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Apple’s “Jew or Not Jew” App — Should It Be Legal?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France’s App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the “Jew or Not Jew?” app violated bans on compiling […]

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Is God A Christian?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often […]

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Remembering 9/11 – Part One

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul’s, the church closest to the World Trade Center site, is […]

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Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can’t help but also ask, “Is this the best we can do?”  United States Mission to the United Nations Office […]

Is Realty TV Really Kosher? The Ethics Of Realty TV

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I know, at first it seems that ethics and reality TV are about as connected as fire and water – one being the antidote for the other.  But perhaps it’s not as simple as that, a conclusion supported by the […]

Hard Core Atheist Secularists and Their Religious Counterparts Become Increasingly Alike

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Secularists, atheists really, are following other ethnic and religious identity groups in using academia to create and/or shore up a particular cultural identity.  For example, noted atheist secularist, and editor of the Humanistic Bible, A. C. Grayling is opening a […]

Litigating God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

An ugly fight over what prayers can be said, and by whom, at Houston’s national cemetery, is getting uglier.  Plaintiffs are now suing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs over what they call “banning God at military funerals” and for making […]

Elul: I Am My Beloved’s and My Beloved Is Mine

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul.  Not only is this a month known to crossword puzzle fans, it is also the month which precedes Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year’s.  Traditionally, the beginning of Elul marks […]

How Rabbis Dress, Then and Now

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The classic image of an Orthodox rabbi is of a man with a long beard and black clothes.  To be sure, that image is common enough, but certainly not the only one.  Speaking personally, while I do have a beard, […]

Mayor Bloomberg, Don’t Shut Out Faith On 9/11

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A version of this post appears on the Fox News Opinion page.  You can read it here, but I also suggest checking out the comments there.  They make for fascinating reading. Through three terms as mayor of New York, Michael […]

Evolution Is Part Of Faith, Not It’s Polar Opposite

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When Rick Perry and the millions of others who resist the concept of evolution, they not only resist science in potentially dangerous ways, they disown a fundamental truth about the faith they follow. That truth? That religions evolve, and acknowledging […]

Who Needs Sabbath?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Who Needs Sabbath?  We all do.  We all need a Sabbath — one that nurtures the body and the soul. But as religious leaders tend to spend more time defining what that means, convincing others to share their definition and […]

Hitting Kids IS NOT A Religious Act, No Matter what Anybody Says

posted by Brad Hirschfield

If you don’t know the names, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, Lydia Schatz, Michael Pearl, or the book, To Train Up A Child, you should.  These are the names of two parents convicted, respectively, of murder and manslaughter in the case […]

Sabbath: Why We All Need One and How To Have One

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We all need a Sabbath, one that nurtures the body and the soul.  But as religious leaders tend to spend more time defining what that means, convincing others to share their definition and condemning those who don’t share it as […]

Demonstrations in Israel Represent New Phase in the Life of a Nation

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Thousands of people remain in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and others are taking to the streets in other major cities across Israel.  Unlike protest movements in other parts of the region, there is not even a hint of […]

Are Jewishness and Israeliness Separable?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Obviously, Jewish and Israeli are not identical.  There are many Jews who live outside of Israel – more than those who do, and there are more than 1 million non-Jewish Israeli citizens.  But how separable are the categories of Jewish […]

Gupta v. Asha Enterprises: Blurring the Line Between Physical and Spiritual

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A New Jersey court, in the case of Gupta v. Asha Enterprises, upheld the right of Hindu vegetarians to sue, and seek monetary damages from, a restaurant which, apparently, served them non-vegetarian samosas.  The reason?  What the court called “spiritual […]

Israel: Leading the World in In Vitro Fertilization

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israel is the world capital of in vitro fertilization, and according to the Today’s NY Times, it doesn’t matter if you are Jewish or not, straight or gay, secular or religious – the modern State of Israel want to help […]

Sometimes Prayer Is Not Enough — This Week Was One Of Those Times

posted by Brad Hirschfield

New York is still shaking and so is much of the Jewish world.  Little Leiby Kletsky of blessed memory, was buried Wednesday evening, but nothing has been put to rest.  How could it be otherwise? The details of the horrific […]

Medieval Jewish Traditions, both Culinary and Spiritual, Continue in Today’s New York Times

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I love the New York Times’ Dining section.  Each Wednesday, I look forward to reading the articles and reviews, most of which food and drink that I can’t eat because it’s not kosher.  But not consuming and nor appreciating are […]

Larry David’s Jewish Universe

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Like the old Levy’s rye bread commercial said, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Larry”.  Okay, they said “to love Levy’s”, but you get the point.  And it’s true, that you don’t need to be Jewish to love […]

Hateful Cartoon by UN Rep. is Tragic but Not Surprising

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I wish it were surprising but it is not.  The cartoon published by Richard Falk, United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, is not only anti-Semitic, as charged by ADL head Abe Foxman, it is also […]

The Book of Mormon, The Musical, Is Good For All Faiths

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Broadway’s hottest new musical is the Book of Mormon, and in the wake of its triumph at the Tony Awards, the temperature continues to rise – as it should.  There are many reasons to like the play, but the most […]

Pray For The Peace of Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today marks the 44th anniversary of Israel’s re-unification/liberation/conquest/occupation of Jerusalem. I use all of those terms, not because I agree that they are all necessarily equally legitimate claims, but because they are equally real to different people — all of […]

Celebrating Jerusalem, In Its Glory and In Its Madness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As Jerusalem Day begins, I share these reflections on the holy city – what it means and what it has meant to different people and different traditions.  Like the city itself, the various comments both compliment and contradict each other.  […]

Memorial Day 2011, A Biblical Approach

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Millions of Americans will head to beaches and barbecues this Memorial Day weekend, perhaps even hundreds of millions, while only hundreds of thousands are likely to attend formal Memorial Day observances devoted to remembering the men and women who have […]

Oprah Winfrey Show’s Final Episode: End Of A Religion?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Wednesday May 25, 2011 the lights will dim in the First Church of Oprah as the Oprah Winfrey Show ends a run began in 1986.  Surprised by that formulation?  Shocked that I would call the show a kind of church?  […]

