Liberal Jews Get a Piece of the Rock

Photo by Assaf Shtilman [CC BY-SA 3.0]

If you follow news of the Jewish world, by now you have heard about the historic decision by Israeli leaders to accommodate Reform, Conservative (etc., etc.) Jews by giving them a mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall.Here’s an illustration of where it will be:Part of me applauds the victory of my liberal theistic friends. It was not fair to exclude them from any worship at the Wall. A greater part of me, however, wishes that they would outgrow the need to worship there at a … [Read more...]

Conservative Rabbis and the Intermarriage Dilemma

A chupah (the canopy under which a Jewish wedding is performed), at the sixth and I historic synagogue in Washington DC. This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Bachrach44.

It has been noted that there really are no Conservative Jews, just Conservative rabbis. Last year a poll of Conservative rabbis revealed that 40% of them would officiate at interfaith weddings. This led me to wonder whether even the existence of Conservative rabbis would soon be in question.They’re probably not going to disappear all that quickly. The poll was deeply unscientific so it’s meaningless as an indication of where Conservative rabbis are on the issue. It was conducted by the out … [Read more...]

Prayer-Shaming, Jewish Style

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Well it seems that the topic of the day is “prayer-shaming,” prompted by yesterday’s New York Daily News front page headline about the San Bernardino shooting. It made the important point that maybe some people should stop praying so much and actually do something.I’ve actually thought about “prayer-shaming” before, but the other way around. In the Jewish community I often feel that “prayer-shaming” is not directed toward those who pray, but to those who do not.Michael Knopf, one of “Amer … [Read more...]

In Reply to Rabbi Stephen Fuchs

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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, 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 n … [Read more...]

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

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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?

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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

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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!

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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...]

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...]


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