Liberal Jews Get a Piece of the Rock

Photo by Assaf Shtilman [CC BY-SA 3.0]

If you follow news of the Jewish world, by now you have heard about the historic decision by Israeli leaders to accommodate Reform, Conservative (etc., etc.) Jews by giving them a mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall.Here’s an illustration of where it will be:Part of me applauds the victory of my liberal theistic friends. It was not fair to exclude them from any worship at the Wall. A greater part of me, however, wishes that they would outgrow the need to worship there at a … [Read more...]

Home of Israeli Secular Humanistic Leader Vandalized

Prof. Yaakov Malkin speaking at The Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism ("The Atheist Rabbi's" congregation).

This is the sort of "breaking news" that I don't usually blog about, but in this case it's personal.Prof. Yaakov Malkin, one of the great leaders of Secular Humanistic Judaism in Israel (and father of Rabbi Sivan Malkin Maas), woke up this morning to find his Jerusalem home vandalized.From Haaretz: A Star of David and the phrases "Psalms 139: 21-24" and "Destruction of Amalek" were scrawled on the fence surrounding his home. A knife and an envelope containing a threatening letter were al … [Read more...]

Conservative Rabbis and the Intermarriage Dilemma

A chupah (the canopy under which a Jewish wedding is performed), at the sixth and I historic synagogue in Washington DC. This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Bachrach44.

It has been noted that there really are no Conservative Jews, just Conservative rabbis. Last year a poll of Conservative rabbis revealed that 40% of them would officiate at interfaith weddings. This led me to wonder whether even the existence of Conservative rabbis would soon be in question.They’re probably not going to disappear all that quickly. The poll was deeply unscientific so it’s meaningless as an indication of where Conservative rabbis are on the issue. It was conducted by the out … [Read more...]

Israeli Crackdown on Left-Wing Groups Continues

knesset

News out of Jerusalem this week is that the right-wing government has given the thumbs-up to the so-called “Transparency Bill” sponsored by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party.With its passage, human rights NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governmental sources will be forced to reveal their status as “foreign agents” in every published document. They will also be required to wear special identity badges marking them as such when lobbying pub … [Read more...]

Schlonged!

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Warning: This post contains bad words. Sorry about that. But we’re all adults here and Science now says that people who curse have better vocabularies.I think that the funniest thing about Donald Trump’s use of the Yiddish word schlong is his denial that he said anything weird.The word really means “serpent.” But just like many people use that word as a synonym for penis, in Yiddish and English (or Yinglish) it pretty much exclusively refers to a penis.Also, schlong is a noun. I’v … [Read more...]

Defaming the Left in Israel

Screen Shot from "Im Tirtzu" attack video on Israeli left-wing NGOs.

Israeli right-wingers are going off the rails and taking Israeli democracy with them.The Jewish Home Party, which represents the interests of religious Zionist nationalist extremists, is sponsoring a “Transparency Bill” directed at shutting down left-wing NGOs.If passed, the law would require any left-wing NGO that receives 50% or more of its funding from foreign governmental sources to reveal this fact in every single interaction with Israeli government authorities. They would also be re … [Read more...]

Prayer-Shaming, Jewish Style

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Well it seems that the topic of the day is “prayer-shaming,” prompted by yesterday’s New York Daily News front page headline about the San Bernardino shooting. It made the important point that maybe some people should stop praying so much and actually do something.I’ve actually thought about “prayer-shaming” before, but the other way around. In the Jewish community I often feel that “prayer-shaming” is not directed toward those who pray, but to those who do not.Michael Knopf, one of “Amer … [Read more...]

Israeli Extremists Respond to Paris Massacre

schmuck

Haaretz writer Uri Misgav has published a powerful blog post about right-wing nationalist Orthodox Jewish responses to the horrors in Paris. (Unfortunately, it’s only available in Hebrew.)Their responses are repulsive in so many ways. They are consistently characterized by a horrible kind of schadenfreude, even rising - in Misgav’s words - to a level of “pure joy.”Rabbi Dov Lior, until very recently the chief rabbi of the Kiryat Arba settlement (near Hebron) and head of one of its largest … [Read more...]

Greta Christina’s “More Atheists Who Aren’t Dawkins or Harris: Jeffrey L. Falick”

ar

Sorry there haven't been new posts here for a few weeks.Here's a short one...actually a link to another blog where I've been profiled by Greta Christina, a writer and thinker whom I deeply admire.Thanks, Greta!More Atheists Who Aren't Dawkins or Harris: Jeffrey L. Falick. … [Read more...]

Does Torah Command Immediate Execution of Disarmed Terrorists?

By אביעד חזני [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To my liberal rabbinical colleagues who hold the view that the Torah’s wisdom is necessary in the search for morality, I present this necessary reminder that what constitutes the will of the Torah is in the eyes of the rabbis who interpret it.And sometimes there is murder in their eyes.Rabbi David Stav, of the moderate Israeli rabbinic organization known as Tzohar, issued a halakhic opinion last week ruling that it is forbidden to kill a terrorist who has otherwise been rendered h … [Read more...]


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