Loveless Marriages Can Be Valuable

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Last week an orthodox Jewish woman posted the following on Reddit.com:

I am a lesbian marrying a gay man. We are out to each other and our closest friends. We both grew up in religious, traditional communities so we decided this was best for us. We both travel a lot so we are able to “explore” outside of the marriage. Ask away…

Edit: we are doing this to stay connected to our community and our traditional (Orthodox Jewish) families.

Edit: to be clear, we are both seeing other people outside our relationship. We are out to close friends. I came out to my parents a while ago so technically they know but think that I have “changed”.

There are over 1100 comments on the post as I type these words. They are worth seeing.

This couple’s story is not as unique as one might think. In the summer there was an article in Time Magazine about a rabbi who arranged similar marriages between homosexual members of the opposite gender. Read…

Demons, Dybbuks, Devils and Exorcism.

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A new docudrama about exorcism is making the news. A recent movie called The Rite was based on the real life tales of a priest named Father Gary Thomas. Now Father Thomas is telling the world his experiences through the docudrama.

In Catholicism, exorcism is the process of removing the devil from one who has been possessed or attached by the devil. A priest who is trained in the ancient rite is brought in and removes the spirit from the victim.

Mystical Judaism has a similar phenomena called a dybbuk. A dybbuk is supposedly a dislocated fragment of a dead person’s soul that attaches itself to a living person. The dybbuk is removed by a Kabbalist.

Here’s a thought experiment: Would a priest be able to exorcise a dybbuk? Or can a kabbalist remove the devil from someone who is possessed? Read…

Moral Equivalency in the Media: Gilad Shalit and Terrorists

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One of the more dramatic events in my lifetime has been the recent release of Gilad Shalit. I think most Jews thought he would never go home. He was released, the price was very high and now a week later we can reflect on the deal and its ramifications.

Perhaps the two biggest complaints that supporters of Israel have expressed are related not to Shalit, but to the 1000+ prisoners exchanged for Shalit. These complaints are divided into two categories. One category refers to the celebrations in Gaza when the prisoners returned. They were given a hero’s welcome and treated in a way that offended many people who felt that criminals and terrorists should not be celebrated.

I believe this criticism is partially valid. All kinds of prisoners were released. Some were terrorists and murdereres. Others were agitators who jumped the fence or snuck into Israel without permission. They were all released together. The worst offenders were supposedly sent to other countries, not Gaza.

For a governing body to cheer and promote terrorism there is absolutely no justification. It is horrible and should be obvious to any reasonable person that it is bad.

However, I do not take issue with the celebrations of individuals who were welcomed by their families and friends with cheers and whoops of joy. I have seen hardened criminals in American court and seen the reactions of their friends and families when they are released or acquitted. It is the same. I think we can all see that friends and family can be permitted to enjoy the moment their criminal / terrorist family members return home. I do not have a problem with it all.

The second category of complaint refers to the equivocation of some of the media and UN leadership of Shalit and the 1000+ prisoners. Read…

Book Review | Strictly Kosher Reading

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Over Yom Tov I read some great books and articles. I hope to share some of them with you over the next couple of weeks.

Perhaps the most compelling book I read was hot off the presses: Strictly Kosher Reading by Yoel Finkelman. Briefly, the purpose of the book is to present an academic study of the fiction and non-fiction reading that is published within the charedi community. Analyzing books for children, adults, women, religions and secular audiences gives the scholar access to the framework of charedi Judaism.

The book posits that charedi Judaism is a conscious effort to recreate a Utopian version of Eastern European orthodox Judaism. The book disputes that this society ever truly existed in the way it is imagined and recreated today and calls this version of history unhistorical and a myth. But the point of the book is not to prove or disprove whether or not this is a myth or fact. Rather, the book tries to prove that there a Herculean effort to establish that myth/fact as the reality in 21st century America.

The book only analyzes the charedi community and uses a specific (and very accurate) definition of the charedi community. It is a non-chasidic, “yeshivish” community that does not completely shun the outside world. Charedi communities are not absolutely insular. They teach secular subjects, many obtain secular jobs, English is the primary language, yet there is a conscious effort to reject much of secular culture. Whether it is culture, science, diversity or other contemporary values in secular society, these are all rejected.

This creates a very interesting phenomena. Read…

New Nike Commercial for Jumpman23 Features Orthodox Jews

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This is cute.

Showcasing basketball leagues across the country, this Nike ad includes the “Jewish Under 40 League” in Brooklyn.

I have no idea if they are actors or bona fide “Jewish Under 40 League” ball players, but the cameo of the rabbinic looking figure on the sideline has got to be the funniest part of the commercial.