Clal makes the gifts of Jewish tradition accessible tools for spiritual growth and development.
"This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim (Judgments), tells of the slave who does not want to go free saying, 'I love my master.' We read of the judgment against him – that his ear be set against the doorpost and mutilated by piercing with an awl.
"... since the original series was so ground-breaking, do we need a sequel? My answer of 'yes' comes out of Jewish liturgy. In a prayer that’s said every morning, we give thanks to God who 'Daily, continually, renews the work of creation.' On one level, it's an almost nonsensical statement. When we go to sleep, we know that when we wake up, everything will still be there, and be more or less the same. The world is not made de novo every day.
"Of course, few of us live only within our own ethnic communities. We work together, shop together, go to school together. We learn from Indigenous communities and from earlier settlers. Slowly, and with legal support, we are creating a society that has room for multiple religious communities without favoring any single tradition. Ideally, everyone will be able to celebrate their holidays, wear their clothing, recite their prayers – and somehow, out of the chaos, we will make it all work.
"... In the last few months especially, we Americans are becoming more and more familiar with risk assessment. ...how should we use statistical analysis? What is a fact? What’s more dangerous–a well-armed population, or one that’s not armed at all? I can’t help but feel that perhaps we’re viewing statistics from the wrong angle. Why are we so afraid of terrorists, or kidnappings, or mass shootings? Are we statistically likely to be killed by a terrorist? Killed by anyone?
What does it look like when one version of Judaism dies and another is born? Irwin Kula, President of Clal - The National Center for Learning and Leadership, joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about that question and much more. This episode represents Part I of a two-part conversation with Kula.
"I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. So, there’s that. In some ways, it’s hardly a surprise since my mother died from breast cancer and one of my sisters was diagnosed when she was 40. There are 5 women in 3 generations in my family, now including me, who have or have had breast cancer. The good news is I have every reason to believe that I will be a survivor. They caught the cancer early. The mass is small. It’s an excellent prognosis.
"This week’s Torah portion (Yitro) offers a key lesson for today’s politics. It comes just before the fateful Ten Commandments scene at Sinai. Moses father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro), teaches his son-in-law how to delegate power and – even more importantly – who is worthy to lead.
"...An educator recently said, “The essential trait of grit is no longer being taught as an equal value to intellect. Successful students in the current system are actually sometimes being set up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, they have not been taught the capacity to adapt and recreate. They don’t just need the metrics of algebra, but also that of perseverance, empathy and optimism.
"Many of us are feeling buffeted by politics, angry dynamics in public discourse, and fears of what may lie ahead. In the midst of unsettling times, our congregation, like many, have been navigating these waters and asking ourselves what role a faith-based community can play in providing for the needs of our people. There is more than one answer to that question, and different communities are charting different paths. In my congregation, we’re placing the practice of kindness at the heart of our deliberations.
Commentary on Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16
"There are aspects of the Passover story, of the Jews being spared and the separateness that they are marked with, as described in the Torah portion Bo, that rub up against some of my more modern and inclusive sensibilities. Having strong ties to academia and the arts, I’ll admit to being influenced by narratives that conflate separateness with narrowness and universalism with expansiveness.