Fall 2000

MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Fall 2000

News From The Schechter Institute

Prof. Shalvi Steps Down As Sijs Head

Calling her three years of service "a truly rewarding experience," Prof. Alice Shalvi retired at the end of the 1999-2000 academic year as President and Rector of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies.

Prof. Shalvi described her tenure, as head of the Masorti Movement's academic center, an experience that "has enabled me to devote myself, heart and soul, to the three areas of my life's calling: Judaism, Zionism, and Feminism. At Schechter, I have been privileged to see all three strengthened, and I thank all who have worked hand in hand with me in this important endeavor."

"I wish my successor, David Golinkin, all the success in the world as he takes up the reins of leadership at SIJS. I myself shall continue to support the institution, devoting my energies toward strengthening it in my new capacity as Chairwoman of the Executive Council."

The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, located in Jerusalem and serving approximately 500 students, is the Graduate School of Jewish Studies and Education, and Rabbinical School affiliated with the Jewish Theological Seminary and Masorti Movement.

Opposing IDF Service Violates Halacha

Rabbi David Golinkin, the newly appointed President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, has publicly characterized Haredim who oppose serving in the IDF as sinners against Halacha.

Joining the public debate over the Tal Commission's recommendations on army service for Yeshiva students, Golinkin charged in a recent article, "Halacha is 'crystal clear' about the requirement to serve in the army. Not one haredi posek [interpreter of the law] has ever published a responsum justifying draft exemption for their children. They know the sources contradict such a ruling."

According to Golinkin, while the Torah (Deuteronomy 20:1-9) allows certain categories of men to leave the battlefield, the Mishna concludes that these exemptions refer solely to an optional war. In contrast, in a war of self-defense, as Maimonides defines, "everyone must go out to battle, even a bridegroom from his chamber and a bride from her wedding canopy." "This is what Israel has been fighting for most of the past 52 years," said Golinkin, citing the Masorti Movement's full acceptance of the obligation towards military service.

New Judaism And Arts Track

The Schechter Institute is inaugurating this fall a new and exciting interdisciplinary M.A. track — Judaism and the Arts — made possible by a initial funding from the Dorot Foundation.

The new track, initiated as a pilot project in 1999-2000, is already arousing considerable interest among potential students and enormous enthusiasm among the faculty. A number of outstanding experts, including members of the Rubin Academy, the Jerusalem Theater Company, the Schocken Institute, the Bezalel Academy and the Israel Museum, have consented to collaborate with the Rector and faculty of SIJS in devising this innovative program of studies. They will serve as a steering and supervisory committee during the coming year.

SIJS Faculty Feted

  • Prof. Alice Shalvi traveled to Providence, Rhode Island last month to receive an honorary doctorate from Brown University. Past Israeli recipients were Shimon Peres and Teddy Kollek. Shalvi also presented the university's annual Stephen A. Ogden Memorial Lecture, on "Feminism's Impact on Judaism in Israel and Beyond"

  • Renee Levine Melammed, Assistant Dean and head of the Women's and Gender Study track, received this year's National Jewish Book Award in the categories of Best Research in Sephardic Studies and Women's Studies for her book Heretics or Daughters of Israel? The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile (Oxford University Press, 1999). This was the first time that one book was feted with two awards.

  • Rabbi Eitan Chickli, Executive Director of the TALI Education Fund, will be in Boston next year as a Wexner-Israel Fellow. This highly coveted fellowship which enables outstanding Israeli government and public sector professionals to study at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, leads to a Masters Degree in public administration.

  • Rabbi Dr. Elhanan (Harvey) Meirovich has been appointed Dean of the Rabbinical School. Rabbi Meirovich is a veteran pulpit rabbi with a doctorate in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has published several books and is a popular lecturer at SIJS. He recently served as interim rabbi at the Edgeware Masorti Synagogue, Edgeware, England.


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