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Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Israel Archives

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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.  […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

Passover Around The World — In Pictures

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jews from Iran to Israel, from the deserts of Yemen to sandy beach resorts, are all to be found in this collection of pictures depicting Passover celebrations around the world. There are even picures of animals enjoying matzah! Care to […]

Why Matzah? From Ancient Blood Libels to Modern Meanings

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There may be no food upon which so much ink has been spilled, not to mention blood, as matzah. The blood, to which I refer, is not that of the Blood Libel, the hate-driven lie that Jews, having killed Jesus, […]

Palestinian Authority Takes Giant Step Away From Peace

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A Palestinian youth orchestra from Jenin was disbanded after it played for Holocaust survivors in Israel. Palestinian authorities also banned Strings of Freedom orchestra conductor Wafa Younis from the northern West Bank refugee camp and her apartment, where she taught […]

Israel Bombs Sudan

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made it pretty clear today that Israeli aircraft did, in fact, bomb a convoy of trucks bearing Iranian harms, traveling through Sudan on their way to supply Hamas in Gaza. A report on SudanTribune.com called […]

Building Jewish Unity

posted by Brad Hirschfield

British Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, will address a global audience this Sunday. The questions raised by the format of the address, its sponsorship and who is giving it however, raise important questions about its stated goal of building Jewish […]

What Is Palestine? How about Israel?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A reader e-mailed me with the following question, one which lies at the heart of much conflict and bloodshed. Perhaps this answer can contribute to a growing measure of peace. Hi Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, My name is A. I truly […]

Obama’s Nowruz Message: Pandering or Great Leadership?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama’s Nowruz message, broadcast directly to the Iranian people, complete with Farsi subtitles, is brilliant.   Whether one agrees with everything he has to say, can anyone seriously question the wisdom of his actions or the sophistication of his […]

Israel Fails To Bring Gilad Shalit Home

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There will, apparently, be no 11th hour deal between Israel and Hamas to bring Gilad Shalit home after nearly 1,000 days in captivity. And while I wrote yesterday about the moral failings of Hamas making outlandish demands to agree to […]

One Jewish Life is Worth 600 Palestinian Lives

posted by Brad Hirschfield

That is not the claim of some crazy, ethnocentric Jew who fails to appreciate the sacredness of all human life. It is the policy of Hamas, the Islamic government in Gaza. Stories today make it clear that Hamas wants anywhere […]

Purim, Jewish Unity, and The Dignity of Religious Difference

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With Purim only a week away, Rabbis are coming out of the woodwork with rulings on a whole variety of issues relating to the full and proper observance of the day. But none have made the news as prominently as […]

US and Israeli Courts Supremely Wrong On Religious Rights

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Anyone concerned about the coercive use of religion should find these two stories interesting – upsetting but interesting. And anyone not concerned about the coercive use of religion in the world today, should read a paper. Both the United States […]

Jews, Iran and American Foreign Policy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Obama administration has repeatedly commented on its desire to engage Iran more constructively. And while the possibility of success can be debated, it seems that failing to try would only guarantee the current unacceptable status quo. The New York […]

No More Churches in Jerusalem. What Do You Think?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

75% of those surveyed said that they opposed the sale of land in Jerusalem to Christian organizations that would build churches there, according to a just released survey conducted by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Jerusalem Center […]

Hatred of Jews Is On the Rise

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As theTimes article by British MP Denis MacShane demonstrates, acts of hatred against Jews are on the rise across Europe. He is right that all decent people should not only be worried, but should be taking action to stop this […]

In Venezuela, Anti-Semitism and Opposition to Israel Are One

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I do not believe that all opposition to the policies of the Sate of Israel is inherently Anti-Semitic, as is too often claimed by many in the Jewish community. But continuing attacks on synagogues around the world, most recently in […]

David and Goliath is Wrong Metaphor in Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Who is David and who is Goliath? That question, either overtly or by innuendo, underpins the endless debate about the war in Gaza. Everyone is busy explaining to whoever will listen how they are the “little guy” being tormented by […]

Imprisoned In Gaza: A Catholic-Jewish Conversation Continues

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Thanks to Pontifications blogger, David Gibson, for engaging in one of the more interesting Catholic-Jewish conversations in which I have participated in some time. His recent post about Catholics, Jews and events in Gaza pointed me to the work by […]

Hamas Theologians Have a Point

posted by Brad Hirschfield

While it makes some people uncomfortable, the fact is that according to some readings of Islam, Israel’s existence does violate foundations of the faith both morally and theologically. Of course, it’s not the only reading of that tradition, but it’s […]

Neither Progressive nor Reviving When Commenting on Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Requests were made that I respond to Omid Safi’s Gaza post on Progressive Revival. Frankly, I hesitate to do so. I have no doubt about either his integrity or the pain that moves him to write. But, engaging people filled […]

Making Peace in Gaza and In Ourselves

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today’s three-hour cease fire between Hamas and Israel provides a model for a spiritual practice which might turn us all into peace-makers, or at least peace-contributors, without even giving up on those views we cherish most. The idea was sparked […]

3 Hour Cease Fire in Gaza, an Ancient Way to 24/7 Peace

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israel and Hamas just concluded a three-hour cease fire designed to allow food, fuel and medical supplies into Gaza, and wounded Gazans out for medical treatment in Egypt and Israel. The Israelis have pledged to reenact this mini cease fire […]

Ground War in Gaza, No Holocaust

posted by Brad Hirschfield

No matter how often that charge is made, it will never be true. But it is a tragedy. No matter how much energy each side expends on justifying its actions and no matter if one side really is more justified […]

