Iftar in the Synagogue with Rabbi Asher Lopatin

September 15, 2009

For the past four years, my synagogue has cosponsored, along with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, an Iftar in the Synagogue, which usually gets about 20-30 Muslims and 60-80 Jews. I feel it’s in the tradition of Middle East Friday Night that we did at the Oxford Jewish Society twenty years ago when we had Israelis and Palestinians reading poetry over a Shabbat dinner that followed davening. Iftar in the Synagogue also consists of schmoozing, then a teaching by a rabbi (me) and an Imam about the dates for Jews and Muslims, then Mincha – and this time almost every Jews stayed – then our Muslims friends go downstairs to break their fast, to pray Salat – usually in the JCC – and then we all feast together on Halal food from the best kosher Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago. The dinner ends with Bircat Hamazon: which talks about the Land, Jerusalem and the future of the Jewish people. However, as we know, there are also universal parts to benching. It seems that at Iftar in the Synagogue everyone is looking at things that we have in common, that bring us together, rather than things that pull us apart.
But I wanted to point out that as concerned I am for peace in Israel, and for Muslims and Jews to get along and learn from each other in Chicago and America, as much of a believer I am that different people can come together and get a lot out of each other’s company, sometime the most rewarding part of an event like this is to see how it brings out the Jews. There were Jews at this Iftar – dozens – who only get to daven mincha in a shul, or only step into an Orthodox shul, when we can show them that we are open to Muslims coming to our synagogue as well. And if this is their path to Judaism, is this is the way we affirm that their heritage can speak to them as well, that’s great. That is what Morethodoxy is all about: showing people that despite what they may have been led to believe, Judaism is relevant in their lives. Judaism has a power to touch them.
I wish all of us, that just as doors to Judaism opened for some through Iftar in the synagogue, that we find ways to open the gates of Judaism, the gates of Mitzvot and Torah, which were closed to us this year. We have to be creative about finding those gates and figure out how to get through. Maybe even more creative than Iftar in the Synagogue. But we cannot afford to ignore all the doors that await us. We need to find those keys and those doors and allow ourselves to be led to new depths in our Yiddishkeit.
May we all have a year filled with open doors to grow closer to Hashem, our People and our purpose in life. A 5770 with more good, more opportunities for good, more appreciation of Hashem’s good and infinite gifts for us.
G’mar chatima tova l’chulan ul’chol Yisrael,

Asher Lopatin


For Crying out Loud!

September 11, 2009

In a few days, on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah many of us will fulfill the once a year commandment of hearing the sound of the Shofar.  The mitzvah of the Shofar, as reflected in the blessing we make upon it, is not to blow the shofar, but to hear its sound.

There are primarily two shofar sounds, the tekiah (one long sound) and the teruah (a series of shorter sounds).   The tikiah is the main blast blown on the Yovel, the jubilee year, to declare freedom throughout the Land of Israel, and in a war to call the people to battle.  It is a declaration, a public address system.  But on Rosh Hashanah the main sound of the shofar is the teruah, the shorter staccato series of sounds.

The Talmud in tractate Rosh Hashanah tells us that this teruah blast is the sound of crying.  We blow two versions of the teruah sound, three medium blasts (shevarim) and nine very short blasts because we are unsure what type of cry to mimic, a waling cry (medium blasts) or a more staccato cry (short blasts) so we blow both on Rosh Hashanah.   All of these teruah blasts on Rosh Hashanah are for one purpose, to express through the shofar horn, the sound of crying.

What is the purpose of this crying; this teruah blast?  The Torah tells us (Lev. 23:24) that it is “zichron”, memory.  But what are we to remember through the cry of the teruah and how does crying shofar sound help us to remember?

The medical and psychological literature on crying tells us that crying results from changes in, and usually losses of, intimate interpersonal relationships.  As Don Quixote once said, “He loves you well, who makes you weep.”

What purpose does crying serve?   Many people facing the loss of such a relationship report feeling less sad after crying.   Though the relationship they were lamenting has not changed their crying was a kind of catharsis, a shedding of armor allowing deeper emotions and true feelings to emerge into awareness.  Crying is a state that is quite vulnerable, one in which we become more ourselves, exposed and real.  True crying is perhaps the most genuine of acts.

