"How often have you wished for a "do-over"? You know what I mean. You make a decision or follow a path, and it doesn't play out as you hoped and planned. I know, in many ways that's the definition of life, and making the best of that reality is really important. Sometimes though, we don't want to make the best of what is, we want to roll back the tape of our lives and start again - we want a do over, and what's wrong with that? Actually nothing at all. In fact, we begin life with an innate sense that we are all entitled to at least the occasional do over..."
"Call me idealistic, but I think interfaith dialogue can save lives. My favorite example comes from the memoir of Zivia Lubetkin, the only woman on the command staff of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In 1940, Lubetkin and fellow youth leaders took in the orphaned teens arriving in the Warsaw ghetto. In response to dehumanization of Jews, they organized underground schools for their teens. In response to scarcity, they organized work permits. When scarcity progressed to starvation, they put the teens to work in soup kitchens.
This week seven young Iranians were arrested for creating a video of Pharell Williams's hit song "Happy". The move was motivated by fear, according to Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL and co-Founder and Executive Editor of TheWisdomDaily.com, "rather than lash out in anger and in fear at someone doing something you don't approve of, raise up and celebrate what which you do believe."
"Making Light in Terezin" is a remarkable film that tells the true story of how, in the darkest days of WWII, Jewish prisoners fought back against the Nazis by singing, dancing and laughing. As Rabbi Irwin Kula writes in the foreword to the companion book to the film, "We divide the world between victims who went passively to their deaths and those who courageously fought and killed the enemy.
"I am going to Minsk. It is a strange choice indeed. All I keep thinking in my head is, “didn’t our people work hard to get out of there?” More than that, my great grandmother was taken there against her will. Brought by train to a forest and along with thousands of other cultured, educated, Viennese Jews she was shot. So why the heck would I choose to go there voluntarily?..."
"We all want to flourish, but one of the things that make it so difficult these days is the 24/7 cycle of negative news. Studies show that bad news outweighs good news by as much as 17 negative news reports for every one good news report! Why is this? Evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists suggest we seek out news of dramatic, negative events because our brains evolved in a hunter-gatherer society where if we missed good news it was one thing, but if we missed bad news we were dead and so we care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things. The media responds to this and gives us what we "naturally" are attuned to. But, contrary to the 24/7 news barrage, the fact is far fewer negative, life threatening events happen in our daily life than positive, uplifting things...."
How are our identities formed and what does that mean for Jewish identities?
From Eli Talks and Sinai and Synapses.
Rabbi Mitelman is founder and director of Sinai & Synapses, incubated at Clal, and is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow.
"How did you pick your current career, or could it better be said that your career picked you? When did you know what you "wanted to be when you grew up"? Think back to eighth grade... Imagine you then picking the career you have now. Sound crazy? Well, that is pretty much what the State of Texas is asking 400,000 graduating eighth graders to do just about now. What are they thinking?..."
"How the United States responds to the kidnapped Nigerian girls and the epidemic of rape on the college campus will define for a generation just how equal women really are...It turns out, left to their own devices, college kids have enabled a deep rape culture. 1 in 5 women are victims of sexual assault in college. Most students, men and women, are guilty of bystander apathy, or lack of knowing how to intervene rather than assault. Meanwhile, there is small group of repeat offenders whose behavior goes unchecked.
"What is your attitude toward mistakes? Well, this week researchers at IBM announced that they found two new kinds of industrial polymers that are strong, lightweight and crack-resistant and that could be utilized in several industries ranging from aerospace to microelectronics. The discovery could enable development of plastics that are easily recyclable (currently plastics are notoriously difficult to recycle), creating far less plastic waste. Scientists had long assumed that all major types of plastics had already been discovered..."