Here we go again: the Yom Kippur confessional is upon us, our annual alphabetical recitation of our sins and transgressions, from ashamnu to ti'tanu, from avarice to xenophobia and zealotry. The list never changes; the question it poses, somewhat tediously, is whether we have changed.
In the movie, "Oh God! Book II," a little girl searches for God (alias the late George Burns). She looks for the Divine in every house of worship in her city. When she is about to give up hope, God appears.
She asks God, "Where have you been, God? I need you. I looked in every sanctuary in the city trying to find you."
God responds, "Why did you look there? People only show up in those places three times a year."
I recently increased my odds of renting a quality flick at my local Blockbuster by skipping over the new releases section and checking out a classic: the 1990 Barry Levinson film "Avalon."
An epic story of a Russian Jewish family in Baltimore that abandons its past to assimilate into mainstream American life, "Avalon" traces three generations of the Krichinskys from its immigrant beginnings to the third generation of their American existence.
Abraham Joshua Heschel is marching in line with Martin Luther King Jr. and a number of other key civil rights demonstrators. At the end of the demonstration, a journalist asked Heschel to describe his feelings about marching with King. He answered: "My feet were praying."
Heschel was prominent as a scholar, teacher and theologian, and widely respected because of his numerous publications. He was also well known as a result of his participation in Vatican II. Vatican II was the gathering in the early 1960s during which the Catholic Church introduced many significant internal changes. One of the changes included a historical reckoning: a formal process was begun that would eventually lead to the public announcement by the Church that "the Jews" did not kill Christ. From his participation in Vatican II, Heschel received the nickname from Catholics throughout the world of "Father Abraham."
On the evening before Thanksgiving, my synagogue, Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo, always gets together with a neighboring church, Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist, for an interfaith service.
On the evening before Thanksgiving, my synagogue, Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo, always gets together with a neighboring church, Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist, for an interfaith service. What is remarkable about this joint venture, and other pre-Thanksgiving services like it throughout the United States, is the fact that Jews and Christians can pray together under one roof.
My parents entered a church only for a neighbor's wedding, funeral or other life-cycle event. On those rare occasions, they were invited guests, not participants.
The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. The names Hitler and Stalin are at the top of everyone's list as culprits who established this fact. Clothing that these individuals wore is priceless? There is an ironic, but historical, truth to this fact.
I love to ask students of all ages a spiritual and revealing question: "When have you felt the presence of God in your lives?"
The subject of evil is something that has entered my mind often this past year. Since Sept. 11, and also from the ongoing news coverage from Israel, I have had many questions and have engaged in frequent discussions about this subject.
In 1978, when I first applied to college, I didn't know what I wanted to study as an undergraduate. I left the space blank on the college application form where I was supposed to indicate an intended major. Someone in the admissions office, based on my grade point average and my achievement test scores, took the liberty and placed me in a major called leisure studies.