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The Faith to Give

Rabbi Stern is right that it takes faith to get through a recession, but I would suggest a different type of faith is in order: the faith to give. A scene in “Fiddler on the Roof” captures the dilemma: A […]

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Dear Virtual Talmud Readers–

posted by jsturiale

Due to a technical upgrade here at Beliefnet last weekend, we experienced unexpected issues with the blogs– namely, missing comments on some posts. Our Tech team moved the entire Beliefnet infrastructure to a new, more modern data center, which was […]

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Why the Jewish Poor Get No Respect

It’s interesting even to be raising the subject of Jewish poverty: So much of the world reflexively associates Jews with wealth, and in some cases great wealth, the sort that leads to ugly displays of conspicuous consumption and one-upmanship at […]

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Jerusalem, Divided Against Itself

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, there is no question, as Rabbi Grossman rightly points out, that it is anything but a unified city. This truth is particularly demoralizing following the dizzying sense of hope […]

No U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. What Gives?

Forty years after the reunification of Jerusalem, the United States has still yet to move its embassy from Tel-Aviv. Of the 184 countries that the United States has embassies in, the only country where a U.S. embassy is not located […]

Jerusalem, Divided Against Itself

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, there is no question, as Rabbi Grossman rightly points out, that it is anything but a unified city. This truth is particularly demoralizing following the dizzying sense of hope […]

Is There Hope for The City of Peace?

posted by Virtual Talmud

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish rule. Jerusalem in Hebrew (ir hashalem) means City of Peace. Unfortunately, that is not a descriptive phrase but a prophetic one: When Jerusalem is at peace, then […]

Rabbi Waxman, That’s Not What I Meant

Rabbi Waxman claims I asserted that, “The incidence of teenage pregnancy and AIDS in the Jewish community is not a problem that needs to be taken seriously.” That’s not what I meant. What I did say was: “Relative to America […]

Teen Pregnancy & Aids: Not a Jewish Problem?

I’m disturbed by Rabbi Stern’s claim that the incidence of teenage pregnancy and AIDS in the Jewish community is not a problem that needs to be taken seriously. Similar claims were once made about alcoholism and domestic violence, driving the […]

Safe Sex for the Soul?

posted by Virtual Talmud

I don’t have the same problem Rabbi Waxman does with the Orthodox Union’s recent effort to promote abstinence among its young people. The OU’s site does seem to include accurate information, at least to my medically untrained eye, particularly by […]

The Seduction of Abstinence

Regular readers of VT may have noticed my absence from the blog the past couple of weeks – but it has been for the most wonderful of reasons: my wife and I have been extremely busy as we have welcomed […]

Orthodox Coercion Hurts Our People

posted by Virtual Talmud

Kol ha kavod to Rabbi Stern on drawing the line between the coercive power of the Israeli Rabbinate and their encroachment on the American Orthodox Rabbinate’s authority over American conversions. However, I wonder if Rabbi Stern would be willing to […]

Shavuot: Choice and Coercion in Modern-Day Life

The issue of intermarriage and conversion has most recently been reawakened by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s attempt to take over the full conversion process of the American Orthodox Rabbinate. This difference between American Jewry and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate comes […]

Jewish Mothers, Take a Joke

Rabbi Grossman has spoken like a true Jewish mother. Her moral finger-wagging at those who crack a few jokes is either obvious or prudishly naive about human nature. Yes, Jewish mother jokes can be insensitive and downright hurtful. But they […]

How Many Jewish Mothers Does It Take?

posted by Virtual Talmud

How many Jewish mothers does it take to change the Jewish mother stereotype? I don’t know about you, but the Jewish mothers I knew–my mother and both my grandmothers–were loving individuals who gave unstintingly of themselves to their children in […]

Are Jews Intellectually Superior? Who Cares!

I would agree with both Rabbi Waxman’s and Rabbi Grossman’s comments regarding Charles Murray’s recent essay in Commentary Magazine on Jewish brains. Even if his answers seem a bit strained, Murray’s article certainly has a certain grain of truth. The […]

Two Jews, Three Opinions

posted by Virtual Talmud

It is not just our traditional and liturgical emphasis on asking questions that contributes to what Rabbi Waxman terms the “Jewish intellectual legacy.” It is the value Jewish traditional learning placed upon engaging different opinions. The Talmud is full of […]

Questioning Jewish Genius

An article by Charles Murray that recently appeared in Commentary Magazine has been inspiring both conversation and criticism with its claim that Jews are uniquely gifted when it comes to intellectual accomplishment, especially in the arts and sciences. Although much […]

Darfur: Are We Part of the Problem or the Solution?

posted by Virtual Talmud

I brought my 7th grade class to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington last Sunday. I wish I could say they were learning past history. The sad news is, they were not. The very same day, people gathered in front […]

Does Darfur Need a Good Publicist?

