Greta Christina’s “More Atheists Who Aren’t Dawkins or Harris: Jeffrey L. Falick”


Sorry there haven't been new posts here for a few weeks.Here's a short one...actually a link to another blog where I've been profiled by Greta Christina, a writer and thinker whom I deeply admire.Thanks, Greta!More Atheists Who Aren't Dawkins or Harris: Jeffrey L. Falick. … [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...]

“The Feast of Weeks” Is Here Again!


Last night we celebrated Shavuot (archaically known as "The Feast of Weeks") at our congregation.Talk about a difficult holiday for Secular Humanistic Jews! This one’s got almost nothing to offer. There are very few rituals that merit any kind of modern application or re-interpretation. The main theme of “receiving the Torah at Sinai” is not exactly inspiring for people who openly acknowledge that no Torah was received at any place called Sinai (or Horeb, for that matter).The Torah has t … [Read more...]

Chanukah: When Truth Collides with Memory

Chanukah is a challenging holiday for Humanistic Jews.Yes, you read that correctly. Our little celebration of the Maccabees' victory over the tyrannical Seleucid Greek empire is fraught with challenges for anyone who gains a clear understanding of what really happened in the mid-second century BCE.According to the standard narrative, the evil Antiochus IV sought to repress religious freedom for the Jews of Second Temple Judea in order to unite his kingdom under one Hellenistic (Greek) … [Read more...]

Shabbat Funerals And Other Transgressions

On Monday morning I attended a meeting of the Michigan Board of Rabbis. Like most big city rabbinical groups, the Michigan Board of Rabbis is really just a board of some rabbis. There are no Orthodox rabbis involved.When I arrived, the chairperson took me aside and told me that he was sorry for the late notice, but there would be an agenda item relevant to me. Someone had requested a discussion about “Funerals on Shabbat.” I may be new here, but I didn’t just fall off the matzah truck. There … [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...]

Atheist Jew? Apparently This Is Not A Thing You Can Be

Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s derision of secular Jews and Judaism is receiving a boost from a surprising source. David Silverman has joined him. You can read all about it in a recent Tablet Magazine profile about the leader of the confrontational American Atheists.Silverman’s certainly not the first nontheist to reject his Jewishness. The great secular humanist, Prof. Paul Kurtz (founder of the Center for Inquiry), famously held a similar position. Israeli author Shlomo Sand just wrote a whole book ab … [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...]

Intermarriage And The Ghetto Mentality

Ever the hot topic in the "Shry Gevalt" quarters of the Jewish community, intermarriage still remains a bogeyman for many otherwise liberal rabbis. Even open-minded Reform rabbis who have no problem welcoming gay couples often draw the line at those who dare to venture beyond a Jewish ghetto mentality.I’m all for Jews marrying Jews. I’m also all for Jews marrying whoever the hell they want. I love performing ceremonies for them and my single condition is that they are committed to each other … [Read more...]