Did God Create The World?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Okay, to be fair, that is a somewhat hyperbolic question, and one which nobody can claim to have proof or even scientific evidence for.  Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  It simply means that the endless debates about […]

Is Circumcision Really So Awful?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

First San Francisco, now Santa Monica – the attempt to make circumcision illegal, including those performed for religious reasons, is spreading.  Both cities, one last week and the other just today, have movements to get measures on their respective city’s […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Heroic Fall

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Having has been known as The Terminator and as The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now being called by some, The Inseminator.  By whatever name he goes however, he is clearly a hero in the classic sense of the word.  His […]

President Obama on Israel and the Middle East

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama gave a much anticipate address this afternoon – one which responded to a variety of events including the so-called “Arab Spring” and to the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.  You can follow this link to read the […]

New Bible Anyone? This One, Without God!

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A new testament has been published.  No not a new edition of the New Testament, but a new testament — a scripture for secular humanists.  Of course, when it comes to the making of new books, the Book of Ecclesiastes […]

Stephen Hawking says “there is no heaven”. Is he right?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

World famous cosmologist and physicist Stephen Hawking declared “there is no heaven”.  Whether he is correct or not is not something anyone can know for sure.  We can believe as we choose, but we cannot “know” as a matter of […]

What Happens If May 21st Doesn’t Bring The Rapture?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Radio evangelist Harold Camping has calculated what he believes to be the exact date of the rapture: May 21, 2011. His followers are fanning out across the nation, bringing his message of impending doom, and they’re getting more than a […]

When Good Kabbalah Goes Bad?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Kabbalah Centre, a Los Angeles based world-wide Jewish spiritual movement, one not limited to Jews, is in the news again – once more at the center of a controversy.  This one however is not, as past ones have been, […]

President Obama on Israel’s 63rd Birthday

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama issued the following statement in recognition of Israel’s Independence Day – Yom Ha’atzmaut, in Hebrew.  Like so much of what the President has done regarding Israel, the words are all right, (the unbreakable bond between our two nations, […]

Yom HaZikaron 2011: Remembering Israel’s Fallen

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day – a day on which, pretty much regardless of politics, everybody in Israel, or who cares about Israel, takes note of the losses of those who have fallen.  Israel is a small country, […]

Room in the Military for Atheist Chaplains?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Contrary to the old adage, there really are atheists in foxholes, and in many other places in the US military.  It should come as no surprise that military, like the rest of America, includes atheists and secular humanists among its […]

Is It Jewish To Celebrate Osama Bin Laden’s Death?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As celebratory crowds continue to gather around the country, especially near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, and in front of the White House, Americans are sending a message about who we are.  Is it the one we want to send?  […]

President Obama on Holocaust Remembrance Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The White House just released the following from President Obama regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day: “ I join people here at home, in Israel, and around the world in commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day and in honoring the memory of all those […]

Richard Goldstone’s Regret: What It Could Mean for Israel, Palestine, and Us

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Richard Goldstone, author of the now famous/infamous report on the 2008/2009 war between Israel and Hamas, has expressed regret about the document he submitted to the United Nations.   In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Goldstone wrote, “If I […]

Is Religion Headed For Extinction?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Whether or not religion is headed for extinction is one of those questions adored by both fans and foes of religion alike, and now they have a new study to add fuel to their ongoing debate. But before either group […]

Values Matter Most

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was correct when he told people gathered at the Conservative Principles Conference, held this week in Iowa, that “If you don’t start with values, if you don’t start by saying who we are […]

Heaven, Hell and Rob Bell

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, continues to stir controversy and provoke debate in many religious circles. Whether Bell is correct or not about who gets into heaven and who will go to Hell is not something which anyone can […]

Fasting Like Esther, A Biblical Practice We Need Today

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today, March 17th 2011, is Ta’anit Esther, the Fast of Esther, observed before Purim which begins this Saturday night. This is one of those years when the fast before the feast feels especially needed and especially important. The practice is […]

Gilad Shalit, Five Years Into Captivity

posted by Brad Hirschfield

March 15, 2011 marks the fifth anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping. To mark the anniversary, Israelis participated in a national moment of silence this morning. People were asked to stop working, pull their cars to the side of the road, […]

The “Tefillin Scare” on Alaska Airlines

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Were the three men wrapping themselves in leather straps and mumbling in a foreign language on Alaska Airlines Flight 241, a security threat or were they Orthodox Jews preparing to pray in their tefillin, — amulets bound to the arm […]

God Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For those keeping score, this is a good week for God in the American legal system. Or perhaps a better summary would be that it is a bad week for knee jerk anti-religionists. In the last 96 hours, The Supreme […]

Brandeis Hillel Turns Away Jewish Voice for Peace

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Brandies University Hillel rejected an application for membership by Jewish Voice for Peace, an activist group which sometimes calls itself pro-Israel and is certainly pro-Palestinian. Brandeis Hillel leaders felt that offering membership to JVP would be inconsistent with their national […]

King’s Hearings on Radical Islam in America

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With Rep. Peter King beginning hearings tomorrow, March 10 — hearings which will examine the issue of radicalization within the American Muslim community, two things should be stated very clearly: Islamic terror is real and so is Islamophobia. Denying the […]

Shoah in Iran

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Shoah, Claude Lanzmann’s epic documentary about the Holocaust, dubbed into Farsi, is to be broadcast on a satellite channel in Iran as part of a campaign to promote understanding between Jews and Muslims and to fight Holocaust denial. While it’s […]

Westboro Baptist Church Ruling Challenges Us All

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today’s 8-1 Supreme Court ruling defends free speech, not Westboro Baptist Church, its ideology or even its right to continue protesting at the funerals of fallen military personnel. Writing for the Majority, Chief Justice John Roberts was very clear about […]

Jewish-Catholic Dialogue Redefined

posted by Brad Hirschfield

French Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim has suggested that the past forty years of unprecedented Jewish-Catholic dialogue could be undermined if it did not progress to a next level of maturity. Speaking at a gathering in Paris, France, Rabbi Bernheim was […]

