Teach Torah Honestly!

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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...]

This Is The Torah!

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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...]

Truth Is Stranger Than Truth

There are few moments in my education that stand out more than the time when I asked a professor in rabbinical school about whether and how we should teach biblical criticism. After all, we’d been learning about the approach of archeologists and other academics for a long time. It was one of the backbones of our education.Yet I did not understand what I was supposed to do with the material. In my student rabbinical jobs I would teach Torah in the usual way but sometimes I would bring it up. U … [Read more...]

Jewish Values: Left-Wing, Right-Wing & Everything In Between

One of the most interesting Jewish writers around these days is Jay Michaelson.  His regular columns in “The Forward” are always provocative even when - perhaps especially when - I disagree with him.  This week he’s written an important column in which he lays out something that too few politically liberal Jews understand:Well-meaning Jewish liberals...speak innocently of “living out Jewish values” in the pursuit of liberal politics, as if ignorant that our political opponents think they are do … [Read more...]

How Could God Have Allowed The Holocaust And Other Meaningless Questions

Back in September I wrote a response to Rabbi Alan Lurie’s HuffPost blog about how God is only hiding because we don’t know what to look for.  Lurie is a liberal “non-denominational” rabbi who is actually a very successful businessman and architect.  I am certain he applies sounder thinking to his business interests than to his teaching about God.Last week he took up the topic of “How Could God Have Allowed the Holocaust?”  He began in the expected way: … [Read more...]

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…Onto The Ark We Go!

I just took a few days off to go to Walt Disney World with my daughter and we had a great time.Speaking of Fantasyland, there is another legend that’s getting its own theme park, but this time it’s in Kentucky and called “Ark Encounter.”  It’s a production of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, the people who brought you the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky. … [Read more...]

Why “Atheist Rabbi”?

In the wake of the attack on my blog, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about how and why I apply the term atheist to my blog and myself.  Atheism is a word that evokes so much emotion, yet carries only the kernel of one idea.  Since I have a few new readers, and no doubt some who are not atheists, I will do my best to explain myself and the reasons I started this blog. … [Read more...]

Computer Confirms Bible’s Multiple Authors

There is a fascinating story on Haaretz.com about new computer software that has been developed to distinguish between different authors of the Hebrew Bible.  This is something that biblical scholars have been working on the old-fashioned way for over a century.It matched up with the traditional academic division at a rate of 90 percent - effectively recreating years of work by multiple scholars in minutes, said Moshe Koppel of Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, the computer science professor … [Read more...]

Come And Listen To A Story ‘Bout A Man Named Brown

Israel’s energy luck has changed in recent years due to the discovery of natural gas deposits off its northern coast.  Now there’s even a possibility of using its oil shale to extract black gold, something that wasn’t economically feasible a few years back.But all of this was no surprise to Christian Zionist John Brown, founder of Zion Oil & Gas.  He’s in Nashville at the National Religious Broadcasters convention this weekend where the local press reported: … [Read more...]

Sam Harris vs. Rabbi David Wolpe

Yesterday I listened to a debate between Sam Harris and Rabbi David Wolpe.  It’s not unusual for me to listen to these debates, though I’m not quite sure what deeply felt need I have that motivates me.  Typically they are held between non-theistic thinkers and Christians and Muslims, so identifying with the non-theist is easy.This debate, however, made me very uncomfortable for a number of reasons.  If I’m being honest, part of it is because I’m jealous that there does not exist a non-theist … [Read more...]


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