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Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Judaism Archives

Ted Kennedy, The Bible and The Rabbis

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Did God Give Bernie Madoff Cancer?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Obama, Israel and Jewish Dems Redefine Faith and Values Voting

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Finding God on Facebook and Praying on Twitter

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is It Good For The Jews?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Britney Spears Converting to Judaism?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Tisha B’av, Francis Collins, and Lashon HaRah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Addressing Laillyt’s and Rod Dreher’s Irreconcilable Differences

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Walter Cronkite and Authentic Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Jewish Community Suffers a Loss

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Israeli Singer, Jo Amar, Died

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Brick Testament: A Lego Bible

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jews in the 111th Congress: Down to One…

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Good God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Randy Cohen Questions Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish Ethics

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Blaming “the Jews” for America’s Financial Crisis

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Hate Speech From The Right and From The Left

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Bar Mitzvah in Jail at Taxpayers’ Expense

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Holocaust Memory: Not for Jews Only

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is America Surrounded by Paganism? Newt Thinks So

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Why Do Straight People Go To Gay Synagogues?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Taylor v. Feinberg: Disowning and Mourning Jews Who Intermarry

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Killing Doctors Who Perform Abortions: A Jewish Perspective

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Favorite Shavuot Practices

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Orthodox Women Rabbis: Possibility or Prank?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What is Real Torah, and Who Decides?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Sex and Clergy: What’s Appropriate and When?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Nazareth

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Westboro Cult of Hate; How Should People Respond?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Pat Buchanan: Accessory to Murder?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Torah, Torture and Obama’s News Conference

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Reform Rabbis Violating Church-State Separation?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Good News From Durban II

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Reading Genesis 1:28 on Earth Day

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Remembering Departed Loved Ones

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The last day of Passover is one of four occasions in the Jewish liturgical calendar when special memorial prayers are recited in memory of loved ones who have died. Known as Yizkor, from the Hebrew root pertaining to remembering, the […]

Papal Remorse Recalls Lesson From Leviticus

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Those with an ax to grind about the Catholic Church, the papacy in general, and Pope Benedict XVI in particular, point to the Pope’s recent apologies about a variety of subjects as evidence of the Church’s failure and the absurdity […]

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 […]

Red Sea or Sea of Reeds, Which Is It?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In responding to an earlier post which shared a Seder ritual designed to help us get out of any tight spot (the literal translation of Mitzrayim, Hebrew name of Egypt) in which we may find ourselves, Zevulun commented: Rabbi, Given […]

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, […]

What is a Jew? Ask the King of Bahrain

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today’s NY Times features a fascinating article, entitled Manama Journal, on the Jews of Bahrain. It tells of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his relationship with his 36 Jewish subjects. At the core of the article stands the unspoken […]

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In the Spirit of the prophet Isaiah words (11:6) which imagine a better future ushered in with the help of kids, the 18 Under 18 project is your chance to celebrate Jewish teens you know, who are doing great things. […]

A Biblical Way to Get Out Of Tight Spots

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This Passover especially, getting out of Egypt is an issue with which we are all struggling, whether or not we are Jewish. In Hebrew, Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means a tight spot. And who among us right now isn’t wrestling […]

When Love is More Important Than Being Right

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Being Right, yes with a capital “R”, the kind of rightness on which we would be willing to stake our lives, is a funny thing – so tempting, so exciting, so good, and so often deadly. When our sense of […]

The Joys of Being Sephardic on Passover

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I don’t know the joy of peanut butter on matzah, pop corn on passover or rice alongside the matzah balls in my soup. And that’s just a few of the foods that will not be on my table for eight […]

Boston Cancels Home Opener for Passover?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There’s a little problem with this claim that has been swirling about the blogosphere: it’s not true! And neither are many of the other claims made in this message, which travels under the title “Only in America!” But the popularity […]

The New Jewish Star of the NBA

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We all know the old joke, partly true and partly self-loathing, about the shortest book in the world — Great Jews in Sports. But every once in a while there is one, and in this most recent case, he doesn’t […]

