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Religion Archives

Go To an Online Synagogue This Yom Kippur

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Westboro Baptist Church Hits New York

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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Who Decides About a Child’s Religious Upbringing?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

R. Crumb’s Genesis, Heavenly or Heretical?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Rabbis with Guns – Just What We Need

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

How Much God in Our Nation’s Schools?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Health Care Reform and Halakha (Jewish Law)

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Madonna Visits Holy Land, Models Care of the Heart

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Tisha B’av and the Ethics of Communication

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Tisha B’av, Francis Collins, and Lashon HaRah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Addressing Laillyt’s and Rod Dreher’s Irreconcilable Differences

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Walter Cronkite and Authentic Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Aphrodisiac Gum in Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Islamophobia and Free Speech

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The 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 […]

Patriot’s Bible is Both Funny and Scary

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Guns in Church, or Synagogues and Mosques For That Matter

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

The Cell Phone vs. The Chador in Iran

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Foxy Brown and Prison Chaplains Gone Wild

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Randy Cohen Questions Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish Ethics

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Theocracy or Democracy? Is One Always Better?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Reverand Wright is Wrong Again

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Bar Mitzvah in Jail at Taxpayers’ Expense

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Child Sacrifice is More Common Than You Think

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Carrie Prejean, Queen Esther and Evangelical Christians

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Orthodox Women Rabbis: Possibility or Prank?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Bible Bill is a Great Idea…In Theory

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Bronx Synagogues Targeted by Terrorists

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

What is Real Torah, and Who Decides?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

When Muslims and Jews Cry Wolf

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Sex and Clergy: What’s Appropriate and When?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Nazareth

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Westboro Cult of Hate; How Should People Respond?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

The Pope, Yad Vashem, and Sheikh al-Tamimi

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Pope Benedict’s First Words Upon Landing in Israel

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

National Day of Prayer Observed, But Not At White House

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Pope Will Not Visit Israeli Holocaust Museum

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Pat Buchanan: Accessory to Murder?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

No Swine Flu in Israel, It’s Not Kosher

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Are We a Christian Country at War with Islam?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

“The United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam”. “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation” These recent statements were made by President Obama in front of Muslim audiences. Addressing America’s relationship with the global […]

Anne Frank Found God in a Tree, Where Do You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Anne Frank Center USA is embarking on a project to plant ten saplings, begun as cuttings from a dying tree in Amsterdam which figures significantly in the famous Diary of a Young Girl. And in doing so, they invite […]

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 […]

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 […]

10 Ways to Imitate God on Passover

posted by Brad Hirschfield

No, I don’t mean that we should mock God because it’s a holiday. I mean that at its core, Passover, and the Pesah Seder in particular, invites us all to imitate God as first encountered in the Bible — a […]

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 […]

The Difference Between Cults and Religions

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In exchange for her cooperation, Maryland prosecutors have offered Ria Ramkissoon a reduced charge in the case against Queen Antoinette who leads a West Baltimore cult known as One Mind Ministries. Ria, and other members of the group, starved Ria’s […]

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 […]

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 […]

Tony Blair on the Power of Faith

posted by Brad Hirschfield

For British Prime Minister published an Essay entitled Our World, God’s Neighborhood, in which he argues that faith will be as important in the 21st century as political ideology was in the 20th. Right or wrong, about that claim, Blair […]

Obama’s Nowruz Message: Pandering or Great Leadership?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

One Jewish Life is Worth 600 Palestinian Lives

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Great Sex, God’s Way

posted by Brad Hirschfield

God has sex? Great sex? How does God have sex? What’s God’s favorite position? Is it missionary? These are the kind of questions raised by a church billboard in rural Alabama. And while some are deeply offended by the ad […]

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. […]

Beware American Religious Identity Survey

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Saying ‘no’ to your parents’ religion, or to all religion as currently defined, does not mean saying ‘no’ to faith. And God, whether you believe in Him/Her or not, help anyone who makes that mistake regardless of how many statistics […]

Does God Belong In A Public Park?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Where does God belong and who gets to decide? That sums up the debate underlying two new rulings by the United States Supreme Court and it seems to be a split decision. In one case, the court ruled unanimously that […]

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, […]

US and Israeli Courts Supremely Wrong On Religious Rights

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Jews, Iran and American Foreign Policy

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

No More Churches in Jerusalem. What Do You Think?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

A Murder in Buffalo Touches Us All

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Anyone who cares about building bridges of greater understanding should mourn today, as Aasiya Zubair Hassan was buried at sunrise this morning. The Co-Founder and Program Director of Bridges TV, the largest provider of Muslim Programming on North American cable […]

Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin and Gay Marriage

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Yesterday was the 200th birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The parallels in their lives provide valuable insight for the Presbyterian Church USA, which embarks this week on a major process of inquiry into the place of gay […]

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 […]

Happy 200th Charles Darwin, From a Believer

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With just a few days until the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth on the 12th of February, this week will bring new energy to the brutal and often vicious battle in courts, schools, and religious institutions across the nation. […]

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 […]

Pope Orders Bishop Williamson to Recant

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Vatican Secretariat of State said that Bishop Williamson “must absolutely, unequivocally and publicly distance himself from his positions on the Shoah,” or Holocaust, or else he would not be allowed to serve as a […]

Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat, Dies

posted by Brad Hirschfield

“Faith must be incarnated,” said the man who spent most of his life putting his faith to work for others, primarily through the organization he founded, Habitat For Humanity. “Faith must become more than a verbal proclamation or an intellectual […]

Forced Unveiling of Muslim in Canada

posted by Brad Hirschfield

However well-intentioned he may be, Canadian judge, Norris Weisman of Ontario is way off base in forcing a Muslim woman to remove her face veil in open court. At the very least, he should have explored possible alternatives which would […]

Evolution War Rages On – What Say You?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As we approach the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, the battle over evolution continues. And it continues around the world. This morning’s edition of the Guardian reports that Britons, like Americans, are evenly divided between those who believe in […]

Obama Too Soft On Some Muslims and Too Hard On Many

posted by Brad Hirschfield

While applauding his efforts both at the inauguration and in his Al Arabiyah interview, President Obama’s words often missed the mark. With the best of intentions and in pursuit of an important goal, I think that he was too hard […]

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 […]

Rick Warren’s Invocation Redefined Inclusiveness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pastor Rick Warren’s invocation, along with President Obama’s inaugural address about which I already wrote, set the stage for a new kind of public religion in this country. It is both more inclusive and simultaneously proud of particularity than anything […]

Killing for God, Part 2

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The comments on yesterday’s post about the deadly effects of Biblical literalism promted me to write the following response the interesting question raised there. For me, the whole point of the Akeidah (Binding of Isaac) story – found in Genesis […]

Biblical Literalists Kill Own Child

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Leilani and Dale Neuman stood by as their diabetic daughter slipped into sickness, then acute illness and finally death from diabetic ketoacidosis. As followers of an online faith community called Unleavened Bread Ministries, which rejects medicine, they did nothing as […]

Rabbis To Pray at Inauguration: A Good Idea?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Three rabbis are slated to offer prayers at a January 21st National Cathedral service to be held as part of Barack Obama’s inauguration. Is this a good thing, or not? Is it more complicated for the Reform participant, Rabbi David […]

Gene Robinson Rejects Bible

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Bishop Gene Robinson, recently added to the list of inaugural prayer-sayers, has promised that he will neither bring nor read from the Bible when he addresses Sunday’s crowds at the Lincoln Memorial. His choice is as regrettable as his inclusion […]

Imprisoned In Gaza: A Catholic-Jewish Conversation Continues

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Catholics Call Gaza a Concentration Camp

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pontifications blogger, David Gibson, writes about Catholic leaders making grotesque and inaccurate analogies about the situation is Gaza. The most disturbing of which is Cardinal Renato Martino’s analogizing Gaza and a concentration camp. Having already posted about the death of […]

Hamas Theologians Have a Point

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Making Peace in Gaza and In Ourselves

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

Madoff and Adolf – Bernie, Hitler and the Death of Proportionality

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The Madoff scandal remains in the news and one response that continues to surface, especially among Jews, is as disturbing as Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme. People keep comparing the resulting damage from Madoff’s theft of 50 billion dollars to Adolph […]

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 […]

Faith Forecast for 2009: What We Can Expect From Religion Next Year

posted by Brad Hirschfield

In 2009, we should expect religion to do what is has always done — inspire the very best and the very worst in human thought and practice, especially when it comes to politics and public policy. Faith is like a […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Rick Warren, Barack Obama and The Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The comments to yesterday’s post supporting President-elect Obama’s choice of Rev. Rick Warren to offer the inaugural invocation have been fascinating. Some go so far as to suggest that my position is a function of my being a Jew. A […]

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 […]

Rick Warren Selection is Great for Faith and is Obama at His Best

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Whether one is a fan of the next President or not, any fan of faith should be cheered by President-elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to offer the inaugural invocation. Once again the President-elect shows that he will confound ideologues […]

