Jesus at Auschwitz

Dear Rabbi, What do you think of the new Jews for Jesus video about Jesus in Auschwitz? I hadn’t seen this video or even heard about it until now, and ignoring it is probably the best thing we can do. But, I try to answer the questions that come to me, so here goes… The video seems to make four points: (1) that Jesus is a Jew, (2) that had Jesus lived under Nazi occupation he would have been rounded… Read more

How to Keep Kosher

Dear Rabbi, I am doing my best to keep kosher, but I am uncertain as to which rabbinical authority to follow when it comes to what is and what is not kosher. Which heksher (certification) do you accept? Years ago when I lived in Miami, Florida a friend of mine opened a kosher donut stand and bought donuts from a rabbinically certified manufacturer in Broward County. He was visited by the rabbinic establishment in Miami-Dade county who informed him that… Read more

A God of Death

Dear Rabbi, When I read the traditional siddur (prayer book) I am appalled at the call for the restoration of the Temple and by extension the priesthood and its sacrificial cult. Why can’t we do away with this? Honestly I am far more comfortable with a mosque on the Temple Mount than a restored Temple and the stench of slaughtered animals. I sympathize with you. And the fact that billions of humans continue to worship a God who needs something… Read more

I Don’t Believe in God

Dear Rabbi, I don’t believe in God, yet I can’t imagine Judaism without one. I find myself slipping out of Judaism because of this. Any suggestions? It all depends on what you mean by “God.” If you mean the King of the Universe who creates everything, judges everyone, chooses Jews, promises land, makes laws, and writes books, I don’t believe in “God” either. If on the hand, you mean by “God” Reality Itself: everything that has, is, and will happen… Read more

Two-State Solution

Dear Rabbi, I have lost all hope in the “two-state solution” for Israel and Palestine, and now back the notion of a single state with Jews and Palestinians as equal citizens. If fear this will spell the end of the Jewish character of the state, but I don’t see any real alternative. Do you still favor the two-state solution? My ideal is a no-state solution with all people living as equal citizens of the planet earth, and with earth herself… Read more

Is God Possible in a Dying Environment?

Dear Rabbi, I believe the world is dying, that we humans are destroying it Is God possible in a dying environment? The assumption implicit in your question is that God’s possibility—which I take to mean God’s existence—is tied to the health of earth’s environment in such a manner as to make the death of earth’s environment proof–positive that God is impossible, i.e. that God doesn’t exist. In other words, the only way your question makes any sense is if I… Read more

I Don’t Believe In God

Dear Rabbi, I don’t believe in God, yet I can’t imagine Judaism without one. I find myself slipping out of Judaism because of this. Any suggestions?   It all depends on what you mean by “God.” If you mean the King of the Universe who creates everything, judges everyone, chooses Jews, promises land, makes laws, and writes books, I don’t believe in “God” either. If, on the hand, you mean by “God” Reality Itself: everything that has, is, and will… Read more

What Is Judaism About?

Dear Rabbi, Buddhism is about awakening, Islam is about surrendering one’s will to Allah, Christianity is about worshiping Christ. What is Judaism about? Resistance. We are Yisrael, Godwrestlers, (Yisra/wrestle, El/God), iconoclasts called to prophetic rebellion against gods, kings, priests, and the powerful and to topple brutal systems of retributive justice and replace them with compassionate systems of distributive justice. Our mitzvot are acts of resistance. Shabbat is an act of resistance against endless toil. Kashrut is an act of resistance… Read more

Mission-Driven Judaism

I have spent the past two days in conversation with colleagues on the future of Judaism. We were, characteristically, depressed. Rabbi A despaired over low attendance at Shabbat and Holy Day services. Rabbi B found that after decades of dedication to adult education “my Jews are no more Jewishly knowledgeable then when we started.” Rabbi C agonized over intermarriage and multiple belonging: “BuJews, HinJews, Jewfis abound, but Jew-Jews are more and more rare.” My Jewish dread is a bit more… Read more

Observations from the Threshold 5 (of 5)

I am leaving Prague this morning. I will miss the city, though I can’t really explain why. Perhaps because I know there is so much more to learn here. Nevertheless, I am going home, most likely never to return. This was, at least in my mind, to be my last trip abroad. I don’t like long plane trips, and  Prague was the last city on my “Cities to See” list, so I could realistically say I am done with overseas… Read more