April 12, 2016

  How open is the open table? While this blog seeks to welcome anyone’s engagement, there are proper limits to genuine hospitality. For example, someone who is continually rude and disruptive, despite being warned and given second chances, might not be welcome at the table. Further, someone who’s values or actions were so egregious and unrepentant – sexual abuse, violence, intentional racism, a desire to join a group to destroy it – might be initially engaged with mercy, but not… Read more

April 9, 2016

Is Torah a useless, outdated set of writings? You’d think so based on how many Jews read it – the survey’s paint a bleak picture. Many Jews simply find the writings boring, irrelevant, and not good reading material. When we add the concerns about fantastical stories, offensive (to today’s standards) moral situations and teachings, and contradictory statements, many Jews and non-Jews find little incentive to pick up the writings. And that’s a shame, because in my opinion, Torah contains beautiful… Read more

April 7, 2016

  Are Jews saved? That’s a question I get periodically from (usually) well-intentioned Christian friends. I also see it appear in my blog comments fairly often. It’s a timely question given that Passover – a festival of redemption and liberation – is less than two weeks away. In a sense, the question is one that arises in a Christian theological context more so than a Jewish one. Judaism has often been ambivalent about the existence of an afterlife, and many… Read more

April 5, 2016

  I’m thrilled that my blog has joined the Patheos family of blogs on the Jewish channel. Open Table Judaism seeks an ongoing conversation about the meaning of Judaism (and life) with Jews and non-Jews. The central metaphor of this project is the open table – a table where all people of goodwill are welcome, nourished, and appreciated. At the table, we engage one another honestly and respectfully about theological, philosophical, and cultural issues from a Jewish perspective. Whose Jewish perspective?… Read more

March 18, 2016

By Gregory In an earlier post, I discussed the spiritual importance of listening – of taking the time to reflect rationally about nature, including our own human nature, and the rhythms and meanings contained within. When we stop and attune ourselves to the world, and rest in the quiet of the moment – what do we hear? What does reality tell us? Many would argue that nature is silent, containing no meaning. There is no “voice” to reality or the… Read more

March 18, 2016

By Gregory Too much of contemporary spirituality and theology is comprised of talking. The central Jewish prayer is the Shema – which is a command to listen, and which may be translated as “Pay attention, those who wrestle with the Eternal, the Eternal is our God, and the Eternal is One and reality is interconnected.” What do we listen to? First, we listen to nature – the cycles of agriculture, the seasons, the tides, the moon, and so on. Here… Read more

March 18, 2016

By Gregory   A mezuzah is a Jewish religious symbol. It’s a stone, glass, ceramic, wood, or metal artistic case that contains a small scroll of scripture verses. The Hebrew word mezuzah means “doorpost.” According to tradition, the mezuzah is to be affixed to the doorpost at the entrance to a Jewish home as well as at the entrance to each of the interior rooms except for bathrooms or closets. The scroll inside the case contains the verses from Deuteronomy 6:4–9: Hear,… Read more

March 18, 2016

By Gregory My last post made me realize that I need to say a little more about Jewish logic as it relates to Jewish theology and Jewish concepts of law. The two great literary works of the Jewish people are the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament) and the Talmud. Most people are familiar with the Hebrew Bible, even if they don’t read it. It’s served as a foundational text for Western culture. Its myths and narratives are… Read more

March 18, 2016

By Gregory An email from a Christian reader asking me how Passover could be a holiday about freedom, when the essence of Judaism is legalism, and since Jews, as Paul of Tarsus writes, are “under the law.” Is Judaism legalistic? Are Jews “under the law”? This is a fantastic question, and one that is going to take a few distinctions and definitions to even briefly answer. Halakhah & Mitzvah Traditional Rabbinic Judaism is not just a set of beliefs about… Read more

March 18, 2016

By Gregory Community We’re social animals, we can only thrive when lovingly connected with others. We crave intimacy and to be known and involved. Many of us crave spiritual intimacy and community – a place to connect with others and God, a place to talk about our deepest held convictions, a place to be fully ourselves, spirituality included. There are broader reasons why people engage religious traditions and communities – perhaps, in the broadest sense, to provide meaning, identity, and… Read more




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