(All answers can be found in the Fall 2000 issue.)

  1. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association first endorsed this position in 1993 and expanded it in 1997 by publishing the first formal Jewish liturgy for same.

  2. Moses. As it says in Exodus 4:10: "But Moses said to the Lord, 'Please O Lord, I have never been a man of words…I am slow of speech and of tongue.'" In his article, "The Stuttering Rabbi," Rabbi Marc Glickman comments: "I would like to think that God chose Moses to become the leader of the Israelites, not despite his imperfection of speech, but precisely because of it. As a stutterer, Moses cherished words because they came to him with difficulty. As a stutterer, Moses knew what it was like to come up against a block and go on anyway -- an important trait for any leader."

  3. Author Rabbi Lawrence Kushner writes: "Throughout Jewish history, the yearning to experience and comprehend the unity within all creation has found myriad expressions: from Sinai and the psalms of the Hebrew Bible to the teachings of mainstream mystical talmudic sages like Rabbi Akiba. It exploded again with the appearance of the Zohar in thirteenth-century Spain and with Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed three hundred years later. It reappeared in the Hasidic revival of the eighteenth century and continues all the way up to the nascent spiritual revival of our own day."

  4. "You are to rise before the elderly and show deference (or respect) for the old." Rabbi Judy Shanks also recommends Danny Siegel's translation: "You shall rise before your elders and allow the beauty, glory, and majesty of their faces to emerge."

  5. In a Reform responsa on this question, Rabbi Solomon Freehof wrote, in part: "…children [who seek nursing home placement over the parent's objection] must be sure of their motives. If they are sure that their motives are not selfish, but for the good of the parent, then it is their duty to reason with him until he consents, if only reluctantly." He concluded that "gentle persuasion" is the appropriate response to the parent's strenuous objection.

    The great Jewish philosopher and legalist Moses Maimonides took a similar position eight centuries earlier: "One whose father or mother has become mentally impaired should try to treat them according to their mental ability with pity for them. But if he cannot stand it, because they have become too deranged, he should leave them and go, directing others to treat them appropriately" (Silchot Mamrim 6:10).

    In cases of mental derangement, according to Jewish law, the child must arrange for others to care for the parent; abandonment of the parent is not an option. By analogy, Jewish law permits nursing home placement because, as Rabbi Ruth Langer, former assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Boston College, explains, "the child's attempts to provide care will result only in a deterioration of the relationship, causing the child to manifest a lack of honor or reverence to the parent…. Thus, although the decision to place a parent in a nursing home…can never be easy, Judaism does teach that there are times when it is fully appropriate and should not be approached with a sense of guilt" (Aging and the Aged in Jewish Law, Essays and Responsa).

  6. Deborah Lipstadt. Under British law, the defendant in a libel suit is required to prove her case; hence, the Holocaust itself was on trial. The case, which began in April 2000, was decided in Lipstadt's favor. The judge found that she was "substantially justified" when she described David Irving as "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial." Lipstadt's book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, has been chosen by the UAHC as a Significant Jewish Book.

  7. Irving Berlin. In Stephen J. Whitfield's book, In Search of American Jewish Culture, he expounds on whether certain Jewish contributions to American music, art, and literature constitute an "American Jewish culture." .

  8. The play involved the collaboration of Adam Stone, a deaf teenager who had signed his bar mitzvah at Congregation Beth Am in San Diego. Adam plays Micah, a 12-year-old deaf boy who promises his dying grandfather that he will become a bar mitzvah. He performed the play entirely in American sign language. The play has been shown at numerous Jewish venues, and a segment about the production appeared on the TV show "48 Hours."

  9. In her book, Jacob H. Schiff: A Study in American Jewish Leadership, historian Naomi Cohen shows how many of the Jewish organizations we take for granted today were planned, directed, and largely funded by the multimillionaire investment banker. Schiff, who was born in Frankfurt, Germany, fought on many fronts in his advocacy of Jewish rights. He pressed his case with presidents for the abrogation of trade relations with czarist Russia, against the passage of restrictive immigration laws, and for Jewish rights in Poland and other Eastern European countries after World War I. With a few associates in the American Jewish Committee, he handled diplomatic matters, dealt with foreign governments, and sometimes led campaigns to galvanize public support. He was the force behind dozens of institutions, such as the Educational Alliance and the Henry Street Settlement. Although he himself was a Reform Jew, he helped found the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary as a place to train English-speaking rabbis for the more traditional immigrant Jews and their children. "Aside from his accomplishments," says Reform Judaism literary editor and book reviewer Bonny Fetterman, "the remarkable thing about Schiff's leadership is that basic attitudes about Jewish responsibility for other Jews, at home and around the world, only took root in America through his example."

  10. Maimonides, in The Law of Repentance 2:3. Author Rabbi Harold Schulweis points out that for two and a half decades, the Catholic Church has called for a reconstruction of the Church's relationship to Judaism and the Jewish people. The traditional "displacement theology" of the Church that viewed Christianity as a faith that supersedes Judaism has been replaced with a positive appreciation of the relevance and vitality of Judaism. Its adherents are addressed by the Pope as "our dearly beloved brothers" and "our elder brothers." Rabbi Schulweis proclaims: "A theological revolution has taken place before our eyes, and we must not lose the opportunity to seize hold of the new promise."

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Most recent update 25 Aug 2000