Politics & Culture

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

The Wisdom Daily: Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems October 14, 2014

"My Oh My, sings the prophet/poet Leonard Cohen on his just released new album, Popular Problems. Simply put: this is a majestic, mysterious, magical, meaning-saturated masterpiece that I have listened to every day since I bought it. What are the Popular Problems Cohen alludes to?

My Yom Kippur Sermon: My Statement of Values – Signing Myself Into the Book of Life October 14, 2014

"Last night, I spoke about the importance of symbolically signing the Book of Life and leaving a permanent mark on this world. I urged us all to actually sign our own Book of Life that is in the hallway – and I invite those who haven’t yet done so, to please add your signature!

The Wisdom Daily: Jesus on Trial October 13, 2014

"I read David Limbaugh’s (Yes, Rush’s brother) NYT Bestseller, Jesus On Trial — A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel. My verdict? The book actually delivers what it literally promises, but not what the author claims.

Tzemah Yoreh: Genesis: Israel's Origins October 13, 2014

In this book, Clal Resident Tzemah Yoreh, Ph.D. discusses the issue that in the earliest version of Genesis there is no creation story or flood. Abraham appears out of nowhere in Canaan. Isaac is killed for his father’s sins and Jacob and his seven sons are the founders of Israel. The brothers don’t sell Joseph down to Egypt and Judah doesn’t exist. Genesis: Israel’s Origins traces the slow development of this uniquely divergent account into the canonical text of the Book of Genesis.

Rabbis Without Borders in the Field: Why We Build Something That We Know We’ll Take Down October 13, 2014

"Yom Kippur is an exhausting day. By the end of the day, we’re tired, we’re hungry, and we’re just ready to be done. But traditionally, even if you’re exhausted, there’s a mitzvah to fulfill the next day: on the day after Yom Kippur, you’re supposed to build your sukkah.What’s fascinating is that the day after Yom Kippur was also seen as the first day of building for the two most important structures in Jewish history—the mishkan (home for the Ark of the Covenant), and the First Temple in Jerusalem.

Is Suicide Wrong? Always? October 9, 2014

This week, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard announced that she will be ending her life on November 1. Maynard has an aggressive form of brain cancer and has received a terminal diagnosis. Rather than putting her family and herself through the ordeal of a painful and drawn-out death, she has chosen physician assisted suicide, which is legal in Oregon. “Sometimes, like in the case of Brittany Maynard, it may be that choosing to end one’s life is actually in its own way an affirmation of life itself,”

Rabbis Without Borders in the Field: Putting God On The Geirut List October 7, 2014

"I recently had the privilege of serving on a Beit Din (Rabbinic Court) for an individual who was converting to Judaism. It was, as I have found all prior instances, a powerful and deeply moving experience. Listening to this individual explain his Jewish journey and the reasons he wanted to convert nearly moved me to tears...But there was one aspect of my conversation with the individual that troubled me.

Sinai and Synapses: Can Slacktivism Lead To Activism? October 7, 2014

"...Many people believed that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – like “Bring Back Our Girls” from May or “Kony 2012” video two years ago – was a form of “slacktivism.” People could click “Like” or share a video, and feel good about “doing something to help the world,” but in reality, they would not be making that much of an impact.

The Wisdom Daily: Finding Your Path to Spirituality October 7, 2014

"When you think about what it means to be spiritual, find spirituality, or anything remotely approximating those experiences, what do you think of? Do you find your attention turning to experiences and images of relative solitude? Of solitary walks on the beach or perhaps, lonely mountain peaks? That is certainly one spiritual type. But not the only one...."

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Five reasons why we can all appreciate Yom Kippur --The Jewish Day of Atonement October 6, 2014

"You don't have to be Jewish to find meaning, especially this year, in Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which begins Friday at Sundown. You simply need to appreciate that we live in challenging times and that there is real wisdom to be found in the Judeo-Christian tradition — wisdom that can help guide us through such times. Here's how:

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