Does Charlie Sheen Hate Jews?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Headlines from a variety of entertainment, business and news sources are announcing the cancelation of Charlie Sheen’s long-running television program; Two and a Half Men. The reason why? A crazy rant delivered by the abusive and often drunk or high […]

Does God Surprise You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A variety of leading Ultra-Orthodox rabbis are speaking out regarding the political unrest which is spreading and deepening throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Their conclusion? It’s God signaling the coming of the Messiah and punishing the region for […]

Top 10 Anti-Semitic Rants of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has released its list of 2010’s “Top 10 Anti-Semitic Slurs“. Aside from wondering whether it should be called a “top 10″ or a “bottom 10″ list, I find the list, or really the spin used by […]

Prayer in Public Schools — The Democratic Way To Go?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Amidst the growing excitement these days about democracy breaking out all over the world, one might be tempted to call for greater respect for “the will of the people” right here at home. New polling by Rasmussen indicates that 65% […]

A New Détente Between The U.S. and Muslim World?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The past 30 days may go down in history as among the most significant 30 days in modern history. The events occurring all over North Africa and the Middle East are pretty amazing, to be sure. On the other hand, […]

Can Faith Trust Freedom?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This weekend was the 25th anniversary of world-renown human rights activist and Jewish hero, Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky’s release from the Soviet Union. In a fascinating interview with Jerusalem Post editor, David Horovitz, Sharansky speaks not only about his own struggles […]

Honor Killings and The Death Of A Friend

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan was convicted of second degree murder on Monday. The conviction of the Buffalo TV executive who beheaded his wife, Aasiya Zubair, brings some measure of closure to a horrible story which continues to haunt me. For several […]

Free Speech in Israel — How Much and At What Cost?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israeli Police intend to arrest settler leader, Rabbi Dov Lior, if he continues to ignore requests to interview him about his support of the controversial book, Torat HaMelekh (The King’s Torah). The book preaches rules of military engagement which run […]

Teruma: Finding That God Lives Where Hearts Open

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This week, synagogues around the world will read Exodus 25:1 – 27:19, Parashat Teruma, a reading which describes how and where to find God. Speaking with Moses, God says “Let them (the Israelites) make me a sacred place that I […]

Mohammed El Baradei a Stooge?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The director of the U.S. Jewish foreign policy umbrella called Mohammed ElBaradei, the opposition leader emerging from the Egyptian ferment, a “stooge of Iran.” Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American […]

Joel Osteen On Piers Morgan Tonight: “Homosexuality Is A Sin”

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In an interview with Piers Morgan, airing tonight on CNN, January 26th, Joel Osteen declares that homosexuality is a sin. When Morgan asks him if he thinks that the interviewer’s friend, Elton John, was a sinner, Osteen declared that he […]

Davos and Judaism: Where the Action Is, and Where It’s Not

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This morning’s New York Times included Andrew Ross Sorkin’s fascinating take on the upcoming World Economic Forum meeting held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Delving into the real costs of attending what might be thought of as a festival of hobnobbing […]

Who Are Your “Brothers and Sisters”? Ask Governor Bentley

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Who is included in your spiritual family? Who are your brothers and sisters? What is your relationship to those who are not? Events this week in Alabama evoke all these questions. Alabama’s newly sworn-in Governor, Robert Bentley, declared that “Anybody […]

When the Messiah Comes…

posted by Brad Hirschfield

My Friend and colleague, Paul Raushenbush, Religion Editor at the Huffington Post, published a fascinating piece on the difficulty of intra-religious dialogue. Yes, intra-religious, not inter-religious. As Raushenbush acknowledges, the conversations we have with those within our respective spiritual communities […]

Sarah Palin’s Charge of Blood Libel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Sarah Palin describes those who have blamed her for Jared Lee Loughner’s Tuscon shooting spree as guilty of spreading a blood libel. Ms. Palin said that, “Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite […]

After Tucson, who to blame is not the most important question

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Violence, like the weekend shooting in Arizona, is scary. Random violence, like the death of nine year-old Christina Green who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time this weekend is particularly terrifying. In the face […]

Is Kosher Slaughter Inhumane?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

French film star and former sex symbol Brigitte Bardot is leading a very public campaign against both kosher and halal slaughtering. More othan 2,000 posters have been plastered throughout France since Jan. 4 to “inform” people of the “Middle Age” […]

Synagogue to Bless Animals

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In honor of Tu b’Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat which coincides this year with January 20th, and is often called the Jewish Arbor day, Congregation Dor Hadash in San Diego California will hold a Blessing […]

Stopping Religion-Inspired Violence Must Be a Religious Priority

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As the New Year dawned, there was a surge of religious violence around the world – largely Muslim on Christian. Blood was spilled in Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan. Being Jewish however, doesn’t keep me from losing sleep about these […]

Getting Angry at God is Good

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Anger at God is nothing new. In the Hebrew Bible it goes back at least as far as Abraham, who, according to Genesis 18:23, was angry at God for God’s readiness to destroy the innocent people of Sodom along with […]

The Biggest Jewish Story of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As I wrote about yesterday, I would not necessarily agree with the religion writers of America who have declared that Park 51, also known as the Ground Zero Mosque, was the biggest religion story of the year. But having been […]

Biggest Religion Story of 2010? Koran Burning Pastor, Terry Jones

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Religion Newswriters Association lists the top 10 relgion stories of 2011, and I was disappointed, but not surprised when Pastor Terry Jones did not appear on the list. Jones is the Florida-based minister who planned a public Koran burning […]

Jewish Sexual Mores

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The announcement of a talk about Jewish sexual mores, to be given by Rabbi Yona Reiss of Yeshiva University, provoked an interesting exchange in which I participated. It dealt with issues of Homosexuality, which one recipient of an invitation to […]

Obama Ends DADT, Opposes Gay Marriage

posted by Brad Hirschfield

After affixing his signature to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which barred openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military, President Obama admitted that he still opposes same-sex marriages. Saying that his “feelings (about […]

