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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

October 2007 Archives

Can Hebrew Schools Be Saved?

Like most rabbis, I get frustrated at what I wish we could accomplish in our religious school. I wish I could get parents to let the students use the skills they are learning in school–like kiddush and Havdallah–more regularly in […]

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The Life-Giving Power of Questions

posted by akornfeld

When blogging “for the sake of heaven,” it’s easy to get the last word in when you post right before Shabbos! However, even though a new week has begun, I’m hoping my generous hosts at Beliefnet–and my colleagues who’ve graciously […]

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Torah: The Original Self-Help Manual

I haven’t had a chance to read Rabbi Jen Krause’s book yet, but I agree with her that the rabbis were the first self-help coaches. I would add that was so because they had the first self-help manual: the Torah. […]

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But What About the Answer?

Rabbi Jen, I wish you were right about your description of Jewry but the facts on the ground seem to say otherwise: As many have noted there are two sides of Jewry. Rabbi Jen nicely described one side. But in […]

Asking Is Our Way of Saying ‘Game On’

posted by akornfeld

When I learned how to study the work of the prolific medieval commentator Rashi from the wonderfully prolific Nechama Leibowitz, of blessed memory, in her tiny Jerusalem living room, she would always ask, “What’s Rashi’s question?” (or, more colorfully, as […]

The Blessings of Insularity?

What a pleasure it was to read Rabbi Jen Krause’s new book The Answer. Make no doubt about it this is not your regular self-help book. “The Answer” is more about realizing that ultimately life’s greatest challenge is coming to […]

Self-Help & Updating Judaism

Rabbi Krause writes that she is not scared of new influences coming into Judaism–that bringing in new ideas and perspectives helps keep Judaism dynamic and relevant. This assertion is central to Reconstructionist Judaism’s approach to understanding how our religion works. […]

Guest Blogger: Self-Help–Is Judaism Enough for Jews?

posted by akornfeld

Improving the self–whether through books, magazines, prayer, meditation, or study–has always been a Jewish enterprise and the rabbis were among history’s first “life coaches.” Today it is the same. I do not have one doubt that Judaism continues to offer […]

The Environmental Crisis and Free Will

The connections Rabbi Stern and Rabbi Grossman have drawn between the story of Noah and the modern environmental crisis are, sadly, very much to the point. One of the salient points of the Biblical story is that the crisis is […]

Al Gore, Our Modern Day Noah

Last Shabbat we read about how God commanded Noah to collect an ark load of the Earth’s biodiversity and ride out the mother of all storms, which cleansed the earth. When Noah and his family finally emerged from the ark […]

The Environment & the Noah Story: Lessons for Today

In Judaism we tend to think that God’s promise to Noah after the flood means that the world will never be destroyed. But all God says is that “He” will never destroy the world through rain. “We” on the other […]

What Exactly Is a Christian Nation, Anyway?

In thinking about Senator John McCain’s comments in his interview with Beliefnet– that America is a Christian nation–I spent some time online trying to figure out what the substance of the label is. Certainly ‘Christian nation’ sounds like it should […]

McCain, Is Religion Your Blankie?

John McCain 2000: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and a few Washington leaders of the pro-life movement call me an unacceptable presidential candidate. They distort my pro-life positions and smear the reputations of my supporters. Why? Because I don’t pander to […]

Is America a Christian Nation?

Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain caused quite a stir recently when he stated–in a video interview on Beliefnet–that he believes the Constitution establishes America as a Christian nation. His comments should have caused a stir for a number of reasons. […]

Too Much of a Good Thing?

If the Jews are so smart, why is it we bundle five holidays together in a row, one on top of the other, through an entire month in the fall? Of course, every month, except one, does include a Jewish […]

Iraq in Sukkot

If there is one thing we have learned from the Iraq war it’s that the day after revolution is much harder to deal with than the revolution itself. What America is in the process of realizing is that teaching people […]

The Hidden Meaning of the Fall Holy Days

By this time of year, many Jews are holidayed out. We’ve sat through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and used our personal days at work for the privilege. Perhaps we managed to celebrate Sukkot. But hold on, there’s still Hoshanna […]

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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