Web Site for Jewish Adulterers

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Not only is Shaindy.com a site for Jewish adulterers, but it caters specifically to those who are Orthodox. 350 people have already signed up to make matches with like-minded Jews looking to hook up, according to the site’s founder. And […]

Does The Devil Exist? Is Satan Real?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Satan exists, of that I am certain. But that is because for me, and according to most strands of the Jewish tradition, Satan is not some little guy with a pointy tail and a pitch fork. Though versions of that […]

Nothing New Under the Sun, Or Is There?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

From the New York Times, datelined April 8th, 1897. That’s right, rabbis getting arrested is nothing new, though it’s interesting to note for what kinds of violations. And obscure Jewish ritual practice was in the news, even 111 years ago.   […]

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 […]

What’s Jewish About Comedy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Laughing is a spiritual act, and in the Jewish calendar, today is the High Holiday of laughter. Today is Purim, a holiday which celebrates humor, clowning, and a people’s ability to come out okay even under the most precarious circumstances. […]

Are We Our Brothers’ Keepers?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With constant talk of bailouts, and the bitter arguments generated by them, it seems like a reasonable question to ask. I suppose it’s also on my mind as Purim is only 36 hours away and one of it’s central practices […]

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 […]

U.S. Muslims Thriving But Not Content, Raise Questions About Meaning of Happiness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A Gallup poll, released today provides important information about the experience of American Muslims. The most striking data include the fact that American Muslims report that they are thriving, more than do any other group of Muslims in the world, […]

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 […]

The Secret to Reading Sacred Texts

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jewish and other sacred texts are more available in more languages to more people than at any time in human history. This leads to greater democratization of faith, which is a good thing. But the ready availability of such material […]

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 […]

Abortion and Cherry Picking for God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Among the most interesting responses to yesterday’s post about the Bible and Jewish views on abortion was Leah’s, who commented: Rabbi Brad, Everyone cherry picks through the Bible. We have to, because it says so many things that we could […]

Abortion, the Bible and Religious Arrogance

posted by Brad Hirschfield

You have to love a Pagan blog which purports to explain authoritatively and absolutely what the Bible means! Don’t get me wrong, I believe that scripture is there for all to read and interpret. I even believe that approach should […]

Not All Holocaust Denial Is The Same

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Pope has ordered Bishop Williamson to recant and Jewish groups from Berlin to Jerusalem, including Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, are settling down. But the larger question of how best to deal with those who deny the Holocaust remains. […]

Invitation To New Interfaith Conversation

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The following comment to my earlier post about the Pope’s demand that Bishop Williamson recant his denial of the Shoah, inspires me to publically seek partners among leaders of the Catholic Church, both clergy and lay, for a new kind […]

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 […]

Spiritual Lessons from Super Bowl XLIII

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Our bodies and our souls are deeply connected. The physical/spiritual divide is really a theological position made up by folks who thought that our bodies were bad or sinful, but that we had a better part, called soul, buried within […]

Pope Benedict, Holocaust Denial and Real Interfaith Work

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated four previously excommunicated bishops, all of whom are members of a far-right group that rejects Vatican Two and one of whom is a raging conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier. Is he pandering to those on […]

Pope Benedict and Rabbi Riskin Should Both Examine Their Deeds

posted by Brad Hirschfield

My earlier post about Pope Benedict XVI’s reinstatement of four excommunicated bishops was for informational purposes and in no way endorses either the tone or content of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s analyses. While I appreciate Riskin’s pain and frustration brought about […]

Rabbi Lookstein Rebuked for Praying

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Rabbinic Council of America chastised one of America’s most prominent rabbis and long-time member, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein for his participation in this week’s inaugural festivities. Lookstein participated in a prayer service held at the Washington National Cathedral during which […]

