Audacious Religious Responsibility in Response to Orlando

There are those who will address the complex questions of gun ownership in the wake of the massacre in Orlando. There are those that will address the challenging nature of political radicalization in response to Orlando. Yet, in the face of so much loss of life — tragically, horrifically and devastatingly — those of us called to religious and faith leadership must rise to the tremendous challenge of taking responsibility for the teachings of our faith. It is not enough to… Read more

Prayer, Good Deeds and Sacrifices? Explaining The Role of Sacrifices in Judaism

The most read book in human history, the Bible, spends much of its time concerned with the construction of a special sanctuary, a Tabernacle, in which animal (and grain) sacrifices were performed regularly. We may have grown up on the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Great Deluge, the Twelve Tribes and the Exodus from Egypt but the majority of the text of the Five Books is dedicated to a set of rituals that have not been performed in… Read more

Living Life With The GPS Off

When is the last time you got lost? I don’t mean you missed a turn that you should have taken and you experienced a short inconvenience. I mean genuinely seriously lost, as in stuck on a back mountain road with no idea where you were and the sun was quickly setting. I can remember the last time I got lost. I was on my way to visit my then fiancee, now wife. She was working for the summer in a… Read more

Religious Conservatives: Let’s Celebrate Marriage!

I am an Orthodox rabbi. In my faith community we do not perform same-sex marriages. We believe that the Torah and subsequent rabbinic tradition rule out the possibility of two people of the same sex coming together in marriage. Yet, we are called upon to be welcoming, to be embracing and to be inclusive of all people. A growing list of Orthodox rabbis and leaders have added their names to a Statement of Principles first published in July of 2010… Read more

A Modest Case for Civil Marriage Equality (Two Years Later)

The Supreme Court may very well transform the landscape of marriage rights in the United States this coming June when it offers its decision on Obergefell v. Hodges. The questions are many and the answers are contradictory and confusing. For those of us who cannot officiate same sex marriages in our faith traditions, what will be our legal liability if the Supreme Court rules that it is a Constitutional right? How will the right of people to marry who they… Read more

The Koren Yom Ha’atzmaut Mahzor: When Your Values Align With Your Prayer Book

I remember the first time I encountered the black cover siddur, prayer book, from Artscroll. I was well acquainted with the brown cover Artscroll prayer book but had not yet seen this edition before. What was different about it? The first thing I noticed was that it was the “Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) Edition”. An RCA prayer book seemed fascinating. The largest body of Centrist Orthodox rabbis in North America had collaborated with Artscroll to produce a new prayer… Read more

Is There A Future For Jews In Europe?

A young girl’s bat mitzvah is cut short. The life of a volunteer security guard is permanently cut short. The Jewish community of Copenhagen is only the latest in Europe to face the rising tide of anti-Semitic violence. It is almost impossible to comprehend how a community that still within living memory experienced the most systemic attempt at their genocide in history, now once again, faces the fear of terrorist attacks. This time though it is very different. Despite the… Read more

Why Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia Will Determine the Fate of European Society

The future of Europe rests on how it protects the Jews and Muslims who live on the continent. The fate of the liberal political experiment in Europe, initiated in the 18th century and brought to the brink of collapse numerous times in the years that have followed, rests entirely on whether Jews and Muslims can safely walk the streets of Paris, London and Berlin. Is it possible for Jews and Muslims to experience full integration as members of the larger… Read more

Please God, Help Us Bring About Your Third Temple: A Response to Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

My friend and colleague, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, has written a provocative personal essay in the form of a prayer questioning the necessity for the restoration of the Beit HaMikdash, The Temple and its Divine service. I do not question the sincerity of his questioning or of his convictions. He is a man of integrity and is always one to express his genuine and heartfelt questions, challenges, declarations and points of dialogue. I feel compelled in this case to offer a… Read more

One Lesson From The Voyeur Rabbi Scandal: Women Must Be Part of Every Board Room

It has now been more than a week since the revelations occurred in the media of the alleged voyeuristic spying committed by one of the most influential and powerful Modern Orthodox rabbis in America, Rabbi Barry Freundel. If it was not horrible enough that women, most of them in the process of converting to Judaism, were violated in one of the most special and intimate ritual places in Judaism, it is now clear that the problems go back for years…. Read more

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