Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part One


View image | gettyimages.comLast week was a horrible one in Israel. Contained within the horror was a frightening reminder of the divisions in the Jewish world; a community divided sharply between modern Jews and those who follow the path of religious fanaticism.This first of two posts deals with that particular brand of Jewish religious fanaticism that is also ultra-nationalist.The terrorist settler thugs who killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh and critically injured his parents … [Read more...]

In Reply to Rabbi Stephen Fuchs


Rabbi Stephen Fuchs left a couple of comments on my blog about my post, Imagine THIS! where I addressed a post from his blog. He’s definitely getting an earful from my commenters. I believe his remarks merit a full reply so I’m posting one here.He wrote: Please quote me an atheist text that predates the Torah that urges people to care for the widow and orphan, to accord the resident alien the same protection under the laws as the citizens and commands us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry … [Read more...]

“Rational Doubt” Blog – Vacation Bible School


Vacation Bible School is a Christian institution that the Clergy Project's Rational Doubt blog has emulated with its own uniquely skeptical version.I'm proud to be included and grateful to Linda LaScola, the editor of the blog, for including my contribution.It begins with the answer to an implied question about the usefulness of the Bible as a source of morals: Anyone who thinks that the Bible is about morality does not truly understand what kind of document it is.The Bible (and … [Read more...]

Imagine THIS!

By RMajouji at fr.wikipedia [CC BY 1.0], from Wikimedia Commons

**Update** Rabbi Fuchs commented at the bottom of this post. My response can be found here.Stephen Fuchs, the rabbi emeritus of West Hartford’s Beth Israel and former president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, really, really does not like John Lennon’s song, Imagine. This is from his blog, (and I thought "theatheistrabbi" was a mouthful):I detest John Lennon’s iconic, Imagine. Not only do I find the melody insipid, but the lyric “And n … [Read more...]

Wear Long Skirts! Cover Your Elbows! You Can Save Israel and Get Ice Cream, Too!


There is nothing in traditional Judaism that demonstrates its sexism better than the rules of tznius (modesty). The rules grow out of the assumptions that women are automatically objects of sexual desire - even from a very early age - and that men have no control over their actions when faced with these temptresses. In Haredi communities, “modesty police” are sometimes in place to ensure that women adhere to the strictest standards of covering up. In New York, they have more gentle means of pers … [Read more...]

Maccabees, Reform Rabbis and the Quest to Slay the BDS-Monster


As I blogged about several weeks ago, Sheldon Adelson & Co. have founded a new multi-million dollar effort to slay the BDS-beast that is stalking college campuses. The knights that they set loose will be known as the campus Maccabees. (I also pointed out what a poor choice of names this is.)In this week's Forward Jay Michaelson has a great piece about why this effort will fail. He enumerates four reasons, beginning with the fact that the Adelson project is an effort built on “eth … [Read more...]

Who Is a Jew and Who Is a Rabbi?


The newly-appointed Israeli Minister of Religious Services, David Azulai, has said something stupid. This puts him well within the tradition of his ultra-Orthodox (Sephardic) Shas Party where saying something stupid is a daily event. This stupid comment was stupid enough to be covered by the New York Times: Speaking to Army Radio, the minister said, "Let's just say there's a problem as soon as a Reform Jew stops following the religion of Israel. I can't allow myself to say that such a person … [Read more...]

Dr. Marty Klein: “America’s War on Sex”

One of my biggest pet peeves is how religious institutions control our national conversation about sex. (Okay more than a's an angry obsession even if I rarely write or speak about it. Which I probably should start doing more.)Below is a great video by sex therapist and sociologist Dr. Marty Klein addressing the stranglehold that religion has on the discourse about sex and sexuality."America's War on Sex"  … [Read more...]

The Holy Kabbalist and the Dead Cop

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. By Yaacov Gross (Own work) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Last night the head of the National Fraud Unit of the Israeli Police, Deputy Commissioner Ephraim Bracha, a 55-year-old father of four, shot himself in the head. Bracha was at the center of an investigation involving corrupt Kabbalistic Haredi Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto whom he accused of bribing him back in 2012. You may never have heard of Pinto, but lots of people that you have heard of know exactly who he is. Included among his followers and admirers are many prominent Israeli and American … [Read more...]

Bring on the Disparagement

By Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team from Germany (ws'08 (21)) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s so much more enjoyable watching the right wing foam at the mouth from this side of the historic decision on same-sex marriage. Part of this is just the smug satisfaction that the good guys won. But there’s something else going on, too. It bubbles up in many of their stuttering reactions and expressions of disbelief. I’m referring to their fear that, as opponents of same-sex marriage, they will now be looked down upon.I noted this in my previous post about Jewish reactions to the decis … [Read more...]