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Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

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Accusations Against Rabbi Elon Are No ‘Blood Libel’

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Famed Israeli Rabbi, Mordechai Elon, stands accused of numerous sexual indiscretions with students. And if the charges are true, he deserves to be punished to fullest extent of the law. The abuse of power, trust and faith when religious teachers […]

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Purim 2010: What to Do, Eat, and What it’s All About

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Purim 2010 (5770) begins Saturday night and it’s a serious party. Think socially responsible Mardi Gras and you begin to get the picture. Costumes, food, drinking – yes, that kind and lot’s of it, are all part of the tradition. […]

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Torah Sages Condemn Rabbah, Modern-Orthodox Woman Rabbi

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This from a statement released by Agudath Israel of America, shared with me late yesterday: Rabbi Avi Weiss has conferred “semikha” upon a woman, has made her an Assistant Rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale where she carries out […]

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Abe Foxman Crying Wolf about Andrew Sullivan’s Anti-Semitism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Apparently, Abe Foxman called Andrew Sullivan an anti-Semite in his remarks to the Jewish Council on Public Affairs’ national meeting. I say “apparently” because neither I nor anyone else can confirm the veracity of the twitter feed from the meeting […]

A Diet for the Soul: Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Although the title, Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine suggests a cook book, this new anthology of ancient rabbinic wisdom, accompanied by an analysis from Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is actually a recipe for life. As Blau states in the preface to […]

Tiger Woods’ Apology and Its Lessons for All of Us

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Tiger came, apologized and left. Does it matter? Why do we care? If he were not a hugely famous athlete who slept with a seemingly endless stream of women, including many who shared their stories and bared their bodies afterwards, […]

Gays in the Military: A Religious Issue?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Top U.S. officials say they want to repeal the decades-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which requires gay soldiers to keep their sexual orientation secret. I was asked recently if I believe that religious views should be a factor in […]

Voodoo and False Prophecy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The level of hostility evoked by my thoughts on Judaism and Voodoo, both in an earlier post here at Windows and Doors, as well in a recent New York Jewish Week article by Jonathan Mark got me thinking. Why are […]

A Prayer for Pune’s Dead and Wounded – And For Us

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Saturday’s bombing in Pune, India left nine dead and 57 wounded. Based on the messages flooding my in box this morning, the race to spin the story seems almost as intense as the hunt for the terrorists who committed the […]

A Jewish Valentine’s Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Perhaps the notion of a Jewish Valentine’s Day sounds odd. After all, Valentine’s Day combines the cultures of pagan Rome and early Christianity, so where does Judaism fit in? I know, it’s “really” a secular commercial day and even thinking […]

Elie Wiesel Wouldn’t Cry for Ahmadinejad. Would God?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said today that if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were assassinated, he would not shed a tear. I find this response entirely understandable, disturbing that it was said, and contrary to a powerful spiritual teaching from […]

Super Bowl XLIV: Pro-Life and Anti-Gay

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family is sponsoring a “pro-life” ad, featuring football star Tim Tebow, during Sunday’s Super Bowl. Is it right to broadcast the ad? Does this kind of advertising needlessly politicize a sporting event? CBS […]

Jew Do Voodoo? A Jewish View

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Voodoo is more in the news since the earthquake in Haiti and lots of weird things are being said, especially about how other faiths do or should regard it. Here’s what I told Jonathan Mark over at the New York […]

Forgiving Mengele and Finding True Liberation

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Forgiveness is hard. Both seeking it and granting it are complicated for most people most of the time. Yet we all have things for which we should be seeking forgiveness and almost as certainly those we need to forgive. Told […]

Auschwitz Model Made of Gold Teeth

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This model of Auschwitz, the infamous death camp in which more than 1 million people were murdered by the Nazis, was recently displayed in Copenhagen where it was shown to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The work of Marco […]

Tu B’Shevat 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Tu B’Shevat 2010, or perhaps more appropriately 5770, begins at sunset on the 29th of January, which corresponds to the 15th of the month of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar. Although little observed since the time of the Temple, Tu […]

Phylactery Funnies or Tefillin Test

posted by Brad Hirschfield

You gotta love this image which landed on my desk this morning, both because of how funny it is and how telling: While it’s true that no one will get thrown off an El Al Israel Airlines flight because someone […]

J. D. Salinger Was Jewish? Who Cares! Or, Who Cares?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

J. D. Salinger is dead at 91, and yes, I care — I loved and still love Catcher in the Rye. But the fact that so many Jewish journalists, pundits, etc. are focusing on the fact that he was Jewish […]

Finding Kosher Food in Indonesia

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I am currently a guest of both the United States government and the Foreign Ministry of Indonesia, participating in an unprecedented encounter, facilitated by New York-based Religions for Peace, between a group of faith leaders from the world’s most powerful […]

Making Sense of Benedict XVI

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pope Benedict XVI’s decisions regarding Jews and Jewish history continue to vex and confuse many Jews. Having already shared my own perspective in previous posts, including most recently, one on the Pontiff’s recent visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome, […]

Keeping Your Spiritual Balance

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Beliefnet.com’s VP of Editorial, Michael Kress, shares a piece of his own spiritual autobiography in a column entitled, An Unorthodox Education</em>. Even if I do not entirely accept the dichotomy he draws between tradition and modernity, or personal choice and […]

Shabbat in Haiti: A First-Hand Account of the Past Week

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Arele Klein, a voulnteer serving with the Israeli relief team in Haiti writes movingly of the past week and the work he and the team have been doing since arriving last Friday. As Shabbat approaches, his words open our hearts, […]

Phylacteries, or Tefillin, are Suddenly Big News

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A US Airways flight traveling from New York to Louisville diverted to Philadelphia when crew and passengers became alarmed as a young man strapped something to his head and arm while speaking in a foreign language. Turns out that what […]

The Pope’s Synagogue Visit Raises Questions about Healing and Forgiveness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For only the second time in its long history, a Pope visited Rome’s main synagogue. Given that one can walk from there from the Vatican, that itself is historic. But the context of the visit and what Pope Benedict XVI […]

Dr. King’s Spiritual Lessons for Pat Robertson and for The Rest of Us

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher through and through. From the images he invoked, to the cadence of his speech, to the values which shaped his every decision, Dr. King, whose life and work we formally honored yesterday, […]