“Zichron,” or memory, is thus an essential part of crying.  Without memory there is no change in relationship.  Without memory things are only as they are.   There can be no regret without memory, no hope for the relationship to be or have been other than it was.   No feelings of loss for the past and no feeling of hope for the future.

Our Shofar sound, the Rosh Hashanah liturgy relates, also recalls two historical shofar blasts.  That of the shofar at Mount Sinai when the Jews first received the Torah and became a godly nation, and the future shofar blast that will be sounded at the heralding of the messiah.  We first recall the shofar of the past, the memories of our most intimate moment of relationship with God, the moment of our wedding as a nation to God at Mount Sinai.

Weddings are the most photographed and remembered moments.   From no other event is cake saved for years to come only to recall the past, dresses preserved and videos watched.   But weddings, as ours with God at Mount Sinai, are only one day.  A wedding’s function in memory is to remember how the relationship can be, the intimacy that was possible in the past and can be again for the future.   The intimate present of our relationship with God, facilitated by our memories of Mount Sinai in the past, will lead us hopefully to a deeper relationship in the future and ultimately the shofar of the Messiah.

Memory itself is an intellectual act, but crying along with memory, the teruah’s cry, helps us not only remember but for the memories to become real, to be emotionally overwhelming even in the present.   To then relive and reestablish the relationship we remember, in the present and ultimately into the future.

Yes, Rosh Hashanah is about judgment and forgiveness but only as a tool to reestablish our intimate relationship with the Infinite one, from the past, in the present, and hopefully with God’s help, into the future.

Shanah Tovah!  A Sweet Year!


An Inaugural Moment

September 10, 2009

Mahara”t Sara Hurwitz

Today is the opening day of Yeshivat Mahara”t, a day I believe, that will go down in history.  It is the first program open to Orthodox women that is willing not only to train, but to ordain women as spiritual leaders— as rabbinic leaders— in the Orthodox community.  This is the message that I hope to impart to the inaugural class: 

At the conferral ceremony just a few months ago, where I became a Mahara”t, almost everyone who rose to speak declared with joy, “zeh hayom asah Hashem, nagila v’nismacha vo.”  This is the day God has made, let us rejoice and be glad on it.  And it truly was an inspiring moment, a day to rejoice and be glad. But for me, this day, today, September 10, 2009, 21st day of Elul, 5769, carries far more import. This is the dream that I have been waiting to see come to fruition. It is the dream, to quote this week’s parsha, of “kulchem:” “Atem nizavim hayom kulchem lifnei Hashem.” You are standing today, ALL of you, before God.”  Kulchem includes all people, elders, officers, men, women, and children all standing together to accept and be included in God’s covenant.

The Alshich, a Biblical commentator living in the 16th century in Safed, notes that everyone—kulchem, were standing “equally in the presence of the Lord, simultaneously.”  What an idyllic image, where one’s gender or status was irrelevant; for men, women and children, old and young, rich and poor, alike were standing together, in partnership before God. 

Women’s learning and leadership has made tremendous strides over the past century.  This space, this place that we are sitting in now, Drisha Institute for women, has been on the forefront of fortifying and nourishing women with knowledge, courage and confidence to become Jewish scholars.  But, we cannot stop there.  The time has come, the day has come, for women to transform their knowledge into service, to be able to stand together, with our male counterparts, as spiritual leaders of our community.  And not because women should have the same opportunities as men – although they should – and not because women can learn and achieve on par with men – although they can.  But because women, as Jewish leaders, have so many singular and unique gifts to offer, so much to contribute to the larger Jewish community.

So let us not let this day pass by without taking a moment to acknowledge and celebrate how much we have actually achieved, and to look forward to the achievements and milestones to come.


Orthodox, Male, and Drunk

September 9, 2009

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

When we conjure up the typical profile of a “religious person”, one of the qualities that leaps to mind is temperance.  In some religious traditions – not ours – this quality dictates the severe discouragement or outright prohibition of any alcoholic consumption at all. In many other traditions – including ours – temperance means careful moderation in consumption, as the state of drunkenness that would otherwise result is incompatible with the state of Godliness. Beginning when Aharon and his sons were forbidden to drink while on duty in the Temple, and continuing through Nachmanides’ oft-quoted characterization of drunkenness as the antithesis of holiness (see his commentary on “You Shall be Holy”, Leviticus 19:2), our religious tradition presents us with the assertion that we may enjoy the presence of God, or the buzz of inebriation – but not both. They simply can’t occupy the same mind simultaneously. And since we are told to stand in God’s presence at all times (shiviti Hashem l’negdi tamid), drunkenness at any time is a sacrilege. Ibn Ezra likened habitual drunkenness to heresy (see his commentary to Deuteronomy 21:20). Rabbi Yosef Karo, writing in his Bet Yosef, ruled that drunkenness is prohibited even on Purim, for “drunkenness is an absolute prohibition, and there is no greater sin that it…” (Siman 695)

