May a Woman get an Aliyah on Simchat Torah?

Here is a responsum I wrote on the topic (in Hebrew). I will try to translate it before Simchat Torah.

תשובה בענין עליות לנשים ביום שמחת תורה by Elli Fischer


R. Amital and the Yom Kippur War

The OU has posted an excerpt of By Faith Alone pertaining to the Yom Kippur War. For some reason, most of the discussion about this war on the occasion of its 40th anniversary will follow the Gregorian date. Perhaps this is for the best, as it will not distract us from the holidays. There is no reason, however, not to contemplate the responses of men like Rav Amital.


On Reforming the Rabbinate

The pre-Rosh Hashana issue of the New York Jewish Week had an article I wrote on the state of Israel's rabbinate and potential directions for structural change. Many readers know that I was not convinced that any of the candidates for chief rabbi would have been able to effect the necessary changes. The article, entitled "God's Gatekeepers," refers to the confrontation between Chana and Eli that we read about on Rosh Hashana. More on that confrontation in the near future.

It occurs to me that I never posted about an article I wrote earlier this summer, also for NYJW, on Israel's middle class.


And Another Review

I had forgotten about another review I wrote for Segula a while ago. This is on Matti Friedman's The Aleppo Codex. Here you go. Enjoy.

Aleppo Codex Review by Elli Fischer

On Baruch and Judy Sterman's "The Rarest Blue"

My review of Baruch and Judy Sterman's The Rarest Blue appears in the latest issue of Segula Magazine. I have obtained permission to post it so here it is:

Rarest Blue Review by Elli Fischer


The Origins of a Common Myth about Religious Jews

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a crash course in Judaism to a group of new (and veteran) personnel at the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv. Officially called a "Jewish cultural sensitivity seminar" by the Philippine Foreign Ministry, the idea was to go through the Jewish life cycle and calendar, give an introduction to the diversity of religious observance and belief, and address basic concepts, mores, and ideas they are likely to encounter. There were open questions throughout, and the entire event was quite talmudic in progressing associatively and following tangents.

The most interesting part was definitely the discussion about areas of Jewish law that a gentile in Israel is likely to encounter: bishul akum, Shabbes goy/ amira le-akum, sale of chametz before Pesach, and stam yeynam. The point was not to be thorough, but to give some context and perhaps avoid what might become an awkward situation (they appreciated my dramatization of a bunch of religious Jews inviting a gentile into the room so they can all say "Don't you think it's hot in here?").

The most interesting question was a version of the old hole-in-the-sheet myth, but one that confirmed what I have suspected for a long time. The questioner brought up the subject and then described the sheet, saying that a Filipina domestic saw such a thing in someone's laundry. It was clear that the object described was a tallit katan - good old-fashioned tzitzis. A rectangular white garment with a hole in the middle. I had long suspected that this myth originated when someone saw tzitzis on a clothesline. Now it's pretty much confirmed.

So I explained to my audience that it's a myth and how it most probably originated. I also noted the size of the hole in a tallit katan and thanked the questioner for the implied compliment.