When people ask me to describe the God I believe in, I often start by using the image of a flame. We are taught that each of us has a divine spark within us.
In my last column, I suggested a number of reasons for the rise of Orthodox Judaism and the decline in membership among non-Orthodox denominations.
Our fellow Jews are sick. They don’t admit it. They don’t even know it. Yet the malady is grave. “The most destructive, painful, most contagious disease of all,” Rabbi Noah Weinberg said, “is ignorance. Ignorance perverts people and leads to wasted, counterproductive lives. Ignorance causes untold suffering — mistreatment of children, marital strife and suffering in a dead-end job.”
The ink is barely dry on the latest Pew report on declining Jewish affiliation and concerned community leaders are quickly weighing in on what to do to attract the unaffiliated back under the tent. Notwithstanding all the good ideas, something, from my experience, is missing from the conversation.
The day God pronounced two simple words — lech lecha — Abraham and Sarah’s lives changed forever. God instructs Abraham to leave his homeland, his birthplace and his father’s home, “to the land that I will show you, and there I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:1-2). “Lech lecha,” go forth — and thus the long journey began.
Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all feeling the holiness of Yom Kippur. By the end of the day of fasting, beautiful music, insightful teachings and prayers that deepened our self-awareness, we were remembering the real priorities in life.
Every year on Yom Kippur, Jews in synagogues all over the world engage in a communal chest-beating during the Vidui, to repent, symbolically, for our collective sins. But what about the sin of being too hard on ourselves? As the High Holy Days approach once again, it seems logical to wonder why it is always so much easier to forgive others than ourselves.
The conversation is supposed to begin like this: “Will you forgive me for anything I might have said or done this year that has hurt you?”
I have a calling. I am living my best life. I am fulfilling my life’s mission. I am living with purpose. While these pronouncements are a mainstay of popular American and Christian spirituality, they do not sound very “Jewish.” Yet, as we approach Rosh Hashanah and the celebration of the Creation of the World, now is an appropriate time to reflect upon the deep Jewish roots of the quest for a life of personal mission.
A deep spiritual life is hard to find. While opportunities abound for spiritual connections (yoga, meditation, retreats and the like), for most of us it doesn’t come easy. The noise, unfinished to-do lists and the distractions of everyday life interfere with quieting our minds, letting go of our egos for a moment and connecting to something far greater than ourselves.
I confess there’s something that’s always bothered me about this time of year, when we put such a big emphasis on reflecting on our mistakes. Why only now? Isn’t this something we should be doing all year? As a community, we certainly do plenty of it, through the very act of constantly challenging one another.
As Americans we share the profound concern of millions of people about the shame and disgrace of inequality and injustice which make a mockery of the great American idea.
Rico Collins, 39, was raised Southern Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., but could never relate to the messages he heard in church as a boy. “It’s very fire and brimstone,” he said. “I didn’t like it.”
Reza Aslan, author of the best-selling “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” spoke with Jewish Journal book editor Jonathan Kirsch by phone from Portland, Ore., where Aslan was part of a national book tour. This interview took place just a few days after Aslan’s attention-getting appearance on Fox News.
If mice can have false memories planted in their brains by scientists, as the journal Science reported recently, then I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that cultures can have false memories planted in their brains by politicians and their media enablers.
If the practice of Judaism is based on synagogue attendance, and if synagogue attendance is based on the passive recitation of prayer, then Judaism is in trouble.
The Russian-born Israeli Natan Sharansky, 65, a former member of the Knesset and now chair of the Jewish Agency, visited Los Angeles last week, hosted jointly by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills.
Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a good time to return again to the fifth of the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and your mother.”
Lord our God, we stood before You just a week ago to receive the Ten Statements of Your Torah. We stood, as though with our ancestors, and listened to the Torah reader chant descriptions of the smoking mountain, the thunderous rumbling, and the long-awaited voice of God.
Monday night marks the national premier broadcast of the American Masters installment on Mel Brooks. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together a collection of Brooks’ best Jewish clips.
God is here today. She is a spectacular god...
I know what happened with those three women in Cleveland, how one man was able to imprison and torture them in the middle of a residential neighborhood for 10 years, even though he had grown children, brothers, cousins who visited the house for hours at a time. It’s not a pretty tale, but we’ve all heard it, although to a lesser degree, countless times before.
Pinpointing what makes people so passionate about Israel is no easy thing, perhaps because there are so many options.
I had a dinner with a woman mad
Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev posted links to Islamic websites and others calling for Chechen independence on what appears to be his page on a Russian language social networking site.
“Behold days are coming, says the Lord…and they shall rebuild.” From our Haftarah this Shabbat Amos 9:13
One act, more than any other, is indispensable from the Passover story: If God had not intervened, we would still be slaves. There would have been no Exodus, no Sinai, no bright future for the Jewish people. For the sake of a future nation, God intervened to save 600,000 warriors of Israel.
For the last couple of years - and especially the last couple of days - my Jewish friends all over the world have expressed their concern over whether anti-Semitism is on the rise in Turkey. First of all Turkey has a population over 70 million.
The central character of Purim is Esther, whose name means hidden. The story is full of things hidden, and waiting for the right time to be revealed.
Dr. David Hartman was one of the most respected Jewish theologians in the world. He was the founder and director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, a frequent lecturer in the United States, and author of several widely acclaimed books, including two winners of the National Jewish Book Award.
Not many people today can say that they found God or religion at college or graduate school. Most universities, after all, are thoroughly secular institutions that either ignore or disparage belief in God.
Fewer than three in 10 Americans believe that God plays a role in determining sports outcomes, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Last year, I officiated at the first same-sex wedding in the 145-year history of my synagogue. For a Conservative congregation, this was quite a break with tradition.
At only 41, Joann Sfar has enjoyed a meteoric rise in France, rocketing from cartoonist to filmmaker in short succession.
As I explained — yet again — in my last column, I made the case in my original column, “Why Is Murder Wrong?” “that if there is no God who declares murder wrong, murder is not, in fact, wrong. While human beings can believe that murder is wrong, without God, right and wrong are our moral opinions, not moral facts.”
In my last column, I made the case that if there is no God who declares murder wrong, murder is not, in fact, wrong. While human beings can believe that murder is wrong, without God, right and wrong are our moral opinions, not moral facts.
As a soccer fan and treasurer of Maccabi France, Jean-Marc Krief is more preoccupied with his team's legwork than with God’s work.
Our hearts are breaking, God, As our nation buries innocent children and brave teachers. The loss is overwhelming.
It might be difficult for anyone in the 21st century to relate to the Leviticus story of how God killed Aaron’s sons for burning “strange fire” in His honor. It’s even tougher when you’re 12.