Jewish Toolkit

Fourteen things to know for Passover 2014 April 18, 2014

"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. ..."

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By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield from the Fox News 4/14/14

Rabbis Without Borders in the Field: Should We Really Label Our Children? Yes…Sometimes. April 17, 2014

"I’ve always been troubled by the “four children” in the Haggadah. Passover is supposed to teach our children about how we can create a world filled with more justice, kindness and compassion, so where I struggle is with the idea of calling a child inherently “wise, wicked, simply or unable to ask.” I had always been taught that to raise moral children, we should praise behavior (“that was very kind of you to share your toys!”) and not identity (“you’re such a nice person!”)..."

Brad Hirschfield on Passover and the Importance of Questions April 14, 2014

The American Bible Society and Barna Group just released their joint annual study of Americans' behaviors and attitudes towards the Bible. In it, they found that the number of skeptics, those "who believe the Bible is 'just another book of teaching written by men that contain stories and advice'" has nearly doubled in three years. Now 19% of those questioned put themselves in that category, which is equal to the number who define themselves as "Bible-engaged". But this is a flawed comparison, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of Clal and co-Founder and Executive Editor of TheWisdomDaily.com. Skepticism and engagement coexist, which is clearly seen at seders around the world as families and friends gather for the Passover celebration – not only are questions central to the core of the Passover celebration, but "even heresy is accepted at the table because even that is a form of engagement."

Brad Hirchfield on Noah Brings in the Box Office and the Controversy April 11, 2014

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 and Jewish personhood April 11, 2014

"...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...."

The “Wicked” Child of the Pew Study April 11, 2014

"Pesach is coming, and at sedarim across the Jewish community we will once again label four children as wise, wicked, simple, and the one who does not know how to ask. I have always struggled with this part of the seder for two reasons. All of my work with young people has taught me that we should avoid labeling children because it gives them a negative message, often encouraging them to live up to the label we ascribe.

The Wisdom Daily: In Defense of Scapegoating – How to Send Off Your Mistakes April 10, 2014

"What kind of person defends scapegoating? Before you call me crazy, ask yourself the following: how do you rid yourself of past bad acts, mistakes you wish you never made, and feelings of inadequacy? We all have "stuff" we want to get rid of, and it turns out that old fashioned scapegoating might be one appropriate tool for doing so..."

A rabbi’s ‘bold experiment’ in outreach April 9, 2014

"On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Rabbi Amy Joy Small sat at Rockin’ Joe’s Cafe in Millburn, nursing a cup of tea and uncertain expectations. On her new website and Twitter feed, she invited anyone who cared to to “share your stories, your questions, and your challenges. I’ll share stories and Jewish wisdom along the way.'..."

Free speech just got more expensive April 9, 2014

"Dear Supreme Court justices: When I heard about the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling, it made me plotz. I’m a rabbi, so I know much more about the Talmud than about torts. But if there’s any group that can compete with scholars of constitutional law, it’s rabbis. Your recent decision was all about the First Amendment and free speech...."

The Wisdom Daily: Who is Crazier – Noah or God? April 9, 2014

" I saw the blockbuster film Noah this past Sunday. Despite the deluge (sorry) of commentary about the film - inevitable for a biblical film in culture war times - I can't resist offering my take. Most of what has been written about Noah has centered on the film's fidelity to the original story, which really means fidelity to the way a particular critic heard the Noah story when he was a child, or the way his particular creedal community understands the story. Watch this segment from The Daily Show as proof..."

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