Clal makes the gifts of Jewish tradition accessible tools for spiritual growth and development.
A few weeks ago I was at a, first of its kind, gathering in Austin, TX. The leaders of more than ten national religious denominations came together to explore why their congregations were losing membership so rapidly over the last decade. The gathering included leadership from the Methodists, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Lutherans, Unitarian Universalists as well as top leadership from the Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism and the Reconstructionist Movement.
"I had been spending a few days with a motley group of American rabbis of all the varied denominations. Many of them I know well; I have deep affection and respect for them. We were in the midst of a talent show; it was supposed to be fun, after a long day with our noses to the grindstone.
"It reminded me of so much we teach from Jewish tradition: That study leads to action. A debate raged in the Talmud about the importance of study versus the importance of action. Rabbi Akiva concluded that study is important because it leads to action, and that’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw the sign. We learn, we teach, we explore our human values through a Jewish lens, so that we can act when action is needed...."
Dear Friend of Clal,
You are receiving this message from Clal precisely because it is genuinely different from any communication we have seen from any other organization which has chosen to speak out about the events in our nation over the past week. We don’t make such claims lightly but were it not the case, we would not be writing at all. This message is about you, regardless of your politics.
"I jumped onto the uptown 5 train just as the doors were closing. I pushed my way through the wall of people, blocking the doors and empty seats. It was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, prime train time, apparently. I put my bag on the floor and squeezed between two shoulders on the bench. I wasn’t dying to sit down, I just figured I’d take up less space that way. The doors shut and the automated train announcer politely requested that we stand clear of the closing doors.
"On Saturday I found myself at the impromptu protest rally at JFK airport. The anger was palpable. The indignation continues to simmer. It boils over on social media. It is heard from other nation’s capitals. A few lawmakers speak out. Governors weigh in. More and more raise their voices.
"The world is turning faster and faster and faster, and so many of feel as if we’re about to fall off the carousel. We are shocked at the spin, and cannot find our footing. For, surely, this has never happened before. Surely, we are the first ones to stand at the edge, and look down and down and down, and not know which way to walk in the falling fog.
"Introducing “Ask Eric”, The Wisdom Daily’s new advice column. Every month, Eric Kaplan, a philosopher and writer for The Big Bang Theory, will answer your questions about life, the universe, and everything else. To send Eric a question, you can him email him here.
"My daughter is home from college and tells me it is my fault she does not know how to cook. I cook dinner every night from scratch and more elaborate meals on the Sabbath and holidays. My friends know a cookbook is always a welcome gift, particularly if full of chocolatey desserts. I’m not such a great cook, but I like to have diverse and healthy meals, and then sometimes luscious desserts. When I was living with my parents, I didn’t cook much either.
"Wisdom involves making difficult choices in challenging situations. In the United States today, we are deluged by rapidly changing circumstances, required to make ethical choices, political choices, economic choices while the substrate underlying those choices is behaving a bit like melting Jello. How do we cope?