Rabbi Rick Jacobs: 'I think about God every day. I'm not petitioning. I'm not praising. I'm simply sitting with the One.'
Special To The Jewish Week
Editor’s Note: This article introduces a new column in which Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski, executive director of the Skirball Center for Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-el and founding rabbi of Congregation Sulam Yaakov in Larchmont, asks leading religious figures, thinkers and activists in Jewish life what they think about God? He began with Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Rabbi Sivan Maas is the first female secular humanistic rabbi in Israel. In this interview, she explains her role in the community as well as the future of secular humanistic Judaism to Jacques Berlinerblau of Georgetown University.
Oops. Not only did I go on a blogging hiatus (thanks to pre-vacation, vacation and post-vacation distractions), but I did so after writing about mine and Ellie’s God problem. Hopefully, attentive readers didn’t conclude that, despairing of God’s goodness, I’d decided to give up writing for The Jewish Week.
Of course some might have been hoping I did exactly that. Like “SG,” a gentleman whose e-mail greeted me upon my return from vacation (a lakefront cottage in Maine, in case you were wondering):
My 8-year-old daughter and I are having a little bit of a God problem lately.
It’s not that we’re unsure whether or not to believe in him; I’m satisfied with leaving it unresolved by being agnostic, and Ellie’s OK with that as well.
It’s not even the “why do bad things happen to good people” issue, because, while the world is outrageously unfair, I don’t think God, if he exists, is micro-managing the daily lives of the world’s almost seven billion people.
When the Ron Rosenbaum was researching his upcoming biography of Bob Dylan—to be published as part of Yale University Press’s Jewish Lives Series—he came across an obscure quote. In the mid-‘60s Dylan had written an experimental novel almost impossible to read. But being a diligent journalist, Rosenbaum muscled through the novel (“Tarantula”) and found a poem that included these lines: “hitler did not change / history. hitler WAS history.”
That was all he needed to stake a provocative new interpretation of Dylan.
Q: When I daven, I am tempted to ask God for help improving my difficult financial situation. But I always feel this is wrong since so many other people are in worse circumstances involving their health, safety and even worse financial conditions, whereas I at least have a job and a healthy family. Is it unethical to ask God for more money, or should I just be grateful for all the good things I have?
In case you missed it, The New York Times snagged a quick but worthy Q&A with Woody Allen today, a week before his new film comes out. Allen told the Times' Dave Itzkoff that his film, titled "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and featuring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Anthony Hopkins, was his way of exploring the nature of belief.