Spirituality & Faith


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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Video: On Thanksgivukkah

Inspired by this article, “Thanksgivukkah: This November 28th, Celebrate Abundance and Possibility” and courtesy of Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: This week, America sees the convergence of Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah, a rare quirk of calendar synchronicity that hasn’t happened in over a hundred years and won’t happen again for thousands more.? At first glance, these two celebrations don’t seem to have much in common, but look deeper at the stories of the Pilgrims and the Maccabees, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, “Each is a celebration of possibility and......

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Rap For God?

Fr. Claude Burns is a Catholic priest who raps under the name Fr. Pontifex, and just released a new album – The Symphony and The Static.? I actually love the idea of religious leaders bending their sense of calling and expanding their appreciation of where it can take them, and for that I give the good Father props.? But his concerns about the absence of God in people’s lives, and his claim to have the answer, actually reflect anything but a fresh and healthy take on faith and the human search for......

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Thanksgivukkah: This November 28th, Celebrate Abundance and Possibility

Call it a simple coincidence, call it Thanksgivukkah, call it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to integrate the quintessentially American and the quintessentially Jewish, but whatever you call it, and whether you are Jewish or not, celebrate the abundance and possibility in your life this year, as Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlap. From recalling a group of brave, hopeful, religious outsiders, the Pilgrims, who boarded leaky ships bound for a place they did not know, to a group of equally brave and hopeful religious outsiders, the ancient Israelite clan known as the Maccabees, who took......

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Religion in Four Minutes?

Many Americans today who are asked about the role of faith in their lives identify themselves as “None” – no religious identification.? For me, if I’m honest, religion alone is increasingly not getting the job done (that it used to) of nurturing the virtues we all need in life to flourish: awe, wonder, humility, transcendence, responsibility, kindness and love. As an eighth-generation rabbi, this is a significant challenge! Lately I’ve been looking at the intersection of popular culture and science for new “sacred” wisdom that works to evoke and nurture these qualities.......

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A Practical Approach to Finding God

Wait! Before you skip over this post because you may not believe in God, substitute a term that does fall into your beliefs: “awe,” “wonder,” “inexplicable beauty,” or “a moment of transcendence.”? Don’t let the words get in the way.? Now ask yourself: Where do you find those things, and where are you when they find you? It turns out that we often discover the transcendent in the most unexpected or idiosyncratic places. It can literally happen any place. That’s actually really promising – because if God (or whatever) can be there,......

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The Ethical Issues of Ebay Selling Holocaust Memorabilia

As the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht approaches, Holocaust-related stories surface more often and resonate more deeply.? Of particular note is Ebay making Nazi artifacts available for sale. As the last survivors of the Holocaust perish, the ethics of memory — what this story is really about — becomes entirely our question to deal with. This is a far more complicated issue than most people realize, even though I share most people’s initial revulsion at the crass commercialization of the Holocaust by turning tokens of unspeakable horror into high-end collectibles. But because I......

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Air Force Goes God Optional

The United States Air Force has decided to make God an option; at least as far as the service or enlistment oath is concerned.? The oath is older that the United States itself, dating back to June of 1775, and has been administered in its current form since 1962, as follows: I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey......

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We Are Originals

Recently, I read about a fascinating psychological study conducted by Angelika Seidel and Jesse Prinz of CUNY (the City University of New York). Participants were told to imagine that the Mona Lisa had been destroyed in a fire, but that there happened to be a perfect copy – one that even experts couldn’t tell from the original. Then, subjects in the study were asked: If they could see just one or the other, would they rather see the ashes of Leonardo da Vinci’s original Mona Lisa, or the absolutely flawless duplicate? Eighty......

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Video: Brad Hirschfield on Nairobi, Peshawar, and the Simchat Torah

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “This week saw two horrific acts of violence – a suicide bombing of a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan and the siege at an upscale mall Nairobi, Kenya – which left hundreds of people dead and injured.? Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, reflects on these events through the lens of Simchat Torah, the Jewish celebration of the end of the annual reading of the Torah and the beginning of a new cycle of reading the......

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