Tragically though, drinking, well beyond the simple “l’chaim”, has become something of a pastime among many males in the Orthodox community. Contributing to the nature of the tragedy is the fact that much of the drinking is specifically taking place under the guise of religious activity.  The OU’s highly publicized recent campaign against shul-based “Kiddush clubs” provides ample testimony to the wide-spread nature of the phenomenon.  Simchat Torah has somehow become synonymous with excessive alcohol consumption, in willful ignorance of what is allegedly being celebrated. And the drinkers seem to get younger and younger with each passing year.

This is tragic for many reasons. It disfigures and distorts religious life. It introduces the high statistical likelihood that the children of these men will also begin to drink. And it testifies to the troubling reality that many of our community’s men are enjoying little to nothing in the way of authentic religious experience. When davening itself (or learning, or acts of chesed) makes you feel good, it doesn’t occur to you to supplement your experience artificially.

While the Hasidic movement has contributed many great things to mainstream Orthodoxy, the contribution of “religious drinking” – rightly condemned by non-Hasidic scholars as thoroughly foreign to us – has been a disaster.

For the sake of the children, for the sake of the families, for the sake of God and the Torah, don’t smile and pretend that somehow it’s all harmless. Don’t wait till God forbid, something unspeakably terrible happens.


More On Health Care…and Arguing With God – Rabbi Barry Gelman

September 8, 2009

There have been a number of interesting reactions to my call of orthodox Jewish groups to support universal health care. Two themes have emerged: 1. Most people are covered by insurance they pay for, other enjoy Medicare or Medicaid coverage and those who are not in these categories do not deserve coverage. The logic goes something like this. If one cannot afford coverage it is because they have made bad life choices and therefore should not be bailed out by the Government. 2. Religious groups need not enter this discussion, as it is a political issue and not a religious/moral issue.

As for #1, I put this under the category of cruel and misinformed. There are millions of people (growing in this economic recession) without health insurance simply because they cannot afford it and are still not covered by any Government plan.

I wish, however to focus on reason #2; the claim that the health care debate is a political issue and not a religious/moral issue. Nothing could be further form the truth. Put simply, when human life is at stake and when the less fortunate are at a disadvantage and when there are ways to make it better – it is a religious/moral issue. This is the very definition of a religious/moral issue and our tradition is full of calls to make sure that the most vulnerable are cared for.

One of the highlights of my week is the teaching I do for the Florence Melton Adult Mini School. THE FMAMS is the world leader in adult Jewish education and they have created a powerful model of adult Jewish education across the country.

In preparing for my teaching I came across the phrase “citing God against God”, coined by Emil Fackenheim. Read the rest of this entry »


5770: The Year of Carmit, with Rabbi Asher Lopatin

September 7, 2009

Many of you know that my wife and I, and our four kids, plan to make aliya in the summer of 2011 to a new town being built 20 minutes north of Beer Sheva, Carmit.  The vision for Carmit is that it should be a diverse, pluralistic town eventually growing to over 10,000 people, with affordable, quality, environmentally sensitive housing.  We want to attract Americans, Anglos and Israelis, datti’im of all stripes and chilonim of all stripes – just as long as people are willing to live happily in an open-minded and non-judgmental community.

My plan is to be a community rabbi in this town, to be a Rav Kehilati of a shul that reaches out to all Jews, and believes in actively programming for the community and creating an environment of togetherness and growth.  There is a new appreciation in Israel, especially amongst rabbanei Tzohar, that the shul has to be a welcoming place for everyone in the community, not just the regulars or those who feel that have to come to find a minyan or a place to hear Torah reading.  I want to be part of that new trend.  A group of us in Chicago, including a wonderful couple Dan and Rosie Mattio – and their young baby – have formed a non-for-profit called CIPF (Chicago Israel Philanthropic Fund) whose mission it is to bring Americans to Israel by creating diverse and pluralistic communities.  If you want more information see the web site: CIPF.org.