Is Obama Black? Are You Jewish? Am I Christian?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The answer to the first question, at least, seems obvious to most of us. But as this story by AP writer Jesse Washington demonstrates, it’s a question that won’t go away. Perhaps that’s a good thing too. Why? Because definitions […]

Iran Will Get Nukes: What To Do

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands are likely to fail, according to New York Times columnist David Brooks. Speaking to a large Jewish audience at a New York synagogue, Brooks mirrored my own long-held belief that ultimately, […]

Gay Marriage in the Bible and in Newsweek

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This week’s Newsweek features a cover story about gay marriage – the biblical case against it and the possibility of a biblical case for it. The article is essential reading for anyone who cares about either gay marriage or the […]

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 […]

Will God Bail Out The Auto Industry?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Does God have a bailout plan for Detroit auto makers? Area churches, both Protestant and Catholic, are praying that God does. How about Jews? Why are no synagogues mentioned in the coverage of religious institutions whose members are asking for […]

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 […]

U.A.W. Should Teach Episcopal Church

posted by Brad Hirschfield

100,000 members of the Episcopal Church are breaking away from their current denominational structure and constituting the new Anglican Church in North America. The split between the two groups was catalyzed by the issue of homosexuality in the church, but […]

An Imam and His Ideas Imprisoned

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There is much to dislike, even loathe, about the Islamic cleric known as Abu Qatada. But whether or not jailing him, as the British government has just done, will accomplish anything is unclear. It’s true that it will keep him […]

No Church for President-Elect Obama

posted by Brad Hirschfield

President-elect Obama hasn’t been to church in weeks, saying he doesn’t want to disrupt the service for others. I find that rationale a little tough to swallow, but wish that he would share his real thoughts on the matter. As […]

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 […]

Holy Land 5 Successfully Prosecuted, Not Persecuted

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today is a good day for Justice in America. Five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development were convicted on 108 criminal counts of supporting terrorism, money laundering and tax fraud. They funneled millions of dollars to […]

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 […]

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 […]

Saudi King Abdullah, Villain or Valiant?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Saudi King, Abdullah Abdul Aziz al Saud, spoke this week at the UN. His remarks about the dignity of religious difference sparked global controversy. Is this part of a new world in which the custodian of Islam’s holy places advocates […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

Barack Obama is Not the Messiah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The religious left may be losing its mind. Perhaps it’s just a momentary lapse of judgment in light of the Obama victory. After all, there is much to celebrate about this election. Not least of which is that it indicates […]

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 […]

Ohio Police in Riot Gear

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Officers of the Toledo, Ohio Police Department took the streets in riot gear today, having been instructed to do so in a memo which you can read for yourselves. Make of it what you will, but I find it deplorable. […]

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 […]

Dying Well

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There are many understandings of dying well but few extol the value of loneliness. And the hospice chaplains described in this article know that, beyond all else. It’s powerful stuff which transcends any particular faith or ideology. In, fact, many […]

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 […]

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 […]

Does Religion Empower Women?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

This week’s Women’s Conference 2008, chaired by California First Lady, Maria Shriver, bills itself as “the largest and most dynamic gathering of women in the nation”. And while the annual event will see more than 10,000 participants, the claim is […]

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 […]

American Prayer, Featuring Barack Obama as God

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I happen to love the new music video of American Prayer – the song is stirring, the imagery is powerful, the many stars it features, including Whoopi Goldberg, Forest Whitaker, Joss Stone, and Herbie Hancock, are warm and engaging. Even […]

Powell: Right and Wrong on Fear of Muslims

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Colin Powell’s answer about Barack Obama not being a Muslim and whether or not it should even matter was both right and wrong. He was correct and actually quite moving when he said: Is there something wrong with being a […]

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 […]

Are You Anti-American? Ask Michele Bachmann

posted by Brad Hirschfield

According to Minnesota congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, you may be if your views run contrary to hers. And far from the staunch conservatism and Christian faith which she claims, these kinds of remarks are actually a form of New Age idolatry […]

Farwell Abby Lockhart, Hello Job

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Apparently, the writers of NBC’s hospital drama, ER, are reading their Bible. They liberally seasoned last night’s departure of long-time star, Maura Tierney who played Dr. Abby Lockhart, with lengthy citations from the Book of Job. And although they never […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Holocaust, Tarantino-style: Jews Scalping Nazis

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, Inglorious Bastards, stars Brad Pitt and begins filming this week in Germany. Telling the story of Jews taking violent revenge on their Nazi tormentors, the movie includes the exploits of a unit of Jewish members of […]

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 […]

What Do Biden and Palin REALLY Believe? Questions for Tonight’s Debate

posted by Brad Hirschfield

How can a candidate proclaim a faith which teaches about all aspects of life but tell us that those teachings will not shape their approach to governing the rest of us, who may not share that faith? If they genuinely […]

