“An Uneasy Union” Update: Couple to Marry Thanks to Rabbinate’s Change of Heart

Photo and story by Eetta Prince-Gibson. Our November/December cover story “An Uneasy Union” explained why, in Israel’s thriving democracy, marriage and divorce remain under the authority of the religious courts. Central to the story was the case of Shlomit and Alon Lavi, an Israeli couple of more than 10 years who had been prevented from re-marrying due to arcane religious laws and the rulings of the rabbinical courts. One week after the article was published, Moment was pleased to hear that the courts had finally changed their minds: the Lavis would be able to be wed at last. In the wake of this happy decision, writer and former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report Eetta Prince-Gibson catches up with the couple. Here, the Lavis look back on their 13-year-struggle to marry and forward to their future as a married...

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Rabbi Susan Talve

Meet the Rabbi Who Just Married One of Missouri’s First Legal Gay Couples

Rabbi Susan Talve’s favorite word is chutzpah: shameless audacity. This surprises no one who knows her. The spiritual leader of St. Louis’ Central Reform Congregation has spent the last three decades defying norms. She founded an LGBTQ-welcoming synagogue during the 1980s AIDS crisis; made headlines by offering her synagogue for the ordination ceremony of two Catholic Womenpriests (a move that horrified both the Jewish and Christian communities); and has performed hundreds of illegal same-sex wedding ceremonies in the state with the country’s oldest constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Now, Talve has done something bolder. After both conservative Utah and nearby Indiana toppled their same-sex marriage bans last month, she helped officiate the first four legal same-sex weddings in Missouri. The four marriages, which took place in the offices of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, represent a direct challenge...

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Tent of Nations before and after.

The Fate of Fruit Trees

by Ilana Sumka   Looking over the rolling hills of the West Bank, the Palestinian man speaking to our Jewish group said: “In our culture, we have a tradition of planting fruit trees, not for ourselves because they won’t bear fruit in our lifetime, but for our children and our children’s children.” Members of my Jewish group smiled at each other, appreciating the familiarity of the concept. We have a similar Talmudic story about a man who plants a carob tree, not for himself but for future generations. It was a warm, sunny day and our group of rabbinical and yeshiva students were visiting the Palestinian farm and community center called Tent of Nations during an Encounter program. The chasm between Jews and Palestinians often feels so great that having an authentically shared moment made it a sweet memory. That...

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Q&A: Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Friend of Pope Francis

The Argentinian rabbi talks about Jewish-Catholic relations and his longtime friendship with the current pope. By Josh Tapper For many years, Abraham Skorka, an Argentine rabbi, carried on an unassuming friendship with the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. The pair co-hosted a televised Bible discussion called Bible, A Dialogue for Today, co-wrote a book of spirited theological discourse, On Heaven and Earth, even ribbed each other about the fortunes of their favorite soccer clubs. Then, in March, Cardinal Bergoglio became Pope Francis. While Bergoglio has ascended to the top of the Catholic hierarchy, he and Skorka, a member of the Conservative movement and rector at the Buenos Aires-based Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, remain close, emailing often about such lofty projects as the future of Jewish-Catholic relations. Skorka, 63, has already visited the pope at the Vatican and...

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Opinion: Gilad Shalit’s Negotiator, Gershon Baskin

On October 18 we mark two years from the remarkable day when the world waited with great anticipation to see Gilad Shalit stride from captivity into freedom, back onto Israeli soil and reunited with his family. Earlier this month, Shalit began his first term as a university student at the Interdisciplinary College Herzliya, studying economics and sustainability. Over the past year he has spoken to Jewish communities around the world, thanking them for their support while fundraising for Israel. Shalit has announced through his Facebook page that he has a girlfriend and that he is very happy. But recall for a moment where we were just a few short months before Oct. 18, 2011. On April 17, as the Shalit family was preparing to spend a fifth Passover with Gilad in Hamas captivity, headlines splashed throughout Israeli proclaiming...

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Reza Aslan’s Jesus

Reza Aslan is an Iranian American scholar of religions, whose internationally acclaimed books include No god But God and Beyond Fundamentalism. His most recent book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, was at the center of a media firestorm after he appeared on Fox News and was asked, “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Aslan talks to Moment about Fox News, the historical roots of anti-Semitism and whether Jesus ever intended to start a new religion.   How do you respond to the Fox News interview? I’m somewhat embarrassed by it, but a little bit excited that it’s launched this public discussion about very important issues, like journalistic integrity, religion and society, faith and politics and scholarship. These are all issues that academics are talking about...

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