Not Just Now: Being Smart About 'Present Shock'

If you’re like me, your smartphone has become your boss. More than I care to admit, I am barraged by an onslaught of pings, and I find myself obsessively checking (if not chasing) every text, email, tweet, Facebook status and myriad updates I get throughout the day. Unplugging is the answer for some. But not everyone. I’ll share a coping tip: The book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,?by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, has changed my life. With great insight, the author explores how being always on (always connected) affects our behavior,......

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The Blessing of Desire

One of the keys to a flourishing life is to understand how our desires work. The strange thing about our desires – whether for love, happiness, truth, self-awareness, to be ethical, to be creative – is that our most important desires can never fully be realized once and for all. No matter how much we are loved (or love) we can never really be loved enough (or love enough). No matter how self aware we are we can never (and ought never) banish all self-doubt. However happy we are we will suffer......

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Educating For What?

What is education for?? THAT, it seems to me, is the most important question when it comes to the question of education – and one about which we think to little.? Instead, we fight as a nation about our educational system (as if there is one unified system) “slipping” or worse, “falling apart”.? And in the world of religious or cultural education — be it confirmation classes, Bible school, Hebrew school, or private religious schools – there is endless panic about what’s not working, even though there is precious little clarity about......

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Rosh Hashanah: A Spiritual Wake Up Call

In this video, Rabbi Irwin Kula talks about the significance of Rosh Hashanah; the Shofar calls out to each of us to wake up and attend to our lives, to make sure that we become aware of the other levels of meaning in our lives. The Wisdom of the Holidays series was made possible by a grant from Odyssey Networks. Produced and directed by Diva Communications.? This content originally appeared on clal.org on September 19, 2012....

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Whose Messiah and Who Decides?

The parents of newborn Messiah DeShawn McCullough ended up in family court when they couldn’t agree on what his last name should be. As is so often the case, they got more than they bargained for when they entered the courtroom of Tennessee judge, Lu Ann Balew. The honorable Ms. Balew quickly resolved the issue of family name, and then quickly turned her attention on the baby’s first name.? The child shall hence forth be known as “Martin”, the declared the judge. Why? According to Her Honor, the reason was clear:? the......

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Virtual Dating May Be More Real Than "Real" Dating

As with many other parts of our lives, the line between “real” and “virtual” is becoming increasingly blurry and even down-right misleading.? Can you call something virtual as opposed to real, when the former may lead to something more durable and satisfying?? I don’t see how, and that is exactly the topic of a recent study of marriages which began as on-line relationships vs. those which began in person. According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, of couples who got together online, 5.9%......

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Faith Lessons from Edward Snowden and the NSA

The NSA is snooping on us – data mining is the fancy term – but call it what you want.? Bottom line is that our own government is tracking our cell phone, internet, and email use.? We know this now because former NSA employee Edward Snowden has leaked that fact, and the NSA doesn’t even deny it. Part of me thinks that the whole story is much ado about nothing, at least insofar as Google and pretty much every other digitally-based corporation does, or tries to do, pretty much the same things.?......

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The Mixed Emotions of Sending Kids Off to School

My mother still describes how she and my dad took me to the airport in Chicago on the day I left home to complete high school in Israel. She describes returning to the house and heading up to my room on third floor and sitting on my bed as she wept. I still feel mildly annoyed, more than thirty years later, when she tells that anecdote. Having just dropped off our eldest child at college, however (and like so many other moments in my life as a parent), I understand both my......

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Overcoming Pessimism - How Do Things Get Better?

Rabbi Irwin Kula speaks with Rev. Welton Gaddy about how to break out of a pessimistic mindset, and why we are morally obligated to do so. Kula says that “when we get scared and fearful and sad and depressed, take a little perspective – I mean, that’s why we need sabbaths, I don’t mean the Sabbath of a literal Sabbath necessarily of any faith tradition, but a sabbath as a moment of saying, ‘The whole of creation is a hell of a gift, and we’ve been evolving, and as difficult as life......

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Attitude Adjustment: Bringing Positivity to the Workplace

What is your attitude towards work? This isn’t a trivial question, as how we approach our work is often the difference between being happy or miserable and always effects how people, be they colleagues or customers, family or friends, perceive us.? It is important that our work challenges us and is productive, that it adds value to the world and that we are remunerated fairly, but our attitude is determinative. Recently I experienced two people doing the exact same job with radically different attitudes. Brad and I were flying from Aspen to......

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