A few weeks ago my congregation was fortunate enough to host Ruth Messinger, executive director of American Jewish World Service, who spoke to us on the situation in Darfur and the obligations that our Jewish values–and recent history–demand of us. […]

Saving Darfur Is the Highest Form of Charity

Last week I had the chance to stop into B’nai Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for early Friday evening services (a little bit of cross denominational socializing and praying is always healthy), and was moved by the massive sign […]

The Bloodied Face of God

Rabbi Grossman asks where God was found in last week’s horrific massacre at Virginia Tech, and I was touched by her portrayal of God made manifest in the acts of heroism and self-sacrifice by students and teachers at Virginia Tech, […]

Where was God During the VT Shooting?

posted by Virtual Talmud

The terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech raises a number of questions, but the ultimate question is: where was God when this happened? This is not a new question. We are forced to ask ourselves it in the face of every […]

Defining a Jewish State

I understand Rabbi Grossman’s discomfort with including a person in Israel’s government who isn’t committed to the notion of Israel as a Jewish state, but I also think that the term “Jewish state” is so vague and amorphous that it […]

Interfaith Dialogue & Israel’s Future

As we prepare to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut the question brewing around many political circles is: Is there a Muslim partner even worth dialoguing with? Recently Gary Bauer, the one-time Republican presidential candidate and Christian activist, and Mort Klein, the head […]

A Wolf Guarding the Sheep

posted by Virtual Talmud

I applaud Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for appointing a Muslim Israeli Arab to the Cabinet. What a contrast to the surrounding Arab nations, many of whom refuse to allow Jews to be citizens. However, I disagree with Rabbi Waxman […]

Advancing the Jewish State

Recently Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert created a controversy by naming Raleb Majadele, an Arab-Israeli Muslim, to his cabinet – the first time a Muslim has held such a high-ranking position in Israel’s government. Predictably, reactions were strong. Many moderate […]

Restitution As Confession of Guilt

posted by Virtual Talmud

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that there can be no real restitution for the horrors of the Holocaust. However, restitution is important for another reason: the agreement by Germany to pay restitution signified that Germany publicly accepted responsibility for its […]

True Justice Means More Than Restitution

In response to Rabbi Stern’s post, it is impossible to think about righting the wrongs of the Holocaust because the cruelty, barbarism, and evil on such an unimaginable scale preclude any talk of justice. The work of the Claims Conference […]

Holocaust Restitution & the Claims Conference

In 1952 the Prime Minster of Israel, David ben Gurion made one of the gutsiest and hardest political decisions ever to have been made, he accepted restitution funds from West Germany –a country that had just murdered six million Jews. […]

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Rabbi Grossman writes movingly about the reasons she abstains from chametz on Passover. As a Reconstructionist Jew, I too believe that God doesn’t intervene in the world to punish wrongdoers or those who violate the commandments, and yet I still […]

We Should Make ‘Choosing’ the Focus

Rabbi Grossman asserts that she does not eat bread on Passover because she “loves God.” Her metaphor pulls at my heart but it also pulls on my brain. Do we really believe that God asks us to practice mitzvot in […]

Does God Really Care If We Eat Bread on Passover?

posted by Virtual Talmud

The Torah prohibits eating bread or any form of leavened product, chametz, during Passover. The penalty for eating or even owning chametz is severe: being cut off from the people Israel (Exodus 12:15). Such a punishment sounds descriptive rather proscriptive: […]

Kernels of History Add Flavor to Exodus Story

posted by Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Waxman makes my point: those who get stuck on an “all or nothing approach” (i.e. proving or disproving the historicity of the Exodus) miss the point of the eternal values the story contains. However, that rule goes for both […]

The History Trap

I find it interesting that Rabbi Grossman wants to argue that the Exodus account may contain more historical truth than I give it credit for. Maybe, maybe not–I’m not sure it terribly matters either way. Clinging to the “kernels of […]

History Without Moses

The question of the historical authenticity of the Exodus story gets into far larger questions, namely, does history matter and if so what are the claims it can make on us? Personally I have gone back and forth on the […]

