The Conspiracy

Women & the RA; five days with controversial Chasids; a welcoming table; and more. [Required Reading]

What does sharing Shabbat have to do with atonement? | Photo by Flickr user slgckgc (CC BY 2.0)

Rabbinical Assembly’s May conference sparks discussion about female speakers [Forward]

After information regarding an upcoming conference hosted by the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Judaism) was released, debate has been sparked as to whether or not enough women speakers will be present at the event. Since the initial report, the RA has released a statement stating that the event’s line-up has yet to be finalized. But will the discussion continue? Head on over to the Jewish Daily Forward to read more (including the RA’s response to the report).

Five days in Lev Tahor [Haaretz]

In the first of a two-part report, Shay Fogelman shares his experiences over five days with Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, leader of a hotly-debated Chasidic community in Canada. In this introduction to the ways of a highly structured, yet small religious community, Fogelman writes:

“Lev Tahor came into being in the mid-1980s in Jerusalem. In the early 1990s it followed Rabbi Helbrans to the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and from there to the town of Monsey, upstate in Rockland County. About a decade ago, the community settled permanently in the Canadian town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec. Throughout this time, the name of the community – and especially that of its leader – was associated with various scandals, including some that reached the courts or were the subject of police investigations in the United States and Israel.”

Keeping a welcoming table: a kind of atonement? [Sh’ma]

In this article from the Sh’ma Journal of Jewish Ideas, Rachel Troster explores the connection between hospitality at the table, and personal spirituality. Can we better achieve spiritual growth through our learned appreciation for, and attention to, welcoming others?

“I’ve often thought about how lucky I am that I live in a community where we all host each other for Shabbat meals. For many of us struggling to balance work and small children, if we didn’t spend Shabbat meals with together, we might never make connections with other adults that had nothing to do with our jobs. Hachnasat orchim helps us atone for a world in which our working identities threaten to overwhelm everything else we do.”

Painter visualizes Jewish history in vivid colors [Tablet]

Though he has been known for his attention to detail in the past, visually capturing an obsessively specific timeline of events for various historical figures and even popular ideas, painter Ward Shelley has now captured an exhaustive history of the Jewish faith in one of his colorful, evocative timelines. Tablet Magazine writes:

The People of the Book was inspired, the artist says, by Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, obsessively researched online, and vetted by a rabbi. Starting in Ur and Canaan, the painting traverses through Samaritans, Gnostics, Kazars, crypto-Jews, Karaites, the Bobov, and Jabotinsky, arriving in the present with the ba’al t’shuva renewal, Israel’s Meretz party, and the Kabbalah Center. Hanging on the wall of Pierogi Gallery’s stand at the Armory Fair in New York through this weekend, surrounded by a profusion of trompe-l’oeil people and stuffed animals by other artists, the orange-hued picture has yet to spark too much debate, though it did find a buyer.”

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