A Rabbi’s Prayer in Response to Natural Disaster

posted by Brad Hirschfield

How does one pray in the wake of this week’s events in Haiti? Or does that really beg the question of how we pray on any given day in the face of equally painful, if less grand, tragedies? I am […]

Haiti, Pat Robertson and Wondering Where God Is

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With estimates of 100,000 dead in Haiti, and many times that number suffering horribly in the wake of the earthquake which shook Port-au-Prince, many people ask, “why did God do this?” And Pat Robertson has what he thinks is the […]

Is “Green” the Newest Religion? Is Guilt Good?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Stephen Asma asks, in the most recent Chronicle of Higher Education, if going Green has replaced Classical religion among the American mainstream, at least insofar as it fuels our sense of moral guilt. It’s an interesting idea, because it reminds […]

Scapegoats, in the Bible and In Washington

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It looks like Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has become our newest national scapegoat. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Despite the bad rap it gets, scapegoating, when done properly, is actually a brilliant spiritual technology. Consider the Hebrew Bible’s […]

Mourning Miep Gies, Who Saved Anne Frank Twice

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Miep Gies, then office secretary who risked her life by hiding Anne Frank and her family for two years, died yesterday at the age of 100. This heroic woman saved Anne and her family not once, but twice. First she […]

Defining Chutzpah and the Spirit of Tzedakah/Charity

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A friend shared the following definition of chutzpah with me, and it came with an accompanying image and story, both of which drive home that definition. That story also teaches a profound insight about caring for people in need, why […]

Angry At God? Good For You…Maybe

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A new Beliefnet.com gallery asks whether it’s “blasphemous” to be angry at God. Three rabbis respond in very different ways, but they all agree that anger at God is acceptable. They also address the issue as if it’s actually a […]

Happy Birthday Elvis! Were you Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Elvis Presley would have turned 75 today, and people are still asking if he was Jewish. Well, perhaps he was, at least according to Jewish law, if not in his own mind. According to some Elvis historians, his mother’s maternal […]

New Irish Blasphemy Law Threatens Religious Freedom and Democracy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Atheists are leading the protests against a new law in Ireland, according to a person will be found guilty of blasphemy if they “publish or utter matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by […]

Tiger Woods Needs Jesus

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Brit Hume, commentator on Fox News, told America that Tiger Woods needs Jesus in order to turn his life around, and that has got lots of folks pretty steamed. Hume told viewers of Fox News Sunday that, “The extent to […]

How Many Names Does God Have?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Without even getting into a debate between monotheists and polytheists, and willing to avoid the very serious conversation about whether there is really any difference between the two, I am simply wondering about the names of God. And so too, […]

An Israeli Taboo Which Ought Not To Be So

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This line from a Jerusalem Post Opinion piece by Larry Derfner raises important questions, even if (precisely because?) it will ruffle many feathers: There’s a question we Israelis won’t ask ourselves about the Palestinians, especially not about Gaza. The question […]

Six Biblical and Jewish Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Now before people start commenting that the title of this piece is an oxymoron because the very notion of New Year’s on January 1st is not even Jewish, please remember a bit of Jewish teaching. Jewish tradition has recognized the […]

Top 10 Wines of 2009

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Here is a list of the top 10 Israeli wines of 2009. I cannot speak for all of them — some are not certified Kosher and others are a bit beyond my definition of fiscal propriety, but the ones which […]

Biggest Religion Story of ’09: Faith Gains Ground

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Any retrospective glance at a year’s worth of stories, except this one of course ;), will always privilege the familiar over the emergent, and style over substance. And because of that, the most interesting and important stories are often missed. […]

Gay and Orthodox: The Saga Continues

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Here is a letter, signed by Talmidei HaYeshiva – “Students of the Yeshiva”, in response to last week’s historic public conversation at Yeshiva University which featured four gay men, all current students or alumni of that institution. While it may […]

Gay and Orthodox at Yeshiva University

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What does it mean to live as a gay man in the Orthodox community? Four such stories were shared the night before in a forum sponsored by Yeshiva University’s “Tolerance Club” and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. An unofficial […]

Making Pope Pius XII a Saint

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Headlines proclaiming “Jews are angry” over Pope Benedict XVI signing a decree which recognizes Pius’ “heroic virtues” and declaring him “venerable” disturb me greatly. I am Jewish and I am not angry, so let’s be careful here. Which Jews are […]

Carter Apologizes to Jewish Community for Stigmatizing Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Former President Jimmy Carter offered the following words today in a letter addressed to the Jewish community: “We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its […]

Evacuating the Settlements: God vs. the State of Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

That is how leading yeshiva heads, rabbis and teachers representing the Hesder system, which combines service in the Israeli military with study in rabbinic seminary, are framing the debate about whether or not their students may evacuate West Bank residents […]

Banning Christmas in Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A group calling itself “Lobby for Jewish Values” is handing out fliers condemning Christmas, pushing for a ban on all public displays of Christmas trees and other “foolish” Christian symbols and asking the public to boycott restaurants and other public […]

Who Are Your Hanukkah Heroes? Judah Maccabee? Igor Olshansky? You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Chanukah is a time of heroes, but do we really have heroes anymore? It seems as soon as a contender emerges, a story appears almost as quickly undermining his or her potential status. Even President Obama, viewed by so many, […]

President Obama’s Hanukkah Message: What Do You Think?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Here is the text of President Obama’s Hanukkah message. I share it along with the opening lines of President Bush’s comments to those who gathered at the 2005 White House Hanukkah party. It makes for a fascinating comparison and also […]

Hanukkah 2009: 8 Tips for an Inspiring, Fun, and Delicious Holiday

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hanukkah 2009 begins Friday December 11 at sundown. What does Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, mean? What is the holiday all about? How can we have fun celebrating it? What’s a Menorah and how is it properly lit? What are latkes […]

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and the December Culture Wars

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I love Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah), which begins on December 11 this year, and yet I will not greet everyone I meet for the succeeding eight days, from doormen and cashiers to cab drivers and train conductors with a big […]

Greetings From The Parliament of the World’s Religions, Part 1

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It has been an amazing day at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, but nothing has been more moving to me than the six Sikh junior high students from an Indian religious academy who interviewed me about what it means […]

