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June 23, 2014

[I am in Praha/Prague (Praha means “threshold” in Czech) in the Czech Republic. The next few posts are some random observations.] I meet many American Jews who have no idea why they should bother being Jewish. I am not haunted by this question, perhaps because I spend much of my time teaching among people who are not Jewish. I see and value differences among people and between religions, and I am not so quick to plunge into a homogenized spirituality… Read more

June 23, 2014

[I am in Praha/Prague (Praha means “threshold” in Czech) in the Czech Republic. The next few posts are some random observations.] I was walking through the Jewish Quarter of Prague for the third time since my arrival here last week. On my first stroll through the quarter I couldn’t help but notice the many sidewalk shops and marionette stores selling magnets, statues, and puppets bearing the image and likeness of Hasidic Jews. It struck me as odd, but I didn’t… Read more

June 23, 2014

[I am in Praha/Prague (Praha means “threshold” in Czech) in the Czech Republic. The next few posts are some random observations.] Today I spend several hours with an official Czech tour guide on an official Czech tour of Prague. I stress “official” because what we were told is the “official” story of Prague that the Czech people want us to know. For example, the close proximity of a synagogue and a church was a sign of the camaraderie of Jews… Read more

June 22, 2014

[I am in Praha/Prague (Praha means “threshold” in Czech) in the Czech Republic. The next few posts are some random observations.] Next to my hotel stands the Golem of Prague. He is six feet tall, a full two feet short of the original. Perhaps clay settles over so many centuries. I’m only in my sixties and I have already lost inches in height (though I have gained these inches in width). One reason I came to Prague was to meet… Read more

June 22, 2014

[I am in Praha/Prague (Praha means “threshold” in Czech) in the Czech Republic. The next few posts are some random observations.] Today I learned I am too radical for some countries. I took this as a compliment. To be radical is to return to the root of things. For me the root of religion is story: a bold (albeit often denied) and imaginal act of resistance in the face of life’s chaos and transience (tohu va vohu, and hevel havalim… Read more

June 16, 2014

Dear Rabbi Rami, Is it true that the Jews are God’s Chosen People? What does it mean? The Jews are God’s Chosen People the way Jesus is the Son of God, Krishna is God, Thomas A. Anderson (aka Neo) is the One, and Superman (aka Kal–El, aka Clark Kent) is the son of Krypton’s greatest scientist, Jor-El. Each of these statements is true within the narrative that affirms them, and that is the only realm of truth we humans have…. Read more

June 16, 2014

Dear Rabbi Rami, I have a very difficult time with explicitly masculine names for God. I particularly balk at Adonai, Lord, which to me is the epitome of male privilege and power over women and maybe over nonJews as well. How do you make peace with Adonai? I don’t. While I confess to falling into habitual use of Adonai when I am not paying attention, when I am paying attention I substitute HaMakom (the Place) instead. Here’s why: first I… Read more

June 13, 2014

Dear Rabbi Rami, What are the meanings of tallit and kippa, and what does it feel like to wear them? First let me say that I am wearing a kippa (yarmulkah, skull cap) at the moment as I am about to lead a Shabbaton. I always were a kippa when I lead workshops and retreats as a reminder that there is something greater than my egoic self. And while I used to where a kippa all the time, I no… Read more

June 12, 2014

If Torah, Shabbat, and Shechinah (the Presence of God) are all feminine, and without them there is no Judaism, why does Judaism appear to be a bastion of masculine patriarchal power? You raise two issues with this question: first the role of the feminine in Judaism, and second the lack of female power in Judaism. The answer to the second is easier to answer: Judaism, specifically Rabbinic Judaism which is has dominated Judaism since the fall of the Temple to… Read more

June 10, 2014

Two years ago Twitter agreed to comply with Germany’s law prohibiting neo–Nazi propaganda and organizations, and banned one such group from the social media site. Last month Turkey got Twitter to censor material it found offensive. The United Kingdom tried to do something similar with YouTube, and today Twitter is complying with Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and prohibiting anything that offends the Pakistani understanding of Islam [#welovethehaqqaninetwork]. I can understand Pakistan being upset with Twitter, and I can understand others being… Read more


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