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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

February 2006 Archives

Being Jewish Outside the Box

The Reconstructionist movement was never supposed to be one. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism in the 1920’s, actually considered himself a Conservative Jew and taught at that movement’s seminary for more than fifty years. (He was also a […]

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CPR for Jewish Denominations

Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, sees the collapse of social groupings, from fraternal organizations to bowling leagues, as symptomatic of the modern desire to relate on one’s own terms and schedule with like-minded and demographically similar people. What is […]

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Is Apathy the New Jewish Heresy?

You know something is happening to Jewish denominations when Orthodox Jews (who pray in gender-segregated prayer services) are calling women up to the Torah for honors (aliyot), while many Conservative congregations that have mixed seating still prohibit women from being […]

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Conversion: A Theological 360

Should Judaism proselytize? No. Should it be more welcoming? Yes. For years most rabbis instinctly followed the Talmudic norm that one should push away converts warning them about the difficulties of becoming Jewish. God knows how many conversions stopped with […]

Being a Welcoming Community

The Reform Movement’s call to convert non-Jews is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, non-Jews are increasingly being told that they are welcome in liberal congregations and on the other their non-Jewish identity is devalued as they receive the […]

Converts Welcome Here

When Sex in the City’s Charlotte is rebuffed by the rabbi in her attempts to begin conversion training, series writers evoked the Jewish tradition that potential converts be turned away three times to test their sincerity. There was good reason […]

Cartoons and Oil

It was insensitive and inappropriate for the Danish and Norwegian press to print political cartoons that were disrespectful of Muhammad, in particular, and stereotypical of Muslims, in general. We Jews know how painful, and dangerous, such images can be, especially […]

Sick and Disturbed in Damascus

The behavior of Muslims rioting in Damascus over cartoons depicting Muhammad as a terrorist only reinforces the public perception that radical Islam is a danger to humanity. Moreover, sadly, it makes Muslims literally into caricatures of themselves. The rioters’ actions […]

Muslim Outrage: Cynicism as an Artform

I would be more sympathetic to Muslims’ anger at the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad if it were not accompanied by rampant violence and threats, and if it weren’t being so cynically and opportunistically manipulated by Islamic leaders for […]

Nurturing a Mature Love for Israel

Many American Jews do not feel as connected to Israel as they once did, or as Jews living in many other parts of the world do. Israel is far away, perceived as scary, and speaks a language–Hebrew–which is, sadly, Greek […]

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in postings over a time frame of days (rather than moments

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe it’s that blogging doesn’t lend itself so well to t

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s advisors. She was right. I never should have cited those web

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the black and Jewish communities look to this period either

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced in visits to other (largely white) seminaries. We were

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »

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