President Obama’s Very Jewish Speech

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President Obama’s inaugural address moved me for many reasons, including how Jewish it was. There was no Hebrew (had to listen to Rick Warren for that), nothing about Israel, and no pleas on behalf of the Jewish people. There was […]

Do Jews Control Hollywood?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Of course they do! Note that I said “they” and not we, even though I am certainly proud to count myself as a member of the Jewish people. But using the word “we” in response to the question of who […]

The Year of the Sun: Jewish Paganism or Beautiful Tradition?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Chinese have the year of the cat, rat, etc. Now Jews have the Year of the Sun. This new observance is based on an ancient tradition. Every 28 years, according to rabbinic tradition, the sun returns to the precise […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Eight, The Most Important Story of All

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This one is easy. The Most important Hanukkah story of all is yours. For seven days we have shared versions of a 2,200 year old story that have inspired people across the time and around the world. And it was […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Seven, Your Inner Light

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hanukkah also celebrates the little light found within and its ability to dispel a great deal of darkness. Whether within a little vase of oil found in the Temple or within our own hearts, this story promises that good things […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Six, Freedom of Religion

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For thousands of years people have struggled for the right to practice their faith freely. Not surprisingly, the story of Hanukkah as the celebration of religious freedom became particularly popular in America where we have been conducting the single most […]

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. […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Four, Spiritual Renewal

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As we reach the mid-point of the holiday, we reacall that Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the newly liberated Temple, as the word’s literal translation suggests. It also celebrates the spiritual renewal of the community which gathers around that institution […]

Justice, Compassion, Repentance and Atonement for Bernard Madoff

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The news keeps on coming in the Madoff Meltdown, and it’s not getting any better. But the comments to last week’s post about this mess have been great and they demand a response about the relationship between concepts like justice, […]

More On Fighting Assimilation

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Because Zvi’s comments on today’s original post about Hanukkah as a story of the fight against assimilation, are so important, so clearly stated and so wrong, I want to respond. The quick response is that far from “careless”, my reading […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Three, Miracles Do Happen

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For many, the message of Hanukkah is that miracles really do happen and that they can happen for us. This story, found in the Babylonian Talmud, recounts how upon entering the newly liberated Temple in Jerusalem, the Hasmonean soldiers found […]

Lone Republican Jew in the House

posted by Brad Hirschfield

New House Minority Whip, Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, spoke tellingly with US News and World Report’s Dan Gilgoff. Cantor’s comments are intriguing, especially those about the role of Judaism in his politics, the importance Jewish […]

The Eight Days of Hanukkah: Day Two, Fighting Assimilation

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Yesterday’ post told the story of Hanukkah as one of liberation. The story of Hanukkah, is also told as one of civil war between Jews living in the land of Israel, some so-called “traditionalists” and others “assimilationists” who wanted to […]

Eight Gifts for Hanukkah: Day One, Liberation

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hanukkah is a story of many stories. In each of them we see how specific generations of Jews, or those with different spiritual or communal needs addressed the challenges they faced. In honor of those many stories, Windows and Doors […]

This Hanukkah, Replace Fear with Purpose and Hope

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For more than twenty centuries Hanukkah has celebrated the triumph of purpose and hope over fear and despair. In these troubled times, times of economic uncertainty and expanding security threats, maintaining that ancient perspective is more important than ever. From […]

Finding Miracles for Yourself and Others

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Hannukah is about many things. The story is about a tiny amount of oil that burned for eight days instead of only one. It’s about the unexpected victory of a small army over one much more powerful. It’s about finding […]

Parent Figures Out Chanukah for Self and Family

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Lisa Keys of the JTA writes about her quest to celebrate chanukah and her conversation with me about how to do so meaningfully and joyfully. From questioning present-giving to wondering how an “egg roll eating Jew, who rarely lights shabbat […]

Hannukah Questions Answered

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A friend, who happens to be a professor of religion and also a practicing minister, asked me the following wonderful questions about Hannukah, its practices and meaning: Why are there SO MANY spellings of the word “Khanukah”? Is the story […]

