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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

Another Possibility: Jewish Peoplehood

Rabbi Stern’s presentation of the issue of Jewish status as a question of genes vs. identity is right on the mark. Judaism has been so hard to pin down for so many people because it’s not a religion–you can certainly […]

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Jewish Genes, Identity, and Citizenship

posted by mkress

In juxtaposing “blood and genetics,” by which I presume he means those born of a Jewish mother, with those who “identify with the Jewish people and adopt a certain lifestyle,” by which I presume he means those who self-identify as […]

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Jewish Genes, Identity, and Citizenship

posted by mkress

In juxtaposing “blood and genetics,” by which I presume he means those born of a Jewish mother, with those who “identify with the Jewish people and adopt a certain lifestyle,” by which I presume he means those who self-identify as […]

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Jewish Genes vs. Jewish Identity

There have always been two sides to the “Who is a Jew?” question. There are those who identify Jews primarily through blood and genetics, and those who see being a Jew as being more about choosing to identify with the […]

Jewish Genes vs. Jewish Identity

There have always been two sides to the “Who is a Jew?” question. There are those who identify Jews primarily through blood and genetics, and those who see being a Jew as being more about choosing to identify with the […]

The Rabbi as Saintly Stand-In?

How telling are the wise words of Rabbi Waxman. Though Judaism always privileged the tzaddik, the ultra-pious human being, its texts from the Bible on through the Talmud highlight just how flawed and full of failure leadership can be. Just […]

Clergy as Wounded Symbol

posted by mkress

I agree wholeheartedly with Rabbi Waxman that clergy, of any faith, must be careful to see themselves, and allow themselves to be seen, as real human beings with human weaknesses and flaws. As Henri Nouwen so eloquently writes in his […]

Can Religious Leaders Be Perfect?

At the very beginning of my rabbinical studies, one of my teachers gave me a sage piece of advice: “Don’t let your congregants put you on a pedestal. Then they’ll spend all their time trying to knock you off of […]

He Who Is Rich…

There are two great poles in religious existence: redemption and thankfulness. Redemption constantly calls on us to make our lives and the world around us better and more holy. Thankfulness forces us to be content with what we have been […]

Giving Thanks and Giving Hope

The AJC Thanksgiving Reader Rabbi Grossman mentions is in many ways rooted in the thought of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. Kaplan claimed that Jews in America lived in two civilizations–one American and one Jewish, and that each […]

Thanksgiving Is a Very Jewish Holiday

posted by mkress

After Passover and Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is perhaps the holiday most observed by American Jews. It makes sense for a number of reasons, and not only because we Jews can’t pass up an excuse for a good meal. Thanksgiving, as in […]

Thanksgiving Is a Very Jewish Holiday

posted by mkress

After Passover and Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is perhaps the holiday most observed by American Jews. It makes sense for a number of reasons, and not only because we Jews can’t pass up an excuse for a good meal. Thanksgiving, as in […]

Fear and Homophobia in Jerusalem

Apparently, the planned gay-pride parade through Jerusalem has been cancelled as a result of threats of violence. I agree with Rabbi Grossman that this is a shame: Capitulating to threats only emboldens those who seek to use intimidation as a […]

Fear and Homophobia in Jerusalem

Apparently, the planned gay-pride parade through Jerusalem has been cancelled as a result of threats of violence. I agree with Rabbi Grossman that this is a shame: Capitulating to threats only emboldens those who seek to use intimidation as a […]

Called Off

So the gay community has called off their march scheduled for this weeken, averting a showdown with a violent haredi (extreme Orthodox) community. This should not be seen as a form of capitulation, but rather the maturity of the gay […]

Called Off

So the gay community has called off their march scheduled for this weeken, averting a showdown with a violent haredi (extreme Orthodox) community. This should not be seen as a form of capitulation, but rather the maturity of the gay […]

The Shanda of Intolerance

posted by mkress

Life takes precedence under Jewish law, and the gay-rights advocates cannot be faulted for bowing to security concerns and canceling the gay rights parade slated for Jerusalem this weekend. But the State of Israel did wrong in letting it come […]

Rights Don’t Make Right

Ohhh please…Rabbi Grossman’s position is a caricature of just the kind of simplistic, clichéd liberal thinking that has got us into this mess to begin with. Firstly, I just want to be clear: If one haredi lifts up a hand […]

Rights Don’t Make Right

Ohhh please…Rabbi Grossman’s position is a caricature of just the kind of simplistic, clichéd liberal thinking that has got us into this mess to begin with. Firstly, I just want to be clear: If one haredi lifts up a hand […]

A Question of Ownership

Who does Jerusalem belong to? At some level, that’s the question at the heart of the conflict between participants in Friday’s planned gay pride parade and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish protestors. An ad campaign planned by the Orthodox Agudath Israel group […]

A Question of Ownership

Who does Jerusalem belong to? At some level, that’s the question at the heart of the conflict between participants in Friday’s planned gay pride parade and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish protestors. An ad campaign planned by the Orthodox Agudath Israel group […]

Parades and Holiness

posted by mkress

Is Rabbi Stern saying that the gay-rights activists should have known better than to plan their march in Jerusalem, or is he saying that the gay-rights parade organizers should have shown more consideration to the ultra-Orthodox, by not planning their […]

Parades and Holiness

posted by mkress

Is Rabbi Stern saying that the gay-rights activists should have known better than to plan their march in Jerusalem, or is he saying that the gay-rights parade organizers should have shown more consideration to the ultra-Orthodox, by not planning their […]

Hypocrisy vs. Violence in the Holy Land

The gay pride parade planned to take place in Jerusalem on Friday has created a fierce debate over the limits of freedom of expression in Israel. Israel’s extreme haredi (ultra-Orthodox) groups are threatening violence–they’ve been staging violent demonstrations for weeks […]

Borat, Bunker, and Election Day

Rabbi Stern suggests a 1-10 ratio of those who lionized Archie Bunker vs. the majority who laughed at him. I have no idea if the ratio is accurate but I think the more important analogy is that those who laughed […]

Borat, Bunker, and Election Day

Rabbi Stern suggests a 1-10 ratio of those who lionized Archie Bunker vs. the majority who laughed at him. I have no idea if the ratio is accurate but I think the more important analogy is that those who laughed […]

Borat–Archie Bunker or Andy Kaufman?

Rabbi Grossman and some of our respondents worry that the character of Borat will be taken as anti-Kazakh, which in turn triggers a mind-numbing satiric chain to untangle: a Jew mocking Kazakhs mocking Jews… In fact, one of the most […]

Our Biases and Borat

I think Rabbi Grossman’s analogy to Archie Bunker is excellent! Did many white 50-year-old men identify with Archie, thereby creating a racist cultural icon? Sure they did, but for every 50-year-old white racist bigot laughing along with Archie there were […]

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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