This week Rabbi Brad Hirschfield considers two very different cases that focus on bakers in Colorado and wedding cakes for gay couples. Rabbi Hirschfield says, “There is a fundamental difference between refusing to serve somebody because of who they are, and insisting that all those with whom we interact affirm everything that we believe in."
In the series, titled “A Pound of Flesh: Exploring Qualities of Mercy when Encountering the Other,” noted religious leaders, artists and scholars will examine the background and motivation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and consider the impact of his persecution on his own choices and on society at large.
"...our prophetic heritage should compel us to pursue social justice from our congregational platforms. There is a reason we read the Haftarah in addition to the Torah every Shabbat. Judaism mandates conscientiousness both about our internal ritual lives and the values we express publicly. This spirit of societal rebuke and a refusal to accept the status quo is inherent to our tradition.
Rabbi Amy Small in a presentation as part of her recently launched venture, Deborah's Palm, an organization designed to help Jews and fellow travelers access Jewish wisdom for meaningful spiritual living, is quoted as saying:"that despite the similarities characterizing the persecution and subjugation of Jews and blacks throughout history, our oppression was not the same...differences between the two communities’ oppression emerged.
"For three weeks since the Islamic terrorist murders of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, the world has been reacting. When it comes to the publishing (or reprinting) of cartoons "defaming the Prophet," I've parsed our seven different responses..."
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"How to Spot One of Us," a collaborative exhibition of poetry, film and photography by Janet R. Kirchheimer and Aliza Augustine, is showing at Kean University. Join Janet and Aliza at the opening on Tuesday, February 10 from 5:00 - 7:00pm at the Human Rights Institute Gallery. For more information, contact Janet at email@example.com
"...Schwarz and 20 congregants returned from a 10-day trip to Haiti in December — the congregation’s third trip in four years to the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. There, they partnered with a pastor and used their bodies and their bank accounts to build houses and provide school tuition for Haitian families, many who had been living under tarps since the devastating 2010 earthquake..."
"...Exceptionally big weather, like the extreme snows and winds predicted for Winter Storm Juno – more than a foot of snowfall, with 35-mph winds – really speak to something more elemental. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)..."
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Following our President's recent call for a more fair tax system, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield explores why Americans, a generous people on the whole, get stuck debating how much individual taxpayers owe. Is it because we harbor too many doubts about our leaders? "It's not about fairness, it's about trust."
"...Understanding the rabbi as energetic capacitor shifts our question about what Jews need in rabbis. A new kind of answer emerges: Jews most need rabbis to the extent that rabbis fulfill their energetic functions. Critically, a rabbi’s title, learning and visible leadership do not alone discharge these energetic functions..."