Video: Our Shrinking World and the Typhoon in the Philippines

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “Can our sense of neighborhood expand to those who are 10,000 miles away?”? That’s the question Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership asks in the wake of the typhoon in the Philippines which has taken the lives of thousands of people.? As the initial media coverage recedes in favor of front-page stories that are more immediately relevant to our lives as Americans, how do we respond to the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold? Odyssey Networks......

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Dying a 'Good' Death

Truly caring for a person at the end of life requires conversations – about love and legacy, about bestowing and receiving blessings, about choosing life versus fighting death. I am a well-educated man, a rabbi who was trained and has experience in comforting individuals on their sickbeds.? My five younger brothers, also have good educations, some of us have multiple degrees.? Yet when my mother was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer five years ago and told she had 12 weeks to live, neither my family nor I was prepared. We listened......

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What's Certain in Life?

Life is complicated. That’s a nice way of saying that, for most of us anyway, life comes at us faster, messier and with less clarity than we often long for. People often feel like there is not enough to hang onto, not enough that we can rely on, not enough that is certain. Don’t despair! You are not alone, the challenge is not new, and there are things we can do to make it better. It was this week — November 13, 1789 to be specific — that Benjamin Franklin wrote a......

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What's In A Name? Perhaps A Great Deal!

We all know the expression ‘what’s in a name’. Essentially it means?what something is?called can never fully capture the full meaning of what that something?is.?This saying is particularly true for people,?who are surely more complex than any one name or label that gets slapped on them. ?But there’s still a lot in a name. While true that a person’s identity cannot be reduced to their name,?names?can?matter when it comes to expressing our hopes, dreams, aspirations and expectations. ?Just ask any parent who?has spent countless?hours?choosing a name for?their baby, or people wrestling with......

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Religion in Four Minutes?

Many Americans today who are asked about the role of faith in their lives identify themselves as “None” – no religious identification.? For me, if I’m honest, religion alone is increasingly not getting the job done (that it used to) of nurturing the virtues we all need in life to flourish: awe, wonder, humility, transcendence, responsibility, kindness and love. As an eighth-generation rabbi, this is a significant challenge! Lately I’ve been looking at the intersection of popular culture and science for new “sacred” wisdom that works to evoke and nurture these qualities.......

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Honoring Our Veterans Isn't Just One Day

Today is Veterans Day and whatever our politics or opinions of war, we need to respect, honor and most critically, care about our veterans. In reflecting upon the importance of Veterans Day, I came across some surprising and even shocking facts on the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: More than 6,600 dead. 2.5 million men and women have been deployed in these two wars – over 400,000 have done more than three deployments. If you do not know anyone who has served it is because we have made an......

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A Practical Approach to Finding God

Wait! Before you skip over this post because you may not believe in God, substitute a term that does fall into your beliefs: “awe,” “wonder,” “inexplicable beauty,” or “a moment of transcendence.”? Don’t let the words get in the way.? Now ask yourself: Where do you find those things, and where are you when they find you? It turns out that we often discover the transcendent in the most unexpected or idiosyncratic places. It can literally happen any place. That’s actually really promising – because if God (or whatever) can be there,......

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The Ethical Issues of Ebay Selling Holocaust Memorabilia

As the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht approaches, Holocaust-related stories surface more often and resonate more deeply.? Of particular note is Ebay making Nazi artifacts available for sale. As the last survivors of the Holocaust perish, the ethics of memory — what this story is really about — becomes entirely our question to deal with. This is a far more complicated issue than most people realize, even though I share most people’s initial revulsion at the crass commercialization of the Holocaust by turning tokens of unspeakable horror into high-end collectibles. But because I......

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Sights Unseen -- The Monkey Business Illusion

Before you read on, watch this video that was an Internet sensation. I guarantee you will be surprised.   If you are like the majority of people, including myself, who have watched this video you missed something that was right before your eyes.? You experienced the phenomenon called “inattentional blindness”. It turns out that we consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when our attention is focused on one thing, we often fail to notice other, unexpected things around us — including very major things going on right......

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Air Force Goes God Optional

The United States Air Force has decided to make God an option; at least as far as the service or enlistment oath is concerned.? The oath is older that the United States itself, dating back to June of 1775, and has been administered in its current form since 1962, as follows: I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey......

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