News & Politics


Video: Hope and Gardens on the Moon

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: This week, NASA announced that they plan to do the “first life sciences experiment on another world” in 2015 when they send a terrarium with basil, turnips and cress to the moon via their Lunar Plant Growth Habitat project.? It’s exciting not just on its own merits, but for the message of hope and optimism it sends, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, “…we don’t just build what we need in the present, but we actually invest the future because in investing in the future we......

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The Rise of Slum Tourism

Have you ever heard of slum tourism? Vacationers on holiday arrange sight-seeing visits to poverty-blighted neighborhoods so they can take in some of the poorest communities in the world. (An estimated one in eight people worldwide live in so-called slums.) Although controversial – it has been labeled “poverty porn”- this new kind of tourism has become a popular way for tourists to engage with poverty on a close-up level. But now there’s a twist: I honestly don’t know what to think about this trend, though I do know how I feel: I’m......

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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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Dodging Default Bullet Doesn't Equal Peace

Peace.? It’s not just the absence of war. ?And security, whether it is military, economic, or emotional, is about much more than the absence of an active battle. “The U.S. economy dodged a bullet today. But the reprieve will be short,” Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight, said Wednesday in an analysis. ?Scary stuff, because dodging bullets is not the same as making peace — just ask any soldier who has gone to war. We need more than bullet dodging. ?We need to address an imperiled economy, persistent......

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When We the People Don't Vote, We Don't Have a Voice

Whatever one’s politics, it is pretty clear we have a dysfunctional government in which partisanship and party lines trumps compromise. ?It’s easy to blame politicians, to judge their motivations, but where is our own responsibility? Where are “We the People” in all of this? The fact is relatively few of us vote – less than 60% in presidential years and only 40% in midterms – which, makes us 120th of 169 countries on voter turnout. If we don’t vote and only those who are the most passionate and ideological do – especially......

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New Movie Wadjda Sparks Reflection on Gender Equality

In this week’s Week in Wisdom, our weekly round up of what we’re reading and watching, I shared the trailer for the film Wadjda, a compelling film – one of those films you wake up thinking about the next morning.? It evokes so many questions and feelings. How will we in the West deal with the Arab Muslim version of feminism, which will be very different from ours? (Do a search for Arab – Muslim feminism and you will get close to 3 million results.) Can Muslim feminists reclaim their religion and......

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Video: Brad Hirschfield on Washington's Bad Example

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “This week the political fight in Washington came to a crisis point over the Affordable Care Act and the debt ceiling, leading to a shutdown of the federal government.? There is a lot we can learn from the bad example being set in our nation’s capital, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.? “When doctrine and dogma get in the way of addressing the real pain that people are feeling, something is terribly wrong.”” Odyssey Networks......

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When You Look at His Face, What Do You See?

This face could change our world and shape history.? Whether that happens or not, depends not only on him, but on you, and what you see when you see his face.? In part, what you see depends on whether or not you know to whom the face belongs, or if you simply see some religious guy – probably Muslim, or is that a Sikh turban?? But it’s actually bigger than that. What do any of us see when we see anyone or anything unfamiliar to us, “whatever religion ‘that guy’ follows”?? That’s......

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Why Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Grandchildren Give Him Hope

On Monday night I had the honor of being at a dinner at the Plaza Hotel in NYC hosted by The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace billed as a “conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jewish American Leadership.”? About fifty people attended: Palestinian leadership, American political leadership including Martin Indyk, Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Jewish organizational leaders, and American Jewish notables including Professors Alan Dershowitz and Daniel Kahneman, Noble Prize recipient, and Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs. The meeting......

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Seeking Meaning in the Wake of Tragedy

Does it make sense to blame devastating floods in CO on the fact that State House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino and his partner were kissing in public, and that the Denver Post covered their kiss?? Pastor Kevin Swanson certainly thinks so, and so did his radio co-host Dave Buehner.? Could they be onto something? Now before anyone starts screaming; let me explain what I mean, and why I think it may be useful to take their question seriously, even if I find their conclusion pretty much repulsive. I start from the premise......

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