Why does an author and talk-show host who was once a settler in the west bank city of Hebron, who grew up in a largely secular, Jewish home in Chicago, where he returned to study religion at the University of Chicago and went on to be ordained as an Orthodox rabbi, become a blogger for Beliefnet.com? Because I believe that in a world with more and more walls going up between people, nations, and religious communities, we need more windows and doors, and this can be one of them.
Welcome to Windows & Doors, an ongoing conversation about how the traditions and wisdoms we value most, meet up with the biggest questions in our lives and in our world. In my case, that tradition is Jewish, though I am privileged to have teachers from many traditions and believe that Truth is found in many places and wrapped in many different garments.
I also believe that the purpose of being Jewish is not to “be Jewish”, but to be human, which is why this conversation is definitely not for Jews only. In fact, the test, for me, of the health of the tradition that I love is not simply whether it helps its own members, but whether or not it benefits those who are not. If that sounds radical, look no farther than the biblical story of Abraham’s call from God, in which he is told that his mission is to both found a nation, and also to be a blessing to the entire world. And being a blessing to the world, means serving the needs of its residents — people like you and me.
Windows & Doors is a kind of living laboratory in which the ideas, insights and practices that can make our lives better will be explored and tested against the daily turbulence that is contemporary life. If it’s in the news, it will be here. And if it’s in my heart and in the hearts of those I know, now including you, then it will be here as well. Let’s discover together how faith can overcome fear and how religious commitment (to any tradition) can be combined with genuine spiritual openness.
If you know that the big stuff in life is too important to simply be divided by words like right and left, traditional and liberal, or any of the easy dichotomies that dominate the media, then this is the place for you. If you are fascinated by the connection between faith and current affairs, then this is the place for you. If you find yourself wondering what it means to love God by whatever name we call Him/Her, in a world where religion is such a polarizing and even deadly force, then this is the place for you. I’ll meet you here tomorrow.