Thirty years ago, in 1983, Rabbi Pinchas Gruman, an esteemed scholar of Jewish texts who also holds a doctorate in philosophy, was the chair of the Rabbinical Council of California’s (RCC) committee dedicated to enforcing Jewish dietary law at establishments under its supervision.
Rabbi David Hartman, one of the great Jewish philosophers of his generation and the founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute, died on Feb. 10, 2013, at 81. Hartman is considered one of the leaders of liberal Orthodoxy, and his philosophy influenced Jews both in Israel and around the world.
Around our house, Irvin D. Yalom is a familiar name, and for more than one reason.
"The idea of the Jewish liberal arts college began with the question: What would Jews or non-Jews interested in the Jewish perspective need to study in order to think about the biggest questions from a perspective that's relevant to Jews," Yoram Hazony said in an interview in his office.
Recently, I spoke to Reform rabbinical students in their class on "Jewish Political Tradition." Which is, exactly, what? My expertise, I told them, is politics, not theology. Here was my dilemma: to talk reality or defer to the orthodoxy of Reform Jews, which is to say, political liberalism. (Forget the Reconstructionists, i.e., Jewish Unitarians, who are oxymoronic "religious" secular humanists.) How confusing all this, especially for non-Jews, who are further told that Conservative Jews are somewhere between Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews -- sort of like the words "liberal" and "conservative."
Bioethicist Peter Singer has received death threats for his views on incendiary topics such as infanticide and animals rights. Singer -- an Australian Jew who is considered to be one of the most influential living philosophers -- will lecture about how art depicts animals on May 24 at the Getty Center, in conjunction with the Getty Museum exhibition, "Oudry's Painted Menagerie."
I've now have been living in Los Angeles for five years, and the hippie-dippie-yoga-Pilates-karma-kabbalah-astrology-Burning Man-surfer-superstitious-psychic-feng shui-acupuncturist-vegetarian ethos has invaded my life. (I'm embarrassed to say I practice some of the above now.)
I'm probably one of the last people on earth who should be investigating questions such as "Why are we here?" and "What is the meaning of life?" See, I've given up.
"Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity": Traditional Judaism feared and distrusted this child of the enlightenment. Although prominent Jewish thinkers, from Moses Mendelssohn to Solomon Maimon to modern Zionists, have claimed him as their own, every deliberation on Spinoza wonders -- is he a Jewish thinker?
There were always Jews in punk, even before there was punk.
"It really begins with Lenny Bruce," says Steven Beeber, whose new book "The Heebie Jeebies at CBGBs: A Secret History of Jewish Punk," will be published next year by A Capella Books. "Bruce sort of epitomizes the attitude, the whole smart-ass, clever truth-telling."
In fact, the punk attitude is also a Jewish attitude that begins with the midrash, in which Abram smashes all but one of his father's household idols and blames the sole survivor for the wreckage.
Comic books aren't just for kids anymore. In both the United States and France, they've been enjoying a popular explosion among readers of all ages.
Cunningly constructed, the play relates the adventures and misadventures of the Sycamore Family of New York, whose guiding motto is, do whatever turns you on, however eccentric, and you'll have lots of fun, avoid ulcers and enjoy a happy ending.
Put down your "Da Vinci Code." Set aside your "South Beach Diet." Let your kaballah red string drop off your wrist. I'm here to alert you to the next pop cultural phenom: a 12th-century philosopher popularly known as the Rambam.
The Torah portion for this Shabbat is Korach, which details a disastrous mutiny led by Korach, a first cousin of Moses and Aaron.
Community activist Karen Bass' victory in the 47th Assembly District's Democratic primary provides a valuable opening for coalition efforts between the Jewish community and a new generation of African American and Latino activists.
Try this experiment: Put your hands in your pockets and try to explain to someone -- verbally -- how to tie shoes. It's an exercise in frustration, because there are certain things you can learn by description, and there are others that can only be learned in the doing -- learned not by words and concepts, but by involving fingers, hands and heart.