The Lack of Evidence Is Not Evidence

posted by Virtual Talmud

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that the power and relevance of the Exodus lies not in whether we can historically verify the details of its story but in the truths it contains. The most obvious are the nature of the […]

The Truth of the Exodus

Several years ago, before I had even enrolled in rabbinical school, I was sitting at my parents’ table for seder when my uncle looked at me pointedly and said: “You’re the religious one. Tell me, did the Exodus really happen?” […]

Anti-Semitism: Down But Not Out

posted by Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Stern writes that in America anti-Semitism is as dead as a door nail. I wish it were true. While the Anti-Defamation League recently reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents were down by 12 percent from 2005, the Klu […]

The Old and the New of Jewish Organizations

As someone who is often still lost in the alphabet soup of Jewish organizations – UJC, WZO, AJC, JCRC, WJC, LOL – I share the frustration of those who find the organizations of Jewish communal life difficult to navigate, perhaps […]

Why Jewish Organizations Matter

In wake of the recent shakeup in leadership at the World Jewish Congress, bloggers, pundits, and Jews around the country have been calling into question the role and import of national and international Jewish organizations such as WJC, United Jewish […]

You Are What You Eat

posted by Beyond Blue

I think Rabbi Grossman sells the power of Jewish food short. True, there is much, much more to our tradition than our food, but food is an important aspect of Jewish civilization. It demonstrates how Judaism is more than just […]

Gastronomic Judaism: Food for Thought

posted by Virtual Talmud

What is it about Jews and food? It’s more than our obsession with finding a good bagel. It’s our almost pathological need for conspicuous consumption. We always have to have more than enough. Perhaps it is the collective unconscious of […]

Guest Blogger: JSafe’s Rabbi Responds

posted by Virtual Talmud

We are highlighting this response to Rabbi Stern’s post on Judaism & domestic violence as a service to our blog readership. I thank Rabbi Stern for his comments on domestic violence and for drawing attention to the work of JSafe. […]

Stop Pardoning Domestic Abuse

A few years ago Rabbi Michael Dratch founded the organization JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment. Its mission reads that JSF “works to promote a Jewish community in which all of its institutions and organizations conduct themselves responsibly […]

Women: Victims of the Domestic Rod

posted by Virtual Talmud

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that corporal punishment sends the wrong message to children about solving problems with violence and therefore should have no place in family life. His comments remind me of a larger issue: the systemic failure of […]

Spare the Rod

“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” a well-known and unfortunate aphorism based on Proverbs 13:24, was recently invoked in the debate about a proposed California law banning spanking children younger than age 3. The bill garnered so much resistance […]

The Real Purim Villain

posted by Virtual Talmud

I disagree with Rabbi Waxman’s suggestion that what distinguishes Haman from the historic villain Hitler or today’s Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is that Haman jumped to the chase in seeking the total annihilation of the Jewish people immediately, rather than […]

Evil in Stages

Rabbi Stern compares Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Haman, and there’s certainly reason for comparison–but there’s also at least one important difference. In the Purim story, it is striking that Haman displays a level of hatred and arrogance that is […]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The New Haman

There is no end to the amount of homilies that rabbis will spin out of the story of Purim. Pending what’s in the New York Times that week, Vashti, Esther and Mordechai all become transformed into real-life characters. Usually this […]

Of Purim and Power

Rabbi Stern’s reference to the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance is right on the mark in our discussion of the place of women in today’s Jewish power structure. This week’s Jewish Week contains a front-page story on how that organization has […]

Where is Esther? Jewish Women’s Leadership Today

Purim is amazing in terms of the importance it grants to women in leadership positions. So I guess it only normal for me to ask, so where are our Esther’s today? Sadly, in the Jewish community today there remains a […]

Is Hillary the Next Vashti?

posted by Virtual Talmud

No one is who they appear to be in the Book of Esther, which we read on the upcoming holiday of Purim. Vashti seems an all-powerful queen, yet she overestimates her power and is removed from office, probably not pleasantly, […]

Principle, not Expediency

I appreciate Rabbi Grossman’s defense of the practice of taking multiple and potentially contradictory positions. Jewish tradition is based on the principle of eilu v’eilu–that conflicting positions each have standing and integrity in their own right, provided that the argument […]

Not Every Problem Has a Solution in Jewish Law

posted by Virtual Talmud

When thinking about the recent decision on the part of the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards to allow gay ordination and marriage, I try to remind myself that I really don’t like criticizing people and institutions when […]

