August 5, 2019

When Jews and Christians watch video of the Muslim Hajj from August 9 to August 14, plus the 3-day celebration of Eid al-Adha, very few of them will see the connection between Makka’s Hajj and Jerusalem’s three pilgrimage festivals, especially the eight day holiday of Sukkot/Shemine Ahtsreret. Read more

May 10, 2019

On this Mother’s Day, men who have been blessed with a wonderful mother and/or wife should thank God and follow the Talmud’s advice: “Love your wife as you love yourself—and honor her even more”; and “Be careful to honor your wife: for blessing enters the home only because of your wife.” For many people, Hassidic Jews are noticeable because of their Amish-like dress and ultra-orthodox behavior. But it is their unique stress on trusting in God and elevating one’s soul… Read more

April 30, 2019

Everyone should be constantly reminded that religious extremism is ultimately self-destructive to both itself and its supporters. In the words of the poet W. B. Yeats: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold… The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Read more

March 18, 2019

Swapping the gender of well-known characters can shed light on imbalances in the treatment of men and women. For Purim, reframing even a story helmed by a heroine allows us to unmask stereotypes on a holiday filled with masks. Read more

March 18, 2019

Haman, the xenophobic central villain of the Jewish holiday of Purim (March 21 this year) appears in the Qur’an too. Today, many political leaders and want-to-be leaders are modern-day Hamans. Read more

December 4, 2018

The mandate of Special Counsel Robert Mueller echoes a story of political authority and an independent figure who calls it to account: King David, Bathsheba, Uriah and Nathan the prophet. Through this lens, we see safeguarding Mueller’s ability to do his job is not an ordinary political matter, but a moral imperative. Read more

November 30, 2018

The historical development of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah is a good illustration of how religious leaders can promote a “greater jihad” (spiritual) focus over a “lesser jihad” (militant) focus. Read more

November 15, 2018

For the first time, I almost couldn’t find a prayer book. That is how many people came to my synagogue for the first Shabbat after the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. I knew something was different the instant I walked inside the wooden-walled, linoleum-floored, home-like little multipurpose room that houses the Beis Community (“beis” means “home” and is here a pun on the English “base”), a liberal-Orthodox synagogue and hub especially frequented by millennials in Washington Heights, New York City. More people came than usual — and they came on time. Everything about that Shabbat was intensified. Read more

November 4, 2018

Rabbis in San Diego, California, have denounced attacks by a Republican opponent against a local candidate for congress with Palestinian ancestry. Republican Duncan Hunter has called his Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar a “national security risk,” and accused him of being an “Islamist.” Read more

November 2, 2018

People are seeing me differently today, I thought. In that moment, I saw myself differently. People are seeing me as vulnerable. I saw how vulnerable I was. I realized that by putting on a kippah that morning, I had taken my life in my hands. The events of the past week testify that this viscera-twisting fact is now part of life in Trump’s America — as has been true for Jews of numberless epochs. Read more

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