Faith and People with Disabilities

posted by Brad Hirschfield

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of 5 Americans lives with at least one disability. Whether that is the proper word or not, the bottom line remains that physical, medical, emotional challenges are a part of life. […]

News From World’s Biggest Multi-Faith Festival

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As you read this post, it is already tomorrow morning in Melbourne Australia (still freaks me out), where I am attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions – the world’s largest multi-religious meeting, bringing together 12,000 participants from as many […]

Swiss Ban on Minarets, An Ugly But Understandable Response?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I figure I may as well anger both sides right from the title, since my response to the just approved measure banning the construction of Minarets in Switzerland, will no doubt disturb both those sympathetic to the move and those […]

Iran To Build 10 New Enrichment Sites, What’s Proper Response?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As Iran announced the construction of 10 new enrichment facilities, each to be at least as large as the current one at Natanz, the magnitude of the “Iran problem” has been significantly ratcheted up. How should the world respond? I […]

One year after Mumbai Attacks – Time for the Unveiling

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It takes time to recover, if that is even the right word, from any loss, and even more so when the loss is a violent one. That is one reason why Jewish tradition, at least as practiced in most communities, […]

200,000 Animals Die in Mass Sacrifice to Hindu Goddess and A Healing Tip From Nepal

posted by Brad Hirschfield

BARIYAPUR, Nepal (AP) — The ceremony began with prayers in a temple by tens of thousands of Hindus before dawn Tuesday. Then it shifted to a nearby corral, where in the cold morning mist, scores of butchers wielding curved swords […]

A Modern Thanksgiving Story That Inspires

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The story of Goudchaux’s department store is nothing less than a modern Thanksgiving story, and it’s just about as inspiring. Like the original, it tells of refugees fleeing their homes and building new lives in a new land. Like the […]

Thanksgiving Recipes – How Kosher Turkeys Help

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Thanksgiving dinner is a big deal, even if as my wife points out, it’s pretty much like any Shabbat in our home – many people gathered around too much food, having a good time. Given the number of mouths to […]

The “Kosher” Vampires of Twilight

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Twilight screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, tells the Jewish Journal that “her” vampires are not like any others. “They’re kosher vampires,” Rosenberg says, laughing. To call them “kosher” may be a stretch, but the leading figure, Edward Cullen, and his family are […]

Supporting Israeli Arabs, Good Idea or Dangerous Precedent?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jewish support for initiatives addressing co-existence among all citizens of the State of Israel, both Jewish and Arab, has gone mainstream. Is this a good thing or not? Depends on whom you ask. Last week’s unanimous endorsement of the cause […]

Should Jews Celebrate Thanksgiving?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This should be a no-brainer, right? Well for a significant number of Orthodox Jews, it’s not so obvious and that fact speaks volumes to the thinking of many in that community. Interestingly, it is precisely those who think the answer […]

Obama’s Bow, and What Mordechai and Haman Can Teach Us About It

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The uproar over President Obama’s bow before Japanese Emperor Akihito refuses to die down. As soon as it happened, it brought to mind the Biblical Book of Esther, and the story of Mordechai refusing to bow down to Haman. As […]

Psalms 109:8, An Ugly Prayer for President Obama

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Any time the citizens of a state, particularly a democracy, invoke their faith to pray for the demise of those they oppose politically, we should be concerned. When the call for such prayers becomes one of the most popular Google […]

Calling The Bible A Myth May Not Be Such A Bad Idea

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This short article by Robin Yassin-Kassab, makes an intriguing claim about the wisdom of seeing the Bible, or any sacred literature, as mythology. Myth doesn’t mean untruth any more than a great novel does. Myth is heightened truth. A myth […]

Does God Belong In The Military?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In light of events at Fort Hood, pretty much everybody from President Obama in his remarks about the murders and the role of religion in them, to an earlier posting of mine right here on Windows and Doors, is talking […]

Is Maureen Dowd an Anti-Semite?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The short answer is almost certainly not. But after yesterday’s column in the New York Times, many people are asking, and not without some justification. In writing about Goldman Sachs, the famously/infamously successful investment bank, Dowd dredged up ancient and […]

Death Panels? No! But There Are No Death Panels

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Whoever coined the phrase “end-of-life counseling”, the term used in current healthcare reform legislation, made a terrible mistake both from a marketing perspective, and far more importantly, from an ethical/spiritual one. By ceding values-based language to their opposition, and failing […]

Should DC Sniper, John Muhammad, Die?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

John Allen Muhammad, known as the D.C. Sniper, will be executed tonight in Virginia. Muhammad, along with his protégé Lee Boyd Malvo, murdered 10 and terrorized millions for weeks, until he was captured in the fall of 2004. And when […]

Fort Hood Shooting: Compassion First, Questions Second

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With 13 dead, 30 wounded and an Army psychiatrist who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he opened fire on them, we must do three things: first, most importantly, we must care for the injured, support their families, and comfort the mourners. […]

CNN’s “New Jews” Aren’t So New At All, But They Are Wonderful

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Despite the headlines in this CNN story about “New Jews”, there is nothing really new here. Most of the new practices being described are not so new, as in the case of recently founded prayer groups or Hebrew school teaching […]

Shooting at Los Angeles Synagogue

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Over the past two days, I have posted about the appropriateness of hate crime legislation and about people’s concern over anti-Semitism. Today’s shooting at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue in North Hollywood, in which two members were shot at […]

“A Serious Man” Is No Serious Threat To Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Having received numerous questions about the Coen brothers’ most recent film, a contemporary commentary on the Book of Job, called A Serious Man, I am going to respond even though I have not yet seen the movie. How can I […]

Obama To Sign Hate Crimes Legislation: Violates Numbers 15:15?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The White House has announced that President Obama will sign new legislation which adds provisions to include Gays and Lesbians among the groups protected by special hate crimes legislation. It would be a great idea, if hate crimes legislation itself […]

Are You Good Without God?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Starting this morning adds begin appearing in New York City subways which tell us that for millions of people, the answer is ‘yes’. Following past campaigns in Dallas, Chicago and other locations around the nation this advertising campaign for Greg […]

Is Circumcision For Everyone?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Responding to both a growing anti-circumcision movement and her own hysteria surrounding the circumcision of her two sons, Hanna Rosin writes in the most recent New York Magazine about why the case for circumcision is good for everyone, at least […]