Certifying Food as Ethically Kosher

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What does it really mean for your Hebrew National hot dog to “answer to a higher authority?” For years, it’s meant a kosher certification that ensured Jewish (and non-Jewish) consumers were buying a product that met strict religious standards for […]

Time to Get Rid of the Rabbinate?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today’s Haaretz features an op-ed suggesting that the time has come to shut down Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. The article, written by Yithak Laor is filled with misconceptions about the workings of Jewish jurisprudence e.g. that rabbis don’t feel obliged to […]

What’s Your Calling?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Ever wonder why people choose to become rabbis, priests, ministers or imams? Ever consider what it means to think of your own work as more than a job, but as a calling? Although it’s often assumed to be a real […]

Best Jewish Book of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Most Best Of lists tell us more about the list-makers than about anything else, and this one is probably no different, but that doesn’t it isn’t useful in thinking about what were the best Jewish books of 2010. The truth […]

What’s a Jewish Christmas?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

While not always asked in quite that way, Christmas has played a role in the thought and practice of Jews for almost two thousand years. From being a day which inspired terror on the part of oppressed Jewish minorities living […]

Leave Dying Nazis Alone

posted by Brad Hirschfield

While there may be some exceptions, to this suggestion, the story of Mark Gould and his eight year pursuit of one old Nazi, is not one of them. Gould claims that he spent eight years “under cover” building a case […]

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A forest fire in Israel has already claimed 41 lives, including Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer who was buried today, and is, according to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a punishment from God. Rabbi Yosef, one of the world’s most influential rabbis, […]

America’s 30 Most Jewish Cities

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What’s a “Jewish city”, you may ask. Is it based on the number of Jews that reside there? Perhaps it is a city which celebrates Jewish holidays or favors classically Jewish foods? Is a city more Jewish because of the […]

Did Jesus Celebrate Hanukkah? And 9 Other Most Popular Holiday Questions

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This list, taken from one of web’s leading search engines, reflects the 10 most asked questions related to Hanukkah. I take full responsibility for the answers and look forward to you adding your own. 1. When does Hanukkah begin? Hanukkah […]

Hanukkah 2010: Discover 8 Nights of Meaning and Light

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As we celebrate Hanukkah 5771, we also begin to wind up the first decade of the 21st century, and what a decade it has been. America went to war and remains so to this day. Israel and the Palestinians are […]

Hanukkah Light Can Chase Away Life’s Darkness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hanukkah has many meanings and has celebrated many different values over the years – military victory, political independence, religious freedom, reunification with God, the capacity of people to create their own destiny, the ultimate victory of good over evil, and […]

Who Is A Jew and Who Decides

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Israeli government’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill on Sunday, which would protect all people who have converted to Judaism under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces and the conversion course which it […]

How To Stay Thankful, On Thanksgiving and Beyond

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Thanksgiving is here and I love the holiday. I also appreciate that being thankful can be challenging in difficult times, whether the challenges are related to finances, health, or relationships. But it’s precisely when we find ourselves in challenging circumstances […]

Government dollars to build Park 51?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Developers of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque“, also known as “Park 51″, are seeking federal funds designated for the redevelopment of lower Manhattan. And like most issues in the ongoing controversy around this project, the loudest voices on both sides […]

Jewish Jokes: What Makes Them Funny, Or Not

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I have been back and forth today with a group of friends over the following Jewish joke, why some of them find it hilarious and why I just don’t. I mean, it’s cute and all, but LOL funny? You decide, […]

When Broken Is Whole, A Biblical Perspective

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This week’s Torah reading, Vayishlach, found in Genesis 32:4 – 36:43, includes the well known story of Jacob wrestling with….what the Torah call “a man”, many classical commentaries label an angel, and what others have suggested may have been God […]

Exodus 12:49 and Israel’s Attorney General

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israeli Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, ordered the evacuation and sealing of a Jewish apartment building in the predominantly Arab Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Known by settlers as Beit Yonatan, the 7-story building is home to families linked to Yeshivat Ateret […]

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and How Faith Fits In

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The fact that leading politicians and military figures have raised questions about allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military is not the least bit surprising. Moving away from “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the full inclusion […]

Faith Groups Split on Resolving N.Y. Islamic Center Controversy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Gallup organization has released polling data on how the members of various faith communities would resolve tensions around the construction of an Islamic center planned for a site three blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks in New […]

Absolute Truth – Does It Exist? What Does It Mean?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I had an exchange with a ministry student recently about absolute truth, the nature of faith and what it means to believe. Bearing in mind the obvious differences between our chosen traditions, the struggle with what it means to believe […]

Are Indians Meant To Be Poor?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama’s visit there has put India in the spotlight and among the things of which to take note is the surging scourge of Type 2 diabetes among India’s 1.15 billion people. Outpacing the incidence of Australia, and nearly double […]

Jewish Rock Radio — What It’s All About

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Over 90 million Americans listen to internet radio, and now there is a station dedicated specifically to Jewish rock music. What is Jewish rock music? Is it rock music made by Jews? Is it rock music exclusively for Jews? Is […]

How Would God Vote?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Aside from the obvious jokes about how crowded it can get when God joins us in the voting booth, many religious people bring their faith with them when they cast their ballots. In fact, how could it be otherwise? Voting […]

Voting More Sacred Than Victory

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With only hours to go in what will certainly be among the most significant mid-term elections in many years, Americans need to recall that voting, not victory is what’s most sacred to a democracy. By sacred, I do not mean […]

Burn a Witch, Have a Beer, All in Good Fun, Right?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Witch’s Wit beer may be tasty, but the label is distasteful. See for yourself: I am sure that the beer-makers were not inspired by malice toward witches or any other Pagan practitioners, but in a world in which people are […]

The Jewish Claim to Israel — What Some Catholic Bishops Say

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The following story from Religion News Service about how at least some Catholic Bishops understand who Jews are, how God relates to them, and what special connection Jews have to Israel, or in this case, should not have to Israel. […]

