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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

A Universe Not Made For Us

I just ran across this wonderful video narrated by the late Carl Sagan.  I would be hard-pressed to find a better explanation of why I'm a secular humanist.  Enjoy!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8P1Y1a7-L4 … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Dear My Magical Body

It’s just over a week since Todd Akin presented his surprising scientific findings about rape and pregnancy.  This was the response of one young woman I know....  It’s not what I typically publish.  It’s better. … [Read more...]

Genital Mutilation Unites The Faiths

Reform Jews are making cause with Haredim!  Muslims are embracing the concerns of rabbis!  What’s going on here? Did the messiah come?No.  They’re all up in arms because a German court has ruled against religious circumcision.  Nothing like ritual genital mutilation to unite the faiths. … [Read more...]

Blogosphere Heats Up Over Haredi Internet Rally

The non-Jewish press has taken a great interest in the Haredi internet sobfest held on Sunday.  I guess that’s bound to happen when 40,000 black-suited men take over a baseball stadium on a hot day in May and no bats or gloves are involved.Over at Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker and Sam Biddle have a scathing post.  Leaving aside a few of their inaccuracies (not all Haredim are Hasidim), they hit the nail on the head by identifying misogyny at the core of all of this: … [Read more...]

Praying Away The Internet

Sunday night 40,000 Haredi men (just men) gathered at New York’s CitiField.  They did not go to see the Mets, but to figure out how to fight the internet:As bewildered-looking stadium staff looked on, oceans of men in black hats filled nearly every seat in the Queens, N.Y., baseball stadium to hear a series of polemics against the use of the web.Rabbis cast the Internet as a threat to children and to ultra-Orthodoxy as a whole.“[The people Israel] has arisen like a lioness protecting he … [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...]