Why a Rabbi Welcomes The Vatican’s Welcome of Disaffected Anglicans

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Why does a rabbi care about whether or not the Catholic Church decides to welcome disaffected Anglicans, as they announced yesterday? In this case, it’s because I welcome all moves which increase diversity within religious community. But whether or not […]

South Carolina GOP Leaders Guilty of Stupidity Not Hate

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Two South Carolina Republican officials have apologized for defending U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint by likening him to Jews who “take care of the pennies.” Bamberg County GOP Chairman Edwin Merwin and Orangeburg County GOP Chairman James Ulmer wrote the Orangeburg […]

Mourning and Consolation on Facebook, and Other Sacred Spaces

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We all have loss in our lives. I wish we didn’t, but we do. So the real question is where do we turn with our grief? From whom do we seek and receive comfort? What practices help us to heal? […]

Halloween 2009: Tips from a Rabbi About How To Celebrate

posted by Brad Hirschfield

On October 31, children across America will don their capes and masks and go door-to-door collecting candy and treats to celebrate Halloween. But for many traditional Jewish families and even for some Christian ones, Halloween is a time of unease […]

Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community, Is There a Double Standard?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Perhaps the most troubling commentary on the breaking news related to the sexual abuse of children in the Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Jewish community, is the absence of coverage about this sickening phenomenon in the community’s leading sources of news. That […]

Speaking of Hitler: Politicians on All Sides Behaving Badly

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We seem to have endless appetite for comparisons to Hitler, Nazis and the Holocaust, and like all forms of gluttony, it’s making us very sick. It’s neither a Democratic thing nor a Republican thing, it’s a simply and disturbingly a […]

Jewish Haiku: Jewish Identity Issues in 17 Syllables

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jews and Haikus are A Rorschach test reflecting Who we think we are Beyond the 17 syllables arranged in three lines of five, seven, and five respectively, and beyond the nicely rhyming rhythm of “Haikus and Jews”, this poetic form […]

Columbus Day 2009: Was Christopher Columbus Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The question of whether or not Christopher Columbus was Jewish has been around for quite some time. And while it may not yet (ever?) be solved, its persistence speaks volumes. In fact, there are spiritual lessons to be found in […]

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, A Lesson in Peace and Hope, or Simply Ridiculous?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I first read that President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in a five a.m. e-mail from a friend, not a fan of the President’s, and I assumed my friend was joking. Reading the cover of this […]

Supreme Court Upholds “Jewish Clause” Disinheriting Inter-Married Children

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously upheld the legality of a so-called “Jewish Clause” in the will of Max Feinberg. The “Jewish Clause” disinherited any of Mr. Feinberg’s children or grandchildren who married non-Jews. From this layman’s perspective, it seems like […]

What Is Jewish Pride? Dallas Cowboys’ Igor Olshansky Knows

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What does it mean to be proud of who you are? What does a “proud Jew” look like? In the case of Igor Olshansky, it means being a 6’6″, 315 lb. Defensive End for the Dallas Cowboys who bears twin […]

A Muslim Reaction to Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust Denial

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Seems like today is “Ahmadinejad Day” at Beliefnet.com. With no advance planning or coordination, both City of Brass and my own column address the Iranian President and his connections to things Jewish. I encourage you to read City of Brass […]

Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rumors of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Jewish roots have circulated for quite some time and are surfacing once more. Interestingly, the most recent versions are more firmly rooted is specific details which point to at least the fact that his family is […]

Sukkot: How to Build a Sukkah — Ask These Architects, or Follow This Simple Plan

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Sukkot begins in just a few hours, and while you might not be able to build a sukkah as amazing as a group of architecture students as Wesleyan University, what they did is worth seeing because of the creativity, pride, […]

Sukkot 2009: What is a Sukkah and Why Do Jews Sit In Them

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Sukkot, the week-long Jewish holiday which begins at sundown this Friday, October 2, 2009, goes all the way back to the Hebrew Bible. Exodus 23:16 and Deuteronomy 16:13 describe it as an Israelite Thanksgiving (but without the turkey), while Leviticus […]

56% of American Jews Support Military Strike Against Iran

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A just released survey by the American Jewish Committee reports that for the first time ever, a majority of American Jews support using military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Are you part of that 56% and if […]

Send Your Prayers to the Western Wall Via iPhone

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Using one’s iPhone as a prayer tool is not necessarily a bad thing. But feeling that it’s necessary to pray, or even to get one’s prayers to the Kotel, the Western Wall, is. I’ll explain, but a bit of background […]

A Yom Kippur Prayer for Anyone Feeling Left Out or Left Behind

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Yom Kippur is ultimately a joyous day, promising forgiveness, atonement and reconciliation for all who seek it. But in classically Jewish fashion, the attainment of such things hinges on genuinely confronting and addressing our deepest fears, angers and hurts. Yom […]

Go To an Online Synagogue This Yom Kippur

posted by Brad Hirschfield

That’s the invitation being offered by many individual synagogues and even by the Jewish Television Network, a pioneer in using many forms of communications technology to meet the needs of Jews, and anyone else interested in Jewish thought and practice. […]

Adultery Is About More Than Sex, Even According To The Ten Commandments

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Adultery hurts pretty much everybody associated with it, even if they don’t know it at the time. That’s what two of its defenders fail to appreciate on ABC News’ first show in a Nightline series about the Ten Commandments. But […]

Westboro Baptist Church Hits New York

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Despite the attitude of many New York Jewish leaders, I am not certain that ignoring this famously hateful church group is the best way to go. In New York for a variety of activities, they have planned protests at numerous […]

12 Things You Didn’t Know About Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Now that Rosh Hashanah, one of the best known Jewish holidays, has arrived we have a chance to start again, to discover new things about ourselves, each other and even about ancient traditions like Judaism. While there’s a lot to […]

Rosh Hashanah Blessings, Wishes and Prayers – And A Few Laughs Too!

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With all the heavy spiritual lifting of the High Holidays, we sometimes forget that laughter is both sacred and entirely appropriate to this time of year. These Rosh Hashanah blessings, and the images which accompany them combine some of my […]

Apologizing Is Hard, Just Ask Joe, Kanye and Serena, But We Can

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The past week’s event provide important reminders of why we all of need Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, whether we are Jewish or not. No, I don’t mean that all people should necessarily observe these particular days, but the recent […]

Rosh Hashanah Recipes: Share Your Favorite and Win a Prize!