Finding God with Google

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Like pretty much everything else, God can be found on Google. And this week, with the help of Google Street View, you don’t even have to search for images of the Divine to find you. This image, captured by the […]

The Finkler Question and What It Means To Be Jewish

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Howard Jacobson’s The Finlker Question just won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Pretty wild considering it’s a British award and the book is entirely devoted to the meaning of being Jewish in the 21st century. That is Finkler’s question. I […]

Rand Paul and Jack Conway Bring Faith Down

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Trading barbs about who is and who is not a decent human being and a good Christian, Kentucky Senate candidates Rand Paul and Jack Conway, demonstrated how NOT to mix religion and politics. Politcs Daily Editor-in-Chief, Melinda Henneberger captured the […]

Finding Faith On Our Own Terms

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I am traveling in Israel this week leading a group of American Jews committed to making the world a better place – a place of greater dignity for all people, a world in which Jews feel more deeply connected to […]

What Counts as a “Church”?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What counts as a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, can be decided in many ways. Synagogue, the category closest to my heart, is simply a Greek word for a gathering, and the Hebrew term beit kenesset means the same thing. […]

Christine O’Donnell’s God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell invoked God and God’s will in explaining her political aspirations. Some find her remarks beautiful and others, including the majority of On Faith panelists; find it quite disturbing – some going so far as […]

Avoiding the Flood

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This week’s Torah reading centers on Noah, the flood and its aftermath. While there are many comments one could, and even should, make about a story which introduces the concept of God as a remorseful, rage-filled, killer who stops just […]

Is Tolerance Good Enough?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Whom do you find virtually intolerable when it comes to faith, politics or any of the other topics which we are often told are not good topics for polite conversation? If you are like most Americans, whoever is on your […]

Sex with Enemies Okay According to Israeli Rabbi

posted by Brad Hirschfield

No, it’s not a joke. Rabbi Ari Shvat has ruled that it is permissible for female agents of Israel’s spy service, Mossad, to use sex as a tool to fight terror. So-called “Honey Pot Sex” in which terrorists or potential […]

Who Knows God and Who Knows About God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Pew poll of religious knowledge, in which atheists/agnostics scored ever-so-slightly higher than Jews and Mormons demonstrates at least four significant facts about what we know and why we know it. Appreciating these facts would go a long way toward […]

Sexual Abuse Case Against Rabbi Dropped, But Not Over

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The sexual abuse case against Rabbi Bryan Bramly was dropped, but it is not over – certainly not for the rabbi and his family, nor for anyone who is concerned about sexual abuse by clergy. The case against Bryan Bramly […]

Fortune Cookies and Fortune Tellers, Same as Judaism and Christianity?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Woody Allen, interviewed by Dave Itzkoff, in today’s New York Times was a bit uncomfortable when wished a happy Jewish New Year by his interviewer, responding “That’s for your people”. However, he went to say some very interesting things about […]

Are You As Brave As God?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There are all kinds of bravery. There is physical bravery which allows firefighters to run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out, or empowers young soldiers to put themselves in harm’s way even when they can avoid doing […]

How Religious Are Israelis? How religious Are You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Just-released polling data shows that when asked, only 42% of Israelis defined themselves as secular, and of those 82% conduct a Passover Seder and 24% attend synagogue services over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur! What’s all this mean and why […]

Read President Obama’s Rosh Hashanah Message, One Not To Be Missed

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Whatever one thinks of President Obama, his Rosh Hashanah message is a deeply Jewish, biblically aware, liturgically sensitive statement which cannot help but move any spiritually inclined person. Without stepping away from his identity as a Christian, president Obama addresses […]

Rosh Hashanah 2010, Why We All Need This One, Jewish or Not

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Jewish holidays are not only for Jews. Of course they are Jewish and they do play a critical role in constituting the Jewish people, but Jewish holidays, at least the biblical ones, are not only about that. Rosh Hashanah […]

Conscientious Objection to War by American Muslims and Israeli Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pfc. Naser Abdo, a Muslim soldier from Texas, is a 20-year-old infantryman assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. He filed for conscientious objector status in June because he believes that his faith and the military simply […]

Burn a Koran? What If It Were a Torah?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I am ambivalent about giving any additional attention to a hate-filled, fear-driven, religious leader like Pastor Terry Jones. Once the Gainesville, Florida minister is being covered by the New York Times however, it seems that coverage is assured. The only […]

Coin Honors Romanian Jew-Hater, Miron Cristea

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Romania’s central bank on Thursday said it would not withdraw from circulation a coin featuring an image of a prime minister who stripped Jews of their citizenship before World War II, stressing it had not intended to send an anti-Semitic […]

Teaching Talmud in Korea?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rabbi Marvin Tokayer is a rabbi with long-held interest in Asia and now that interest includes teaching Talmud to Koreans – almost none of whom have ever met a Jew! Is this crazy or actually quite inspired? If one assumes […]

When Rabbis Cheat, Who Is To Blame?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rabbi Marc Schneier is in the news again, and it’s not a good story. The Rabbi was caught in a passionate embrace with a congregant with whom, it is alleged, he has been carrying on an affair and even gotten […]

Is Generosity The Newest Status Symbol?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Wall Street Journal wealth columnist Robert Frank, author of “Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich,” said the recession had helped spur America’s rich to search for new status symbols. “Yachts, private […]

Eat, Pray, Love…and then what?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Eat, Pray, Love is all the rage, again. After its run on bestseller lists a few years back, it is set to be a major movie success, starring Julia Roberts. It makes one wonder why, and whether or not it […]

Orthodox Leaders on Homosexuality

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With the release of a declaration on homosexuality and the inherent dignity of gay men and lesbians, by more than 100 Orthodox rabbis, educators and mental health professionals in the United States and Israel, a segment of the Orthodox community […]

Will Chelsea and Mark’s Intermarriage Last?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Chelsea Clinton was raised Methodist, and Marc Mezvinsky, the man she will marry this weekend, was raised Jewish. Among the questions being raised, even before they have the ceremony is, “Will it last?” In a world in which about half […]

