"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...."
"Is religious freedom of greater importance than the constitutional right of equality? Arizona’s state law SB 1062, which has passed through the legislature and awaits gubernatorial support or veto, argues, ‘Yes’. I suggest, ‘no’, and I do so on religious grounds...."
"...‘Freedom of religious thought and expression are sacred whether you believe in God or not. The willingness to talk about things in public even if they’re not comfortable is also sacred,’ says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, which seeks to broaden religious understanding in public discourse...."
Bring your voices, dancing socks and open hearts to join P'nai Or and Hartford Chants this Saturday for an evening of Hebrew Chant and musical meditation with the Kirtan Rabbi. Featuring: Sarah Gershuny (vocals); Adam Bauer (bass); David Noonan (percussion); other guests; AND most of all: YOU!
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"Have you seen the series of Vizio Smart TV commercials? They are quite unnerving. They play on what we digital immigrants (I am 56) all know. Our children know so much more than us in so many areas that not only do we need to learn from them in ways parents have never needed to learn from their children, but there are times it feels like we are living in different worlds...."