"Are we fast-becoming a culture of victims, endlessly seeking new grievances and hurts in order to define ourselves? Or, are we simply becoming increasingly and appropriately sensitive to the impact of our words upon others? A key to unlocking that puzzle may be found in conversations popping up all over the place about something called Microaggression. Don't know that is? Neither did I until a very short while ago, so don't worry. Microaggression is defined by Tanzina Vega, race and ethnicity reporter for the New York Times, as a catch-all for "the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender, and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture", with the emphasis on subtle, and it's fast-becoming the 'next new thing' in conversations about social justice, good manners, and creating a more decent society. And who doesn't want those? The challenge is how we get there...."
The American Bible Society and Barna Group just released their joint annual study of Americans' behaviors and attitudes towards the Bible. In it, they found that the number of skeptics, those "who believe the Bible is 'just another book of teaching written by men that contain stories and advice'" has nearly doubled in three years. Now 19% of those questioned put themselves in that category, which is equal to the number who define themselves as "Bible-engaged". But this is a flawed comparison, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of Clal and co-Founder and Executive Editor of TheWisdomDaily.com. Skepticism and engagement coexist, which is clearly seen at seders around the world as families and friends gather for the Passover celebration – not only are questions central to the core of the Passover celebration, but "even heresy is accepted at the table because even that is a form of engagement."
The movie Noah, starring Russell Crowe, continues to attract money (it's earned over $178 million in its first two weeks of release) and controversy. Everyone seems to be talking about it, from the Vatican to Jon Stewart, and it's been banned in some countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.But according to Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL and co-Founder and Executive Editor of TheWisdomDaily.com, both the critics and the critics' critics are looking to "see what they already believe is what they see when they look at the Bible", and maybe they should be looking for something else.
"...Passover, like most Jewish Americans’ identities as revealed in the Pew study, celebrates the personal and even the idiosyncratic. While Passover recognizes the importance of peoplehood, it focuses at least as heavily on the celebration of personhood—of the dignity of each individual and his/her right to be free...."
"Pesach is coming, and at sedarim across the Jewish community we will once again label four children as wise, wicked, simple, and the one who does not know how to ask. I have always struggled with this part of the seder for two reasons. All of my work with young people has taught me that we should avoid labeling children because it gives them a negative message, often encouraging them to live up to the label we ascribe.
"On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Rabbi Amy Joy Small sat at Rockin’ Joe’s Cafe in Millburn, nursing a cup of tea and uncertain expectations. On her new website and Twitter feed, she invited anyone who cared to to “share your stories, your questions, and your challenges. I’ll share stories and Jewish wisdom along the way.'..."
"Dear Supreme Court justices: When I heard about the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling, it made me plotz. I’m a rabbi, so I know much more about the Talmud than about torts. But if there’s any group that can compete with scholars of constitutional law, it’s rabbis. Your recent decision was all about the First Amendment and free speech...."
" I saw the blockbuster film Noah this past Sunday. Despite the deluge (sorry) of commentary about the film - inevitable for a biblical film in culture war times - I can't resist offering my take. Most of what has been written about Noah has centered on the film's fidelity to the original story, which really means fidelity to the way a particular critic heard the Noah story when he was a child, or the way his particular creedal community understands the story. Watch this segment from The Daily Show as proof..."
"Passover is just around the corner and with it comes the ancient tradition of the seder and accompanying Haggadah. The Haggadah guides the ritual meal and commemorates the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt. On each of the first two nights of Passover, people gather around the seder table for the 15-step meal and the recitation of the Haggadah..."
Remember for Life by Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is a compendium of stories of hope from the Holocaust. Now in its second printing and in paperback, we are pleased to let you know that it is available through University of Nebraska Press.
Memory is about choice. We can choose to remember the past in ways that provoke pain and stir our anger, or we can remember in ways that help us create the kind of world in which we most want to live.