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Note: The opinions expressed here are solely those of each individual blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of TRT.

Giving Without Guilt

November 2012

Many charitable organizations send letters in December, asking us to support their work. From Habitat for Humanity to Save the Whales, they hope the feelings of the season (and the thought of an end-of-the-year tax deduction) will spur us to be extra charitable now. And yes, you’ll receive a letter from Rodeph Torah, too – if we don’t ask, we don’t get!

But I would like to ask a different question: not what will you give?, but what really matters to you?

Hillel, Shammai and American Politics

October 2012

I believe the greatest danger facing the United States right now isn’t the economy, or health care, or our foreign policy. To me, the biggest threat to our wellbeing is the current idea that those who disagree with us are not just wrong, but un-American. Democrats are Socialists, Republicans are Fascists, gun owners are crazy lunatics, those who support a woman’s right to choose are baby killers, conservatives are heartless and liberals are nannies.

Worse than the name-calling, we’ve now stopped listening to each other. Today it is possible to listen only to news with which we agree, and to hear only commentary which makes us comfortable with the positions we already hold.

Judaism has something to teach us at a time like this, because we Jews are no strangers to disagreement. After all, we’re the ones who claim – with pride – that “two Jews have three opinions.” The Talmud itself is the record of disagreements, not agreements.

The Debate About Sex

September 2012

Let’s be clear: the debate about abortion is not about abortion; it is about sex. More accurately, it is about the belief of some Christians that sex is at best a necessary evil, at worst a sin, and babies are one of the ways God punishes people for having sex. Which means that not only is abortion against this understanding of God’s will; so is contraception. As Saint Augustine, one of the most influential Christian thinkers of all time, wrote, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of offspring is prevented.”

It is not my place to criticize another’s beliefs, or their religion, but when people hide their true agenda it is important to call them on it.

An Invitation to Israel

September 2012

As Shira and I planned a short trip to Washington, DC this summer, we saw that the new Batman movie was playing at the IMAX theater at the Smithsonian. We reserved tickets for the 10:30 show, recognizing that we would probably be the oldest people in the theater by a couple of decades.

The movie premiered the very next night, and we all know what happened in Aurora, Colorado.

Our tickets were for two days later. We thought about it and decided to go anyway. Afterward, we realized that whatever fear we had, had disappeared the moment the movie started. We had a great time, and we never regretted our decision to go.

A Tribute to My Mother

June 2012

This month, my mom will, God willing, celebrate her 85th birthday. To mark this occasion, I want to share something she taught me about being a parent. It has helped me as Shira and I sought to raise our children, and perhaps it will give you something to consider as you work with your children, your grandchildren or others.

Thoughts from High Schoolers on God

May 2012

Every two years the theme for our high school conclave is, “God Talk.” We talk about God – who/what God is, how God communicates with us, and how we communicate with God. In one of the programs the students are asked to write “graffiti” on the walls in response to four questions, and every year I am impressed and moved by their responses. Here are some of their thoughts from this past February.

Prayer is: A way to reflect; Meditation and Peace; An Action; Peaceful; A way to solve problems; A time for asking God to make things different; Between God and us; Unreal; A sense of Security; Awkward; Asking for will power; Begging for renewal of spirit; Forgiving; Trying to find your place in the universe; Finding yourself; Your own; A time of thanks; Finding what is not in your power; Doing something more; A moment out of reality; Everything; A time that helps reflect and understand; Hope; Letting go of me; An offering of one’s soul; One’s truest self; A hope/wish; Awesome.

An Argument for Health Care

September 2009

When our 10th graders go to the Religious Action Center in Washington, their first program is meeting homeless people from the DC streets. One of the most memorable was a college graduate – well-spoken, funny and blunt about his situation. How times have changed!

“I am homeless because I had the nerve to get sick,” he told us.

A Tribute to My Teacher

June 2000

When I began 12th grade in Religious School, a new Educator came to my temple. Dr. Dorothy Axelroth was the first female Jewish educator I had ever heard of, and had she known what she was in for, I probably never would have heard of her.

The year was 1970, and the spirit of protest was alive and well not only in the streets and on college campuses, but also in the halls of the Religious School of Temple Sinai of Roslyn Heights, NY. Hardly a week went by when the post-Confirmation students were not in Dr. Axelroth’s office, telling her what a terrible school she ran. (Of course, as 16 and 17 year-olds, we knew everything¬about what was wrong!) We truly made her life miserable that year.

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