Showing posts from June, 2018

Sharing Wine

Parashat Pinchas Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
It all started with wine.
I had a fascinating conversation on Facebook the other day. A winery in Israel, operated under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate, employed a number of religiously observant, devout Ethiopian Jews. The wine they produce is labeled fully kosher. An alternative rabbinic body from the Eidat Chareidi, the Ultra-Orthodox community cast aspersion on the kashrut of their wines because they consider the halakhic status of the Ethiopian employees in doubt. The Beta Israel community made mass aliyah many decades ago and the Sephardi Chief Rabbinate was unanimous in pronouncing the community Jewish according to Halakhah. The Ashkenazi Ultra-Orthodox community ruled differently, raising the issue that halakhically, the Ethiopians might be considered Gentiles, therefore rendering the wine at the winery non-kosher.
As we say: oy gevalt.
I shared an article reporting and decrying this incident. An entire, centuries-old Jewish communi…

The Conversation About the Conversation

Parashat Korach Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
The Conversation about the Conversation
We need a conversation about the conversation. 
‘The’ conversation is a fractal; a paradigmatic image of all the overlapping and intersecting conversations in our lives, families and communities that we find challenging. Often, these conversations incorporate or even exacerbate the tensions we experience. From our family life right down to the quality of our civic discourse. 
Every person is likely to define difficult conversations differently, depending on personal worldview, circumstance and experience. People are triggered differently. What I have found during my sojourning in the countries that I’ve lived in is that the nature of the conversation varies greatly from place to place. There are different taboos in the Netherlands, my home country, than there are in my host countries of the United Kingdom and the United States. It is incumbent upon the immigrant to learn, relearn and apply these social codes as…