Masculine Names of God

Dear Rabbi Rami,I have a very difficult time with explicitly masculine names for God. I particularly balk at Adonai, Lord, which to me is the epitome of male privilege and power over women and maybe over nonJews as well. How do you make peace with Adonai?I don’t. While I confess to falling into habitual use of Adonai when I am not paying attention, when I am paying attention I substitute HaMakom (the Place) instead. Here’s why: first I like what it means: God as the Place in which all rea … [Read more...]

Tallit and Kippa

Dear Rabbi Rami, What are the meanings of tallit and kippa, and what does it feel like to wear them?First let me say that I am wearing a kippa (yarmulkah, skull cap) at the moment as I am about to lead a Shabbaton. I always were a kippa when I lead workshops and retreats as a reminder that there is something greater than my egoic self. And while I used to where a kippa all the time, I no longer do so. Here's why:Years ago when I lived in Los Angeles my wife and I were about to eat … [Read more...]

Judaism, Spirituality, and Gender

If Torah, Shabbat, and Shechinah (the Presence of God) are all feminine, and without them there is no Judaism, why does Judaism appear to be a bastion of masculine patriarchal power?You raise two issues with this question: first the role of the feminine in Judaism, and second the lack of female power in Judaism. The answer to the second is easier to answer: Judaism, specifically Rabbinic Judaism which is has dominated Judaism since the fall of the Temple to the Romans in 70 CE, is a product … [Read more...]

Tweet This

Two years ago Twitter agreed to comply with Germany’s law prohibiting neo–Nazi propaganda and organizations, and banned one such group from the social media site. Last month Turkey got Twitter to censor material it found offensive. The United Kingdom tried to do something similar with YouTube, and today Twitter is complying with Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and prohibiting anything that offends the Pakistani understanding of Islam [#welovethehaqqaninetwork].I can understand Pakistan being upset … [Read more...]

Who Killed Jesus?

Dear Rabbi Rami, As a Christian, I have always wondered why you Jews killed Jesus? I hope this isn’t a rude question to ask, but I am really curious. The question isn’t rude, and the answer is simple: we didn’t kill him. While the Hebrew Bible doesn’t shy away from capital punishment, Judaism never sanctioned crucifixion. The Romans killed Jesus, and they did so for the same reason they crucified thousands of others: to intimidate people and keep them from challenging Roman rul … [Read more...]


Dear Rabbi Rami,I’m a sixty–something Reform Jew whose faith is crumbling. I don’t believe Torah is the word of God, or that mitzvot are divine obligations. The more I delve into this the more disillusioned I become. How do you handle this?******Mazal tov! How wonderful to become dis–illusioned! Illusion is a misreading of reality that happens when a magician (priest, guru, rabbi, pastor, politician, marketer, etc.) distracts you from reality. Seeing through illusion—becoming dis–illu … [Read more...]

Pulling a Palin

As those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning know, Judaism Next was intended to be a book in progress. Sadly, the progress has stopped. So has my enthusiasm. While I still intend to write a book setting forth my ideas on God, Torah, and Israel, the standard book format speaks to me less and less. I want to create a new way of communicating these ideas, and I have yet to invent one. So, this blog will undergo yet another transformation. Yes, I am pulling a Palin and, like … [Read more...]

4 Arguing for the Sake of Heaven

4 ELU V'ELU and Arguing for the Sake of Heaven Given the open ended nature of Turning Torah how is one to know which meaning is the right one? This is an excellent question, but not a Jewish one. For us there is no one right reading of Torah. There is only the next reading. Of course different Jews will have their preferences, claiming one reading to be superior to others, but this is personal bias rather than a system of right and wrong readings built into the process of Torah Turning. … [Read more...]

3 If We are to have a Future

It is almost cliché to say Judaism is dying. Judaism has been around for over 3000 years, and concern over its dying goes back almost as far. Chances are it will survive a bit longer. But that doesn’t mean that those of us who love Judaism, and take great pride and find deep meaning in being Jews shouldn’t concern ourselves with her future.For me the future of Judaism rests in the capacity of Jews to Turn Torah: to tell and retell our story. I am what one might call a midrashic rather than a … [Read more...]