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Okay, we are down to the final days before Rosh Hashanah and even my attention begins to include more than saying S’lichot (the cycle of pre-holiday penitential prayers designed to get you in the mood. Yes, we Jews have a […]

Who Decides About a Child’s Religious Upbringing?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

“Two Christian girls. Two sets of distraught parents. And two state courts smack in the middle of it.” That’s how William McGurn begins his Wall Street Journal coverage of two cases that could not be more dissimilar. And if we […]

September 11, 2001 — Eight Years Later

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We have discovered the limits of our collective national memory – it’s about 8 years. There was almost nothing in the news until this morning, and even today’s headlines in the nation’s leading papers reflect the sense that we have […]

Building Jewish Unity and Civic Responsibility in New Orleans

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With Rosh Hashanah fast approaching, its message of renewal and unity become more important to celebrate than ever. Two stories out of New Orleans, better known for hurricanes and destruction in recent years, embody the deep spirit of the holiday. […]

R. Crumb’s Genesis, Heavenly or Heretical?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Due out next month, world renowned cartoonist R. Crumb, will share his take on the first book of the Bible. That Crumb, who gave us the famously X-rated Fritz the Cat, now applies his talents to Genesis is cause for […]

Rabbis with Guns – Just What We Need

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This morning’s New York Post featured a banner headline: Go Ahead, Make My High Holiday. It tells the story of a bunch of well-intention knuckle heads, led by Rabbi Gary Moscowitz, a former member of the NYPD who was relieved […]

How Much God in Our Nation’s Schools?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Think this question is resolved? Think again. It’s being raised right now in Texas and because it’s being raised there, it affects all of us. Why? Because the Texas Board of Education is the nation’s second largest purchaser of public […]

Atonement and Memory on the 70th Anniversary of WWII

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Seventy years ago this week, German gun boats began both their shelling of the Polish military base at Westerplatte and the Second World War began. Why we still have ceremonies marking this event and what they tell us about issues […]

Health Care Reform and Halakha (Jewish Law)

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Health-care reform is an economic, political and medical issue. But former Beliefnet blogger and political activist and evangelical leader Jim Wallis says it’s also a “deeply theological issue, a Biblical issue and a moral issue.” To the extent that he […]

Madonna Visits Holy Land, Models Care of the Heart

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Almost immediately upon her arrival in Israel, Madonna traveled to the Old City in Jerusalem and headed directly to the Kotel, the Western Wall. Perhaps the most significant thing is that the grand mistress of all things PR-related did not […]

Avoiding the Deaths of Another 6 Million

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What if you were told seventy years ago that Hitler was planning a holocaust that would include the deaths of 6 million Jews, simply because they were Jewish? If it was within your power to keep that from happening, would […]

Senator Kennedy Did NOT “Lose” Battle With Cancer

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When I opened this morning’s New York Times, the first words I read were those splashed across the front page: Senator Kennedy, Battle Lost, Is Hailed as a Leader. How wrong they were to use those words. Neither Senator Kennedy, […]

Ted Kennedy, The Bible and The Rabbis

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hailed by many as perhaps the greatest senator of the 20th century, Ted Kennedy died today following a 15 month long battle with brain cancer. I don’t know if he really was the greatest senator, but he was a model […]

Did God Give Bernie Madoff Cancer?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Despite denials by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, stories continue to circulate that Bernie Madoff has cancer. More than a few people have suggested that he is getting what “he deserves” and that this is his “punishment from God”. Of […]

Does Mary Robinson Deserve a Medal of Freedom?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I have been deluged over the past ten days with e-mails, calls, etc. from “the pro-Israel community” expressing outrage over Mary Robinson being awarded the Medal of Freedom, our nations’s highest civilian honor. The intensity of feeling about this issue […]

Who Deserves a Second Chance? Michael Vick? The Family?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jeff Weiss, writing at Politics Daily, quotes me extensively on a Jewish view of forgiveness, especially connected to celebrities who have done wrong. It’s never hard to find evidence of humanity’s foibles and failures. But boy, howdy, have we had […]

Obama, Israel and Jewish Dems Redefine Faith and Values Voting

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Fishing expeditions are funny things — sometimes you end up reeling in a catch you regret, no matter how much right-wing pundits like Dick Morris try to spin things. That seems to be the case with a recent poll conducted […]

Finding God on Facebook and Praying on Twitter

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Thanks to new digital technologies, we can ‘tweet’ prayers via Twitter to the Western Wall or prayer requests to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We can participate in worship services and discuss holy texts via Facebook. We can create […]

Is It Good For The Jews?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

An article by Julia Duin at the Washington Times focuses on the fact that Jews identify as “secular” about five times more than American Christians and that they increasingly find typical religious observance less than central to their lives. Is […]

Britney Spears Converting to Judaism?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Whether the story reported in The Sun, about Britney Spears converting to Judaism, is accurate or not, there is real insight to be found this satiric New Yorker item containing entries from Spears’ conversion diary. Written by Andy Borowitz, the […]

Ultra-Orthodox, Anti-Zionist Jews, More Zionist Than They Realize

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rioting in Jerusalem’s street these past weeks demonstrates that many Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews, passionately anti-Zionist, are actually quite Zionist – they function with the kind of entitlement and power that reflect their place as Jews in a modern Jewish state. […]

Dealing with Frustration Badly, Israeli Bar Bans Soldiers in Uniform

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Rogatka, a trendy Tel Aviv bar named for the Russian word describing the slingshots made famous in the first Intifada, refuses to seat soldiers in uniform. Whatever one’s political views are, this strikes me as a case of shooting […]

Tisha B’av and the Ethics of Communication

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A response to Norwegian Shooter who commented on yesterday’s post as follows: When I returned to your blog to see if you responded to my comment on the previous post, I was quite surprised to see you posted your comment […]

Tisha B’av, Francis Collins, and Lashon HaRah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Responding to yesterday’s post about the consternation provoked in both the savagely secular and rabidly religious camps, Shoshanna commented: mazel tov, Rabbi, on finally joining the fray against the Christophole nudnick (and most recently, as a recent reader post on […]

Francis Collins “Troubles” Sam Harris and Angers Creationists – Perfect!

