Spirituality & Faith


Unlocking Hearts and Minds on Rosh Hashanah

More people will be in synagogues in the coming days that at any other point in the year. And because of demographic realities, an increasing number of them won’t even be Jewish. They will all be there, but what will they be hearing? Let’s put it this way: Will there be any synagogue congregations in America this Rosh Hashanah not abuzz with conversation about the upcoming vote on the Iran deal? And from how many pulpits will those in synagogue not hear at least one sermon on the topic? Based on reports......

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A Pope, a Rabbi, Mercy and Rosh Hashanah

I know my headline sounds like an old Borscht Belt routine. My post today is anything but. It’s simply a brief expression of gratitude to a great spiritual teacher for a new policy that not only speeds and eases the annulment process for Catholics, but reminds me of a core teaching in my own tradition about the meaning of mercy – one that’s central to the High Holiday season in which we find ourselves. Pope Francis declared that this “Year of Mercy” would be marked by many efforts to live the teaching......

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When Should Clergy Weigh In on Politics?

Stay away from politics, Rabbi. Many of my colleagues receive – and some give – this advice. There’s a lot of truth to it, even if only from a practical perspective. In a recent and widely touted survey, politicians scored lower than any other profession when it comes to perceived trustworthiness and honor. Considering that clergy scored significantly higher, it would seem to make sense in my profession to avoid being seen as a politician more than as a spiritual guide. However, while no one needs their preacher to be just another......

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Looking Up, and Looking In

One recent night, a friend reminded me that the Perseid meteors were going to be visible. Late that evening, we turned off all our lights, went outside and lay on our backs on the deck. I knew it would take a while for my eyes to adjust. From the moment I looked up at the heavens, I was awestruck by the sheer number of stars. I thought: Even if I don’t see any meteors, it’s enough, because this is so beautiful! And then I saw one streak across the sky. I know......

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Judaism in America: It's (Probably) the End of the World as We Know It

This post originally appeared on Patheos.com: We Jews, however we understand ourselves and our Jewishness, are more integrally linked to the larger American culture in which we live than perhaps any previous generation of diaspora Jews, including past generations of American Jews. We are, like it or not, fully at home here. This is not some 21st-century version of Germany in the early 20th century, or a variation on Spain in the 12th. It’s not even that I don’t believe in Israel. I do, and am proud to call myself a Zionist,......

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Humility and Grace in a Profound Visit to Charleston

About ten days ago, I traveled to Charleston to hold hands and hearts, to listen and learn, to comfort and console. I am still trying to metabolize the profound sacred mixture of anger, sadness, forgiveness, wisdom and grace I experienced. My tradition teaches that immediately after a loved one dies there is no work to be done and no meaning to be made. Rather, with exquisite attention and intention, we honor the dead by exclusively focusing on every last detail of the funeral and burial. Now, in Charleston, S.C., almost two weeks......

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A Pop-up Rabbi!

A few weeks back I wrote about how exciting and unnerving it is that, according to a new Pew Report on religion,?institutional religion in America is clearly weakening.?With people mixing, blending and bending their identities – and with spiritual resources increasingly accessible independent of religious institutions and authorities – there are now more Americans religiously unaffiliated than there are members of any denomination! In other words, America’s largest religion is None (or unaffiliated). I suggested that in religion, just as in so many arenas like health, education, music and media, we’re on......

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Explaining Anti-Semitism to My Young Kids

Growing up deep in the rural, isolated Midwest, it’s hard to say what was more foreign to me – Judaism or the ever-elegant, art-filled Paris. Now that I’m middle-aged and living in a big city, I’m well acquainted with both. I first visited Paris on my honeymoon. I was a new convert to Judaism, having completed my study just months before. Seeing Paris’ Museum of Jewish Art and History was as important as visiting the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. I’d never experienced such intense security. An uneasy feeling from the searching,......

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A Family Values Fumble for Reverend Franklin Graham

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: Sounding off about Wells-Fargo’s TV ad depicting two women learning sign language in order to adopt a hearing-impaired child, Rev. Franklin Graham declared his plan to cut ties with the bank by withdrawing his ministry’s funds. He also encouraged his flock to follow suit. But the evangelical leader soon softened his stance (saying he isn’t opposed to the company’s ad being “gay-friendly”), and now, what I find fascinating is watching him wrestle with this issue. “What if all of us were willing to open......

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What Happens to a Person's Soul When They Die?

Recently, a journalist asked me a series of very basic questions about religion. I want to share my answers with you, and I encourage you to share your answers here, with The Wisdom Daily community.   What’s your view on heaven and hell? Heaven and hell are accountability technologies designed to incentivize human beings to do the right thing. As with all technologies, the question is whether they are getting the job done and whether there are new technologies that can be more effective in helping us be better people. I know......

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