Politics & Culture

Clal offers new perspectives on contemporary issues, bringing Jewish insights to the American public.

The Wisdom Daily: Video: Robin Williams, Suicide and Shame August 15, 2014

"From Odyssey Networks' Faith on the Record series: The death by suicide of Robin Williams earlier this week shocked his fans around the world. It also focused attention on suicide and the discomfort we all feel about the disease that leads to it. We're not ashamed of having cancer, we're not ashamed of having ALS or any other devastating disease. But there's a lot of shame associated with emotional illness. Watch my video commentary below for more... "

The Wisdom Daily: Albright and Condi and Gates, Oh My! August 14, 2014

"Between Israel and Gaza, Ukraine, and the mounting horror that is ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), not to mention Afghanistan, the United States is currently involved, in one way or another, with four different wars. Not all are equally "hot", and we are currently "only" bombing in one of them, but a quiet time in foreign policy it is not! That made this week's opportunity to hear from two former Secretaries of State and one former Secretary of Defense, especially interesting..."

The Wisdom Daily: Hope in the Midst of War August 13, 2014

"Whatever you feel about the political biases of the media, the fact that the only news we see about Israelis and Palestinians, in the endless 24/7 news cycle, is of hate, violence, destruction and death makes it easy to despair about this seemingly insoluble conflict. Despair is not only the greatest sin but also a failure of human imagination. Yes, the vitriol and enmity that grows each day as people are traumatized by war is very real but it is not the only story.

Janet R. Kirchheimer Guest Author This Week on The Best American Poetry Blog August 12, 2014

For all the stories I have heard from my parents, I always knew much could never be spoken. Poetry was the way to bridge the chasm between that which could be spoken and that which could not. Learning the craft of poetry – the music of the line, the word choice and their connotation(s), the breath, line and stanza breaks, and so much more – allowed me to write about the maze of twists and turns that is the Holocaust....

Rabbis Without Borders in the Field: Synagogue to open Jewish outreach center August 12, 2014

"‘With almost 90 percent of Broward County's Jewish community not affiliated with a synagogue, Ramat Shalom in Plantation will open The Sam and Laura Hoffman Center for Jewish Life in September to provide spiritual direction and perform Jewish life cycle events for the growing number of Jews who have not made a synagogue a part of their lives..."

The Wisdom Daily: When Old Age Is Not Wasted On the Young – The Value of Intergenerational Relationships August 11, 2014

"In life, the most common friendships we form are with our peers - people who see the world as we do and who are in the same age bracket. This is understandable. We meet most people at school or work. But is there a certain limitation to surrounding ourselves with only those people that are very similar to us? As Albert Einstein said, ‘If you only talk to people like you, you'll never learn anything new...’"

The Wisdom Daily: When a Falsehood is the Truth August 8, 2014

"Words like truth and falsehood, honesty and lie, get tossed around with great ease and certainty. But what if it isn't as simple as that? What if something false is actually true? Think that's not possible? Think about placebos that work even though they "shouldn't". A recent study shows that believing that you have slept well, even if you have not, will improve your performance as if you had.

The Wisdom Daily: How Pessimism May Contribute To Living Longer August 7, 2014

"What do you say when you look at your life? Is your glass half full or half empty? Your life, or at least your longevity, may depend on your answer. Recent studies bucking the trend toward "positive psychology" and the science of being happier, indicate that pessimism, not optimism, may contribute to living a longer life. Of course, the pessimists among us will doubt these findings and their promises, which ironically may make those promises more likely to come true!..."

The Wisdom Daily: Automated Thanking Machines Give Out More Than Just Money August 6, 2014

"Last week over 30,000 TD Bank (Toronto Dominion) customers across Canada were surprised and delighted to receive $20 as a thank you for being regular customers. But a dozen or so customers received a much bigger surprise. These pre-selected folks received a special customer thanking experience at their local branch through the ATM's turned into Automated Thanking Machine (ATM). The gifts doled out were all personal and emotional homeruns... I honestly don't know what to feel about this. Is this a harmless gimmick, a cynical exploitation of vulnerable people, or a genuine expression of compassion and gratitude to regular customers who have many choices of where to bank?..."

Rabbis Without Borders in the Field: A Time to be Silent and a Time to Speak August 6, 2014

"‘There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.’ So says the author of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) in a famous chapter that begins by telling us, “there is a time for every matter under heaven.” Yesterday was Tisha B’Av, a fast day which traditionally commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in ancient Jerusalem and all subsequent tragedies to befall the Jewish people.

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