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Francis Collins, President Obama’s pick to be the new head of NIH, strikes me as the perfect nominee. How can I, a non-scientist, make this claim? Do I really have the ability to evaluate the life work of this accomplished […]

Arrested Rabbis Story Continues: From Jew-Baiting to Jewish Apologetics

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Yesterday’s post about Five New York and New Jersey rabbis being arrested in connection with a money laundering scheme, and the Star-Ledger’s coverage of the story drew many heated comments including one from “DK” who wrote: “Now is not a […]

Jew-Baiting or Good Journalism at NJ Star-Ledger?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When New Jersey Mayors, politicians and rabbis get arrested for money laundering, it’s news that should be reported, as it is now on CNN and other major media outlets. I think it’s especially important for Jews to hear this news […]

Jimmy Carter Speaks for Jesus, Moses and Muhammad, or So He Thinks

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Former President Jimmy Carter condemned “the male interpretations of religious texts” that have “provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights . . . This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of […]

Addressing Laillyt’s and Rod Dreher’s Irreconcilable Differences

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Commenting on my earlier post about Gandhi, and whether or not truth and love always win out, Laillyt writes: Rabbi, what exactly do you mean by ‘truth’ and ‘love’? I’m a Jew and a lesbian, and the deepest truth of […]

Walter Cronkite and Authentic Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It surprises even me to see Walter Cronkite’s name and the words “authentic Judaism” in the same title, but you can thank Beliefnet’s Steven Waldman for that. He has a piece up about the newly deceased Cronkite and Sandra Nemser, […]

Is Gandhi Right? Do “Truth and Love Always Win”?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Beliefnet gallery of quotes currently on the site’s homepage fascinates and troubles me. It is easy to read the quotes, especially the one which teaches that truth and love always win and get a quick hit of inspiration. But […]

Aphrodisiac Gum in Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A Hamas official on Tuesday accused Israel of exporting to the Gaza Strip chewing gum laced with an aphrodisiac to “corrupt the young,” according to a report in Israeli daily, Ha’aretz. As goofy as this claim is, and it was […]

Obama Meeting Jewish Leaders Right Now

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In his first such sit-down with Jewish leaders, President Obama will meet this afternoon with representatives of from 11 different major Jewish organizations. The groups include American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, […]

Islamophobia and Free Speech

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In most cases, I truly believe that the response to bad speech is not restriction of speech, but more and better speech. But there are times when language becomes sufficiently dangerous and hateful that I think it really should be […]

Rights vs. Obligations as New York Debates Inclusion of Muslim Holidays

posted by Brad Hirschfield

New York’s City Council voted to add two Muslim holidays to the city’s public school calendar, citing the annual observance of Christian and Jewish holidays. Mayor Bloomberg objects, saying the city isn’t obligated to accommodate all faiths: “If you close […]

The Jewish Community Suffers a Loss

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Dr. Gary Tobin was burried yesterday, and with his death, the Jewish community has lost an important voice for inclusiveness, fearlessness, and the idea that there must be room in the Jewish community for anyone who wants a place. From […]

Israeli Singer, Jo Amar, Died

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jo Amar, a Moroccan-born Jewish singer whose melding of Andalusian and Israeli musical influences made him a star in Israel and a popular performer in Jewish communities around the world, died on June 29 at the home of his son […]

The Brick Testament: A Lego Bible

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The End Is Here Ever performed a magic trick for your friends? Committed adultery? Worshipped an idol? Are you cowardly? How about filthy? Have you ever told a lie? If so, bad news. You are going to be ceaselessly tortured […]

God Bless America Lawsuit is Settled

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The city of New York has settled a lawsuit brought by a man who was ejected from Yankee Stadium for getting up to go to the bathroom during a rendition of “God Bless America”. I believe in God, I believe […]

Patriot’s Bible is Both Funny and Scary

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The New Patriot’s Bible continues an old tradition found among at least one of the founding fathers; i.e. privileging the reader’s word over God’s. I expect however, that Pastor Richard G. Lee and the other editors of this new edition […]

Jews in the 111th Congress: Down to One…

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With Al Franken taking Norm Coleman’s seat in the Senate, the 111th Congress is down to a single Republican, Virginia’s Eric Cantor, among its 44 Jewish members. I wonder if this is something about which to worry, not because I […]

Good God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

That’s the title of a new book by Daniel A. Weiner, an author, university lecturer, and Reform rabbi from Seattle. It’s a beautiful book which I read over the weekend, and one which I recommend to anyone looking for an […]

Should Israel Bomb Iran?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Writing in the Washington Post, Former UN Ambassador John R. Bolton suggests that an Israeli attack aimed at the eradication of Iran’s emergent nuclear capacity is a reasonable proposition. And just yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden told George Stephanopoulos that […]

Is Billy Graham an anti-Semite? Was Richard Nixon?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Newly released tapes from the Nixon Library certainly make these fair questions, and not for the first time. Particularly disturbing, especially for those who have limited familiarity with the New Testament, was their conversation about those who are part of […]

From Clinton to Sanford, Why Do Politicians Invoke God When Apologizing?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Politicians invoke God and the Bible both because it works, and in cases like that of Governor Sanford who compared himself to King David, because it nourishes their outsized egos — situating their personal dramas within a cosmically significant narrative. […]

Guns in Church, or Synagogues and Mosques For That Matter

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Having spent my teens committed to a way of life that celebrated faith and force, this story about a church event celebrating weapons and the right to keep them is more than a little disturbing. The track record of Guns […]

Gilad Shalit Coming Home?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

After three years in captivity, Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, may soon be transferred to Egypt as part of a prisoner swap, according to European sources. I pray that it’s true and I pray that the swap is a one for […]

Freedom of Religion Includes Wearing Burqas

posted by Brad Hirschfield

French President Sarkozy is throwing his weigh behind a law which would make burqa-wearing a crime in France. He could not be more wrong. Burqas are certainly a public matter which merit Sarkozy’s attention. But the public, be it in […]

When Neo-Nazis Do Good Deeds

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Members of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, not only participate in the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Adopt-a-Highway program, but have named a stretch of the road, which they spend a few hours each month cleaning, in honor of […]

