‘Jewish tradition and Halacha have become stagnant’

Many consider Nathan Lopes Cardozo a rabbi for the new millennium. He pulls no punches in telling ‘Metro’ how Judaism and the rabbinic establishment can begin to respond to the current reality, with a ‘completely different type of Halacha’ for the State of Israel’s unique needs

• By SHOSHANNA KEATS-JASKOLL   Originally published in In Jerusalem Sept 15, 2017

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo has an unusual background for a rabbi. Perhaps that is why his thinking is so different from that of other rabbis, and why he can say the things he says. Or perhaps other rabbis feel similarly, but do not have the confidence or fearlessness that is so evident when Cardozo speaks.

Whatever the reason, his belief in the justice of Judaism, the morality with which we are charged, and the capacity we have to resolve the seemingly unresolvable gives hope that the Judaism and ethics we hold so dear can in fact work together to produce the society that many of us want to see.

Cardozo grew up in Holland. His father was a secular Jew of Portuguese-Jewish origin; his mother was a Christian who had always felt at home in the Jewish community, which had taken her in when she was orphaned.

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There’s a reason Israelis are called sabras. Those thick cactuses and their prickly fruits look threatening with truly tough exteriors. Once you’re past that thick skin, however, the fruit is sweet, delicious and unlike anything you’ve experienced before. They thrive in tough conditions and the plants have been used to delineate borders and protect land for centuries.

Israelis have that same toughness around a softer, sweeter core. It takes a lot to faze them. So when, recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organisation (Unesco) decided to list the Old City of Hebron as an endangered Palestinian world heritage site, most Israelis just rolled their eyes at the latest attempt to remove the Jewish history from their land.

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Originally published in the UK Jewish Chronicle

We — my husband and I — made aliyah twice.

First, as a starry-eyed young couple, the second time as a family of five after six years back in the United States. After some debate, we opted for a soft landing over intense integration and wound up in Bet Shemesh. Before arriving, I had heard rumours of a rabbi excommunicated on account of his books on dinosaurs, and of gyms where televisions were outlawed, but I chalked such things up to extremists. After all, I had grown up in Lakewood, NJ and we all always got along just fine — – jeans-wearers and sheitel-donners alike.

It soon became clear, however, that I had moved to the front line. Nowhere near any of Israel’s borders but the front line of ever-increasing religious extremism. Over the years, it has crept in — sometimes seeping so slowly that we don’t notice until too late, sometimes slamming us against the proverbial wall.

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Originally printed in In Jerusalem June 9, 2017

Can a bike change a child’s life? Rabbi and educator Nachum Wasosky has seen it happen for hundreds of children and is working to add another thousand to that number.

Raised in a single family home in the US, Wasosky knows he was lucky to have people looking out for him, making sure that he had what other kids had—school trips, a place on sports teams, and emotional support. He attributes his well-being and success to feeling like a normal kid with just as much value as anyone else.

It’s an awareness he’s brought with him throughout his career in informal education for youth and what drives him to help as many as he can.

During his six years of study at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem, Wasosky realized that what he had missed out on as a child was the positive aspects of being Jewish. As a kid, he wasn’t exposed to those things that would have made him want to identify as a Jew.

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