Relationships & Family


Parents Who Mistrust Vaccines

I found myself quite engaged recently while reading a deeply personal, highly moving piece in the Washington Post, “Why Parents Want to Believe in a Vaccine Conspiracy.” That headline on Susan Senator’s essay drew me in, as it certainly signals that parents averse to immunizations are misguided and even self-deceptive. On the other hand, the author at least engages the error-riddled thinking of those whose views she explains… or is that, explains away? By explaining why people would trust unsubstantiated conspiracy theories as a means to coping with the pain of raising......

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Nuts to All That? Digesting the New Allergy Research

Peanut allergies. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about this. Causing everything from discomfort to death, peanut allergy was barely heard of 20 years ago, yet in America the number of kids who live with this deadly danger has more than quadrupled in the last eight years alone. What is going on here? Well, it turns out that it may be a very big deal, but not in the ways we’re often led to expect: Is it possible the peanut allergy phenomenon might have more to do with parents, and......

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The Choice to End a Relationship

This week, New York Times opinion columnist and, in my opinion, all-around smart guy David Brooks published an uncharacteristic piece – one which invites a response, simply because leaving his as the last word on the topic could lead people to hurt each other when they really don’t need to. His “Leaving and Cleaving” op-ed is about people recalibrating relationships, romantic or otherwise. But it omits a fundamental tenet of the enlightened conservatism Brooks typically articulates so eloquently in his column, forgetting a central principle of the personal ethics he regularly advocates.......

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The Key to 'Successful' First Dates

Dating is a process of being open and closed; open to letting a stranger become significant, closed to the immediate discomfort of the moment. The discomfort of being judged by our appearance or job title, the pressure of keeping up a conversation. I’ve lived in New York, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Tel Aviv, Kyiv, St. Petersburg and Singapore. And I’ve been single in every city. That’s a lot of first dates. There was a post-lecture mezcal at a conference in Mexico. A night safari in Singapore. A Thai dinner with a British teacher......

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What Our Tokens of Love Mean

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: While love is in the air, it’s a good time to look at our Valentine’s Day traditions, and how the gifts we give – from the beautiful (flowers) to the bizarre (bugs) – symbolize different important aspects of being in a healthy, thriving relationship. “What you give your partner can actually tell you a great deal how you think about love, and how it works in your life.” Watch my video below for more insight and discussion:   Odyssey Networks tells the stories of......

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Putting Love First in Interfaith Relationships

The other night I had dinner with a remarkable young couple. Each comes from very serious, beautiful families of different religious origins. He has an Ethical Culture and Quaker background, embodying what I call a secular spirituality. Meanwhile, it was her Jewish parents who arranged our get-together. Both are smart, good, responsible people with whom I’ve worked on creative projects in Jewish life for years. Our meeting surely (if not overtly) sprang from the unarticulated hope that a trusted rabbi would engage, connect, “draw in” the young man toward a Jewish perspective.......

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The Porn Belt and the Bible Belt Are One and the Same

In last week’s Week in Wisdom, Brad commented on a recent study by two Toronto researchers, Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson, that revealed states with higher levels of religiosity and conservatism have higher rates of online search for words like sex, sex images, gay sex, gay porn, and sexual content. Brad wisely pointed out that it is easy but not at all helpful to simply hurl charges of hypocrisy at conservatives or to make jokes about the Bible belt being the Porn belt. I appreciate Brad compassionately shifting the focus on the......

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My Experience with Why I Stayed: The Hashtag Bringing Domestic Abuse to Light

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s violent attack on his then-fianc?e Janay Palmer in February is very much in the news. It may cost Rice his career, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell his job, and it may invite us all to do more to address the all too common phenomenon of domestic abuse. It’s also a story I take very personally. If you haven’t heard about the hashtag #WhyIStayed, you should. It’s your passport to a deeper understanding of people suffering domestic abuse. Following this hashtag, or reading some of the responses to......

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Facing Fear with Love on One Family's Day of Tragic News

I walked into the living room of one of our close family friends. Sitting quietly were my friend’s 89-year-old father and mother. Just a couple of hours earlier, they had heard from a cardiologist – unfortunately, in a rather sudden and impersonal way, with no family around – the prognosis on how long he had to live, given his heart condition. There was a mix of sadness and fear. My friends, understandably, didn’t know exactly what to say. Who does? Over the years, as this family’s rabbi, I had shared many happy......

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 You Left Your Daughter Where?!

I just returned from a week in Israel. And yeah, that means that I was there during the war with Hamas. In fact, the morning that we landed was the day that Hamas leadership pledged to resume rocket attacks on Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. I wasn’t traveling alone either. I was traveling with two of my daughters, one aged 13 and the other 18, who I was “dropping off” for a year of study at a Jerusalem seminary. So, am I some kind of crazy person who blithely wanders into war......

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