Already, without even starting any official publicity, we have over 35 families – from just out of college to retirement age – who have expressed strong interest in moving to Carmit.  We hope that Carmit becomes a cultural, educational and religious destination in Israel – perhaps the pluralism capital of the Holy Land.  I sincerely hope that the environmental groups in Israel welcome Carmit because the type of people moving to Carmit are excited about sustainable, green living and will be the best advocates Israel has for caring for the environment.  Likewise, I hope that Carmit is seen as a friend of the Jewish and Arab population – especially the Bedouins – of the Negev, because we truly will be: we will be the advocates for all populations of the Negev, and we have already had ideas about how to reach out to Bedouins nearby, to Ethiopian Jews  not too far away, and to the students who are part of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, who are eager to engage in social action.

Carmit, just one hour from Tel Aviv (by train) and a bit over an hour from Jerusalem, will God willing be a town representing the best of Avraham and Sarah’s open, welcoming tent and will provide a model for Jews and human beings all over the world of how to live together in harmony, learning from each other, respecting each other and benefiting from diversity and different ways of being descent human beings.

Stay tuned…

Asher Lopatin


Sorry for the confusion

September 6, 2009

Over the past several days, a number of people have mentioned to me that they have been unable to find my recent posts.  The reason for this is that I only posted them on our sister site www.jewishjournal/morethodoxy/  but forget to post them here as well.  As Sunday is a quiet day for Morethodoxy, I’ve now posted the three most recent ones below.

Sorry for the confusion!

Yosef


The Dog Days of Deuteronomy

September 6, 2009

September 1, 2009 | 8:39 pm

The Dog Days of Deuteronomy

Posted by Rav Yosef Kanefsky

Reading the book of D’varim (Deuteronomy) can be a tumultuous experience.  These last few Shabbat mornings have been roller coaster rides, as the sacred text has repeatedly ascended to lofty ethical heights, and then without any particular warning, has seemingly plunged into territory that is ethically jaw-dropping.

On one Shabbat morning we were urged to cleave to God who “upholds the cause of the orphan and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him bread and clothing”, and on the next week we were commanded to completely obliterate any town in our midst whose inhabitants are discovered to be engaged in idolatry, “destroy it, and everyone who is in it.”  Minutes later we were enjoined to “open [our] hand to the one who is in need”, were forbidden to harden our hearts toward the needy, and were even required to extend loans that will likely be canceled by the Sabbatical year before we have a chance to recoup them. But when we came back to shul a couple of weeks after that we were told that – within certain parameters – it is permissible to seize a woman captured in war, and take her to wife without her consent. We then held on tight as we scaled the inspiring twin peaks of the command to treat even our animals with sensitivity, and God’s declaration that dishonesty in commerce is an abomination. These in turn were followed immediately by the command to kill any and every Amalekite, now and forever, wherever we may chance upon them.

Not surprisingly (I hope),  the Torah’s ethical “highs” continue to shape our practice of Judaism to this day, while the jaw-droppers have uniformly all fallen out of practice. The Rabbis of the Talmud in fact insisted that the law of the idolatrous town (as well as the command to stone a rebellious child) were never intended for implementation at any point, and are recorded in the Torah as hypotheticals, recorded for academic purposes only.

Yet, the lingering questions are large and unavoidable. Do we, or do we not, consider the Torah our ethical code? Do we, or do we not, regard God as the source and paradigm of moral behavior? If we have been ethically cherry-picking for the last couple of millennia, what are we really saying about the moral integrity of the Torah – and of our God?

I’ll here offer three thoughts that admittedly only serve to get the conversation started. One, is that as tempting as it may be to simply ignore these questions, we would be doing so at our considerable peril. To have no response at all is either to implicitly concede that we are no longer actually practicing Judaism, or, at the other extreme, to have to accept the propriety of practices that are beyond the pale of widely accepted moral behavior (Other examples would include the holding of slaves, and the possession of concubines.)

