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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

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No New Year Celebration for SUVs

posted by mkress

For starters this Tu B’Shevat, we should all take notice of how many of our elected officials run around busy city streets in massive SUVs built for the Rocky Mountins. The only reason I can think of as to why […]

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It’s Not Just Hot Air: This Tu B’Shevat, Fight Global Warming

posted by mkress

Winter has finally come to the East Coast. I must admit I did not mind the sunny January days that reached into the 70s. There are benefits to global warming if you, like me, prefer sun to snow. However, there […]

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For Interfaith Couples, Nondenominational Cemeteries

posted by mkress

In response to Rabbi Waxman: I am not at all suggesting we separate couples at death. That would be heartless. Rather, I am saying the appropriate place for such couples is in a non-denominational cemetery. Someone who did not become […]

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Thinking Outside the Blog

posted by mkress

What should Pres. Bush learn from Pharaoh? Virtual Talmud’s Susan Grossman explores this question in this article on Beliefnet, written in response to the president’s State of the Union address earlier this week. Click here to read and respond to […]

Rest in Peace

posted by mkress

In his piece on whether non-Jews should be buried in Jewish cemeteries, Rabbi Waxman goes too far, in my book, by suggesting that a Jewish cemetery fully retains its Jewish character if non-Jews are buried within it. Is a cemetery […]

Don’t Mess With Mother Nature?

posted by mkress

As with most science, medical technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Our charge is to use such technology for good and not ill. The problem, of course, is that choosing a course that does “good” and not […]

Hussein and Eichmann: Two Hangings, Big Differences

posted by mkress

The entire war in Iraq has been one big tragedy deceptively perpetrated by President Bush. The American people should hold him accountable. That said, Rabbi Stern is missing the point when he thinks the issue surrounding Hussein’s execution is an […]

Have We Stooped to Saddam’s Level?

posted by mkress

Dear Thomas Freidman, In the spirit of the many letters you have written over the years I have decided to write one special to you. I have always enjoyed your pieces in the Times (especially after 9/11) and find myself […]

The Problem is Not Protesting

posted by mkress

My problem with Rabbi Stern’s comments is that, while acknowledging the propensity for violence among the ultra-Orthodox, he dismisses it as a relatively minor phenomena in comparison to extremist violence by Muslims and Christians (though I am not sure of […]

Orthodox Jews Lifting Their Fists?

posted by mkress

Point well taken, Rabbi Waxman. I pretty much agree with everything you are saying about certainty. I just think that by focusing on this aspect of Orthodoxy we end up missing more than we uncover. The miniscule rise in Orthodox […]

Does Religion Breed Hate?

posted by mkress

Rabbi Waxman is correct to be worried about the rise of religious extremism in the Jewish community. He should be equally worried that the Israeli government continues to pander to the extortion of the religious right, enabling the ultra-Orthodox haredim […]

The Year’s Best Jewish Books

posted by mkress

In addition to the worthy books Rabbis Grossman and Stern mentioned–and with particular appreciation for the selection of Etgar Keret’s The Nimrod Flipout, a fitting follow-up to the brilliant 2004 short-story collection The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God–I […]

Israel’s Good Fences Against Bad Neighbors

posted by mkress

In response to Rabbi Eliyahu Stern’s blog post criticizing former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” “God’s Politics” guest blogger Jeff Halper, an Israeli peace activist, defended Carter’s perspective on Israeli policies toward Palestinians and his use […]

The Real Miracle of Hanukkah

posted by mkress

While I agree with Rabbis Waxman and Stern about the dangers of focusing too much on gifts, there is a positive aspect to Hanukkah that the comes from having become the Jewish-American antidote to Christmas cheer. I also met with […]

Mixing Religion and Politics

posted by mkress

What should the role of religion be in politics? There has been some recent, some might say puerile, interest in the religious observances of two Mormon politicians, Massachusetts Republican governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and U.S. Senator Harry Reid […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Is There a Right and Good in War?

posted by mkress

A few weeks ago, we read in our weekly Torah reading the command to do what is right and good. The Hebrew word is yashar, which literally means “straight.” The verse is understood as the command to go beyond the […]

What is the Difference?

posted by mkress

Judaism has always been a religion that focuses on, teaches, ritualizes the ability to tell the differences between things: the difference between Shabbat and the rest of the week; the difference between kosher and non-kosher food; the difference between shatnes […]

What is the Consolation this Year?

posted by mkress

Following the mourning of Tisha b’Av (commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE), Jews traditionally read selections from prophets (Haftorot) that draw on images of comfort: the sense […]

A Time To Laugh and a Time to Weep

posted by mkress

Why should we care that in 586 BCE (Before the Common Era) the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple and in 70 CE the Romans destroyed the Second Temple? The Temple was the central address for Jewish worship and assembly for […]

Mark LeVine: Isn’t Judaism About Righteousness?

posted by mkress

I appreciate the detailed statistics from the rabbi. However, they are not relevant to the question at hand. The question is not whether Islam or religion more broadly is not relevant to people’s lives or to the political process. Large […]

Guest Blogger: Who Let the Dogs of War Out?

posted by mkress

I thank the various people, including Rabbi Stern, who have taken the time to comment on my article. However, Rabbi Stern and the others who accuse me of separating politics and religion have not read the article in its entirety. […]

These Three Weeks

posted by mkress

Last Thursday was the 17th of Tammuz, the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached 1936 years ago. These three weeks that lead up to Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av) traditionally are observed as a time of semi-mourning, in […]

Guest Blogger David Klinghoffer: I’m Not Ashamed of Abramoff

posted by mkress

Eliyahu Stern, an Orthodox rabbi, should take a few deep breaths, relax, and contemplate before rushing out with another condemnation of someone else’s sincerity or good faith as an Orthodox Jew. I’m confident that if he does this, he’ll realize […]

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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