Homosexuality and Halakhic Debate

posted by Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Waxman is correct that the recent decision by the Conservative movement to pass two diametrically opposite positions, one permitting and one prohibiting same sex relations, does in fact leave the decision to local rabbis and their congregations. This is […]

Mixed Messages on Homosexuality & Jewish Law

On December 6, the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards–known in short as the Law Committee–passed a number of contradictory teshuvot (legal opinions) that variously allow and disallow same-sex commitment ceremonies, participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue […]

Let’s Be More Careful with Charges of Anti-Semitism

In response to Rabbi Stern’s post on whether liberal Jews fuel anti-Semitism by criticizing Israel, Rabbi Grossman writes: When Jewish intellectuals confuse their right to criticize specific policies of current or past Israeli governments with questioning the legitimacy of having […]

Bi-Nationalism, a Smoke Screen for Anti-Semitism

posted by Virtual Talmud

There are serious flaws in the argument Rabbi Stern is making on whether liberal Jews are anti-Semites if they argue that Israel should cease to be a Jewish State and become a binational state. Buber and Einstein were mostly writing […]

Were Martin Buber and Albert Einstein Anti-Semites?

posted by Virtual Talmud

Recently, the New York Times published a piece on the uproar created over an article written by Alvin Rosenfeld put up on the American Jewish Committee website entitled “Progressive Jewish Thought and Anti-Semitism.” The article lumps a broad range of […]

Appreciation, not Exploitation

Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Stern make several excellent and practical suggestions for cutting down pollution and lowering demand for non-renewable sources of energy. In addition to these important measures, I also encourage us to strive to cultivate a relationship of […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Grave Matters

I am surprised and disturbed by the tone of Rabbi Grossman’s post stating her opposition to allowing non-Jews to be buried with their Jewish spouses in a Jewish cemetery. She writes: “Let us… not undermine the final resting places of […]

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 […]

Burial Grounds as Battle Grounds

So burial grounds have now become the new battle grounds for American Jewish identity. In a responsa regarding the permissibility of burying Jews and non-Jews together, Rabbi David Golikin, whom I have enormous respect for, closes his ruling that both […]

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 […]

Till Death Do Us Part?

One of the issues that has been gaining prominence recently on the American Jewish scene is whether non-Jews–typically the non-Jewish partner in an intermarriage–may be buried in Jewish cemeteries. Traditionally, Jewish law has forbidden non-Jews to be buried together with […]

Whose Best Interest?

Rabbi Stern raises an interesting point in distinguishing between making a general rule and judging each case on its own particular merits. The problem with a complicated situation like the one Rabbi Grossman writes about–a 9-year-old girl named Ashley with […]

A Redemptive Nose Job?

Rabbi Grossman gets it just right on the issue of Judaism’s relationship to bio-ethical issues. Here Judaism radically differs with certain elements of the Christian tradition. Instead of looking for an all-embracing universal theory that runs through every situation–such as […]

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 […]

Saddam: Punished with Justice?

The ancient rabbis who wrote the Talmud (in modern-day Falluja, incidentally) understood something very important about capital punishment that we in this country–to say nothing of those in Iraq–seem to have forgotten. It’s not that capital punishment is philosophically indefensible, […]

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 […]

C’mon–Take Off Your Blinders

Rabbi Grossman, if you read my posts, you would see that I have no problem condemning Orthodox violence. I have done so many times before on this blog and in other publications. Nor am I, nor have I ever been […]

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 […]

The Dangers of Certainty

Rabbi Stern, it strikes me, doth protest too much. It is true that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are not extremists who will take matters into their own hands to enforce their own social and religious agenda. It is […]

Orthodoxy: American Jewry’s China

Reading Rabbi Waxman’s post, I thought to myself “I could easily have written the exact same piece…10 years ago when I was freshman at Yeshiva University.” Much of what Rabbi Waxman says is correct. The problem is that it’s too […]

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 […]

A New Year for Religious Extremism?

