Protecting Prostejov’s Jewish Cemeteries

December 11, 2016

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EnglishOn November 27th, I was privileged to be part of a delegation of Viennese Jews who travelled to the Czech town of Prostejov (Prossnitz in German, Prostitz in Yiddish, population: 44000) to pray at the grave of Rabbi Tzvi Yeshayahu ha-Levi Horowitz on the occasion of his 200th anniversary, and to arouse sympathy among Czech government and civic society to protect that cemetery, which had been destroyed by the Nazis. Three days later we were rewarded with the news of the Czech Culture Ministry rejecting a motion to abstain from re-establishing a boundary for and protecting the cemetery. In other words, Read the rest of this entry »


Meine bisherigen Gedanken zur Flüchtlingsdebatte

December 6, 2016

Austrian-German_Swiss_flags-tinyWegen populärer Nachfrage biete ich hier die eine Sammlung von Links bezüglich meiner bisherigen öffentlichen Ansprachen, Aufsätze und Interviews zur Flüchtlingsdebatte. Ich bin politisch weder rechts noch links. In bestimmten Fragen neige ich rechts, in anderen links, und so oder so lasse ich mich von meiner jüdischen Erbe informieren und inspirieren. Ich mag diese weder-rechts-noch-links, denn ich hoffe damit ab und zu gegenseitig zu sensibilisieren und sogar manchmal überraschende Blickwinkel zu zeigen. Ob dies mir geling und ob ich damit einen wesentlichen Beitrag leiste, das überlasse ich den Lesern. Read the rest of this entry »


How to deal with the Integration of refugees

December 4, 2016
General view

The High Level Meeting at the EU Commission on Nov. 29th 2016

EnglishOn November 29th 2016, yours truly participated in the “High Level Meeting” between the European Commission and faith leaders. Twice a year such meetings take place, once with faith leaders and once with secular thinkers. The theme of this year’s meeting was how to deal with the integration of migrants. I must highlight that the questions put before the faith leaders were themselves representing teh political bias of the parties in control of the EU Commission, which, truth to be told, is legitimate. Thus, the question was not whether to take in more refugees, but how to better do so. That said, all participants felt an ethical duty to act humanely. Below are my slightly edited prepared comments to the assembled dignitaries. Part I was presented. Part II was spontaneously adapted to the discussion and thus was not fully presented, however it did form the basis of some of my comments when I was later interviewed by Radio Vatican. Read the rest of this entry »


Is there Order to the World? Providence in Jewish Thought

February 9, 2016

Maimonides_1985_Paraguay_stamp_cropEnglishaudio-input-microphoneProvidence in the Thought of Rambam and Ramban (Maimonides and Nachmanides)
How common is Divine Providence? The view associated with the Ba’al Shem Tov, that every leave that rustles does so by direct and specific Divine Providence, is well known. Is there room for other approaches in Judaism? The approaches of two gigantic Mediaeval Jewish thinkers contrasted and compared. Read the rest of this entry »


Advancing Traditional Family Values

May 19, 2015

Möbius Wedding BandEnglishaudio-input-microphoneHow can we defend traditional family values in the postmodern present, and what do they have to offer to us moderns? A podcast of a talk delivered before an interfaith panel of conservative faith leaders. Read the rest of this entry »


A Historic Pessach Kosher List from Very Dark Times

March 25, 2015

MouldyBreadEnglishAny and every Jew, even a great number who don’t usually have the good fortune to keep kosher, are now scrambling to purchase an assembly of mostly certified kosher-for-Passover products. But what do you do when this abundance is not available where you live? And more importantly, what were Jews of past generations to do, when food might be scarce, and their movements constrained?

Below is a historic document from one of the very darkest times of Jewish history, shedding some light on how they made efforts, even in the shadow of death, to keep Passover and celebrate whatever little freedom they still had, while praying to be redeemed once again from a valley of death. Read the rest of this entry »


A Critique of Liberal Orthodox Approach to Halacha

March 11, 2015

Ariel, R' YaakovEnglishOne of the best brief critiques of the liberal Orthodox approach to halacha.

For a couple of years now, I have campaigned among colleagues for people to take up the pen and in a reasoned,respectful way grapple with the underlying issues that are increasingly causing a schism between Liberal Orthodoxy on the one hand, and traditional Ultra- and Modern Orthodoxy, on the other. My feeble contribution to this conversation has been a review of why Modern Orthodoxy is increasingly worried about the trends coming out of Open Orthodoxy.

Now, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the chief rabbi of Ramat Gan and president of the moderate Religious Zionist organization Tzohar, has penned one of the best brief critiques of the underpinnings of Liberal (incl. Open) Orthodoxy. His essay is chanelled through a review Haviva Ner David’s recent book, and seems at first sight a critique of Orthodox Feminism, but it is more profound, more far ranging and more thorough, putting a finger on the issues with the Liberal Orthodox drive to change halachic rulings.

Reading it, I could not help thinking of of blurb written in the hazy past, in a 1985 Tradition article, by Rabbi Shalom Carmy, which unfortunately applies well to the present issue:
Read the rest of this entry »