Rabbi Emanuel Rackman Dies, A Loss For Us All

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rabbi Emanuel Rackman died at home in New York, and along with the Jewish people, the world of relgious leadership, the State of Israel, and the United States are all the poorer for his loss. He was a remarkable leader […]

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 […]

One Dead Rabbi Not the Issue

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivki were murdered, along with three other hostages, at the Chabad community center which they ran in Mumbai. And as much as I am hurting over their deaths, I am more devastated by the […]

Pope Says No to Inter-Religious Dialogue

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pope Benedict XVI is at it again – making fine distinctions which create gross problems. He declared to the world that “inter-religious dialogue is not possible in the strict sense of the word…that a true dialogue is not possible without […]

Dieting For God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Does God care what size we are? According to Christine B. Whelan in this morning’s USA Today, The answer is certainly not! But how can she be so certain? If there really is a God (I believe that there is) […]

Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Muslim Next Door

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Muslim Anti-Semitism is a very real, but whether or not hatred of Jews is either typical among contemporary Muslims, at least in America, or reflective of traditional Islam, is another story. That appraisal probably disturbs people on each side, with […]

Influential Jews or Jewishly Influential

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Who are the nation’s 50 most influential Jews? The Forward has published this year’s list — they call it the Forward 50. But what does it mean? What is an “influential Jew”? Is it the same as someone who wields […]

Thanksgiving & Prayer Definitely, But Not to God Perhaps

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Thanksgiving is only a week away. And while we all appreciate the time off, it’s worth remembering how this holiday came to be and thinking together about whether of not it’s really a good idea. I think that Presidents Washington […]

Why Virtual Cheating Really Hurts

posted by Brad Hirschfield

At first blush, the idea that a couple is divorcing over a husband’s flirtations with a virtual woman may sound funny. But if we take online communication seriously, and respect the power of imagination, there is nothing funny about it. […]

Mormon Arrogance Meets Jewish Victimhood in Conversion Dispute

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The long-simmering dispute between Jewish leaders, particularly the children of Holocaust survivors, and the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) is boiling over. And as is often the case, the issue at hand is not really the problem. It’s […]

The Pro-Obama, Anti-Gay, Black Electorate

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Proposition 8, the California initiative defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman was voted into law by a 52% majority and black voters favored that outcome by a margin of 70%. In fact, Evangelical Christians were […]

The Limits of Karen Armstrong’s Compassion

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Karen Armstrong’s invitation to the world to begin writing today, a Charter for Compassion, strikes me as well-intentioned silliness at best. At worst it is a more benign form of the same religious arrogance which she decries and which lies […]

When Are We Dead?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Events in a Washington D.C. hospital prove that the divisive controversy over the question of when human life begins is matched by equally complex issues over the determination of when it ends. As a father, I can not fathom the […]

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Suffering is not a zero-sum game, even when it comes to the Holocaust. But based on many comments from inside the Jewish community about the new film, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, one might think otherwise. Apparently, the very […]

Kristallnacht, 70 Years Later

posted by Brad Hirschfield

On Nov. 9, 1938, Jewish homes, shops and synagogues were ransacked across Germany and parts of Austria. Jews were shipped to concentration camps and beaten to death. Synagogues burned. Today we remember this pogrom as Kristallnacht, the night of broken […]

Obama Wins, Jews Got Over Obamaphobia

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Jewish voters went with their consciences and not with their fears in selecting Barack Obama as the next President of the United States. Exit polling indicates that about 77% of the Jewish vote went to Obama, which is a wonderful […]

Exit Polling With Soul: Explain Yourself

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There may be only two candidates with a real shot at winning the Presidency, but there are as many religious/spiritual reasons for choosing them as their are believers. What is yours? Let me know who you voted for and share […]

Many Votes, No Mandate – It’s a Mitzvah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In this closely contested election, I am almost more concerned about how we come together on November 5th than I am about the results of the 4th. The challenges we face are bigger than either candidate or the agendas which […]