The vast majority of American Jews would take no offense were I to take this opportunity to wish them a “Happy New Year. ” Although the new Jewish year of 5767 began several months ago with Rosh Hashanah, the Gregorian […]

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 […]

Jewish Book of 2006: The Nimrod Flipout

To be honest, I did not read too many Jewish books published in 2006, and of those I did read I was not blown away by any of them. Still, in my spare time I did manage to look at […]

The Six Best Jewish Books of 2006

I have always steered away from best book lists. How does one define “best” for a book? Most riveting story line? Most lyrical? Most moving? The book that made me think the most? That made me the angriest? A book […]

Mr. Halper, Please Respond to the Facts

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 […]

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 […]

Twisting the Truth

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 […]

A President’s Foul Play

On the surface, it would be hard to find any commonality between a group of long-bearded, black-hatted, cloistered members of the Orthodox Jewish, anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta and former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel prize-winning Anglo-Saxon Protestant. But it seems […]

‘Tis Better to Give…

I want to clarify for Rabbi Stern’s benefit that I don’t mean to be the Grinch who stole Hanukkah. Gift-giving is a fun part of the holiday, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with having some fun. The point is also […]

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 […]

Oprah’s Hanukkah Torah

A couple of weeks ago, Oprah gave each person in her audience $1,000. But as they say, nothing is free, and so the money came with some strings attached. The $1,000 had to be spent on someone other than the […]

It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Hanukkah

Last week a group of parents from my synagogue’s religious school gathered in my office with an important question about Hanukkah: How, they asked, can we make Hanukkah about more than just presents for our children? For many parents, this […]

In Search of the Next Great Jewish Band-Aid

Gary Rosenblatt’s op-ed in the Jewish Week titled “The Next Great Jewish Idea” should read “The Next Great Jewish Band-Aid.” What is remarkable about the piece is that it contains not one idea. Instead of realizing that Jewish outreach and […]

In Search of the Next Great Jewish Band-Aid

Gary Rosenblatt’s op-ed in the Jewish Week titled “The Next Great Jewish Idea” should read “The Next Great Jewish Band-Aid.” What is remarkable about the piece is that it contains not one idea. Instead of realizing that Jewish outreach and […]

Do Clothes Make the Politician?

It’s a fact: In public life, we often tend to make judgments based on appearances. If someone looks or acts different enough from us, we tend to believe his or her views are outside of the mainstream as well. For […]

Too Much Information?

Andrew Sullivan has raised the issue of Mitt Romney’s Mormon underwear. Sullivan, usually a very astute and articulate voice, goes a bit too far on this one. Rabbi Grossman is right on this one. Who really cares what undergarments Romney […]

Too Much Information?

Andrew Sullivan has raised the issue of Mitt Romney’s Mormon underwear. Sullivan, usually a very astute and articulate voice, goes a bit too far on this one. Rabbi Grossman is right on this one. Who really cares what undergarments Romney […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Borat vs Jewface: The Politics of Jewish Humor

Truth be told, my first three years watching Sacha Baron Cohen was spent fast-forwarding through Borat on to Ali G. And for the last year or two Bruno has replaced Ali G as my favorite character. But recently–maybe only the […]

Borat vs Jewface: The Politics of Jewish Humor

Truth be told, my first three years watching Sacha Baron Cohen was spent fast-forwarding through Borat on to Ali G. And for the last year or two Bruno has replaced Ali G as my favorite character. But recently–maybe only the […]

Is Borat the New Archie Bunker?

Maybe I am dating myself, but when I hear one of Borat’s tirades, I immediately think of Archie Bunker of “All in the Family.” That TV show broke ground a few decades ago because it exposed in humorous fashion the […]

Is Borat the New Archie Bunker?

Maybe I am dating myself, but when I hear one of Borat’s tirades, I immediately think of Archie Bunker of “All in the Family.” That TV show broke ground a few decades ago because it exposed in humorous fashion the […]

The Case for Borat

“Throw the Jew down the well” is the chorus to a Kazakh folk song brought to us by Borat, starring in his own movie opening in just a few days. Of course as everyone knows, both the song and the […]

Who’s Orthodox Bashing?

Rabbi Stern, who’s Orthodox bashing? I also believe having a large Jewish family is a mitzvah. If you can afford the extra room, great. And if you can fix up your home and stay in the neighborhood near family, even […]

McMansions and Orthodox Bashing

All too many times the “McMansion” issue is just a socially acceptable form of Orthodox bashing. “Why do these Jews have to destroy our communities?” “The Orthodox have no respect for our aesthetic.” “Don’t they have any shame?” These are […]

All Out of Proportion

Rabbi Grossman sees McMansions as a sign of status and wonders how much money their owners gave to tzedakah, as opposed to pouring it into gold bathroom fixtures–a fair question. In fact, Judaism is not an ascetic religion and encourages […]

All Out of Proportion

Rabbi Grossman sees McMansions as a sign of status and wonders how much money their owners gave to tzedakah, as opposed to pouring it into gold bathroom fixtures–a fair question. In fact, Judaism is not an ascetic religion and encourages […]

Jewish McMansions and the American Dream

I see them everywhere, in new suburban developments and in urban neighborhoods: gigantic homes that could house a tribe, let alone an average family, and sometimes contain such perks as indoor pools. Labeled McMansions in the 1980s, Jews are building […]

Can We Trust our Leaders?

