A rabbi in northern Israel who came under attack for what some called blatant male chauvinism agreed this week to stop reproaching women for eulogizing their deceased loved ones.
Haim Adani, Rabbi of Elyachin, a town of about 3,000 residents located near Hadera, agreed to stop preaching against women who asked to eulogize their loved ones and to join in the funeral procession.
Adani changed his funeral policy after receiving a threatening letter from Attorney Aviad Hacohen, himself an Orthodox Jew. In the letter Hacohen, who represented Mordechai Avdiel, a member of Elyachin’s burial society, and others, warned Adani that he would take legal action unless the rabbi agreed to stop his gender-based discrimination.
In response to Hacohen’s letter, Adani wrote that he would stop reproaching women. "Just as it is a mitzva to warn people who are willing to listen, so too it is a mitzva not to warn people who refuse to listen," he said. In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post, Adani said that it caused a desecration of God’s name when women disregarded his calls not to eulogize or to join men in the funeral process.
"Over the years the residents of Elyachin have become less religious," said Adani. "Women are less willing to listen to me. So I plan to stop warning them." Adani said that he took special heed after Hacohen brought it to his attention that restricting women from eulogizing was illegal and constituted discrimination.
Is it time to take Jewish wisdom into the American marketplace of ideas? New York-based CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership thinks so. And they’ve tapped Rebecca Sirbu, former director of JCC MetroWest’s Jewish Health and Healing Center, to head up their new project.
Known as Rabbis Without Borders, the project will train religious leaders to speak in settings outside of familiar Jewish institutions, including mass media and places where transdenominational and interfaith audiences gather.
The goal of the project is twofold: to reach Jews outside of traditional Jewish settings and to inject Jewish ideas into the general cultural conversation on spirituality and ethics.
The New York Times reports:
WHEN I heard that the writers Judith Shulevitz and Nicholas Lemann make a dairy Seder each year, I had my own four questions:
What do they make?
Does a rabbi say it counts?
Can they actually find Jews to eat it who aren’t convinced they’re lactose intolerant?
It would seem the answer to the last question is yes; one year they had 25 guests.
“We do it so Nick can have more fun cooking,” Ms. Shulevitz said recently. “In the Talmud it says to eat meat on a holiday because it’s joyous, but we don’t eat much meat. So we make the food we enjoy eating instead of the traditional. We emphasize joy over meat."