God’s Candidate

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I was asked by the folks over at the Newsweek-Washington Post On Faith project if there were religious reasons to vote for or against Barack Obama or John McCain. My response: there is always a religious reason to pick a […]

Cardinal Egan and Partial Birth Abortion

posted by Brad Hirschfield

New York’s Cardinal, Edward M. Egan, criticized Fordham University for honoring Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer with the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize. Why? Apparently because they were pressured to do so by the Cardinal Newman Society, which sponsored a petition […]

Who’s a Good Jew? Fla. Court Can’t Decide

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Edith Rapp tried to sue her stepson, a member of Jews for Jesus, for defamation, over an article he wrote which claimed that she was a bad Jew who had denounced her faith. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that […]

Is Barack Obama Hitler?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Sadly, scarily, and with great disrespect for America (which I am sure they don’t intend), more than a few American Jews – including my own mother and leaders of the Pennsylvania Jewish community, are claiming that Barack Obama is the […]

Can Jews Support Roe v. Wade?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The answer, at least for most Jews in America, is yes. But the purpose of this article by Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein is to explore one halakhic (Jewish legal) model for reaching that conclusion. Or at least to refrain from […]

Kabbalah and Madonna’s Divorce

posted by Brad Hirschfield

It’s well known by now that Madonna and Guy Ritchie are divorcing. And it’s also well known that the divorce promises to be ugly, featuring the work of “pit bull” attorneys working for both sides. It’s a shame that with […]

When Abortion Becomes Murder

posted by Brad Hirschfield

When does human life begin? It depends on where you live. While I don’t like what that means for some states, the debate itself could be good for the future of reproductive rights and the sanctity of human life in […]

36 Jews Who Have Shaped the Election

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Popping up under the headline, Members of the Tribe, this article offers a bi-partisan list of Jews who have influenced the presidential election. But it begs the question, is this what we mean by Jewish influence? Or is this just […]

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 […]

This Sukkot: Seven Steps to Spiritual Openness

posted by jsturiale

Sukkot, the Jewish holiday first mentioned in Leviticus 23:34 and known to Christians as Tabernacles, celebrates the desert journey from slavery to freedom taken by the Israelites. It also celebrates our own spiritual journeys and provides a way to make […]

Cancerous Faith

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Faith is central to living a good life – it may be faith in God, it may be in science, it may be in those we love. Frankly, I believe in them all even as I appreciate that they are […]

Pope Benedict’s Yom Kippur Mass: Colossal Faux Pas or Wonderful Opportunity?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Both great irony and a profound opportunity for all of us can be found as Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, whose response […]

Besides Sex – Reasons Why Men Cheat

posted by Brad Hirschfield

According to a new study by marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, 1 out of 2.7 of us men cheat on our wives, and most of them will never find out. From which we can deduce one of two things: either […]

Overcoming Boredom by Eating God for Rosh Hashanah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There are many customs on Rosh Hashanah: blowing the shofar, eating apples dipped in honey, and long hours of prayer and meditation. But until I watched the cartoon adventures of Todd and God on You Tube, I never knew that […]

How To Sound the Shofar and Hear A Symphony of Unity

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The shofar is the most widely recognized symbol of Rosh Hashanah, and has been synonymous with Judaism since antiquity, when it was used to marl Jewish graves more often than the Star of David. So how we use the shofar […]

All Things Are Forgiveable

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There have been many questions about the idea that all things are forgiveable. This comment by J, is a good example. I hope my response to J is helpful to all of you who are wrestling with this idea, and […]

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 […]

Forgiveness: 10 Steps To Giving It and Getting It

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Monday night. Like all New Year’s celebrations, it’s a chance to start over. And starting over often involves forgiveness — both giving it and getting it. Neither of those is easy, but […]

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The following questions appeared on yesterday’s Windows & Doors post about Jews and anti-Christian bias. Frankly, I am surprised that it took this long for the question to be asked. Rabbi, this is not a criticism so please don’t think […]

Did The Jews Kill Jesus? Ask the Republican Jewish Coalition.

