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Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Religion 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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Is God A Christian?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Remembering 9/11 – Part One

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Is Realty TV Really Kosher? The Ethics Of Realty TV

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Hard Core Atheist Secularists and Their Religious Counterparts Become Increasingly Alike

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Litigating God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Rabbis Dress, Then and Now

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Who Needs Sabbath?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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 […]

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Did God Create The World?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Circumcision Really So Awful?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Heroic Fall

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

New Bible Anyone? This One, Without God!

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Good Kabbalah Goes Bad?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Room in the Military for Atheist Chaplains?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Religion Headed For Extinction?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Values Matter Most

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Heaven, Hell and Rob Bell

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Fasting Like Esther, A Biblical Practice We Need Today

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The “Tefillin Scare” on Alaska Airlines

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

God Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

King’s Hearings on Radical Islam in America

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Shoah in Iran

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Westboro Baptist Church Ruling Challenges Us All

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish-Catholic Dialogue Redefined

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does 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 […]

Prayer in Public Schools — The Democratic Way To Go?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Can Faith Trust Freedom?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Honor Killings and The Death Of A Friend

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Teruma: Finding That God Lives Where Hearts Open

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When the Messiah Comes…

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Kosher Slaughter Inhumane?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Synagogue to Bless Animals

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Stopping Religion-Inspired Violence Must Be a Religious Priority

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Getting Angry at God is Good

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Biggest Jewish Story of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Sexual Mores

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Obama Ends DADT, Opposes Gay Marriage

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Certifying Food as Ethically Kosher

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Time to Get Rid of the Rabbinate?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What’s Your Calling?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Government dollars to build Park 51?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Jokes: What Makes Them Funny, Or Not

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Broken Is Whole, A Biblical Perspective

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Are Indians Meant To Be Poor?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jewish Rock Radio — What It’s All About

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Would God Vote?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Jewish Claim to Israel — What Some Catholic Bishops Say

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Finding God with Google

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Rand Paul and Jack Conway Bring Faith Down

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Finding Faith On Our Own Terms

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What Counts as a “Church”?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Christine O’Donnell’s God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Tolerance Good Enough?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Who Knows God and Who Knows About God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Sexual Abuse Case Against Rabbi Dropped, But Not Over

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Are You As Brave As God?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Religious Are Israelis? How religious Are You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Conscientious Objection to War by American Muslims and Israeli Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Burn a Koran? What If It Were a Torah?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Coin Honors Romanian Jew-Hater, Miron Cristea

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Teaching Talmud in Korea?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Rabbis Cheat, Who Is To Blame?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Building the Third Temple in Sao Paulo

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Gingrich Wrong on “Ground Zero Mosque”, Mostly

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Another List of 50 Influential Rabbis, All Women

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Why Religious Institutions Fail: A Tisha B’av Reflection

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Religion-Science Debate 85 Years After Scopes

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Who Keeps Kosher and Why

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Things We Do For God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Remembering the Lubavitcher Rebbe 16 Years After His Death

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Prince Charles’ Islamic Environmentalism Not the Real Problem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Struggle Over Proposed Mosque In Staten Island

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Ayatollah Khomeini Mourned by Millions 21 Years After His Death

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Jerusalem Quotes for Jerusalem Day 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

A Mosque at Ground Zero? What do you think?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Mother’s Day 2010 – Is It Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Whose Holocaust Is It?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Lag B’Omer 2010: Celebrate Being Kind

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does Sholom Rubashikn Deserve a Life Sentence?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Disinviting Franklin Graham from National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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 […]

The Simpsons Visit Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Young Is Too Young To Get Married?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Texas Showdown about God and History

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Intermarriage and Proselytizing in Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Blaming Rape Victims Because of Their “Ungodly Dress”

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Watching the Academy Awards and Waiting for the Messiah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Hating Science in the Name of God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What Is Talmud For?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What Maureen Dowd Doesn’t Get

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Hamas Founder’s Son Spied for Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Gays in the Military: A Religious Issue?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Voodoo and False Prophecy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

A 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 […]

Super Bowl XLIV: Pro-Life and Anti-Gay

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jew Do Voodoo? A Jewish View

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Phylacteries, or Tefillin, are Suddenly Big News

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

A Rabbi’s Prayer in Response to Natural Disaster

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Haiti, Pat Robertson and Wondering Where God Is

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Scapegoats, in the Bible and In Washington

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Angry At God? Good For You…Maybe

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Happy Birthday Elvis! Were you Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

New Irish Blasphemy Law Threatens Religious Freedom and Democracy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Tiger Woods Needs Jesus

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Many Names Does God Have?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Biggest Religion Story of ’09: Faith Gains Ground

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Gay and Orthodox: The Saga Continues

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Gay and Orthodox at Yeshiva University

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Making Pope Pius XII a Saint

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Evacuating the Settlements: God vs. the State of Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Banning Christmas in Jerusalem

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and the December Culture Wars

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Faith and People with Disabilities

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

News From World’s Biggest Multi-Faith Festival

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Swiss Ban on Minarets, An Ugly But Understandable Response?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Psalms 109:8, An Ugly Prayer for President Obama

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Does God Belong In The Military?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Maureen Dowd an Anti-Semite?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Death Panels? No! But There Are No Death Panels

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Fort Hood Shooting: Compassion First, Questions Second

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Are You Good Without God?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Circumcision For Everyone?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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 […]

A Muslim Reaction to Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust Denial

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Jewish?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
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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 ...

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 ...

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

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
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posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

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