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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big Questions

Big Question: Which Yeshivat Chovevei Torah alumni does YCT currently endorse?
Big Answer: All of them!

In previous blog posts I discuss how YCT explicitly and implicitly endorses their alumni. One simple example is that every graduate is proudly listed on the YCT Alumni page. Some graduates receive recognition above and beyond the alumni page and are featured in other YCT media. For example, Rabbi Josh Feigelson was recently featured by YCT on the "IN AND ABOUT CHOVEVEI" Alumni News page in the latest edition of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah newsletter for his project:
Rabbi Joshua Feigelson (YCT Class ‘05), Rabbi of the Northwestern Hillel, has launched AskBigQuestions, an initiative to bring people together for “conversations about questions that matter.” The initiative consists of a website ( as well as a print media campaign and faculty-student discussion series.
The AskBigQuestions site presents “Big Questions of life that all human beings wonder about” and that anyone can answer. The selection of questions appears to be very limited and very deliberate since the questions are ultimately controlled by AskBigQuestions, not its consumers. AskBigQuestions asks profound questions such as "Can you be religious and queer?", "What are you addicted to?", and "Can you ever really be just friends?"

Are those questions "big enough" to be topics of YCT shiurim? I wonder if any YCT rabbis have been inspired by their fellow alumnus to pose those same questions to their respective congregants.

There are some very informative links on the "Want to go further?" section of the Can you ever really be just friends? page, such as "Crushes & Friends: One lesbian's reflections", and "Friends, Fun and Sex: Writer Jay Michaelson’s thoughts." As Rabbi Feigelson might say, “This is good stuff.”

Some previous items of interest about Rabbi Feigelson are:
- Feigelson has stated that it's ok if Yetzias Mitzrayim (the Exodus from Egypt) is fictional (Pesach: Celebrate or Cancel)
- Feigelson has praised Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's Jewish Renewal-oriented book on Tehillim (Weeping for Psalms)
- Feigelson has praised Norman Fischer's Buddhist-oriented book on Tehillim (Weeping for Psalms)
- Feigelson is rabbinic advisor for a Shira Hadasha-style congregation (Open Orthodox congregations)

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah certainly appears to tacitly accept Feigelson and his efforts. It seems obvious that an Orthodox rabbinical seminary like YCT would be conscientious to only publish people and news stories they approved of, or otherwise provide a disclaimer if those views did not reflect YCT’s.

Big Question: Who and what won't Yeshivat Chovevei Torah endorse?