Religulous: Preaching to a Choir of Angry Secularists

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Religulous is to religion as rape is to sex. Like the versions of religion and religious people in Bill Maher’s Religulous which opens Friday, rape is a terrible thing which must be recognized and combated. But it hardly defines the […]

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 […]

John McCain, Sarah Palin and Overturning Roe v. Wade

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I was asked by John Meacham of Newsweek, what I thought about John McCain and Sarah Palin’s desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. Here is my response. If John McCain and Sarah […]

The Possibility of Meaningful Atheism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

The most recent New York Review of Books features one of the most heartfelt, sensitive, open-minded and thought-provoking pieces I have seen on the possibility/advisability of meaningful atheism, of what the author describes as living without God. I happen to […]

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 […]

Jews Voting Obama Because Of Anti-Christian Bias

posted by Brad Hirschfield

We all know that Florida is a critical swing state in the coming election. According to Sam Stein of The Huffington Post, it’s more in play than ever and the Obama campaign knows it. That’s all fine. But the idea […]

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. […]

Justice and Mercy on Wall Street and in Galveston

posted by Brad Hirschfield

If someone plays in the traffic, are we obligated to risk our own lives to pursue them into the road and drag them to safety? And if we are, who should pay for the rescue operation? Those are not abstract […]

Sarah Palin, God’s Will, and Jews

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Steven Waldman’s recent Beliefnet post on Republican VP nominee, Sarah Palin indicates that significant numbers of Jews find the governor “scary.” But she doesn’t scare me, at least not as a Jew. She does, however, make comments about God and […]

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, […]

A Woman In The White House, But Not In God’s House

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Many conservative religious groups bar women from becoming clergy. And even in those denominations in which women do serve as clergy, they often face barriers in their careers because they are women. I was asked this week, if I think […]

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 […]

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

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

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 […]

Prayer in Public Schools, But When?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

With a new school year beginning, we are likely once again, to see many questions about prayer in public school raised. This one, asked by a listener who heard me on NPR, struck me as particularly worthy of sharing. Hello […]

Family Is a Faith Issue

posted by Brad Hirschfield

What is faith, any faith really about? Is it about philosophical debates? Is it nothing more than theological wrangling? Or could it be something much closer to home for most of us? Could it be about the big questions in […]

Obama’s Acceptance Speech and The Islamophobic Smear Campaign

posted by Brad Hirschfield

If Barack Obama were a doctor, he would get an A for diagnostic skill and a C for his ability to prescribe treatment. His acceptance speech last night was no different — a grand expression of each of those traits. […]

To Senators Obama and McCain, Re: God and the Election

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I was asked by Sally Quinn and John Meacham of the Washington Post and Newsweek, what advice I would offer to Barack Obama and John McCain on the use of religion in their presidential campaigns. This was my response: Dear […]

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 […]

Letter to an Evangelical Friend

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Some months ago I had the pleasure to meet a documentary film maker who is also an Evangelical Christian. Actually, those two facets of his identity are pretty closely related, at least right now, as he is working on a […]

McCain, Obama, and God on NPR

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Today’s edition of Tell Me More on NPR features a conversation about faith, God, and presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Hosted by Lynn Neary, the discussion included Beliefnet’s Dan Gilgoff and yours truly. And it was fascinating. Not […]

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 […]

Rick Warren, Abortion and the Holocaust

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Rick Warren’s beleifnet.com interview is a must read, both because of the wisdom it contains and a rather horrific analogy made by him in which he compares any position on abortion other than his own, to holocaust denial. I assume […]

The Limits of Forgiveness

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Recent events with John Edwards’s affair have gotten lots of people saying lots of things about betrayal, the nature of forgiveness, who deserves to be forgiven and under what circumstances. Most of it has been pretty angry stuff, which won’t […]

Jerusalem – A House Divided Against Itself?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

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

With John McCain at the Aspen Institute

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Having returned from listening to John McCain at the Aspen Institute, I am filled with more hope about the future than I thought I would be. Not so much because of what Senator McCain had to say. Though to be […]

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 […]

Kirk Cameron, Israel, and God’s Plan for the World

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There is so much to respond to in Kirk Cameron’s Beliefnet interview, it’s hard to know where to begin. Not least is the notion that we need to ask ourselves why we care so much about what a former sit-com […]

Do Miracles Happen?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Of course they do, at least as far as I’m concerned. But that’s just one man’s opinion and also a function of my definition of miracle, which is a positive outcome or turn of events that can not be explained […]

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 […]

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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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