Oliver Stone Puts Hitler “In Context”

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Oliver Stone may be a nut job, and he has certainly made some wonderful movies. Of late however, he seems to be moving from whacky conspiracy theories to rather more ugly ones. What do I mean? Stone’s newest project, a […]

Building the Third Temple in Sao Paulo

posted by Brad Hirschfield

First there was Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed in 587 BCE and rebuilt in stages commencing some 70 years later and culminating in what came to be known as Herod’s Temple some 400 years later, and destroyed in 70 CE. […]

Gingrich Wrong on “Ground Zero Mosque”, Mostly

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Newt Gingrich has taken what might be termed an ‘interesting’ position with respect to the Islamic building which people are trying to build down the block from Ground Zero. I refer to it as an Islamic building because the ongoing […]

Another List of 50 Influential Rabbis, All Women

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Sisterhood, a Forward blog devoted to what it describes as “women’s issues, has published its own list of 50 influential rabbis to parallel the one featured for the last four years in Newsweek. And like all such lists, the […]

Why Religious Institutions Fail: A Tisha B’av Reflection

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av coincides this year with sundown on July 19th, recalls the collapse of ancient Judaism’ central religious institution — the Jerusalem Temple. The First Temple, built by King Solomon and destroyed by […]

Tisha B’Av 2010 – Why Mourning AND Recovery are Sacred

posted by Brad Hirschfield

How does a nation mourn a national tragedy? How much is enough? How much is too much? How does mourning help us to move on – to move back into life? These are the big questions which animate Tisha B’Av, […]

The Religion-Science Debate 85 Years After Scopes

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Eighty-five years ago this week, John Scopes was hauled into a Tennessee court, and accused of violating the state’s Butler Act, which made it illegal to teach evolution. So much and so little have changed since then, but one thing […]

CNN’s John King is VERY Jewish

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I know, the term very Jewish is an oxymoron. Something either is or is not Jewish, and we all know the definitions, right? Not so fast. To be sure, many communities look to a fixed understanding of Jewishness, even if […]

Remembering HaRav Yehuda Amital – A Gentle Giant

posted by Brad Hirschfield

HaRav Yehuda Amital, who was buried Friday, is mourned by thousands. Some mourn the loss of their teacher, some of one of Israel’s great public intellectuals. Some mourn the loss of the founder of Israel’s religious peace movement, Meimad, while […]

Who Keeps Kosher and Why

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In an intriguing New York Times op-ed published in honor the 4th of July, author Sue Fishkoff makes a number of claims about Kashrut and why Americans, Jewish and otherwise, observe it. Like so many observers of American Jewish life […]

The Things We Do For God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The things we do for God, or imagine that we do for God, or do for an imagined God – it doesn’t matter which, since it’s largely the same thing, range from the very best things in the world to […]

Why We Remember and Why We Forget: Korea and Much More

posted by Brad Hirschfield

6o years ago today, North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th parallel and began the Korean War – what has come to be called America’s Forgotten War. Oddly, by naming it the Forgotten War, it began to be remembered and that […]

Jon Voight Ignored Rabbinic Wisdom in His Letter to the President

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Actor Jon Voight attacked President Obama in an open letter published in the Washington Times. Telling the President that he “will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when (he) […]

Slonimer Rebbe Says He’s Ready to Face Firing Squad

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Slonimer Rebbe, leader of the protests against Israel civil authorities and the Israeli Supreme Court ruling demanding the de-segregation of Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) schools in Immanuel, declared that “Even if they put us in front of a firing squad, we […]

Father’s Day Lessons From the Bible’s Lousy Dads

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Father’s Day is not only a great time to celebrate fatherhood, and the actual fathers in our lives, but a good opportunity to think about what being a father really means and how to get better at it. The Bible […]

Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally in Support of Racism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Tens of Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Hareidim) rallied in both Jerusalem and B’nei B’rak to assure that the schools they attend would continue to segregate students along racial-ethnic lines. It’s hard to know where to begin a response to this […]

Remembering the Lubavitcher Rebbe 16 Years After His Death

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The third day of the Hebrew month Tammuz, this year corresponding to the 15th of June, is the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavticher Rebbe. While most Hasidic Rebbes lead their respective communities, Rabbi […]

Prince Charles’ Islamic Environmentalism Not the Real Problem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In a speech before the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, Prince Charles of England declared “the Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasures of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity.” About that, there should […]

Struggle Over Proposed Mosque In Staten Island

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A group called the Muslim American Society wants to build a mosque on the grounds of an old convent in Staten Island, New York. Having purchased the building from the church, they went before a packed community meeting last night […]

Gay Pride Precludes Israeli Gay Pride

posted by Brad Hirschfield

June is Gay Pride month, but sadly even those committed to the fullest and freest expression of individual identity are not immune from bashing Israel or a profound lack of moral courage. Organizers of the Madrid pride parade, said to […]

Helen Thomas Retired, As Well She Should Have

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Helen Thomas has resigned, effective immediately, from her position as a syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corporation. The step, taken in the aftermath of her recent comments suggesting that Jews should get out of Israel and “go back home, to […]

Ayatollah Khomeini Mourned by Millions 21 Years After His Death

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Millions turned out to publicly mourn the passing, 21 years ago, of Ayatollah Khomeni who led the revolution which overthrew the despotic Shah of Iran and replaced him with a totalitarian Islamic theocracy. Worth the trade? I hardly think so. […]

Saving Israel, From Itself or From Nicholas Kristof?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As usual with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, when it comes to Israel, today’s offering, entitled “Saving Israel From Itself”,” presents a disturbing mix of reasonable conclusions (blockade is generally destructive to all, including Israel), ugly and erroneous equivalences […]

Israeli Raid on Gaza Flotilla, A Rorschach Test on Middle East Conflict

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The response to the raid on a flotilla of ships seeking to break the naval blockade around Gaza turns out to be a fascinating, if troubling Rorshach test on the entire Middle East conflict. You know Rorshcach tests – those […]

