Women's Megillah Reading
1. The fast of Esther.
The fast of Esther usually comes on the day before Purim. When Purim falls on Sunday, as this year, the fast gets moved up to the previous Thursday. The origin of this fast, some time in the period of the Rishonim, and the rationale for this fast, seem totally obscure.
Our minyan is a participatory one in which everyone, from the rabbis on down, volunteers their services. Men, women, and children are welcome to take any part in the service that halacha allows.
On Torture and Halacha
A few years ago, the Moot Beit Din problem concerned a “ticking time bomb” situation. High school students from around the continent wrote their decisions about whether Halakhah should permit torturing a terrorist suspect to get information to defuse an attack on civilians. I was coach of the team from Frankel Jewish Academy, and my students had to research precedents in Halakhah for using torture.