Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld
Rabbi, Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue
Shmuel Herzfeld is Rabbi of Ohev Sholom -- The National Synagogue, an Orthodox synagogue in Washington D.C. He is the author of Fifty Four Pick-Up: Fifteen Minute Inspirational Torah Lessons. He can be reached via www.rabbishmuel.com and www.ostns.org
In 1972, 11 athletes representing Israel in the Olympics were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics. The family members of these victims have asked the International Olympic Committee to mark the 40th anniversary of their death with a minute of silence. Their request has been rejected. The Olympics cannot be a source of peace and unity to the world if the IOC blatantly disrespects the memories of the murdered Israeli athletes.
We are just a couple of weeks away from the completion of the Talmud. We should celebrate the fact that tens of thousands of Jews will be gathering at a football stadium in New Jersey in completion of the Talmud. That is a great thing. But I am far more excited about the alternative program that will take place the next week in New York City as it will be truly reflective of the scholarship and diversity of the glorious work known as the Talmud.
07/13/2012 05:59 EDT
The Jewish and Muslim communities have recently expressed international outrage and concern about a German court ruling that apparently limits the freedom of those wishing to practice a ritual circumcision. Any attack upon this ritual should be viewed -- and has historically been viewed -- as an existential attack upon the Jewish people. But it is not entirely clear that circumcision is under attack in Germany...
07/05/2012 04:58 EDT
A recent article by Anne-Marie Slaughter in Atlantic Monthly, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," has provoked much commentary. These questions exist in the spiritual community as well. We do not have an egalitarian prayer service because we are an Orthodox synagogue. I know that there are some people who struggle with the fact the traditional prayer service is dominated by men.
06/29/2012 04:11 EDT
On June 21, a Jewish woman was detained for hours by Israeli police for praying at the Western Wall. Why? Because she was wearing a tallit -- a prayer shawl. Some say that women who are wearing the tallit are flaunting their piety, but is this really the case? Shouldn't we, as a Jewish people, give women the benefit of the doubt when they honour Hashem?
06/21/2012 03:15 EDT
Have you ever tried arguing with a three-year-old? It is definitely a no-win situation. But how different is the psychology of the average three-year-old from that of many of us vis-à-vis the choices we ourselves make in life? The underlying message of the Torah is that we should not define happiness by what we don't have, but by what we do have. The Torah teaches us that the happiness we seek is literally right in front of our eyes.
06/15/2012 05:09 EDT
In September 2012, a successor to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the current Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, will be appointed. The new rabbi will begin his tenure in September 2013. If the post will not undergo a major transformation and become purely one of spiritual and educational leadership, then it is far better to leave the post empty than to continue the institution of a chief rabbi.
06/08/2012 07:40 EDT
This year the first night of Passover Seder is Friday night, April 6th. And on this special and holy night, I want to encourage everyone who participates in a Seder to "gossip." C'mon rabbi! You know that it is a great sin to gossip, so why would you tell us to "gossip" on the night of the Seder?
03/24/2012 11:52 EDT
I would never cast moral judgment on those who are gay. The Bible prohibits homosexual acts, and I can never argue with that, but in accepting the commandment I can say: "It is my law and I do not claim to understand it." The entire Torah can be summarized in the teaching: "Love your neighbor like you yourself."
03/17/2012 11:57 EDT
Without question the extremist fanatics that are harassing and scaring and even physically attacking the little girls as they walk to school in Beit Shemesh are certainly wrong. They are wrong on so many levels. But the question for the Jewish people is: What are we going to do about it?
01/03/2012 05:29 EST
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