Blogs

On December 6, 2017, President Donald Trump made it official that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel.  On May 14, 2018, the American embassy in Jerusalem was officially opened.

Many years ago, when I was still a young boy growing up in Seattle, a fund-raiser from Israel visited our home shortly before the Pessah festival. After receiving his donation, he wished us a “hag kasher ve-sameah”—a happy and kosher Pessah.  My mother was deeply offended!

The question about saying Hallel with a blessing on Yom haAtsmaut has much broader implications. Is halakha a closed system that operates solely within its four cubits? Or is halakha a system of life that responds in a living way to the realities of our lives?

As the United States commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21, 2019,  here are several memorable quotations of Dr. King's that reflect his teachings, and his feelings for Jews and Israel.

 

Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.

Until 1968, Americans celebrated February 12 as Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February 22 as George Washington’s birthday. These commemorations were then replaced with Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February.

Should the music of Rabbi Carlebach—or any other composer—be banned because of alleged or real private moral failings? Or should the music stand on its own merits, regardless of the personal life of the musician?

While all humans need affirmation from others, different people have different sorts of recognition hunger. Some are so internally weak, they need constant validation and applause. They seek publicity for themselves. They want to be noticed, and they ache when they are not noticed. It may seem odd, but it is often very true, that the most “popular” and “powerful” people are also the most lonely and insecure people.

The Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber (1878-1965) was among the most influential thinkers of his time. His writings had a powerful impact on the Swedish diplomat, Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), who served as the second Secretary General of the United Nations, from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. They shared a great dream for the U.N.

All halakhic converts must understand: they are 100% Jewish according to halakha. Their Jewishness is not contingent on “acceptance” by the Chief Rabbinate or by any Hareidi dominated rabbinic courts. Halakhic converts are Jewish, their children are Jewish, they are obligated to fulfill the mitzvoth as are all other Jews. Anyone who casts aspersions on their Jewish status is a sinner, plain and simple.

The lessons to be learned from this campaign run the gamut. And the fact that there are so many insights to be gleaned indicates that there is in fact one larger, meta lesson to be learned: Men, and particularly male educators, leaders and aspiring leaders, must listen before any of the larger lessons can be absorbed.

On December 6, 2017, President Donald Trump made it official that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel.  On May 14, 2018, the American embassy in Jerusalem was officially opened.

Many years ago, when I was still a young boy growing up in Seattle, a fund-raiser from Israel visited our home shortly before the Pessah festival. After receiving his donation, he wished us a “hag kasher ve-sameah”—a happy and kosher Pessah.  My mother was deeply offended!

The question about saying Hallel with a blessing on Yom haAtsmaut has much broader implications. Is halakha a closed system that operates solely within its four cubits? Or is halakha a system of life that responds in a living way to the realities of our lives?

As the United States commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21, 2019,  here are several memorable quotations of Dr. King's that reflect his teachings, and his feelings for Jews and Israel.

 

Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.

Until 1968, Americans celebrated February 12 as Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February 22 as George Washington’s birthday. These commemorations were then replaced with Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February.

Should the music of Rabbi Carlebach—or any other composer—be banned because of alleged or real private moral failings? Or should the music stand on its own merits, regardless of the personal life of the musician?

While all humans need affirmation from others, different people have different sorts of recognition hunger. Some are so internally weak, they need constant validation and applause. They seek publicity for themselves. They want to be noticed, and they ache when they are not noticed. It may seem odd, but it is often very true, that the most “popular” and “powerful” people are also the most lonely and insecure people.

The Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber (1878-1965) was among the most influential thinkers of his time. His writings had a powerful impact on the Swedish diplomat, Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), who served as the second Secretary General of the United Nations, from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. They shared a great dream for the U.N.

All halakhic converts must understand: they are 100% Jewish according to halakha. Their Jewishness is not contingent on “acceptance” by the Chief Rabbinate or by any Hareidi dominated rabbinic courts. Halakhic converts are Jewish, their children are Jewish, they are obligated to fulfill the mitzvoth as are all other Jews. Anyone who casts aspersions on their Jewish status is a sinner, plain and simple.

The lessons to be learned from this campaign run the gamut. And the fact that there are so many insights to be gleaned indicates that there is in fact one larger, meta lesson to be learned: Men, and particularly male educators, leaders and aspiring leaders, must listen before any of the larger lessons can be absorbed.