Nurturing rabbis as American religious leaders, Rabbis Without Borders makes Jewish wisdom an available resource to the wider public. For more information about Rabbis Without Borders programs, visit the Rabbis Without Borders site by clicking here.
"...“Israel right now is the third rail — they’re scared to touch it. They don’t want to alienate or inflame some portion of their congregation.” Rabbi [Rebecca] Sirbu said that the narrative about Israel that people believe has changed over the years. The older generation, who lived through the founding of Israel or the Six Day War, have a far different belief system than those who grew up in the 1990s.
"...Denominations bring scholarship, investment, organization and purpose. Klal Yisrael needs those benefits, and denominations continue to be vital vehicles for them. For those reasons, Jews outside denominationalism do wrong to glibly demonize denominations as inherently corrosive of Jewish spirituality. By the same token, denominations do wrong to diminish or disenfranchise Jews and Jewish leaders whose spiritual or community affiliations grow outside denominational structures. The Mishkan needs their diverse gifts no less.
"...We live in an age when experts of all kinds are being challenged and questioned. That is not a bad thing, although it does sometimes make it harder for a society to chart a clear path forward on certain issues. When rabbis speak on issues of pressing relevance to our lives – issues that are also being debated by scientists, by politicians, by doctors, and more, it is to add to the breadth of perspectives that are to be found in the public square on these issues..."
"...When a systematic pattern of hatred and discrimination has been entrenched over the generations, it is impossible to remove a single event from that context. The pervasive denigration of another group contributes to the permissibility of action against that group, the use of particular symbols or tropes in acting out. That these boys painted swastikas instead of smiley faces is no random act..."
"...The medical community has been trying, with limited success, to convince people that there is no scientific basis to avoid immunizations. Perhaps it is time to change the discourse. Jewish law holds that the imperative to vaccinate depends not on one’s personal feelings but on the moral and religious obligation to protect one’s child as well as the entire community. In other words, what you believe might not matter as much as you think.
"On Wednesday morning the world woke to the tragic news of the shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C., of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Yusor Mohammad, 21; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. A 46-year-old neighbor who turned himself in was subsequently arrested. As of this writing, police are saying the killings may have been related to a dispute over parking spaces, although the father of one of the victims has told reporters that the shooter had harassed them before because of their Muslim faith..."
Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, the founding director of Sinai and Synapses, will participate in a discussion with Professor Michael Shermer on "The Genius of Good and Evil" on Saturday night March 7, 2015 at 7pm at the 92nd St. Y in the Warburg Lounge. Tickets start at $30. They will get to the very heart of right and wrong and discuss how science and religion help us do great work in the world—and stop us from using our singular human intelligence for ill.
"...Last month I accompanied an Adat Shalom service mission to Haiti; it was our third mission in four years. It was also our largest delegation ever with seven young men, ages 15 to 25, and 14 adults. During the days we worked at two venues. Having helped to build Lambi Village, in our 2011 and 2012 missions, we now broke ground for Lambi Village II. Each of these villages will house approximately 60 families that did not have homes to live in. Many have lived under tarps for years.
In the fall, Sinai and Synapses looked at questions of religion and technology. We'll be spending the winter looking at the question of "Why Do Good People Do Bad Things?" Here are some of the most fascinating articles from the last week about science and morality: whether “harmless wrongs” exist, reason as a force for morality, and why it’s dangerous to be certain of your own salvation. Share your thoughts!
Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, in this week’s guest blog post on Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation on Rabbinical Education, writes about disruption and rabbinical leadership. Some are troubled with the pairing of “disruption” and “rabbis,” but every professional practice is being upended, and the rabbinate is no exception. Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, illustrates, rabbis have the power to disrupt how American Jews experience Jewish life.