Category Archives: Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Sunday in  New York with Megan, Part 1, The Dead Sea Scrolls
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Sunday in New York with Megan, Part 1, The Dead Sea Scrolls

What’s more interesting, the Dead Sea Scrolls or Manhattan’s Central Park on a spring weekend, my friend Becky Mercier asked, after Megan Wood Heldman and I visited both Sunday, April 1, 2012. “Too close to call,” we both replied. Part 1 of 2 is about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Why Easter Makes Many Jews Nervous
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Why Easter Makes Many Jews Nervous

For many Jews, bunnies, baby chicks, and colored eggs can’t hide centuries of unpleasant associations with the most important religious holiday in the Christian calendar.

Much More Than a Sunday School Discussion Topic
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Much More Than a Sunday School Discussion Topic

Who is a Jew is more than an intellectual, spiritual, religious, or theoretical question. In Nazi Germany, having one Jewish grandparent sent you to the gas chamber.In Israel, orthodox rabbis, who perform American town clerk functions, decide who is a Jew for purposes of marriage licenses and immigrant benefits. Most Israelis don’t like it, but orthodox political parties in Parliament use leverage to keep these powers.

The One Miss America Who Made A Difference
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

The One Miss America Who Made A Difference

In my lifetime, only one Miss America ever contributed to social progress after the Pageant, Bess Myerson. To most Americans, a Jewish Miss America in 1945 proved we were better than the thugs we had just defeated in war. She then became a smart TV personality, consumer advocate, and influential New York politician,.

In the Bible, God is a Four-Letter Word
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

In the Bible, God is a Four-Letter Word

The Hebrew Bible uses two words and a million synonyms for God. El, or Elohim, simply mean God. The second word, the Hebrew consonants YHVH, is full of mystery, the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, possibly the past, present, and future tense of “to be,” squeezed together in one word – like a bush that is burning but not consumed.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, “War on Christmas”
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, “War on Christmas”

A Letter to the Editor promised to tell anyone who wished the writer “happy holidays” instead of Merry Christmas to “go soak their heads” or “go back where they came from.” I said this kind of nativism is anti-Semitic and intolerant by definition. Many people answered me very favorably.

Chinese Food Is Jews’ Traditional Christmas Dinner
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Chinese Food Is Jews’ Traditional Christmas Dinner

For the second year, Temple Beth Jacob will observe Christmas the traditional Jewish way, with a meal of Chinese take-out. And why, if the Sabbath is a joyful, holy day, do we celebrate when it’s over?

How I Built the Ability to Be Happy
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

How I Built the Ability to Be Happy

2011 has been the happiest year of my life. 2010 was the second happiest. I have more friends, more close friends, more and better activities, and stronger connections to the community than ever before. I’ve been aware of that for some time. But this Thanksgiving, I began to feel something new, a capacity for happiness I never had before.

In the Bible, Who Told Abraham to Sacrifice His Son?
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

In the Bible, Who Told Abraham to Sacrifice His Son?

An unconventional reading of the “Binding of Isaac” story (Genesis 22) in the Bible can be interpreted to mean that the god who told Abraham to sacrifice his only son was an imposter, not the One God.

Hank Greenberg:  Deconstructing a Jewish Hero
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Hank Greenberg: Deconstructing a Jewish Hero

Hank Greenberg was baseball’s first Jewish superstar. He is best known for a game he did not play – on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, in September, 1934. That’s where the myth of Greenberg as Jewish hero began. The myth had only a few grains of truth, and Hank was never comfortable in that role.

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