The Cell Phone vs. The Chador in Iran

posted by Brad Hirschfield

From Capitol Hill to Main Street, it’s amazing how many people think the fight in Iran is a battle between the forces of freedom and those of religious fundamentalism. And it’s amazing how wrong they are to reduce a complex […]

Foxy Brown and Prison Chaplains Gone Wild

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Last week’s news of Riker’s Island Prison Chaplain, Rabbi Leib Glanz, arranging a lavish bar-mitzvah party behind bars and a variety of other special privileges, for a Jewish felon was not to be outdone by Glanz’ boss, Imam Umar Abdul […]

Randy Cohen Questions Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish Ethics

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This week’s NY Times Magazine carries a question posed to Randy Cohen, who writes “The Ethicist” column, and his answer strikes me as ethically questionable. But first the question and relevant portion of his answer: “I belong to a Catholic […]

Theocracy or Democracy? Is One Always Better?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

“Isn’t the conflict in Iran essentially between supporters of a theocracy and those who aspire to having a democracy?” That is the question that was put to me earlier today by a reporter from National Public Radio. But it seems […]

Deut. 4:9 and Shocking News About Men and Cancer

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Men are 60 percent more likely to develop forms of cancer that affect both genders, and 70 percent more likely to die from the disease, British researchers found. Pretty scarry right? But the good news is that there are things […]

Blaming “the Jews” for America’s Financial Crisis

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I am not one to worry so much about anti-Semitism, not because it doesn’t exist, but because others do it far too much. But a recent study which indicates that 24.6% of Americans blame “the Jews” a moderate amount or […]

Netanyahu’s ‘Yes’ on Palestine

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu took a bold, if not entirely satisfying, step toward peace on Sunday. Speaking at Bar Ilan University’s commencement exercises in Tel Aviv, the Israeli PM departed from his past positions and redefined Israel’s stance on a […]

Answering Comments on Left/Right Hate Speech

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Many comments on my previous post about the challenges of hate speech found on both the left and the right, deserve a response not only because they are so interesting (they all were), but because they offer real opportunities to […]

Hate Speech From The Right and From The Left

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Paul Krugman is correct in his concern about the level of bellicose puffery emanating from right-wing media and I share his concerns. When Fox news sends out a steady stream of commentary across the nation which uses the language of […]

Reverand Wright is Wrong Again

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Referring to “them Jews”, Jeremiah Wright blamed Jewish voters for keeping his former parishioner, President Obama, from giving him a call. And while he was at it, he blamed “them Jews” from keeping the President from speaking out more forcefull […]

Bar Mitzvah in Jail at Taxpayers’ Expense

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Many people believe that Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties are “out of control” in terms of lavishness and cost. They even made a movie about it called Keeping Up With The Steins. If you haven’t seen it, you should, especially […]

James W. von Brunn Identified as Holocaust Museum Shooter

posted by Brad Hirschfield

James W. von Brunn is not only a bitter old white supremacist; he is also a member of Mensa and a decorated veteran who served as a PT boat captain during World War II. These facts will raise at least […]

Shooting At Holocaust Museum in D.C.

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A man, armed with a rifle, entered the United States Holocaust Museum today at 1 p.m. and shot at least one person before he was shot by a museum gaurd. The AP story about the museum shooting has little other […]

New Hampshire’s Gay Marriage Law: A Reasonable Model for Reasonable People

posted by Brad Hirschfield

New Hampshire’s newly passed law on same-sex marriage is good public policy, and will be welcomed by many people, including both those who support, and those who oppose it. But it won’t end the fight over this divisive issue. Why? […]

Holocaust Memory: Not for Jews Only

posted by Brad Hirschfield

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind opposes remembering murdered gentiles in a newly approved Brooklyn Holocaust memorial. While admitting that millions of non-Jews were murdered in the Nazi death camps, he seems to think that pain is a commodity, and acknowledging […]

Is America Surrounded by Paganism? Newt Thinks So

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Addressing a crowd gathered this weekend for the “Rediscovering God in America” conference, former House speaker Newt Gingrich told the audience that “we (Americans) are surrounded by paganism“> He didn’t mean it as a compliment. But what did he mean? […]

Will Supporters of Israel Miss Ahmadinejad?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

He’s up for re-election and he actually might not win. Would that be good or bad for pro-Israel groups who have made much of his presence? In his provocative and insightful article, Ron Kampeas specualtes on this question and how […]

Why Do Straight People Go To Gay Synagogues?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This reminds me of the old joke about the reporter who asked the famous bank robber, Willy Sutton, why he robbed banks. Sutton replied, “Because that’s where the money is”. People attend a particular synagogue because that’s where the meaning […]

Obama’s Speech and Genesis 21: Bridging the Gap Between Islam and the United States

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama’s long-awaited speech (full text of which is here) to “the Muslim world” (in quotes because the term itself may further the false premise of a monolithic reality) contained any number of things which troubled me. They trouble me […]

Taylor v. Feinberg: Disowning and Mourning Jews Who Intermarry

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The case of Taylor v. Feinberg pitted the descendants of Max and Erla Feinberg against the estate of their grandparents. According to the Feinberg’s will: “A descendant of mine other than a child of mine who marries outside the Jewish […]

Jewish Nude: Israeli Model Bar Refaeli on Cover of Esquire

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Ranked repeatedly as one of the world’s “hottest” women, Bar Refaeli appears nude on the cover of the July edition of Esquire. Pictures from the shoot can be seen here. But before you head there, consider the following: The pictures […]

Killing Doctors Who Perform Abortions: A Jewish Perspective

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Dr. George Tiller was murdered, it seems, because he performed abortions. Those who defend such actions justify them by claiming that it is entirely appropriate to kill a person in order to prevent their killing others. Are they right? It’s […]

Child Sacrifice is More Common Than You Think

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Of course, child sacrifice should horrify us. But the fact that it still exists, and is making headlines in a number of states, should not really surprise us. After all, the notion of using the life of one’s child to […]

Israel, Palestine and a Triumph for Freedom of Speech

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Time Magazine has an article under the banner Postcard from Ramallah. It describes a compelling exercise in freedom of speech and conscious worthy of celebration, regardless of what one thinks of the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories or […]

Favorite Shavuot Practices

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Shavuot, literally the festival of weeks and known to Christians as Pentecost, begins tomorrow night. And this year especially, I find myself excited about some of its special traditions. I love staying up all night studying, talking, and eating cheesecake […]

