Sheldon Adelson, Maccabee Warrior

The Maccabees...Not The Greatest Role Models

The Adelson-Saban Republicratic (So-Called Mainstream) Jewish Summit Meeting to Eradicate the Menace of BDS Jew-Hatred has concluded. Fifty million dollars was pledged to slaughter the BDS-monster, though they seemed to have no plans or strategies for how to do that. The one thing that we did learn from the big Vegas get-together is that the effort now has a name. The Forward is reporting that it will be called the Campus Maccabees project or effort or some such term.This is a most … [Read more...]

How To Lose Friends And Alienate Allies

By Pete Souza (White House (P032013PS-0320)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

President Obama gave a pretty important interview last week to a major news channel. You probably didn’t hear about it because the interview was with Israel’s Channel 2 News. More on this below. Meanwhile, this week the Treasury Secretary of the United State, an Orthodox Jew named Jack Lew, was booed and jeered and heckled by attendees at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York. This happened when he told the audience that the president remains enormously committed to the security of Is … [Read more...]

Teach Torah Honestly!


Sometimes I feel like I must be missing some kind of Jewish gene that enables so many other liberal Jews to comprehend ideas that seem completely meaningless to me. This is how I felt while reading the Forward’s latest installment of "Godology," a conversation between columnist Elissa Strauss and Scott Perlo, a Conservative rabbi. “Godology” is a monthly series "in which they explore what it means to be 'Godish' - to kind of, sort of, believe in God."The first thing I did was to Google "Godis … [Read more...]

Gallup: Moral Attitudes Shifting To The Left

Photo by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen via Flickr [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Like other secular humanists, I’ve been touting the Pew data about the drop in religiosity in America (and in the Jewish community). Sometimes I have weirdly mixed feelings about this. I do serve a congregation, after all, even if it is determinedly nontheistic. An overall drop in affiliation is not exactly a measure of job security for me! Nevertheless, the overall trend leaves me feeling happy and optimistic that Americans are slowly coming to their senses. The vagueness of these polls has cr … [Read more...]

Easy As ABC: Adelson, Antisemitism, BDS & Campus

By Takver [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks ago I hosted a forum at my congregation. The topic was whether American Jews can have a civil conversation about Israel given the enormous divide that has developed between left and right. One of the organizations that I tried to recruit into the conversation immediately put forth its red line. Its representatives would not sit on a panel alongside advocates of boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel (aka BDS). Due to a variety of reasons, we held the forum without them. … [Read more...]

Violence At King David’s Tomb


I wonder if John Hagee's Christians United for Israel know what happened at King David’s tomb on Monday morning? From Haaretz: A violent confrontation broke out Monday morning on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem's Old City when a group of Jews tried to prevent some 100 Greek Orthodox worshipers from praying in the complex housing the tomb of King David. The building is located on Mt. Zion outside the southwest corner of the Ottoman-built wall surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem. It dates back to the 4t … [Read more...]

Being Clueless About Being Jewish In A Polite Society

Twitter Bird by Joao Lima Jr [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is an entertainment writer who contributes to GQ, The New York Times and, on Jewish issues, to The latter, by the way, now charges readers to comment. This is either an interesting way to avoid trolls or one really stupid business model.Speaking of stupid, let me get back to Ms. Brodesser-Akner, specifically her recent piece for Tablet, “I Probably Won’t Share This Essay on Twitter:  Some thoughts on being Jewish in contemporary polite society.”Not sharin … [Read more...]

Will You Civil Union Me?

By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday I had an interesting meeting with a young scholar who is about to go to work at a conservative Washington think tank. When our far-ranging discussion turned to same-sex marriage, he asked me why - as a gay man - I would not be willing to accept a civil union in place of marriage. He elaborated on his question, explaining that he favors the elimination of all religious entanglement with governmental recognition of couples; government should simply register civil unions for everyone who … [Read more...]

A God That Could Be Real But Isn’t

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

I just started reading Jerry Coyne’s new book, Faith vs. Fact and I’m finding it to be quite good. Last year he wrote a piece for The New Republic in which he addressed an issue that always frustrates me: the so-called sophisticated theologies. For those of you who haven’t spent years and years studying religion, these are notions of “God as Ground of Being” or the many varieties of process theology. They veer away from an interventionist God, sometimes even shunning the heavily supernatu … [Read more...]

This Is The Torah!


On Friday night at my congregation we celebrated Shavuot (see my previous post about the holiday itself).My presentation was entitled “V’zot Ha-Torah - This is the Torah,” a line taken from the traditional Jewish liturgy. It is chanted after the Torah reading when the scroll is opened and raised high for all to see its words: “This is the Torah which Moses brought before Israel, given by the mouth of Yahweh and delivered into Moses’ hands.” They sing this in congregations of every denominatio … [Read more...]