Francis and Kim

"Pope Francis - Caricature" by DonkeyHotey via Flickr [CC BY-SA 3.0]

I was not planning to write about the visit of the Bishop of Rome, whom I unaffectionately refer to as Pope Fluffy.But that was before I read about his meeting with Kim Davis.Yesterday’s edition of the Times reported that Fluffy was asked what he thought about government employees who refuse to do their jobs: Asked about government employees who refused to discharge their duties as an act of religious conscience, including refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, Francis did n … [Read more...]

Happy Sukkot!

By Gilabrand (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It's Sukkot...the "Feast of Tabernacles"!Being a busy Secular Humanistic rabbi at the holiday season, I have not had much time to blog recently. But with the "high" holidays behind us we're into that second round of holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.Over the next few days I'll share a few readings that I wrote for the Sukkot holiday program at my congregation. Chag Sameach...Happy holiday!Why We CelebrateSukkot is one of the richest and most splendid of all Jewish holidays.  Thr … [Read more...]

Now ALL the Jews Hate Ann Coulter!

By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

All the Jews are up in arms about Ann Coulter.Liberal Jews, like liberal everyone-elses, have been pointing out for years that this woman is a rabid racist. Her latest book alone should be enough to demonstrate that.But now all the Republican Jews are whining about her, too. They've suddenly discovered that she’s just as much a Jew-hater as a hater of all people who are not white northern Europeans.Here’s the odd thing. Taken as a whole, what Coulter tweeted was not the most inac … [Read more...]

Christian-Jewish Relations in 5776

Jews and Christians disputing scripture (the Jews are wearing the poiny hats) in a 15th c. Dutch woodcut.

Let's talk about the state of "Christian-Jewish" relations!For most of the past 2,000 years, our relations consisted of Christians alternatively killing and forcibly converting (and killing and forcibly converting and exiling) the Jews.Since the rise of the state of Israel, all kinds of power dynamics have changed and today the word “complicated” hardly begins to describe it. So as we begin the new year of 5776, let's take a look at how representatives of two of the world's most int … [Read more...]

Helping Syrian Refugees


In July 1938 delegates from 32 nations met at the French resort if Évian-les-Bains to discuss the mounting problem of Jewish refugees from Germany and recently-annexed Austria. At the time Hitler was willing to let them leave “even on luxury ships,” in his own words.As everyone knows, little was done to help the German and Austrian Jews. The nations who participated in the conference were mostly unwilling to change their immigration quotas and very few of the Jews who needed a visa received o … [Read more...]

Why I Support Open Hillel

Gili Getz.

After years of sitting on the “right-of-center” when it came to Israel (I called myself a “security dove”) I have moved to the left. And not a little.As I’ve slowly drifted to this position, I’ve come to realize just how much the right likes to shut down open discourse in the Jewish community. The BDS*-monster is the boogey-man invoked to shut down opportunities to even engage the other side.When I worked in Hillel we certainly supported Israel, but we also sponsored all kinds of dialogue … [Read more...]

J Street U Picks Muslim Leader, Jews Freak Out

Amna Farooqi address J Street U Conference

The new president of the campus arm of the liberal Zionist organization J Street was elected last week at the J Street U summer leadership conference.After taking a class at the University of Maryland, where she is a senior, she “fell in love with Zionism,” noting that Zionism is about taking ownership over the story of one’s people.” She also spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem to get a better idea of what Israel was all about.Could there be anything more wonderful for a g … [Read more...]

340 Rabbis Come out in Support of Iran Deal

Iran talks

September is a busy month for the Jews this year. As is usually usual, the “high” holidays fall in the middle of the month. As is most definitely unusual, so does the vote in Congress about a certain nuclear arms deal with Iran.I imagine that many rabbis will use the first occasion to comment on the second. It’s harder to gauge where American rabbis stand (outside of the Orthodox) on this issue than where American Jewry does (see my previous post).I have joined 339 other American rabbis w … [Read more...]

Iran Deal: Leaders Out of Step with American Jewry

By Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As I wrap up my vacation, it’s time to return to blogging. A few weeks ago I received an email message from the local Detroit Jewish Federation announcing that it has decided to explicitly oppose the Iran nuclear deal. I thought this would be an anomaly. I predicted that only a small number of Jewish federations would take a position while the vast majority would exercise better judgment by facilitating debate while remaining neutral. I was wrong. Many others have done the same, including the fe … [Read more...]

Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part Two

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.11.59 AM

View image | gettyimages.comBefore I take a short vacation hiatus from the blog and my congregation, here is part two of my look at last week’s murderous religious Jewish fanaticism.This time we are looking at the Haredi variety. It is not necessarily ultra-nationalist, but it is increasingly extremist in most other ways. (Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s worth saying “increasingly” any more. I think it’s increased to just about the maximum.)By now, what happened at the Jerusalem Gay P … [Read more...]