"The greatest surprise in the new Pew study of U.S. Jews and Jewish identity, is not the 58 percent intermarriage rate (71 percent among non-Orthodox Jews), the fact that two thirds of U.S, Jews do not belong to a synagogue, the revelation that a quarter do not believe in God, or that a third had Christmas trees in their homes. The greatest surprise is not even that 34 percent of those surveyed said that believing in Jesus as the Messiah is not inconsistent with being Jewish...."
"The holidays are over. Through the fasting and food, the succession of pageant, discomfort, reconciliation and exultation, a single moment continues to stands out. Every year for more than 30 years I have found the Yom Kippur afternoon service Torah reading unnerving — and this year I did not...."
"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.”