May 21, 2015

Repeat after me, “The Bible is not a real estate guide.” Obviously, Israel’s brand-new Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, does not understand why reasonable people generally believe that. At least not according to her laughably ridiculous briefing this morning to Foreign Ministry employees. This modern Orthodox woman is currently pursuing a doctorate in law at Tel Aviv University. But never mind all that secular legal baloney. Based on her remarks, what she really wants to be is a medieval rabbi. Maybe Rashi. From… Read more

March 20, 2015

If you’re trying to download my old “Modern Maggid,” here is a new version! If you like it, I invite you to contact my congregation about my brand new Haggadah: You can order yours ($12 each) now by contacting the office of my congregation. Just click HERE! Read more

December 18, 2014

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) standard. He was… Read more

February 26, 2014

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… Read more

December 10, 2013

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 could undergo what… Read more

December 10, 2013

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 about… Read more

October 18, 2013

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… Read more

October 2, 2013

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… Read more

June 5, 2013

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… Read more

May 30, 2013

When a rabbi decides that she or he is a nontheist there is a warm, accepting professional home.  When the same thing happens to a preacher – and most especially a Pentecostal preacher – well, the option to stay in the career track are considerably reduced (eliminated). Jerry DeWitt is a brave ex-preacher who came out as an atheist in Louisiana.  His story is the subject of a documentary that is in the works and you can be a part… Read more


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