YULA’s Rabbi Etshalom to teach Modern Orthodoxy to seniors

Katie Feld, BP Staff

By Jenny Newman, Staff Columnist

The six degrees of separation between Shalhevet and YULA have just decreased. Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, who is entering his 14th year teaching at our rival school, has joined the Shalhevet faculty.

Rabbi Etshalom is teaching a senior class called Contemporary Modern Orthodoxy, which will explore the definition and meaning of Modern Orthodox Judaism.

“The goal of the class is to have students come together to discover the foundations of what it means to be a Modern Orthodox Jew,” Rabbi Etshalom said.

Rabbi Etshalom explained that the class will be text- and discussion-based, focusing on modern commentators and the source material they were considering. The contemporary commentators will include Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, and Rav Joseph Soleveichik, among many others.

Rabbi Etshalom has written a book entitled Between the Lines of the Bible, which explores issues in the Modern Orthodox world, and makes the history and commentary on the Torah more accessible.

Despite the fact that he is coming to Shalhevet from YULA, Rabbi Etshalom said that he doesn’t anticipate that teaching at both schools will be a difficulty.

“I don’t know anyone else who has ever done the same thing,” he admitted, “but I don’t anticipate anything but an opportunity to teach more Torah to more students.”

Rabbi Etshalom taught at Shalhevet during its first and fifth years in existence.

When discussing Modern Orthodoxy, he said,  “There isn’t one single definition. It’s our job to discover it together.”

He also said the class would explore the particular stands taken by Modern Orthodoxy on Israel, women, and its perception of the secular world.

Another addition to the Judaic Studies faculty this year is Mrs. Batsheva Frankel, wife of science teacher and technology director Yossie Frankel.  Mrs. Frankel will teach ninth grade Tanach.

Mrs. Frankel worked at Pressman, Yavneh and Sinia Akiba before joining the Shalhevet family; she has also worked in film editing and development. She will be working at Shalhevet while simultaneously remaining Judaic coordinator for the after-school program called Los Angeles Hebrew High.

“Jewish education to me is the most important thing I could think of doing – I always learn from my students,” Mrs. Frankel said.