"The story of Adam and Eve is about and for all of humanity, not just Jews. After all, they are not the first Jews but the first humans..."
This week saw two horrific acts of violence – a suicide bombing of a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan and the siege at an upscale mall Nairobi, Kenya - which left hundreds of people dead and injured. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, reflects on these events through the lens of Simchat Torah, the Jewish celebration of the end of the annual reading of the Torah and the beginning of a new cycle of reading the sacred text.
"Maureen O’Connor was the first woman elected as the mayor of San Diego, and served six years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. By all accounts, she was a pretty effective public servant and was even called “a goody two-shoes” by a reporter who had covered her career. But ... earlier this year, O’Connor was charged with money laundering. [She had] gambled so much that she won and lost over two billion...dollars. But there’s a wrinkle to this story.
"Despite being huge consumers of literature, building a millennia-long history on ideas contained in books, and often referring to ourselves as The People of the Book, it turns out not to be true. In fact, the term "People of the Book" is, as far as I can tell, originally a Koranic term - Ahl al Kitab. Not, as Jerry Seinfeld used to say, that there is anything wrong with that..."
Irwin Kula spoke at the BIF9, The Business Innovation Factory (BIF) Conference. BIF is a platform for transforming our most intractable systems, like healthcare, education, entrepreneurship, and energy, where players — both private and public — can design and test new solutions in a real-world environment."...The eighth-generation rabbi said we need to innovate religion, and use technology...."
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Yesterday, America experienced yet another mass shooting which left 13 people, including the gunman Aaron Alexis, dead. Much is still unknown about the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard and what motivated Alexis to act as he did, "but in the space where we don't know in the face of these kinds of tragedies is where we can actually learn a great deal about ourselves," says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield.
"Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, director of Rabbis Without Borders at CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, insists that “the act of giving itself is a Jewish act.” Writing on the website eJewishphilanthropy.com, she called for “celebrating Jewish giving and not make distinctions between those giving to Jewish causes and non-Jewish causes.”
Like beautifully layered rock formations lining the walls of a desert canyon, so is the Biblical text as Clal Resident Tzemah Yoreh, Ph.D. makes it accessible to modern readers. Story is piled upon story until the foundations are invisible. Those foundations tell a different story—one that only a trained geologist can tease from the rock, one that only a Biblical philologist, trained in the dissection of literature, can find in the text.
"What is it about weather stories that engage us even when the story has no real effect on us? I think it is because weather is one of the few things left, before which actually feel small. Weather stories, or more accurately their enduring popularity, speak to the sense of awe and majesty that have departed from so many areas of our lives...."