Thursday, May 29, 2008

Soft News Musings VI

Lambda Phi

  • Philologus summarizes Gershom Scholem's suggestion that the concept of there always being at least 36 righteous people in the world is based on Hellenistic beliefs (Forward). That's the kind of irreverent, wild speculation that gives Jewish history a bad name.

  • Hebrew School
  • A Jewish group is trying to start a Hebrew charter (public) school in Brooklyn that will teach Jewish subjects but be non-religious and open to students of all religions (Forward, Jewish Week). I have no doubt that this school will take some kids who would otherwise go to yeshiva, which I consider a bad result. But it will also take many other Jewish kids who would otherwise go to a regular public school and give them a stronger Jewish identity. Good for the Jews or bad? I don't know.

  • Click here to read moreLiving Wages Recommended
  • The Conservative movement has adopted an halakhic ruling requiring Jews to "strive" to pay a living wage to workers (JTA). Maybe now I'll be able to get a copy of the article and see what possible halakhic basis it has because I'm just not familiar with any viable basis. What really got me, though, is the following quote that states how current events in the media impacted the voting on this ruling: "She [the author of the ruling] said the recent raid on the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, and subsequent allegations that the plant had mistreated its largely immigrant work force, had weighed on the committee's decision."

  • Goodbye Confrontation
  • R. Shlomo Riskin opens the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, which organizers are calling "the first Orthodox Jewish institution of its kind dedicated to theological dialogue with Christians." According to The Christian Post, "The center will be hosting joint seminars for Jewish and Christian scholars and theologians on topics as diverse as salvation, messianism, and Jewish-Christian relations." (JTA, Christian Post, Press Release, Website) So much for Rav Soloveitchik.

  • Banning Shabbos Party?
  • A nutritionist points out yeshivas are facing a growing rate of obesity, although no data is shown to prove that contention (Jewish Press). Recommendations to help stem the tide include more gym time and banning sodas from vending machines. I'm not sure about the accuracy of the point that some schools have only a single 30-minute gym period a week. I'm willing to bet that those schools give multiple recesses a day during which the boys run around and play sports. But I think that the single most important thing that schools can do is to stop giving children candy as rewards for good behavior and grades.

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