While religion should be the strongest force for a united, compassionate and tolerant humanity, it is too often identified with terrorism, extremism, superstition, exploitation…and hypocrisy. People commit the most heinous crimes…and do so while claiming to be acting in the name of God. Isaiah Berlin’s concept of pluralism provides a framework to be faithful to our own truths, while being genuinely respectful of the truths of others.
Primo Levi, (July 31, 1919-April 11, 1987) understood personally what it meant to be isolated, tortured, dehumanized. And he wrote at length about the Holocaust. But somehow, he retained within himself a calm and wise humaneness.
Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (May 24, 1870-July 9,1938) was one of the greatest American jurists. He served as Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals from 1926 until his appointment to the United States Supreme Court in 1932. He was known for his calm wisdom, personal dignity, and his commitment to social justice. His speeches and writings were characterized by clear thinking and graceful style.
On Shavuoth, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Revelation at Mount Sinai, we should direct our thoughts to that special moment in the history of Israel and to the ongoing lessons it provides to us in our own lives.
Victor Hugo observed that “narrow horizons beget stunted ideas.” Classic Judaism has included an idealistic universalistic world-view. Judaism’s horizons have been great; and it has begotten great ideas. The challenge to modern Jews is to remain faithful to their distinctive mitzvot while maintaining a universalistic ethical idealism.
As we rejoice at the many successes of the State of Israel, our joy is dampened by the ongoing terrorism and threats lodged against Israel and the Jewish People. We must stay focused on the remarkable renaissance of the Jews as manifested in the re-establishment of a sovereign Jewish State. We thank the Almighty for having granted us the privilege of living at this special time.
The Covid crisis demonstrated how society rallied massive energy and budget to bolster society’s physical health. Shouldn’t we be able to act with an equal sense of emergency on behalf of society’s moral and psychological health?
This "Eulogy at Wounded Knee" by Rabbi Marc Angel reflects on the tragedies in society that stem from dehumanization. Hatred flourishes when we stop seeing each other as fellow human beings. Dehumanization inevitably leads to violence. Can we stop this process of erosion in our society today?
The Jewish Press has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are asked to a panel of rabbis. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc D. Angel, and here are his responses to recent questions in this series.
By opening with the story of creation, the Torah teaches that one must have a living relationship with the natural world in order to enter and maintain a living relationship with God. Jewish spirituality flowers and deepens through this relationship and is organically linked to the natural rhythms of the universe. To a great extent, Jewish religious traditions serve to bring us into a sensitive relationship with the natural world.