Personal Reflections On A Great Day


I grew up in Miami in the 1970s.Those were the years when a woman named Anita Bryant led an attack on gay rights in my hometown.Back then homophobic bigots like her were not condemned. Civic leaders, respected broadcasters, clergy from liberal denominations all heeded her cry to “save the children.”I was one of those children. She didn’t save me.Instead, what she and the narrow-minded, ignorant and unthinking people who followed her did was to consign me and others like me to an a … [Read more...]

Sex Tourism, Hasidic Style

The grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman, Ukraine.

Today’s post falls under the category of religious morality. The Israeli news site Mako has an investigative report about the tourist activities of Hasidim (and others) who participate in pilgrimages to the city of Uman, Ukraine. Each year thousands of Hasidim and other Jewish spiritual-seekers flood the small town during the fall holidays to pray at the grave of Hasidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, founder of the Breslov Hasidic sect.Bu it turns out that there's more than just prayers ha … [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...]

Magical Thinking In Reform Judaism

As a (still) dues-paying member of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, I receive the magazine “Reform Judaism.” Some of the articles are useful and interesting like a recent one about “Reinventing the Synagogue.” Some are even spot-on historically accurate like the article about the Exodus that I commented upon in a previous post.Others are more problematic.Almost two years ago I took the magazine to task for running a piece by a lay leader who sees angels in the … [Read more...]

How Far Can We Extend Our Concern?

There is no greater tension for a Humanistic Jew than the deep-rooted dichotomy of Jewish particularism and humanistic universalism.While this is not a uniquely Humanistic Jewish issue – the Reform movement has famously struggled with it since its inception – I do believe that we experience it in a unique manner. At least according to some, secular humanism works for a time when we will eliminate the barriers between and among us. It’s a one-world vision. … [Read more...]

Israel’s African Refugees

In 1951 Israel was one of several country’s to help craft and pass the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The treaty was a response to the treatment of Jews and others during WWII and the Holocaust.Jews once knew only the cold shoulder of rejection as they searched for a safe haven from persecution and danger. So one would reasonably expect that once the Jews had a state of their own, they would act accordingly. … [Read more...]

Meet Professor Boghossian

Courtesy of a friend and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (and I would hasten to add Sanity), I received a link to Bent Spoon with  a great, short interview with Peter Boghossian, professor of philosophy at Portland State University.  Sometimes we expend a lot of energy to say what can be summed up in a few words.  I certainly do.  But I was trained as a rabbi so I have an excuse. … [Read more...]

Lurie, Einstein And Me

I certainly did not expect to hear from Alan Lurie about my recent post, “Lurie Redux...Now With Einsteinian Proofs!”  It wasn’t much of a reply, just this:Einstein quote:"I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details."I never claimed that Einstein was religious or believed in a personal God, but he most certainly saw that there is a Creator. … [Read more...]

What’s Sauce For The Goose…

A few weeks back an organization called the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (Tapps) told Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish school, that its team could either play its state semi-final game on Shabbat or it could forfeit.Despite pleas from the mayor of Houston and NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy - coupled with a willingness by other teams to re-schedule - Tapps stood firm.  Only under threat of a lawsuit did it rescind the decision. … [Read more...]

Another Baby Dies Due To Ritual Circumcision

I wish that I did not have to post things like this.  I’ve already written about my objections to circumcision.  It’s non-consensual, risky and irreversible.  But there’s circumcision and there’s circumcision and the kind of “b’rit milah” that is conducted with the tradition of “metzizah b’peh,” sucking the blood out direcly by mouth, carries risks beyond any other.And once again, it’s resulted in the death of an infant: … [Read more...]