Today’s front page New Times article on Israeli machismo is very telling. It highlights how even those who speak in the most universal ethical/religious terms can locally act in the most unethical and anti-religious manner. The Israeli machismo issue is […]

Of Humility and Hypocrisy

Both Rabbi Stern and Rabbi Grossman correctly point to the hypocrisy of those who claim moral authority acting in immoral ways. But the issue goes deeper than that when we come to the question of people in positions of political […]

Of Humility and Hypocrisy

Both Rabbi Stern and Rabbi Grossman correctly point to the hypocrisy of those who claim moral authority acting in immoral ways. But the issue goes deeper than that when we come to the question of people in positions of political […]

Katzav Meets Foley’s Folly

Rabbi Stern points out the distinct irony of Israeli President Moshe Katzav refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Conservative and Reform rabbis on the basis of Orthodox law as interpreted by Israel’s Religious Ministry while engaging in personal behavior that, […]

Katzav Meets Foley’s Folly

Rabbi Stern points out the distinct irony of Israeli President Moshe Katzav refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Conservative and Reform rabbis on the basis of Orthodox law as interpreted by Israel’s Religious Ministry while engaging in personal behavior that, […]

Katzav’s Piety

If there is any truth to the mounting rape and misconduct charges facing Israeli President Moshe Katzav, it will be a sad day not only for Israel but all religious Jews. The truth is that at this point there is […]

Katzav’s Piety

If there is any truth to the mounting rape and misconduct charges facing Israeli President Moshe Katzav, it will be a sad day not only for Israel but all religious Jews. The truth is that at this point there is […]

C’mon, Get Real

Idolatry as “Bad habits,” “addictions,” “kissing Torah scrolls”: Weren’t these the kind of things pulpit rabbis spoke about in the 1950s on Shabbat when they couldn’t think of anything else to talk about? Both Rabbi Waxman and Rabbi Grossman fail […]

Of Love and Torah

I don’t share Rabbi Waxman’s ambivalence about whether kissing the Torah smacks of the very idolatry Judaism has always been so vigilant against. I think of it more like kissing a love letter: a physical expression of a passion for […]

A Slippery Slope to Idolatry

The Torah scroll is taken out of the ark. The rabbi walks in a procession around the synagogue holding the Torah as congregants reach out with their tallises (prayer shawls) or siddurim (prayer books) to touch the scroll and then […]

Sukkot’s Lessons, Lost on Us?

It’s ironic that Rabbi Grossman sees Sukkot as an enjoyable holiday. In its essence, the holiday is meant to make us feel uncomfortable and challenge our sense of rootedness and complacency. Yes it might say in Scripture that you should […]

Holiday Fatigue, or No Protestant Model?

I’m inclined to agree with Rabbi Grossman about the virtues of Sukkot relative to Yom Kippur. Too many American Jews are “twice-a-year Jews,” meaning they show up at synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Now granted, these are extremely […]

Why Sukkot Trumps Yom Kippur

I don’t mean to sound heretical, but if given my druthers, I would rather Jews observe the seven days of Sukkot than the 25 hours of Yom Kippur. (Of course, I would prefer they do both, but this is one […]

What’s Behind Fasting, Anyway?

It’s fascinating to see the wide range of intense emotions that fasting has generated on Virtual Talmud, from gratitude and appreciation to distaste, even disgust. I think one of the reasons we may have such strong feelings on the subject […]

Why Do You Have to Bring In Auschwitz?

