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Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Judaism Archives

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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How Rabbis Dress, Then and Now

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Who Needs Sabbath?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Are Jewishness and Israeliness Separable?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Israel: Leading the World in In Vitro Fertilization

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Larry David’s Jewish Universe

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Pray For The Peace of Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Celebrating Jerusalem, In Its Glory and In Its Madness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Memorial Day 2011, A Biblical Approach

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Circumcision Really So Awful?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Heroic Fall

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

New Bible Anyone? This One, Without God!

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Good Kabbalah Goes Bad?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

President Obama on Holocaust Remembrance Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Heaven, Hell and Rob Bell

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Fasting Like Esther, A Biblical Practice We Need Today

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The “Tefillin Scare” on Alaska Airlines

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Shoah in Iran

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish-Catholic Dialogue Redefined

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does Charlie Sheen Hate Jews?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does God Surprise You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Top 10 Anti-Semitic Rants of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Teruma: Finding That God Lives Where Hearts Open

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Sarah Palin’s Charge of Blood Libel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Kosher Slaughter Inhumane?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Synagogue to Bless Animals

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Getting Angry at God is Good

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Biggest Jewish Story of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Sexual Mores

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Certifying Food as Ethically Kosher

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Time to Get Rid of the Rabbinate?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Best Jewish Book of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What’s a Jewish Christmas?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

America’s 30 Most Jewish Cities

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Hanukkah 2010: Discover 8 Nights of Meaning and Light

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Hanukkah Light Can Chase Away Life’s Darkness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Who Is A Jew and Who Decides

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Jokes: What Makes Them Funny, Or Not

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Broken Is Whole, A Biblical Perspective

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Exodus 12:49 and Israel’s Attorney General

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Rock Radio — What It’s All About

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Would God Vote?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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. […]

The Finkler Question and What It Means To Be Jewish

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Sexual Abuse Case Against Rabbi Dropped, But Not Over

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Are You As Brave As God?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Religious Are Israelis? How religious Are You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Conscientious Objection to War by American Muslims and Israeli Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Burn a Koran? What If It Were a Torah?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Coin Honors Romanian Jew-Hater, Miron Cristea

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Teaching Talmud in Korea?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Rabbis Cheat, Who Is To Blame?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Generosity The Newest Status Symbol?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Eat, Pray, Love…and then what?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Orthodox Leaders on Homosexuality

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Will Chelsea and Mark’s Intermarriage Last?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Oliver Stone Puts Hitler “In Context”

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Building the Third Temple in Sao Paulo

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Another List of 50 Influential Rabbis, All Women

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Why Religious Institutions Fail: A Tisha B’av Reflection

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

CNN’s John King is VERY Jewish

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Remembering HaRav Yehuda Amital – A Gentle Giant

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Things We Do For God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Slonimer Rebbe Says He’s Ready to Face Firing Squad

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally in Support of Racism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Remembering the Lubavitcher Rebbe 16 Years After His Death

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

A Jewish/Biblical Practice for Memorial Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month with President Obama and Sandy Koufax

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

American Idol 2010 Winner Lee DeWyze and the Bible

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

A Bible-based Immigration Policy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

If God Spoke To You

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Playboy Bunnies

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Treyf The New Kosher?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Elena Kagan’s Bat Mitzvah Celebrated Empathy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jerusalem Quotes for Jerusalem Day 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What Does Being Jewish Mean?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Mother’s Day 2010 – Is It Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Lag B’Omer 2010: Celebrate Being Kind

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does Sholom Rubashikn Deserve a Life Sentence?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What Does Judaism Say About Sex?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Earth Day 2010: Is the Earth Angry?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

My Tempestuous Love Affair With Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Finding Comfort Following Tragedy – Two New Nachamus

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Kids in Church Okay, But Surreptitious Baptism?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Clergy Abusing Children: Not For Catholics Only

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

This Passover, Bring New Meaning to Parsley and Bitter Herbs

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Young Is Too Young To Get Married?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Cursing Jews in the Name of God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Intermarriage and Proselytizing in Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Blaming Rape Victims Because of Their “Ungodly Dress”

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Watching the Academy Awards and Waiting for the Messiah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What Is Talmud For?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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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