The second thought is that the Torah itself presents conflicting sentiments about some of the jaw-droppers. Our father Avraham distinguished himself as righteous precisely when he objected to the collective punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah. The apex of Moshe’s heroism comes when he does the same (twice) on behalf of the children of Israel in the desert. God Himself seems to do this after the flood. To seize and attempt to marry a women against her will would place one in the company of Pharaoh and Shechem, who respectively took Sara and Dinah, are who are not remembered well for this.  In the narratives of Tanach, polygamy and concubinage are invariable presented as troubled situations, best avoided. The legal sections of the Torah spend much more time discussing the laws of how and when to free Hebrew slaves than it does on the laws of maintaining them. In short, Tanach conveys multiple and sometimes contradictory messages as to the standard of acceptable moral behavior, presumably reflecting a genuine sense of internal conflict, and implicitly encouraging further discussion as the generations unfold.

And finally, a corollary of sorts to the previous thought, morality is a moving target, and we have always known this. (How long ago was inter-racial marriage considered immoral?) Talmudic sages severely limited the practices of arranged marriages for minor daughters, levirate marriage, and the use of capital punishment, all on moral grounds. They couldn’t have thought that the Torah, or God, were less moral than themselves. But they knew that as humanity develops and changes, so do moral standards. God spoke at one time. We live – and are commanded to live morally – at another. We turn to the Biblical mitzvah to “do the right and the good” as the North Star which guides our journey into and through times of intellectual and societal change.

These are broad, general thoughts about a set of questions that has an infinite number of particulars. They are questions that many would like to avoid altogether I know, and that some readers will wish I had never brought up. But in various ways, they are questions that we have been asking forever, because we know that these are the precisely the questions that have enabled us to continuously blaze our trail toward holiness and moral piety.  To avoid them, or to offer apologetics in response, is a certain way to ascend to the perilous edge of a moral abyss.


Harvey Milk and Me

September 6, 2009

August 25, 2009 | 9:10 pm

Harvey Milk and Me

Posted by Rav Yosef Kanefsky

Last Saturday night, I finally saw “Milk” on DVD. I had been wanting to see it when it was in theaters last year, both because of the critical acclaim that it had won, and because the film’s trailer yanked me back to a memory from teenager-hood, of hearing the breaking news that the Mayor of San Francisco and a County Supervisor had been shot and killed. It was that news flash which introduced me to a world and to a set of issues about which I had known nothing before. 

Despite this however, I never made it to the theater. In large part because it’s always hard to find time to get out to the movies. But possibly also because I was not looking forward to dealing with the inner conflict that watching the film would generate. As an Orthodox rabbi and Jew, I knew I’d be on the “wrong side” of the film. 

Not because Orthodox Jews should oppose equality in housing and employment for gays and lesbians, the issue around which the movie is centered. Quite to the contrary, there is no basis in Halacha for favoring such discrimination. But having been produced in 2008, the film was really about the ongoing struggle for full legal equality for gays and lesbians. And especially here in the land of Proposition 8, this means the struggle for the legal recognition of gay marriage.

I cannot and will not perform a gay marriage, just as I cannot and will not perform the marriage of a Jew and a Gentile, or a Kohen and a divorcee. When I received my Orthodox ordination, I signed up to lead my community by the strictures of Halacha (and at Sinai I personally accepted the same commitment.) But when Harvey Milk poses the question to Californians as to whether or not homosexuals are also included in the declaration that “all men are created equal” and are therefore deserving of equal treatment under the law, I am left awkwardly and unpersuasively claiming clergy exemption. Why would I have paid 10 bucks plus parking and a babysitter only to wind up feeling like that?

Now that I have seen the movie though, I am reminded that there is a reality that I can not, and do not desire to deny. I am an Orthodox Jew and rabbi .And I am also a human being. A human being who deeply appreciates the spiritual values of human dignity and civil rights that are the foundation of our democracy.  Almost all of the time these two essential components of who I am reinforce and encourage one another. Here though, they are in conflict. I know what the Torah says of course, and its words are binding upon me. But as a human being reared on democracy, I cannot articulate for myself a convincing argument as to why the legal recognition of civil marriage should be withheld from citizens who, by dint of how they were born, are only able to form bonds of love and commitment with members of their own gender.

As an aside, I know that the domestic partnership laws afford almost all of the same rights and privileges that marriage does. But domestic partnerships belong to that category of “separate but equal”, suffering from the same kinds of unofficial inequalities that racially segregated schools did. It seems to me that we’re still left with a straightforward claim for “equality under the law”.