Rabbi Grossman seems to fast on Yom Kippur for reasons ranging from something to do with snapping at her son to not being in the Holocaust. This is all very nice. I, too, don’t like snapping at children. And boy, […]

Fast Food for Thought

For Rabbi Stern, fasting on Yom Kippur is sociological and familial. He does it because the people around him are doing it. That may be enough of a reason for him, but it is certainly not for me. I fast […]

Starving for Meaning on Yom Kippur

If there’s one thing American Jews and Muslims have in common, it’s that they share a very similar relationship to corporeal forms of atonement. Roughly half of the American Muslim community fasts in the month of Ramadan. The same number […]

Nevertheless…

I’m disappointed by Rabbi Stern’s pessimism. There’s no question that there is much to be dismayed about in the year that is drawing to a close, and I can’t dispute the prevailing mood of anxiety and concern. Which is why […]

The Low Down on the High Holidays

Enough with the homilies. There is no high in this year’s high holy days. My fellow rabbis are missing this year’s significance: Most people who will be walking into synagogue feel a sense of loss, confusion, and bewilderment at a […]

Finding the “High” In the High Holidays

Rabbi Waxman rightly points out some of the cognitive dissonance we confront in the High Holiday liturgy that makes it hard to get the most from services. Largely written in the Middle Ages for a population who viscerally understood their […]

Rosh Hashanah: Recreating our Selves

This week is the final countdown to Rosh Hashanah, the day when our fates are written for the New Year. The liturgy tells us that God sits in heaven judging all people and writing our fates in a giant book–“Who […]

The Best Jewish Advertisement

Check out this High Holiday video put out by Jewish Impact Films. In a much more comical way than I can describe here, the film depicts just how impossible it can be for the majority of Jews to “get into” […]

How Many Rugelach Do I Get With That?

As a rabbi, I find myself in a bit of a bind when it comes to the question of synagogue membership and the High Holidays. On one hand, I’d never want to turn anyone away who wants to pray at […]

No Membership Required

Does the high cost of membership in synagogues deter membership? Absolutely. It doesn’t matter that my synagogue is dedicated to never turning anyone away for lack of funds. I personally know individuals who do not want to have to ask […]

Yes, but…

Rabbi Stern raises some very legitimate points about how disenfranchising it can be when prayers are in Hebrew if you don’t understand the language. That being said, I don’t agree with his solution of abandoning the siddur (the Hebrew prayer […]

Who Needs Hebrew?

I agree with Rabbi Stern that Hebrew is often an impediment to getting the most of the High Holy Days. But I disagree that Luther was right about the vernacular. There is a place for English in the service but […]

Hebrew: The Big Hurt?

For far too many Jews, the High Holidays are marred by confusion and boredom. They come to synagogue and are lost. Everything is foreign except maybe their parents sitting next to them, who once again purchased tickets for the whole […]

The Limits of Identity

My friend Jenny Moyers is not the most connected Jew ever to walk the earth. She doesn’t belong to a synagogue and does not celebrate any of the Jewish holidays in her home. She seems to regard my rabbinic career […]

Go Bother Someone Else

Ah… summer in New York City: Central Park concerts, café life, sweaty subways, and who can forget those smiley young boys and girls passing out Jews for Jesus pamphlets. Every year they come with more zeal and more ambition, peddling […]

Jews for Jesus: Who’s Who & What’s What

If you believe Jesus is the messiah, died for anyone else’s sins, is God’s chosen son, or any other dogma of Christian belief, you are not Jewish. You are Christian. Period. We Jews may not like to admit it, since […]

Muscular Judaism and the War in Lebanon

Israeli and American Jews are now scratching their heads over the war in Lebanon. Oh, how quickly political tides change. Just a few weeks ago, everyone was standing squarely behind Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; today everyone is calling for […]

After Lebanon: Jewish Identity Crisis?

In the aftermath of the war in Lebanon, Israelis have begun a round of soul-searching into what went wrong. How was it that Israel’s vaunted military–the pride of a nation and unquestionably the best-equipped army in the region–could barely make […]

Hezbollah, Hamas, and Lord of the Rings

Reading the news the other day, I felt like Frodo Baggins does as things look grim in “Lord of the Rings.” It seems we have our own Two Towers. On one hand, we have the Shiites: Hezbollah, rather than being […]

Hoping Against Hope

It seems that the U.S.-backed ceasefire in Lebanon, while fragile, is holding for the moment. I pray that it does, and that families on both sides of the border will be able to return to their homes, rebuilding, and trying […]

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 […]

The End of the Messianic

Walter Benjamin, in his essay “Critique of Violence,” discuses the idea of divine biblical justice. Benjamin points out that in the Bible everyone gets what he or she deserves (though it does not seem so commensurate to us; even Job […]

Without America…

If there is one thing this war has taught Israelis, it’s that without America they are nothing. Could things change? Could America grow weary of Israel? Perhaps. But as of now America is Israel’s chief supporter. America has single-handedly protected […]

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 […]