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Under the pretense of trying to better understand how Jewish voters feel about Barack Obama, the Republican Jewish Coalition is conducting a poll that resembles an approach used for years, by Anti-Semites who sought to make Jew hatred acceptable in […]

Barack Obama’s Rabbi

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The New York Times report on “Barack Obama’s Rabbi”, Capers Funnye Jr., suggests that Obama has been hiding this connection and neither assertion is true. Having known Rabbi Funnye for years, I thought that a few things should be clarified. […]

Evangelical Push To Convert Europe’s Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Talk about coming to the right conclusion for all of the wrong reasons! This article about the World Evangelical Alliance, a European evangelical organization, renewing their push to “proselytize European Jewry”, typifies how foolish we can all be, even as […]

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, […]

Sarah Palin, Jews for Jesus, Steven Waldman and the Jewish Vote

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Take a deep breath everybody, because this one is a mess. And much like the responses to yesterday’s post about Hezbollah’s Death Shrine, in which the genuinely Islamophobic responses (really hateful stuff) are running neck and neck with dangerously apologetic […]

When Presidents Wear Yarmulkes

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This gallery of US Presidents and those seeking the office, wearing kippot, also known as yarmulkes and skullcaps, is quite amazing. What does it mean that a garment designed to publicly mark its wearer as a Jew, can be found […]

Proof of God’s Existence

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The following story from the Chicago Tribune, ‘Jewish clause’ divides a family, state courts weigh in on a man’s will that disinherited any descendant who married a gentile, is proof not only of God’s existence, but that God must love […]

Scripture For Sale

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Should kids be paid to complete their homework assignments? This debate continues to surface in parenting magazines, school districts around the nation, and now on the homepage of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency – well, sort of. Turns out that a […]

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 […]

What’s a Jewish Blog?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Has it been circumcised? Does it observe the Sabbath? Perhaps it’s written in Hebrew? Not for me, even though I pass all three of those tests. But in light of some recent traffic, I think it’s time to reflect on […]

God as My Financial Advisor

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With an ever-tightening economic situation and no relief on the horizon for most of us, I was intrigued by a recent poll by the Washington Post which examined the ways in which faith influenced the lives of people under financial […]

Are You There God? Tisha B’Av Asks and Answers

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Are you there? How often has each of us asked that question of God? Of a lover? Of a parent, a child or a friend? The Jewish national day of mourning, Tisha B’Av, which is observed for ours commencing Saturday […]

Overcoming Religious Rage

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Once again, I am overwhelmed by the evidence suggesting that we humans are always ready to do real harm in the name of a good cause. In fact, especially when it comes to religion, nothing seems to make us happier […]

The Journey from Skinhead to Ultra-Orthodox Jew

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Alana Elias Kornfeld, an assistant editor at Beliefnet.com, details a Polish man’s journey from being a neo-Nazi skinhead to his current life as an ultra-Orthodox Jew living in Warsaw. The amazing thing about it though, is how little distance lies […]

Are You Ethically Kosher?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

That’s the big question being addressed by Hekhsher Tzedek, an initiative led primarily by rabbis in the Conservative movement, most notably Rabbi Morris Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. With new guidelines just released in which they […]

Can You Be Both Religious and Racist?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

That’s the question I was asked this week by the Newsweek and Washington Post editors of the On Faith section, in light of the fact that 33% of Americans admit to racial prejudice and 90% of us claim to believe […]

Jews, News, and Head Coverings

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What do you think about wearing an “Obamica”? How about covering your head with a “McCippah”? Well, now you can. A recent post at Seattlepi.com describes Shmuel Tennenhaus’ new business, VanityKippah.com and it newest products. Take your pick, but you […]

