Clal makes the gifts of Jewish tradition accessible tools for spiritual growth and development.
"Whatever political views we have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is pretty clear that conventional diplomacy has resulted in all process and little peace. And whatever the desire for peace on either side, for a variety of ideological, political, cultural, historical, and theological reasons, the psychic reward and security that comes from maintaining and "managing" the conflict is for just about everyone greater than the imagined rewards for peace.
"When you picture a racist, what images spring to mind? I ask, because in a single week, my own answer to that question has come to include to images of otherwise seemingly innocent types, and in that shift, lay important cautions regarding identifying and combating racism...You don’t have to fit someone’s stereotype of what a racist is, to be racist...."
"Falling apart is a kind of strength. At least, that’s what I’m learning as I reflect this week on the meaning of “strength.” During the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, Jewish tradition invites us to sefirat ha’omer. Literally, it means “counting of the measure” of barley. And, in ancient Israel, for seven weeks people took daily account of the ripening of the grain.
"If you were asked who you love, what would your intuitive answer be? Your life partner? Your kids? Perhaps your parents? Would you even think to immediately include yourself on the list? Your answer can enhance or diminish your ability to give and receive the love you most want. Giving and getting love are about the most fundamental human needs there are. Can you fully imagine the pain of never having been loved or of loving another? I hope not! I hope instead, that we all find ways to deepen and widen our ability to love and to be loved. It turns out that the key to that capacity probably begins closer to home than we often realize...."
"Did you see the DreamWorks film, Prince of Egypt? In it there's a scene when the Israelites are leaving Egypt, set to the beautiful song When You Believe. This morning, in every synagogue in the world, the Exodus story is being chanted as a central practice of the Passover holiday inviting people to experience the "miracle of being redeemed" - of moving from slavery to freedom...."
"If there is one thing religion has historically been good at and its clergy and institutions used for it is death management. Well, these days with "None" the fastest growing religious identification - more than 20% of all Americans and more than 30% of those under 32 years of age so identified - it shouldn't be surprising that close to 30% of all funerals in America happen without any clergy. Obviously, people are having funerals and mourning for loved ones so what are they doing? Rather than engage religious authorities and institutions - the "cathedrals" - people are getting the resources they need to bury, mourn, grieve, and find meaning and comfort - from the "bazaar"..."
"When does Passover 2014 begin and how long does it last? Passover 2014 begins at sundown on Monday, April 14th. That is the date, this year, which corresponds to the 15th of Nissan, the day according to the Bible, on which the first Passover occurred and on which all subsequent Passovers always begin. ..."
By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield from the Fox News 4/14/14
"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 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...."