"Last night, I had the honor to speak with Clal’s West Coast Rabbis Without Borders Student Fellowship on the topic of social media, beginning with a text study. While there have been several cohorts of Rabbis Without Borders, as well as a student fellowship on the east coast for the program, this year is the first for the west coast student fellowship and I was glad I could participate in leading a session with them...." For More...
"Do you enjoy surfing the Internet, learning a little about a lot of things, having many different experiences or do you like diving deeply into one thing, getting excited about mastering one area, developing a specific expertise? Are you a depth first or breadth first person, a generalist or a specialist? Are you a tourist, a pilgrim or a mixture of both?..."
This week, a New Jersey judge decided that 18-year-old high school student Rachel Canning is not entitled to ongoing financial support to cover her living expenses and private high school and upcoming college costs. Canning sued for support, claiming that her parents kicked her out of the house. The parents countered that she left on her own after being given an ultimatum - break up with your boyfriend or leave. "Honor thy father and mother" stands up against the notion of a parent's unconditional love for their child. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL and co-Founder and Executive Editor of TheWisdomDaily.com, calls for better communication and understanding, "Parental love should be unconditional, but the lives people share are not unconditional."
"...People will not remain Jewish just because their parents were Jewish. We have to understand how Judaism works in people’s lives, and then articulate clearly, proudly, how it can work in everyone’s life. The time has come to ask different questions in these surveys. The language and research methods used in positive psychology are a good starting point for developing new questionnaires...."
"This past week one of the most inspiring people on this planet, Alice Herz-Sommer, pianist and the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world died at the age of 110..."
With the release of the movie Son of God this weekend, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL and Co-Founder and Executive Editor of TheWisdomDaily.com, reflects on the current popularity of faith and Bible-related movies and tv programs in the context of the rise of the "nones,"or those who do not identify as any particular religious denomination. Even though people attend houses of worship less often, "the ideas that animate our faith traditions are still central to most people."
"Over the next seven months, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in an exhibit called "American Cool" is showing 100 photographs of people who defined cool in American culture, from the "granddaddies of cool," Walt Whitman and Frederick Douglass, through the generations, leading to Jay-Z, Johnny Depp and Madonna. I am semi-embarrassed to say, but I always feel it a supreme compliment when people call me a "cool" rabbi. It's meant having some mysterious mix of rebelliousness, openness to new ideas, charisma with being a bit wild, anti-authority and out front, but in an authentic laid-back way of having things under control. When thinking about "cool", the Smithsonian curators used four criteria...."
"In the public square, Christianity and science are often presented as opposing sources of truth: if you believe in one, then you must reject the other. But in fact, many Christians find that science helps them search for truth and understanding, and believe that reason, thoughtfulness and critical inquiry are gifts from God.
"… a student from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, gave one of the most creative divrei torah I have ever heard/seen on Shabbat morning. He got several male students to serve as an Acapella backup offering a niggun that was taught the night before. He spoke over the melody. He brought a cup of dirt from outside and used it as a prop as he used a midrashic text about Jacob’s dream of the ladder (sleeping in the dust) and the blessing Jacob got that his children be as numerous as the dust. It was dvar torah as performance art.
"Can addiction be a choice? And if so, can it ever be considered a worthy choice? Barry Miles' book, Call Me Burroughs: A Life, raises those questions in interesting ways which invite further reflection on our right to make bad choices...."