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… Read more

Why I Support Open Hillel

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… Read more

J Street U Picks Muslim Leader, Jews Freak Out

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… Read more

340 Rabbis Come out in Support of Iran Deal

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… Read more

Iran Deal: Leaders Out of Step with American Jewry

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… Read more

Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part Two

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… Read more

Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part One

View image | gettyimages.com Last 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 and brother believe that… 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… 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… Read more

Imagine THIS!

**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, findingourselvesinbiblicalnarratives.com (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 no religion too,” punctures my soul…. Read more

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