Israel Redefines All Out War in Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak announced that Israel is engaged in an “all out war” with Hamas. He told reporters that the Israel Defense Forces will “deepen and widen” their assault on Hamas as needed, in order to halt the […]

1 American and 2 Israeli Perspectives on War in Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

After thousands of rockets and mortars landing in what virtually the entire world accepts as the sovereign and unoccupied State of Israel, Israel began a large-scale bombing operation of Gaza this weekend. This new fighting, focusing on military and governmental […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Five, Zionism and Homecoming

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Another day brings yet another Hanukkah story. But, in case you missed them, check out yesterday’s and previous days’ Hanukkah stories too. Worth doing so for the comments alone! But now, on to today’s telling of the the Hanukkah tale. […]

Esther Wachsman: A Model of Spiritual Greatness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Esther Wachsman, mother of slain Hamas kidnap victim Nachshon Wachsman, made a bold appeal today to Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. She asked the prime minister to consider freeing her son’s murderers in order to secure the release of Cpl. […]

Hebron Evacuation, Sad But Necessary

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Combined forces from the Israeli Army, the Border Police, and Security Services today evacuated a house in Hebron that was, according to the Israeli Supreme Court, illegally occupied. Things did not go well. From the storming of the building by […]

Shalom, Christmas Shoppers

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that all across America, holiday shoppers at malls are being “accosted” by pushy, money-hungry Israelis selling everything from hand cream to toy helicopters. One of the twenty-something salespeople describes what he is doing, not to […]

Dems and Reps Terrorize Opponents

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When I received the following link to hard right Israeli broadcaster Arutz 7, being circulated by pro-McCain people, I was tempted to ignore it. Claiming that Hamas is supporting Obama in the presidential election, they suggest that supporting Obama is […]

Christians March in Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Let’s hear it for the thousands of Christians who took to the streets of Jerusalem yesterday to proclaim their love of Israel – especially because the event was largely free of the right-wing politics that often mark such events both […]

Who Stands With Israel, Republicans or Democrats?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The answer is, yes. And the real issue is how supporters of Israel understand what it means to “support Israel”. Is it a function of pressuring the State of Israel to do what it “should do” from the perspective of […]

Jewish Terrorists Celebrate the Jewish New Year with a Bang

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As the Jewish people spend Tuesday and Wednesday celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, we ask ourselves the most important questions about the year ahead and what we hope to make of it – questions including who shall live and […]

Israelis for Obama and Lessons for McCain

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This You Tube video, entitled Israelis for Obama is amazing. It does not provide a great deal of new information about his policies, which are not all that different from McCain’s when it comes to Israel. It does something far […]

Lipstick On A Pig, A View From Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

John McCain needs to speak out immediately against anyone exploiting Barack Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment. We all know that the comment wasn’t directed at Governor Palin and we all deserve a campaign that lives up to the best […]

Greetings From Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I just touched down and even though this is trip number…..actually too many to count, I still feel a certain thrill as the plane banks over the coast and comes in to Ben Gurion airport. It’s a mixture of joy, […]

A Rabbi’s Ramadan Prayer: Say No To Hezbollah Death Shrine

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Asalaam Aleikum My Muslim Brothers and Sisters, I am writing you today with both a blessing and a request. The blessing is that the month of Ramadan should bring you opportunities for meaningful reflection, deeper spiritual connection, and greater peace. […]

John McCain’s Brother, Israel and the Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Suddenly, a speech by John McCain’s brother, Joe, is making the rounds on the internet. I have received it over twenty times in as many hours. And although it’s not new (it was given as an address to a synagogue […]

Kosher Meat Wars Continued

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Let’s see, we have Rabbis tearing each other apart over kashrut, which is an issue that is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of Jews, the Jerusalem Post, a right-leaning newspaper in Israel publishing the self-serving (and publicly contradicted) words […]

Jerusalem – A House Divided Against Itself?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

While the Jewish world (not to mention so many others) debates the future of Jerusalem, and presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McMcain regularly speak about this nation’s commitment to Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel (even though the former […]

The Daily Hitler

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There is actually a website called The Daily Hitler, and it’s not the product of neo-Nazis seeking their regular fix of the Fuhrer. It’s the work of Israeli artist Nir Avigad. And although I know I am going to get […]

Obama Hits The Wall As He Departs the Middle East

posted by Brad Hirschfield

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made a surprise pre-dawn visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Thursday, at the end of a trip aimed at showing his strong support for Israel. Hoping that something truly interesting would […]

Bulldozer Terror in Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With 24 civilians wounded, one of whom lingers near death, and the terrorist himself dead (no, I don’t think they are morally equivalent, and I don’t mourn his loss. But like all of us, he had parents who will, and […]

A Funny Day To Meet The King

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I landed in Madrid this morning at the invitation of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He is convening a meeting of religious leaders from around the world as he enters the global conversation between people of faith about how their […]

Hagee Haters Delight

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I don’t hate Pastor John Hagee, nor do I fear him – but many other people seem to and I wonder if their attitude is justified. You Tube has removed eighty videos featuring Pastor John Hagee from its site at […]

Who’s A Terrorist

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Something is really off when everyone from CNN (look down to the World section) to the news on the AOL homepage (see the Top News) describe the attack on public bus in Jerusalem as the work of a “terrorist”, using […]

How Many Israels: Empathy As A Path To Peace

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It’s taken me a few days to figure out why The Two Israels, Nicholas Kristof’s piece in this past Sunday’s New York Times is so disturbing. It’s not because he focuses so much critical attention on the Jewish settlers in […]

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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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