Poor, Jewish and on the Lower East Side: The New American Girl Doll

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Normally, I save my musings about American Girl dolls and their roll in life for home – we have three daughters ranging in age from 15 – 8, so it’s not unfamiliar territory. But comments about the release of the […]

Carrie Prejean, Queen Esther and Evangelical Christians

posted by Brad Hirschfield

David Gibson’s piece on Carrie Prejean, Queen Esther and American Evangelicals was an eye-opener for me, and I am not even entirely clear about his conclusion. But the fact that the conflict-embroiled Miss USA wannabe is being touted by many […]

Orthodox Women Rabbis: Possibility or Prank?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Can Women in the Orthodox community join their fellow- (no pun intended) females in the rabbinic ranks of the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, and post-denominational movements? This article about Orthodox women rabbis, announces the opening of a new program which […]

Bible Bill is a Great Idea…In Theory

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The so-called Bible bill which Georgia Republican Congressman, Paul Broun is trying to make into law, is a wonderful idea…in theory. What’s wrong with a law which would declare 2010 the “year of the Bible”? Given that we already have […]

Bronx Synagogues Targeted by Terrorists

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When my daughter asked me last night why there were so many helicopters flying over our home, I told her there was probably an accident on the expressway closest to our house. I left out the possibility that they were […]

What is Real Torah, and Who Decides?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

An ongoing conversation with a deeply reflective and thoughtful, though not traditionally observant, Israeli friend yielded the following e-mail about Jewish laws of sexual modesty in general and Kol Isha, women’s voices in particular. Whatever one thinks about these rules, […]

When Muslims and Jews Cry Wolf

posted by Brad Hirschfield

City of Brass blogger, Aziz Poonwalla, takes the Simon Wiesenthal Center to task for screening “The Third Jihad”. Is he right? Yes and no. There is no question that it’s an incendiary film and to that end, it’s fair to […]

Sex and Clergy: What’s Appropriate and When?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With the love lives of priests in the news again, this time Miami’s Father Cutie’, a man torn between love of his tradition and love of a woman, people are asking if clergy restrictions based on gender, marital status or […]

Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Nazareth

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When my cell phone rang at ten o’clock last night, it was my brother. “So, did you meet him? Did you shake his hand?” And I responded, “Yes, I have met the man in the red Gucci loafers.” We talked […]

Westboro Cult of Hate; How Should People Respond?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas, infamous for its grotesque protest marches at the funerals of fallen US service personel, usually under banners proclaiming “God Hates Fags”, is at it again. This time the target is Jews. Combining ancient […]

The Pope, Yad Vashem, and Sheikh al-Tamimi

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pope Benedict found the peace and unity he seeks on his pilgrimage to Israel, more than a little elusive on his first full day in the country. But in each case, the problem lay not so much with the Pope, […]

Pope Benedict’s First Words Upon Landing in Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

“The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace,” he told a welcoming ceremony at Israel’s international airport. “In union with people of goodwill everywhere, I […]

A Mothers Day Gift for You and Your Mom, From Twitter

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What to do for our mothers and the mothers of our children on Mothers Day? Flowers and family dinners out are wonderful, but end quickly. A moving story by Rabbi Irwin Kula on The Huffington Post suggests using the structure […]

National Day of Prayer Observed, But Not At White House

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is the National Day of Prayer, as mandated by Congress. And President Obama has made a wise, but unfortunate decision by not hosting any event in observance of the day. Whether hosting such an event is constitutionally justifiable or […]

Biden Tells AIPAC About Israel and Palestine

posted by Brad Hirschfield

“Israel has to work for a two state-solution. You’re not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement … and access to economic opportunity,” Vice President Joe Biden […]

Pope Will Not Visit Israeli Holocaust Museum

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It’s disappointing that Pope Benedict XVl will not visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust museum and memorial on his upcoming trip to the Middle East. And it’s equally disappointing that his decision is such a big deal to so many […]

How to Define Conversion? Ask Madonna, Katie Holmes and William James

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With more than 30% of Americans changing religious affiliations during the course of our lifetimes, it makes sense to ask what it means to convert. Is it about leaving home and striking out for new territory, never to see the […]

Pat Buchanan: Accessory to Murder?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Intelligent, entertaining, and occasionally guilty of virulent anti-Semitism, Pat Buchanan has outdone himself when it comes to the latter, with his recent comments comparing former Nazi John Demjanjuk with Jesus. It’s worse than the fact that the comparison is, as […]

Torah, Torture and Obama’s News Conference

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama had the chance last night to slam the door on torture, but did not take it. One can agree or disagree with him on this, but he claimed that his opposition to torture was not based on an […]

Obama Congratulates Israel on 61st, Do You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama made the following remarks, congratulating Israel on 61 years of independance: “On behalf of the people of the United States, President Obama congratulates the people and government of Israel on the 61st anniversary of Israel’s independence,” said the […]

Loving Israel as a Model for Loving Anything or Anyone

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I love Israel. It’s as simple….and as complicated, as that. I loved Israel as a pork-eating child who had real pride in being Jewish, but no time for “old-fashioned” religion. I loved Israel as a settler who carried a book […]

No Swine Flu in Israel, It’s Not Kosher

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I wish this were a joke. I wish that in the modern state of Israel, on the eve of 61 years of independence, this were not a headline. But it it’s not, and it is. Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman […]

Should Terror Victims and Fallen Soldiers be Remembered the Same Way?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Tonight marks the beginning of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. Traditionally observed to recall those men and women who paid the ultimate price for the creation and ongoing security of the State of Israel, the day has begun to change. […]

Reform Rabbis Violating Church-State Separation?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This morning’s press release from the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the world’s largest body of Jewish clergy, “pledges support for (the) Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan.” And in so doing they raise a real question about the propriety of […]

Good News From Durban II

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Nine countries boycotted, “Durban II”, the United Nations human rights conference, going right now in Geneva. And even more significantly, approximately fifty delegates representing the most powerful nations that chose to participate, walked out in the middle of Iranian President […]

Reading Genesis 1:28 on Earth Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

God blessed them (humans) and god said to them, “Be fertile an increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea the birds of the sky, and all of the living things that creep on […]

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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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