Finkorswim Live Debuts on the Nachum Segal Network

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Listen to the Nachum Segal Network today and get a taste of Finkorswim Live as one of the rotating hosts of the Stunt Show. The kinds of discussions and conversations that we have on this blog and social media will now take place live on the radio and I invite you to join us.

My debut is at 1 PM ET today. Tune in at NachumSegal.com or the NSN App. The show will be archived and available as a podcast later today. Read…

My Vote for CNN Hero: Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg

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By now, you’ve heard of Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg. He’s the Orthodox Jewish rabbi who heads an organization called Kids Kicking Cancer. He has been selected as a CNN Hero, and if he gets enough votes, he will be the CNN Hero of the Year. A few days ago, I had a chance to talk with Rabbi Goldberg about his work.  The more we spoke, the more he impressed me.

Rabbi G. helps children suffering from serious illness cope with their pain. Using love, ancient wisdom culled from martial arts, and incredible empathy, Rabbi G. gives children in so much pain a modicum of control and dignity.  That’s enough to be a hero in my book, but Rabbi G. does much more. Three things about Rabbi G. and his work convinced me that he’s not just a hero; he’s a superhero. Read…

It’s Time to Write the Modern Midrash

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Last night I hosted a screening of the Noah Movie followed by a discussion about the film. I loved it. We enjoyed great food, great company, and a great overall experience. But that’s not enough why I loved the event so much. I loved last night because I think the experience addressed a fundamental struggle to American Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) Judaism.

I view the film as a Modern Day Midrash. Read…

No Rabbi Shmuley, That’s Not What the Talmud Says

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Last month, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was interviewed by New York Magazine about his new book “Kosher Lust.” He drops a bombshell right off the bat:

Among us religious Jews, sex is a big deal. It’s a religious obligation. In Jewish law, a man has to make his wife orgasm before he does.

The interviewer is skeptical. Really?

The Rabbi insists. It’s in the Talmud.

This week, Rabbi Shmuley cited the interview in an article that weirdly places the blame for Rabbi Freundel’s voyeurism on his wife. Or something like that. Here’s how he restated his position:

The rule applies even more to women. I was amazed last week that an orthodox Jewish sex counselor attacked me for an interview I gave on my new book “Kosher Lust” to New York Magazine, reprinted in Britain’s Daily Mail, that said that Jewish law encourages a man to make his wife climax first. This is Judaism’s tacit acknowledgment of a fact that modern science has finally caught up with – that women are much more sexual than men, having more deeply-rooted sexual needs.

This passage presents a softer version of the New York Magazine bombshell. It’s no longer a religious obligation for the man to make his wife orgasm before he does – now it’s encouragement – but there is a more fundamental problem with the entire premise. It’s not in the Talmud. Read…

Making Things Better in the Aftermath of Scandal

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This article first appeared in the Jewish Journal.

Three groups of Orthodox Jews have made several prominent appearances in the media over the last few weeks: The East Ramapo Central School District was profiled on National Public Radio because Chasidic Jews living in the district have wrested control of a majority vote on the school board even though their children attend private schools. The New York Times Magazine profiled the cycle of poverty and charity in the non-Chasidic ultra-Orthodox (Yeshivish) enclave of Lakewood, N.J. And the news media is covering a scandal involving Barry Freundel, a Modern Orthodox rabbi in Washington, D.C., who was arrested for voyeurism and the shocking allegations that he was filming women in the equivalent of a locker room as they showered and prepared to dunk in a ritual bath.

These three stories expose the underbelly of the three major groups of Orthodox Jews in America: Chasidic, Modern Orthodox and Yeshivish. Stories are interesting when they contradict conventional wisdom, and it is unexpected that Orthodox Jews, who hold themselves up to a higher standard of behavior and conduct, would find their most sordid secrets splattered across the press.

The public feels betrayed. Innocent bystanders and victims within Orthodox Judaism feel betrayed. Orthodox Judaism just doesn’t feel as trustworthy as it should feel. Recent affairs have whittled that trust away. Trust is the foundation of every relationship, and without it, religion is doomed, whether it is fundamentalist or progressive.

Orthodox Judaism needs to earn back the trust of the public. The media and their audience need to continue to believe that it is interesting when Orthodox Jews behave badly. Orthodox Judaism needs to get its groove back. It’s not impossible to regain trust, but it requires intent and effort. Read…