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Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

The Stranger in our Midst

In our hearts, Jews are immigrants. The very name “Hebrews,” Ivri’im, comes from the word ‘to cross over’; Hebrews are boundary crossers. Our founding story portrays us as refugees arriving to our land, and Judaism itself is a religion forged […]


Immigration Reform and the Justice of Being a Refugee

Where should we stand on immigration reform? If not for the closed-door policies and quotas held by America and other countries barring Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe, the Holocaust would not have claimed its millions of victims. As Jews, we […]


On the Border

Recently, The New York Times published an op-ed by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who expressed his indignation at HR 4437, an immigration bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in December that includes provisions for a 700-mile […]


Walking Out is Unethical

To the chagrin of many of my friends, being ethical does not entail defenselessness. Power, like anything else, can be ethical; it must be ethical. From a Jewish perspective, it’s tempting to make powerlessness a pre-condition for ethics. Jewish liberals […]

Fighting for our Humanity

In recent months, public opinion has increasingly been turning against the war in Iraq–and for good reason, as body counts for U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians continue to soar, as the situation on the ground becomes increasingly chaotic, and as […]

A Time for Peace and a Time for War

We should never have gone into Iraq unprepared and under false pretenses. If we had waited for the inspectors to do their thing, if we had waited for the support staff to be in place to bring back electricity and […]

Nourishing Our Connections

There are very few things more important to building community than food. Food brings us together in companionship (literally: ‘bread-breaking’), helps us celebrate joyous occasions, and connects us to one another through shared moments. Some Jews see kashrut–the system of […]

Kashrut: The Great Barrier

From the Iron Chef to Alice Waters, there is nothing more universal than food. Everyone eats. Everyone needs nourishment. If there is one thing that brings us all together it is the most basic instinct of all, hunger. Hey, what’s […]

A Diet for the Soul

South Beach. Atkins. Low Carb. Each diet has its proscriptions and restrictions. Each has its high-cost items that begin to add up when you eat them every day, whether snack bars or supplements. Though I doubt a study was done, […]

Being the Hidden Miracle

At various points in history, the legitimacy of the Book of Esther has been challenged as part of the Biblical canon. Although the Council of Yavneh in 90 C.E. confirmed that the book was, in fact, part of the Hebrew […]

Moving Beyond Fear Factor Judaism

Fear Factor Judaism dominates American Jewish life. Here is just a spattering of typical Fear Factor Jewish discourse: “You better support the cause against anti-Semitism–otherwise our survival may be in jeopardy.” “You better go to synagogue on Yom Kippur or […]

The Power of Purim

Purim is visceral. We yell, stamp our feet and wave noisemakers like crazy to drown out the name of the villain, Haman, who sought to kill every Jewish man, woman and child. If only it were that easy to make […]

Sucking the Life out of Judaism

As you might expect, contrary to “new-found scientific research,” Jewish ritual circumcison–brit milah–is not and will not be going by the wayside anytime soon. The truth of the matter is that Jews have been circumcising their children long before science […]

Brit Milah, a Greater Good

Why is it that when we might die if caught observing our traditions we hold them precious, but when we can freely observe them we all too easily abandon them? Take brit milah, ritual circumcision, and the debate over whether […]

The Kindest Cut

I remember very well standing over my beautiful, perfect, eight-day-old son with a knife in my hand. It was his brit milah, the day of his induction into the covenant between the Jewish people and God through the rite of […]

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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


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