Longform


Bully Pulpits and Pulpit Bullies

When President Teddy Roosevelt coined the term “Bully Pulpit,” the term “bully” meant “outstanding” or “optimal,” not a pulpit from which one could use their office to bully their audience. New data from Pew Research indicates that a rather high percentage of American Christian religious leaders could take a lesson from the former president when it comes to how they use their own pulpits when addressing political issues. Pastors Often Discussed Election, Pandemic and Racism in Fall of 2020 The polling results, based on the content of sermons offered from the pulpits......

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Leadership Lessons and Serving the Servers in The Holy Land

Also by Rabbi Joshua Stanton You are standing in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the Church of the Nativity looms before you, and you feel like the kid in the Disneyland commercial who says, “I’ve been waiting my whole life to see you.”   You are a Christian leader standing in the Western Wall Plaza and discover that you now understand more fully how and why so many Jews attach so deeply to this one spot in particular and to Israel in general, even as you also discover that you, as a Christian, may still feel......

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Tears on the Digital Road to Jerusalem 

“If a picture paints a thousand words, then an experience paints 10,000.” “Stand where He stood. Walk where He walked. Discover it for yourself.” When we bring rising Christian leaders on pilgrimage to Israel, we emphasize that there is nothing like seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling the complicated, beautiful, Holy Land that birthed their tradition and ours. Born out of necessity amid the pandemic, we began to experiment with digital pilgrimages to see if they could feel every bit as real as those that happened in person. We knew from the......

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Passing the Mantle

Torah is endless. We conclude our reading of Deuteronomy and begin anew with Genesis in the same breath each Simchat Torah. It is continuous, a blueprint for the world that unfolds before us. By contrast, the humans spoken of in the Torah are temporal beings, whose ends are sometimes of greater significance than their beginnings. In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Chukat (Numbers 19:1 – 22:1), we read of the death of the original High Priest, Aaron. We know far more about it than we do of his birth, or even of......

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Once-in-a-Decade Revelations

Every year at Shavuot, Jewish communities all around the world celebrate the giving of Torah with raucous gatherings, enormous slabs of cheesecake, and Torah learning from dusk to dawn. Of the many fond memories I have of my time living in Jerusalem a decade ago, house-hopping throughout the night of Shavuot sits comfortably atop the list. I learned provocative, inspiring Torah from complete strangers, danced with folks from Haredi to Hiloni (strictly Orthodox to strictly secular), and emerged from my last learning session to feel the rising sun on my face while I prayed at the......

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Looking Evil In the Face, Boldly and Beautifully

“If there is only one book you are going to read….” is not something I say often, and something I don’t think should ever be said about a topic as important and as complicated as the Holocaust. I will say though, that anyone who cares about the topic, or any questions of evil and how we respond to it, really must read Faris Cassell’s new, and already award-winning book, The Unanswered Letter. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Faris about her work, which had already been awarded first place in......

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