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Human societies have a long and complicated relationship with numbers. We like to count things and then assign significance to the totals and the way we can divvy them up. But sometimes a number is just a number. […] Read More

When you need a refresher course on compassion, when you forget what holiness looks like and acts like, read the works of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian and philosopher of the 20th century. […] Read More

In Jewish tradition, Elijah often appears in the guise of an old beggar. The legend says if we treat beggars kindly, the world is deemed ready for peace. Did Elijah visit us and we didn’t notice him? When will we be ready for peace? […] Read More

How much do we really know about Jewish burials? What effect are they having on the environment? Is this an important conversation for us to have? A few things really struck me from Richard Conniff’s recent opinion piece in The New York Times, titled “This Is How I Want to Be Dead.” The author writes […] Read More

I’ve greatly enjoyed the first couple of episodes of Simon Schama’s “Story of the Jews” currently airing on BBC-2. Schama is a wonderful storyteller and he knows how to make his subject matter compelling and memorable. This is always very impressive given the constraints of the documentary medium with the need to summarize, simplify, splice […] Read More

Every year, during the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims fast for 30 days. Ramadan is considered the holiest month of the year because it was the month in which the Quran was revealed. The fast of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and an essential observance for all devout Muslims. Every year, […] Read More

Jews receive and merit attention, in this case 12 pages of it in a “Special Report” in the Economist. According to the report, there are 13.58 million Jews in the world, which is fewer than there are Southern Baptists (15 million to 16 million) in the United States, where there are 5.275 million Jews. Both […] Read More

Generalizing about American “people,” which includes ethnic, racial or class lines, is chancy when one throws in and observes the religious factor. Certain features of any ethnic group are so prominent that the generalizer usually does not have much at risk when generalizing. Odds are good that a person without a doctorate in anthropology and […] Read More

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), alongside Gallup and Pew and other polling agencies, scored big this month. Right in the midst of the treated-as-cosmic discussion of “same-sex” marriage, a not-unnoticed media fest – PRRI released a poll on Jewish values in the United States. Many of the findings were unsurprising to those who regularly […] Read More

We Jews are in the early weeks of our fall holy day period. There are three parts to this season that are of spiritual interest: Selichot, Yamim Noraim and Sukkot. The month of Elul is the final month of the Jewish liturgical calendar and is devoted to the practice of selichot, seeking forgiveness. While Jews […] Read More