Crossing Borders: Jews and Christmas in America 2013

Over the past few days there has been a series of social media threads around the question what “we” make of the number of Jews and Jewish professionals who posted photos of themselves / their families on Facebook in front of a Christmas tree or who wrote posts on personal and public platforms about the wisdom of Christmas. I was one of those who posted – Christmas and Our Children. The tone of the threads were uniformly of “concern” “worry” “anxiety” “annoyance” and even “anger” about the blurring of boundaries and the......

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Top Faith Stories Of The Year

While no list can capture a full year, these are my top 3. ?Each reminds us that faith is more alive than ever, even as it comes in new and surprising ways — some good, some less so. Number 3 has got to be the complicated struggle for religious freedom, from violent conflicts in Syria and Egypt, to the cultural struggles here at home. ?What all share is the fact that the struggle for religious freedom is only healthy, when those struggling do so not only for their own religious freedom, but......

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The Story of You

How would you begin the story of you? Where or when does it begin? Imagine that you are about to tell your story. You know, “Once upon a time there was this person, and her story begins…”? What comes next? All stories have beginnings, and all people have stories. All families and nations have them too. In fact, not only do we all have them, they may be the essence of who we are. So how would you choose to begin yours? Once you have an answer (and feel free to have......

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The Holiness of Every Child

About fifteen years ago, I had an experience that transformed Christmas for me.? My wife and I were sitting with a couple – he was well into his 60’s and Jewish and she a good twenty years younger and from a traditional Christian home. This was his second marriage and they had two young children.? We were guests at their ski home for a few days during winter break. Sitting after dinner at the dining room table, with their kids and our kids playing in the den, we wound up having a......

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Happy Birthday Jesus and Isaac Newton

The title may appear glib or snarky to some, but that is not how it is intended.? It simply reflects the desire to see us all open our hearts and minds not only to an ever wider understanding of wisdom, but also to seeing the deep inter-relatedness of various wisdom systems and teachers. According to tradition, both Jesus and Isaac Newton were born on December 25th, something I find quite interesting and even inspiring.? For me, each are world-transforming teachers who shaped the world for the better, no matter what faith we......

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Patriotism and Protest in Song

Did you know that folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” in 1940 as a reaction to Irving Berlin’s classic anthem “God Bless America” (originally written in 1918)? It’s one of the many fascinating facts about the beloved tunes found in John Shaw’s book This Land That I Love. Guthrie reportedly found “God Bless America” jingoistic and uncritical; using a melody borrowed from the old Baptist hymn “Oh My Lovin’ Brother” he wrote a six-verse protest song. The final three verses of “This Land Is Your Land” (which are......

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"What If?": Inside Llewyn Davis

I walked out of the theater after seeing?Inside Llewyn Davis,?the Coen brother’s phenomenal new film feeling as I always do after seeing a Coen brother’s film: humbled, dazed, out of breath at the mysterious, subtle, and unpredictable relationship between our own individual stories and dramas with all their twists and turns and the cosmic, metaphysical reality which we have absolutely no control over. With their unique attention to detail, aesthetic, and character, the Coen brothers invite us to reflect upon the meaning of life in general and of our own life in......

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Standing Your Ground

How many opportunities do we lose out on, and how much time do we waste worrying about where we aren’t, instead of genuinely appreciating where we are?? How much energy do we expend agonizing over who we aren’t, as opposed to celebrating who we are? None of us is perfect, and I believe that striving to be more and to be better is a crucially important part of a well-lived life.? So too is feeling the rich possibility and potential of who we are, as we are, wherever we are.?? In fact,......

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Jesus the Rabbi

Jesus, First-Century Rabbi continues a recent trend of books trying to better understand who Jesus was by placing him in the context of first-century Judaism. ?This admirable work, written by Rabbi David Zaslow, is a particularly accessible and loving effort, one which has the potential to ease tensions felt? between (some) Christians and Jews. The spirit in which the book is written – whether one agrees with the conclusions or not – provides a truly a beautiful lesson for interfaith encounters. However, I would offer two cautionary notes, also inspired by the......

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Video: Moving From Mourning to Memory

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “Last week the world paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5th at the age of 95.? As mourners gathered and tributes from around the world were made, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield reminds us that “Memory is a choice – we choose how to remember,” and there are many Nelson Mandelas to remember – revolutionary, prisoner, peacemaker, symbol, healer.” Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith in action changing the world for the better.? Their stories explore a wide range of issues including......

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Latest Video
Listen To The Names Of The Victims First

Listen To The Names Of The Victims First

June 14, 2016

A video where Brad Hirschfield lists the victims names in the recent Orlando shooting. Because first we need to internalize a tragedy before we jump to speak.

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