Update from last week's CJLS meeting

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards met on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week and discussed 9 papers on a variety of issues:

Three teshuvot were passed:

  • Letters of Recommendation by Elliot Dorff and Marc Gary
    • This teshuvah answers the question "What norms govern giving oral or written references for schools or jobs?"  It covers standard cases of being asked to provide a reference, encourages the evaluator to disclose her/his bias, and gives guidance as to when to refuse to provide a reference. It also addresses the obligation to disclose when the candidate has acted dangerously in the past.
  • Women and Mitzvah by Pamela Barmash
    • This teshuvah addresses the exemption given to women from positive time-bound mitzvot and concludes that this exemption was based on women's subordinate status. Jewish women's overall role in society has dramatically changed since these norms were formulated, and women's ritual involvement has also significantly changed. Therefore,this teshuvah concludes that women are equally obligated to observe mitzvot and calls upon synagogues and other Jewish institutions to educate both men and women towards the equal observance of mitzvot. The teshuvah shapes the requirement as inspirational and aspirational, calling upon all of us to reinvigorate our embrace of mitzvot.
  • Haftarot for a Triennial Cycle Torah Reading by Avram Reisner 
    • This teshuvah addresses the minimum length for a haftarah and provides guidance for shortening haftarot especially in cases where they are longer than the triennial Torah reading. It also suggests new haftarot connected to the material read from the Torah during each part of the triennial cycle.

Also on the agenda were the following papers:

  • Shiva in the Case of Delayed Burial, by Josh Heller (first reading)
  • Joint Ownership by Avram Reisner (first reading)
  • Divorce of Lapsed Convert Michael Knopf (first reading)
  • The Legal Responsibility of Jewish Hotel Patrons by Michael Knopf (second reading)
  • Singing (or reciting) Psalm 118:1-2 during Hallel by Elliot Dorff (first reading)
  • Hazak, Hazak for Congregations that Read Torah on the Triennial Cycle by Elliot Dorff (first reading)

Each of these papers were discussed and the authors will be incorporating feedback for future drafts.  The next meeting of the CJLS will take place in November 2014.

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