History Every Day

The violence in Israel continues to worsen, and now wide-scale evacuations of the North are finally under way as it appears Israel is preparing to enter Southern Lebanon in force. I pray for the well-being of the brave Israeli soldiers […]

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 […]

Terror as AIDS

For years now people have been calling terrorism a cancer. As Itamar Rabinovich, the president of Tel Aviv University and former Israeli diplomat, put it, “You either cut it out or it eats you up.” Right now, this is certainly […]

Lamenting the Suffering

A few hours before Tisha b’Av began I was reflecting that the violence in the Middle East shows absolutely no signs of abating. Instead, it’s been getting worse–with Hezbollah shooting more than 200 rockets into Israel and Israel vowing to […]

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 […]

Mourning This Year

Tisha b’Av (the 9th of the month of Av), the day Jews mourn the loss of the Temple and their subsequent exile, is one of those holidays that never made too much sense growing up. Let me explain by recounting […]

Destruction and Introspection

These past few weeks have been so full of pain and strife. Each new headline brings fresh waves of sorrow at the human and political toll that the current conflict in Lebanon is taking. With Israeli ground troops now entering […]

Something Just Doesn’t Add Up

I am not sure if there is much more to say about this issue, Prof. LeVine. Your problem seems to be more with the people at Pew. To sum up: Your position expresses little difference between evangelicals, Muslims, and Israelis […]

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 […]

Prof. LeVine: Where Are Your Statistics?

Prof. Mark LeVine should be commended for his cool-headed response to my original post. To be honest, I wrote the post in a very unrabbinic way (too much steam not enough substance) I appreciate the time he took to flesh […]

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. […]

Evangelicals & Israel: Conditional Love

Since September 11, there has been a growing coalition between Jews and evangelicals. And in the past few days, we have seen evangelicals rush to support Israel in its war against Hamas and Hezbollah. The Israel/evangelical alliance highlights the complexity […]

Strange Bedfellows

Of the many strange bedfellows that politics breeds, one of the strangest in recent memory is the alliance between evangelical Christians, largely in the United States, and the Israeli governments of Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon, and now Ehud Olmert. The reasons […]

The End of War

We have entered into a new stage in Middle East crises: The End of War. Yes that’s right: THERE IS NO WAR IN GAZA OR LEBANON. Let me explain. War is defined by the possibility of peace. If there is […]

Mark LeVine: Wrong and Irresponsible

UC Irvine historian Mark LeVine, writing on Beliefnet, has once again crafted a beautiful apology for Islamic leadership. Contrary to everything stated by Hamas and Hezbollah, LeVine somehow has managed to argue that “However harsh the rhetoric against Israel or […]

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 […]

Where Did God Go?

For more than a thousand years, the Jewish God was primarily seen and described by Christians as a vengeful God. As Robert Louis Wilken, writing in “First Things,” explains:“One of the first major theological disputes in the early Church centered […]

A God to Believe in

I love speaking with seventh-graders about God. They’re so eager to shock the rabbi–they can’t wait to tell me that they don’t believe that God controls the world or, often, that they don’t even believe in God at all. I […]

God : The Biography

Maimonides once explained that we can only know God by what God is not: God is not limited. God has no end and no beginning. God has no corporeal form and therefore no gender (which is why I use only […]

Which Zionism?

There are few terms more fraught–and less clear–than “Zionism.” For some, it is the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise to Abraham to give the land of Canaan to his descendants. For some it is a movement of spiritual and cultural […]

The Leibowitz in Me

When I heard about Israeli president Moshe Katzav deciding not to refer to Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Reform movement, by the title “Rabbi,” I laughed it off. But the more I think about it, the more the […]

Can There Be Jews Without Zionism?

Zionism is as old as Judaism. It began when God first spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his homeland for a land that God would show him. That same land would be promised to his great grandchildren, the […]

Force Alone Cannot Win This Battle

Former Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir was once asked if she could ever forgive the Arabs for seeking Israel’s destruction. She replied by saying that she could forgive them for killing her sons, but she couldn’t forgive them for […]

No Responsibility in Gaza

Israel’s response to the recent kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit by invading Gaza is nothing shocking or all that new. It is what is: the latest incarnation of the cycle of violence that continues to cripple the Middle East. Is […]

Winning the Battle, Winning the War

The Hamas raid last week against an army post in Israel, with the murder of two soldiers, the wounding of a third, and the kidnapping of 19-year-old Gilad Shalit, is a classic example of the tactical jujitsu that terrorists have […]

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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