In the end, I’m glad I watched the film, despite the fact that it produced a solid sleepless hour later that night. Thank God we have a tradition in which we can – and do – live with tensions that we cannot resolve. We can come to the end of a discussion and say, “kashya”, “I don’t know what to say”.  It is tempting to think concluding this way renders the entire preceding discussion a waste of time. But this could not be further from the truth. The lives of human beings are ultimately the subject of this discussion, and there is nothing more religiously irresponsible that to not recognize that the tension exists. The discussion is important to have, even when the final word is “kashya.”


When Will The Slander End?

September 6, 2009

August 18, 2009 | 3:42 pm

When Will the Slander End?

Posted by Rav Yosef Kanefsky

A few weeks ago I officiated at a wedding. The bride was a giyyoret (a convert to Judaism), and the couple had requested that the honor of reading the ketuba under the chuppah be given to the bride’s teacher. Her teacher was truly her rebbe muvhak, the teacher from whom she had learned the great majority of her Torah knowledge, and from whom she had learned how to practice Judaism. Naturally I agreed, and we proceeded accordingly.

As could be expected after many years of Talmud study, the rebbe read the Aramaic text flawlessly. The bride glowed with joy and appreciation. It was a magical moment within an already magical day.

Most Orthodox rabbis would not have allowed this rebbe to read this ketuba. Because in this case, the rebbe was a woman. 

Halacha, as our community practices it, excludes women from a variety of public ritual roles. But reading the ketuba happens not to be one of them. Rabbis who have written in opposition to women reading the ketuba invariably open their arguments by acknowledging precisely this point. As one scholarly detractor has written, “If one judges the issue from the perspective of the laws of the marriage ceremony, there’s nothing wrong … The marriage would be one hundred percent valid”. Yet, he and many others would have said “no” in this case.

On what grounds? For one scholar, a woman reading the ketuba violates the laws of personal modesty. But is the reading of a ketuba less modest than teaching a class, or addressing a professional gathering? The latter are activities in which perfectly modest women engage in regularly today. For another scholar the issue is not modesty, but tradition. “Tradition possesses its own power, and why should we deviate from tradition for no purpose?”.  But why would anyone assume that a particular women is being chosen to read the ketuba “for no purpose”? Have you ever been at a wedding and thought to yourself that the man who is reading the ketuba was chosen by the couple “for no purpose”?

But it is actually a third objection to a women reading the ketuba that seems to have the most currency. Put forward by numerous rabbinic writers in a variety of contexts, it declares that whenever Orthodox women perform ritual practices that are traditionally associated with men, their motivation is invariably subversive. Women who read a ketuba (or who recite Kiddush or HaMotzi at the Shabbat table, or who take a lulav, or who wear a tallit when they daven) are invariably engaged in an act of religious disobedience, cynically utilizing religious practice as a means of expressing their rebellion against perceived unfairness or injustice in Orthodox life. Thus, not only do their acts lack religious value, they actually constitute sin. 

There are, of course, several things wrong with this way of thinking. For starters, there’s the astonishing implicit assertion that the seeking of fairness and justice are to be regarded as acts of religious rebellion. But beyond this, the very essence of the argument constitutes an outrageous act of slander against thousands of Orthodox women. They are rebelling?? Is there any lack of fully egalitarian Jewish movements that are open to women who want out of Orthodoxy or out of Halacha? Surely not. But these women have not bolted Orthodoxy. They are engaged in a campaign of religious disobedience?? Are Orthodox women who read ketubot, recite Kiddush and lain in women’s tefilla groups not observing Kashrut? Or Shabbat? Or the laws of Niddah? We are forbidden by halacha to be suspicious of the upright. How is it conceivable to causally, unthinkingly condemn thousands of pious women as being subversive religious rebels? And for how long will so many of us stand by as this slander continues to shape Orthodox practice?

The woman who read the ketuba at the wedding described above happens to be my wife, a profoundly religious woman, a role model, an inspiration, a lifelong Jewish educator. She is a person who believes in fairness and justice, and who wants to leave a fairer and more just Orthodoxy to the girls and women who will follow her. And there are so many Orthodox women like her in these respects, heroes of our generation, who, in addition to all of their other attributes, are wise enough to not be dissuaded by baseless slander, no matter where it originates.  They deserve our support.