A Jewish/Biblical Practice for Memorial Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. So go the words of Exodus 20:8, and in the rabbinic understanding of how to fulfill them, there is an important message that will help us make this Memorial Day a little […]

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month with President Obama and Sandy Koufax

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Yesterday at the White House was a moving experience, and a great deal more pleasant than the six hours it took to get home! But that is another story in the worsening state of air travel in America and not […]

American Idol 2010 Winner Lee DeWyze and the Bible

posted by Brad Hirschfield

So its official, American Idol 2010 has a winner and it’s Lee DeWyze. DeWyzes’ victory over the other finalist, Crystal Bowersox, came as no huge surprise to many of the show’s fans and followers in the media. Even though many […]

A Bible-based Immigration Policy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Bible is being increasingly used to “prove” what a moral, ethical, spiritual, Jewish or Christian (take your pick) stance on US immigration policy would look like. More often than not, such Bible thumping generates more heat than light. But […]

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I will be spending Thursday afternoon at the White House as part of a group invited by President Obama to join him in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month. I feel deeply honored to have received this invitation. And whatever […]

Rare Color Footage From Israel, 1946-1948

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This recently discovered color footage from Israel is remarkable stuff! There are many good reasons to watch it. Among them is the story of it’s discovery in a Boston attic, Shimon Peres’ words at the 11 minute mark in which […]

Hearing God’s Call on Shavuot 2010 and on Pentecost Too

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Shavuot 2010 (Pentecost) begins Tuesday night, May 18th. This holiday, originally the festival of first fruits in the Hebrew Bible came to be associated with the story of God giving the Ten Commandments to the ancient Israelites as recorded in […]

If God Spoke To You

posted by Brad Hirschfield

If God spoke to you, what would you want to hear? Given that Jews are in the final three day countdown to Shavuot and its celebration of revelation at Sinai, it seems like a good time to ask. The final […]

Jewish Playboy Bunnies

posted by Brad Hirschfield

No, I am not talking about Barbi Benton or Linsay Vuolo, both whom I know, both whom are Jewish and both of whom have posed for Playboy. Though that is not how I know them. These are a slightly different […]

Is Treyf The New Kosher?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

No, I’m not kidding. Exaggerating a little perhaps, but not kidding. Yes, I know that Treyf (Hebrew for that which is not Kosher) is not a new kind of biblically or rabbinically endorsed way of keeping the traditional laws of […]

Elena Kagan’s Bat Mitzvah Celebrated Empathy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Although most stories of Elena Kagan’s bat mitzvah focus on her determination to wrest as much gender equity as possible from the Orthodox synagogue at which the event was celebrated, the better story is the one told by the rabbi […]

Jerusalem Quotes for Jerusalem Day 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, the national day which celebrates the unification of Jerusalem and its return to Israeli control in the wake of the 1967, Six-Day War. I love Jerusalem, and called the city my home for a […]

Third Jew Will Create Protestant-Free SCOTUS Where Gender Trumps Faith

posted by Brad Hirschfield

If confirmed, Elena Kagan will usher in a new era in the history of the United States Supreme Court, both in terms if inclusion and exclusion. It will be the first time in history that three women have served on […]

What Does Being Jewish Mean?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Can being Jewish mean whatever each of us wants? According to a just-launched consciousness raising and community building initiative launched by Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), it can. The online initiative, unitizing Facebook and Twitter, says that “Being Jewish […]

A Mosque at Ground Zero? What do you think?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This morning’s news carried a story of one Imam’s hope to build a $100 Million, 13 story mosque as part of the redevelopment of “Ground Zero” – the former site of New York’s Twin Towers in which thousands of people […]

Mother’s Day 2010 – Is It Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

How could it not be? That doesn’t mean that it’s also not Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Pagan, Buddhist, etc. It’s not a zero sum thing, as it rarely is in these things. But that is for another time. I know that […]

Why I Support A National Day of Prayer, and What Troubles Me About This One

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Prayer is good. I am not describing to whom it should be offered, or even if it is important that it be offered to some external being at all. I am not touching the issue of in whose name such […]

Whose Holocaust Is It?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

April is over, and we have passed through the month of Genocide memorials — the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide in Armenia and the more recent one in Rwanda to name a few. The following article describes the challenge, and the […]

Lag B’Omer 2010: Celebrate Being Kind

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Sunday May 2, 2010 will also be Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day in the 49 day countdown (mentioned in Leviticus 23:15-16) from Pesach to Shavuot, or Passover to Pentecost if you prefer. According to the Talmud, it was on […]

Does Sholom Rubashikn Deserve a Life Sentence?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Apparently, Federal prosecutors in the case against the former CEO of Agriprocessors think so. Citing Mr. Rubashkin’s “blatant lawlessness, utter lack of remorse, his egregious and repeated attempts to obstruct justice,” they have asked Judge Linda R. Reade to impose […]

Disinviting Franklin Graham from National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Forget disinviting Franklin Graham from the Pentagon observance of the National Day of Prayer, he should never have been invited to begin with! And that initial invitation is what raises concern. Franklin Graham is who he is and believes what […]

Is Homosexuality an Abomination? Sitting in Synagogue, Reading Leviticus 18:22

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The issue of gayness is among the most polarizing issues in our society, especially among people who describe themselves as religious. Without addressing what the “right” answers are, there is no question that there are few issues over which we […]

New Hamas Video, Technically Sophisticated and Morally Repugnant

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hamas has released an artfully produced and brutally callous cartoon video depicting the death of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which it says will surely happen if Israel does not meet unstated demands that would secure his release. The fact […]

What Does Judaism Say About Sex?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I was asked that question this week by the Newsweek.WahsingtonPost.com’s On Faith section. And while there is no way to answer that question in a few hundred words, or even with a single answer, there are certain things that we […]

Earth Day 2010: Is the Earth Angry?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Of course not! The very idea that the Earth is capable of emotion is anathema to Jewish thought. But that idea that humans could commit acts which would cause the earth to respond by vomiting is not. Think Leviticus 18:28 […]

