox board of rabbis, "liberal" Divrei Torah, and more!

I hope to provide a centralized resource of documented ultra-left-wing hashkafah and behaviors that push the left-most envelope of Orthodox Judaism. I ask questions. I hope others will provide provide answers...

Question: If "Open" is an adjective, then is "Open Orthodoxy" an oxymoron?