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  • Week in Review: September 19, 2014

    by TJC Staff

    Rabbi Michael Broyde — the subject of an award-winning TJC investigation that revealed he had created fake online personas — returns with a new synagogue in Atlanta; Sharon Weiss-Greenberg is the new head of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance; Meredith Ganzman gets a look at the tiny Jewish community of Lisbon, Portugal; and a peek at Steven I. Weiss’ Up Close interview with Joseph Berger, author of The Pious Ones: The World of Hasidim and Their Battles With America.

    September 19, 2014 | No Comments »

    Broyde-Led Effort Opening New Synagogue in Atlanta

    by Steven I. Weiss

    Rabbi Michael Broyde, who resigned from the largest Orthodox rabbinical association in America in January rather than face an ethical inquiry into his use of fabricated rabbinic identities over nearly two decades, is now leading an effort to launch a rival synagogue to the one he founded two decades ago — just half a block from the synagogue he founded.

    Broyde is one of three rabbis serving as a rabbinic council, or vaad, for a new Orthodox synagogue opening at 2003 Lavista Road in the Atlanta neighborhood of Toco Hills; it is half a block from the new building under construction for the Young Israel of Toco Hills, founded in 1994 with Broyde as its first rabbi.

    Broyde was replaced as rabbi of the Young Israel of Toco Hills in 2008, with the congregation electing Rabbi Adam Starr, a fellow graduate of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Broyde maintained an increasingly prominent role on the international Orthodox scene after that time through his published scholarship, his role as an authority on specific matters of Orthodox Jewish law, and by serving as a rabbinical court judge on the largest rabbinical court in the United States, the Beth Din of America. Eighteen months ago he was named one of the top 50 rabbis in America. Broyde is also a law professor at Emory University’s law school, where he is also a senior fellow at the university’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion; Emory’s law school is ranked 19th in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

    But Broyde resigned his role as a judge on that rabbinical court and faced a significant diminution in his rabbinic reputation when reporting by The Jewish Channel in mid-2013 revealed his use of multiple rabbinic identities to join rival rabbinic groups, obtain access to their internal correspondence, write to scholarly journals touting his own work, and engage in numerous internet discussions. Broyde’s conduct was described by the then-president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, as “extremely disturbing.” TJC’s subsequent reporting found that Broyde had provided false claims of rabbinic ordination for one of his rabbinic identities and that Broyde had many connections with another fabricated character, an 80-year-old scholar named David Keter, who had been used to provide false evidence that would buttress Broyde’s published scholarship. An Emory University investigation into the latter declared, “the Committee did not find evidence to substantiate the allegations that Professor Broyde created the Keter pseudonym,” though TJC’s reporting showed that the university’s investigators did not attempt to contact the man who had the most interaction with Keter, editor of the scholarly journal Tradition, Rabbi Shalom Carmy.

    In the months since, Broyde’s name has occasionally popped up in news reports, finding that Broyde’s biography continued to claim he was a judge on the Beth Din of America. As recently as this past winter, Broyde was still listed as an instructor of rabbinical judge candidates at an institution Broyde founded, the Atlanta Dayanut Institute.

    The new synagogue Broyde is leading, which has been temporarily named the New Toco Shul, is launching without a permanent rabbi, according to an announcement from the synagogue’s president, Yaacov Freedman, a producer at the TV network HLN. Instead, it is being led by a “Rabbinic Vaad” that consists of Broyde and two colleagues who are both rabbis and also affiliated with Emory University. Rabbi Don Seeman is a former assistant rabbi to Broyde and is an associate professor of religion at Emory; according to dozens of sources, Seeman has been a vocal advocate for Broyde within Emory, the Orthodox rabbinate, and the Atlanta Jewish community. Rabbi Shlomo Pill is a PhD candidate in Broyde’s law and religion department at Emory’s law school, and a graduate of Broyde’s rabbinical judge training program.

    The synagogue’s announcement declared that it will apply for membership in the largest Orthodox synagogue membership association, the Orthodox Union, “once a permanent board of directors is elected.” The synagogue’s holiday schedule lists four classes to be taught by Broyde in the coming month, two by Pill, and one by Seeman.

    The synagogue’s interim board includes a staff writer at the local Jewish newspaper, the Atlanta Jewish Times, Suzi Brozman, and local community members Akiva Gimpelevich, Mordechai DeLuca, Ilana Gimpelevich, Jodi Lewis Lipsitz, and Rhondda May.

    The synagogue’s building, a private home, is owned by Miriam and Izahk Abramov, according to Dekalb County property records, and was listed for sale in September of last year for $269,000, according to Zillow.com.

    September 16, 2014 | 10 Comments »

    Up Close: September 15, 2014

    by TJC Staff
    Play

    Sometimes economic choices are about money; sometimes they’re about religion. On this episode of Up Close, we explore both.

    First, The Reformed Broker, Joshua M. Brown, discusses the effect all the free advice we get from television and online pundits is having on our bank accounts. He is co-author of Clash of the Financial Pundits: How the Media Influences Your Investment Decisions For Better or Worse.

    Then, George Washington University’s Prof. Carmel Chiswick takes an economic lens to the practice of religion, viewing time as our biggest asset when it comes to making decisions about religious practice. Her book is Judaism in Transition: How Economic Choices Shape Religious Tradition.

