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...]

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...]

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...]

Jewish Reaction to Gay Marriage Decision

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 9.35.40 AM

So how has the Jewish community responded to the marriage equality decision?My own Facebook page demonstrates 100% approval. But that’s not really so scientific. Nevertheless, it does reflect the actual American Jewish consensus. The last poll of the community indicated that 83% supported marriage equality.The Forward provided a breakdown of Jewish celebrities. We Jews do love bragging about our celebrities. The 83% support of American Jewry combined with Hollywood’s nearly 100% approval … [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...]

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...]

Cultural Jewish Conversion: A New Old Idea

Steven Cohen and Kerry Olitzky are two great advocates of Jewish inclusion. Now they have come up with an incredibly innovative idea that they’ve written about in the Forward. After noting that many, many people are already affiliating with Jewish communities and even calling themselves Jews without undergoing any kind of religious conversion, they offer this:For those who would prefer not (yet?) to acquire a Jewish religious identity but still want a Jewish social/cultural identity, they c … [Read more...]

Yoffie Redux: Godlessness Is Not The Answer!

I am thoroughly frustrated with Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former head of Reform Judaism. You may recall his January piece in HuffPost - and my response - in which he called secular Jews deluded and argued that Judaism is useless without God.Now comes the Pew Report and the waves of discussion about how growing numbers of Jews report that they are atheists or agnostics and definitely not Jewish by religion. This has led some people to consider the possibility that the Jewish world may be better … [Read more...]

Time To Panic! A New Survey On Jews Is Out

The Pew Research Center has released its report on patterns of Jewish identity and the leaders of the establishment Jewish community are pushing the panic button.Here are some highlights from the New York Times:The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do … [Read more...]