Something is Really Not Kosher in Iowa

posted by Brad Hirschfield

And I don’t mean the meat from the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa which packages as much as thirty percent of the kosher beef consumed in this country. But according to today’s New York Times, there are rabbis who disagree […]

Obama Drama At Western Wall Continues

posted by Brad Hirschfield

My recent post about Barack Obama’s Western Wall prayer drew the attention of American Spectator contributing editor Jay Homnick, who was mentioned in it. His comment: How could I be said to be abusing a religious tradition for partisan ends? […]

Obama’s Prayer and Western Wall Etiquette

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Steven Waldman concludes his post on the publication of Barack Obama’s Western Wall prayer note, with a request for responses to the candidate’s prayer. So here is mine: It’s a perfectly appropriate spiritual offering which even reflects many poetic formatics […]

Nice Jewish Girls Do…Swimsuit Calendar?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Love it, hate it, or some combination of the two, but you gotta pay attention to Heeb magazine’s “Girls of 5769″ calendar, featured in both the New York Post and Ha’aretz daily. The latter includes a video of an African-Amercian […]

Jewish Dirty Words

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Shame on The Huffington Post’s coverage of the on again – off again – on again relationship between Ivanka Trump and New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, which manages to use the word shiksa numerous times in a piece of […]

Stuff Jewish People Like

posted by Brad Hirschfield

A friend forwarded me the following link: www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. It got me thinking about a parallel site which could be stuffjewishpeoplelike.com, and what lists and descriptions people might put there. To get you started, I am including some of the suggestions […]

Healing What Hurts

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In response to a wonderful set of questions generated by yesterday’s post on how to deal with a painful past, I continue where yesterday left off. Lucy wrote: I’m wondering if the concept of pain that you are referring to […]

How to Deal With a Painful Past

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We all have events from our past which cause us pain. The question is how to deal with them. Today is the 20th of July, but it is also the 17th day in the month of Tammuz, according to the […]

Mezuzah Madness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What’s on your door? That’s what The Wall Street Journal wants to know. It better not be a religious symbol, according to the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. At least that’s what lots of folks would have us believe […]

Single Jewish Female Seeks Stress Relief

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The economic scene must be especially slow for The Wall Street Journal to take an interest in the dating habits of Orthodox Jewish Women, as it did this weekend. In an article entitled, Single Jewish Female Seeks Stress Relief, Tamar […]

Sharing the Rituals of Those We Love, When We Don’t Share Their Faith

posted by Brad Hirschfield

All of us have friends, I hope, and many of us have relatives, who practice other faiths. So the question often arises of how to participate, or choose not to participate, in the rituals of those faiths to which we […]

Kosher Meat, Meet Elk

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This tasty morsel just came across my desktop and I had to share. It turns out that among the many new Kosher products hitting the shelves, we will now have kosher elk fresh from South Dakota. That’s right, elk. This […]

Does Kabbalah Work?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Did Madonna really brainwash A-Rod? These were the questions I was asked yesterday on Entertainment Tonight as they explored the sex, romance and religion story of the moment. My answer to the second question was already explored in yesterday’s posting, […]

Kabbalah, Madonna, and A-Rod

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This morning’s papers including The New York Daily News, are filled with articles about Madonna, Kabbalah, The Kabbalah Center, and how they are effecting her relationship with baseball star, Alex Rodriguez. Among the charges being made, is that Madonna is […]

Wonderful Weekenders 2.0

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Are you ready for the weekend? A little planning and a few simple practices can help you have a wonderful weekend, or inject a bit of weekend relaxation into the middle of a busy week. And so each Friday, for […]

Thank God For The Atheists

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I give thanks to God for the 21% of atheists who, according to the recent study by Pew, affirm their belief in Her or Him, and I am blown away by the holiness of such people who manage to pray […]

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 […]

I’ll Meet You Here Tomorrow

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Why does an author and talk-show host who was once a settler in the west bank city of Hebron, who grew up in a largely secular, Jewish home in Chicago, where he returned to study religion at the University of […]

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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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