My Tempestuous Love Affair With Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Well, it’s the morning after – the morning after Yom Ha’atmaut, Israel Independence Day. That seems like the appropriate time to declare that even after the celebrations (and counter-demonstrations) have abated, Israel really is deserving of the love, admiration, and […]

Celebrating Israel at 62 — Yom Ha’atzmaut 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is not only April 20, 2010, it is also the 5th of Iyar 5770, which means that according to the Hebrew calendar it is also Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day. I will share my own reasons for celebrating […]

Families Mourn Israel’s Fallen on Yom HaZikaron

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. The following story of a mother, Miriam Peretz, who has lost two sons, is a powerful one for many reasons. I am less certain about the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. […]

Finding Comfort Following Tragedy – Two New Nachamus

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Shabbat after Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) is always a little bitter-sweet for me. The move from profound tragedy to a taste of the World To Come, as Shabbat is sometimes called is not so simple. How do we […]

Jewish Kids in Church Okay, But Surreptitious Baptism?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Case of little Ela Reyes raises many thorny contemporary issues about church/state entanglement, parenting in a multicultural world, and the challenge of real religious pluralism. Ela’s parents, Rebecca Reyes (born Jewish) and her now ex-husband Joseph Reyes (raised Catholic, […]

Clergy Abusing Children: Not For Catholics Only

posted by Brad Hirschfield

While nothing has been proved, the story of an Arizona rabbi accused of molesting a child became that much more real today when Rabbi Bryan Bramly was extradited to New York City, where the crime is alleged to have occurred. […]

Super-Sizing Matzah, Cups of Wine and Even Portions at the Last Supper

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For years, people have noted that in many Jewish circles, the minimum amount of food required to fulfill one’s obligation with respect to eating-related mitzvot has been on the rise. This trend can be seen for example, in the amounts […]

This Passover, Bring New Meaning to Parsley and Bitter Herbs

posted by Brad Hirschfield

How is this night different from all other nights? This classic inquiry, which opens the Four Questions recited at the Passover Seder focuses on how that meal differs from all other festive family dinners, let alone the regular ones. But […]

The Matzo Scandal of Passover 2010 — Beware Fake Matzo…and Fake People

posted by Brad Hirschfield

7 tons of fake matzo (also spelled matzah, especially by those who speak modern Hebrew) was discovered when Israeli authorities raided a factory today. No, I am not kidding, even though this sounds like a joke. A team composed of […]

The Simpsons Visit Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

On March 28th Homer Simpson and the rest of his yellow-headed family will head to Jerusalem. It’s actually not so surprising. Travels, and the lessons learned along the way, have been an important part of this cartoon family’s journey of […]

How Young Is Too Young To Get Married?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A trend that was until recently limited to the Hasidic world, is emerging in other parts of the Jewish community. It involves the age at which people are getting married. And it translates into kids (yes, i know thta’s my […]

New Music, But Is It Jewish? Is It Even New?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There is tons of “new” music being produced and presented as “new Jewish music”, but is it either? Can it be considered “new” when it it draws so heavily and obviously on traditional Jewish music? And what makes music, or […]

Concerned About the U.S. – Israel Relationship

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When generally wise and level-headed Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, declares that relations between the two countries are at a 35 year low point, a certain measure of concern seems warranted by even the most confident and […]

Cursing Jews in the Name of God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

According to the guests gathered in a Great Neck, Long Island home who came together to celebrate a little girl’s first birthday, Rabbi Mordechai Aderet stormed in to the party and rained down curses like an ancient biblical prophet. Sharon […]

Texas Showdown about God and History

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Board of Education for the State of Texas enters the second of a three-day meeting devoted to the state’s social studies curriculum which includes U.S. history, government and much more. As the nation’s second largest purchaser of public school […]

Intermarriage and Proselytizing in Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This morning’s press release from the 121st meeting of the Central Conference of Reform Rabbis made me smile. Whatever one thinks about the substance of their statement on intermarriage, there are lessons there for all of us – lessons about […]

What Message Should VP Biden Carry or Be Given?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Before arriving in Israel for 5 days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Vice President Joe Biden reached out to leading members of the Jewish community for guidance. Frankly, I hope that he also reached out to leaders in […]

Blaming Rape Victims Because of Their “Ungodly Dress”

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Imagine being handed a pamphlet which asserted that rape victims should look to their clothing as an explanation for being raped. Imagine being handed that pamphlet as you pulled up at the drive-thru window of a local fast food place. […]

Watching the Academy Awards and Waiting for the Messiah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

On Sunday, tens of millions of viewers will sit down to watch the Academy Awards. Endless attention will be paid to the celebrities walking down the Red Carpet, who they’re with, and what they’re wearing, with plenty of follow up […]

Hating Science in the Name of God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For religionists to position themselves against scientists is a very old tradition, but it feels like things are getting worse. Today’s New York Times features a front page story under the headline: Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets. The story […]

What Is Talmud For?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There are many answers to the question and the next question which it evokes i.e. why study Talmud?, but I have not seen any better than the one offered by Professor Jacob Neusner, one of the most important talmudists of […]

What Maureen Dowd Doesn’t Get

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Writing in today’s New York Yimes, Maureen Dowd fails to appreciate that simply because someone draws a comparison between two things, does mean that the two are meaningfully comparable. I may compare the severity of breaking my toe to someone […]

Hamas Founder’s Son Spied for Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Mosab Yousef, whose father was among the founders of Hamas, was a Shin Bet spy for ten years. Along the way, he also converted to Christianity, having been moved by the notion of loving ones enemies. While the obvious Oedipal […]

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More blogs to enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 1:28:03pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France's App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the "Jew or Not Jew?" app violated bans on compiling information on people's religion and rev

posted 1:18:48am Sep. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Is God A Christian?
R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often confuse God’s religious identity with their own, leading t

posted 11:59:56am Sep. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Remembering 9/11 - Part One
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul's, the church closest to the World Trade Center site, is a wonderful example of rising to that challen

posted 2:40:58pm Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can't help but also ask, "Is this the best we can do?"  United States Mission to the United Nations Office of Press and Public Diplomacy 799 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 (212) 41

posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

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