    Finally, investment adviser Ric Edelman dispenses his advice about how Americans can do a better job saving for retirement in his book The Truth About Retirement Plans and IRAs.

    Watch the complete episode on TJC on-demand on cable in the TJC Original Series/Interviews category. You can also watch highlights from the episode in the video above, or listen to the complete audio of this episode at the top of this post or by subscribing to our weekly audio podcast at http://feeds.feedburner.com/tjcupclose or on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tjcs-up-close/id807702211.

    September 15, 2014 | No Comments »

    Week in Review: September 12, 2014

    by TJC Staff

    Israeli agunah freed after 14 years, Ethiopians in Petach Tikva claim marriage discrimination, and a cult leader in Israel is going to jail. Stateside, actor and musician Hershey Felder brings Leonard Bernstein to life onstage, and Meredith Ganzman has the story in a special preview from TJC’s new theater show ROW J; Christian Niedan hears from author Joshua Wolf Shenk and screenwriter Mark Boal about the creative power of working in twos; and a peek at Steven I. Weiss’ UP CLOSE interview with Prof. Carmel Chiswick about the intersection of Jewish life and economics as laid out in her book, Judaism in Transition: How Economic Choices Shape Religious Tradition.

    September 12, 2014 | No Comments »

    Up Close: September 8, 2014

    by TJC Staff
    Play

    This week on Up Close, what happens to our ideas of the present when we shift our perspective on the past?

    First, historian Rick Perlstein may change your perspective on the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan. Perlstein examines the pre-presidential life of Reagan in his book The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.

    Then, NYU professor Lawrence Schiffman goes back 2,000 years to explore the little-known Jewish texts that didn’t make it into the Bible as we know it today but have much to teach about Jewish life in the pre-Rabbinic period. Schiffman is co-editor of the new three-volume work Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture.

    Watch the complete episode on TJC on-demand on cable in the TJC Original Series/Interviews category. You can also watch highlights from the episode in the video above, or listen to the complete audio of this episode at the top of this post or by subscribing to our weekly audio podcast at http://feeds.feedburner.com/tjcupclose or on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tjcs-up-close/id807702211.

    September 8, 2014 | No Comments »

    Week in Review: September 5, 2014

    by TJC Staff

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blames Hamas for civilian deaths in Gaza conflict; a return to settlement building in the West Bank draws criticism from the U.S. and center-left Israelis; take a tour of The Actor’s Temple via a sneak peek at TJC’s brand new theater series, “Row J,” hosted by Meredith Ganzman; a look at the new documentary “Kabbalah Me” and what inspired filmmaker Steven Bram to make it; and highlights from Steven I. Weiss’ “Up Close” interview with author Ron Perlstein about his book “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.”

    September 5, 2014 | No Comments »

    Up Close: September 1, 2014

    by TJC Staff
    Play

    This week on Up Close, two memoirs that look at what it means to be an adult, from nearly opposite ends.

    First, comedian, actor and writer Annabelle Gurwitch talks about the complications of being in the “sandwich generation” — having to take care of teenage children and elderly parents at the same time. Her new memoir is I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50.

    Then, author Joanna Rakoff takes us back 20 years to when she was just setting out on a career. She recalls her curious experiences working for J.D. Salinger’s publishing company, and the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult in the 1990s, in her memoir, My Salinger Year.

    Watch the complete episode on TJC on-demand on cable in the TJC Original Series/Interviews category. You can also watch highlights from the episode in the video above, or listen to the complete audio of this episode at the top of this post or by subscribing to our weekly audio podcast at http://feeds.feedburner.com/tjcupclose or on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tjcs-up-close/id807702211.

    September 3, 2014 | No Comments »

    Week in Review: August 22, 2014

    by TJC Staff

    Jewish connections to events in Ferguson, MO, including why the situation there is drawing comparisons to Israel’s war in Gaza; how a new smartphone app is bringing young Jews together; and more.

    August 21, 2014 | No Comments »

    Up Close: August 18, 2014

    by TJC Staff
    Play

    This week on Up Close, we look at major Jewish sages, past and present.

    First, renowned scholar, commentator and translator Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz speaks about his work on the Talmud and his book about the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, My Rebbe. Rabbi Steinsaltz is the author of what may well become the most-read commentary on the Talmud in its history, the Koren Talmud, and is a popularizer of the text known for his erudition.

    Then, Dr. Ronald Eisenberg, a physician specializing in radiology, discusses how a side-gig of sorts in digging deep into Jewish studies has yielded his encyclopedic work on Essential Figures in Jewish Scholarship.

    Watch the complete episode on TJC on-demand on cable in the TJC Original Series/Interviews category. You can also watch highlights from the episode in the video above, or listen to the complete audio of this episode at the top of this post or by subscribing to our weekly audio podcast at http://feeds.feedburner.com/tjcupclose or on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tjcs-up-close/id807702211.

    August 19, 2014 | No Comments »

    Week in Review: August 15, 2014

    by Steven I. Weiss

    Steven I. Weiss examines the popular claims and rumors circulating in media coverage of the Gaza War, and what is at stake for Israel going forward. Christian Niedan reports on a new photography exhibition at Yeshiva University Museum, “Echoes of the Borscht Belt”, which looks at the current decrepit state of iconic hotels in upstate New York, which housed thousands of Jewish vacationers over many decades. And “Up Close” with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, discussing his book on the Talmud, and another about the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

    August 14, 2014 | No Comments »

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