As I mentioned in a previous post, I returned last Sunday from a two-week stay in Jerusalem.
The sole purpose of my trip was to visit my youngest daughter who is in an Orthodox gap-year program. (For some odd reason, these are generally called seminaries, even though no one there is entering the rabbinate or priesthood.)
I have not written about my children before, but my daughter has given me permission to write this post. Continue reading
I just returned from Jerusalem to news about the latest round of arrests of Jewish women for the crime of wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) and organizing a women’s prayer service at the Western Wall.
I have written before about my antipathy for that place. In my past two visits I haven’t even bothered descending the steps to go see it. This latest appalling arrest is a great example of everything that’s wrong about the site. Continue reading
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
― Anne Lamott
Leonard Fein and Steven M. Cohen have written a masterful reply to Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s screed about the delusions of secular Jews. It is a must-read for anyone who has been involved in this conversation.
Yoffie complains that these allegedly faithless secular Jews continue to assemble in synagogues and to undertake acts of family life and communal celebration that are either explicitly religious or that radiate with the power of deep faith. Indeed, he may be drawing upon his familiarity with his own Reform movement. In the same survey we find that of those identifying as Reform, just 6 percent (6 percent!) see themselves as religious Jews “to a great extent.” Among the same Reform Jews three times as many (18 percent) see themselves as secular, and nearly seven times as many (41 percent) call themselves
Fein and Cohen (a leading Jewish demographer on the faculty of HUC-JIR) are much more polite than I was. For reasons that I won’t go into here, I hear Orthodox rabbis make similar claims all the time. So I was just shocked (really…not in an ironic Claude Rains-y way) to see it coming from Yoffie. Continue reading
In the New York Times’ latest installment of “Room for Debate,” writers discuss the question, “Is Atheism a Religion?” The exchange was inspired by Susan Jacoby’s recent piece, “The Blessings of Atheism” and by the new efforts of a couple of British non-believers to establish an actual atheist church, “The Sunday Assembly” that plans to meet monthly. All of the contributors come to the obvious conclusion that no, atheism is not a religion.
I proudly display Richard Dawkins’ scarlet “A” in this blog’s logo. I am, after all, a big believer in “coming out.” But then I attach it to the word “rabbi,” a religious concept if ever there was one.
Nevertheless, I do not pretend that atheism is more than it is. Atheism is simply a statement regarding one’s lack of belief in supernatural gods. Continue reading