Jewish ‘agnostic by default’ spends a year looking for God in many unfamiliar places.
Silver Spring, Md. — If, as President Kennedy famously said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step,” Eric Weiner’s journey of tens of thousands of miles began with a single question.
Joshua Henkin’s latest novel focuses on a family reunion in the Berkshires, filled with memories and surprises.
The summer house in Lenox, Massachusetts where Joshua Henkin’s accomplished new novel is set has a tennis court out back, a garden, and, on its interior walls, street maps of Paris, Kathe Kollwitz etchings and faded portraits of great-grandparents. Family history also spills out of closets, with sports equipment of earlier eras, a never-worn wedding dress (the engagement was broken), outgrown sneakers and spare flip-flops.
Can religion, especially Judaism, work if you don’t believe in the Big Guy upstairs?
The latest turn in the New Atheist debates can be summed up like this: even if you don’t believe in God, religion still has a lot to offer. Public intellectuals like Alain de Botton and James Gray in Britain, and scientists like E.O. Wilson and Jonathan Haidt in America, all of them atheists, have made a similar case in their recent books and essays.
Conference on Moses Mendelssohn, new book fuel debate on thorny issues of faith, identity.
Special To The Jewish Week
The case for a new, fuller understanding of what defines Judaism.
As any Jew knows, trying to define what it means to be Jewish is difficult, if not impossible. Yet still we try: over the past two decades, the number of American Jews who define themselves as secular has nearly doubled; in Israel, a country founded on secular and nationalistic notions of Judaism, the religious population has risen dramatically. Fifty-eight percent of Israeli Jews now consider themselves either traditional or religious, while just 42 percent say they’re secular.
Ever stop to ask the salary of the woman washing dishes on Shabbat in your neighbor's home, or the gentleman mowing your friend's lawn about his vacation, or the nanny raising the children down the block whether she had time to sit down for lunch today? If you did, you most likely discovered an unpleasant situation of inadequate pay, few or no breaks, no paid sick or vacation days and perhaps even bullying or verbal abuse. But how can it be? Those employers (neighbors) seem so nice, and their domestic workers always seem to be smiling and content.
Q - I recently heard reports about the creation of artificial meat, using with animal stem cells. To this point, it exists only in a Petri dish, but it's time to start asking the tough questions. As one who keeps kosher and who is a vegetarian, would this kind of meat would be kosher - and would that be true even for pork? And since no killing would be involved, could a vegetarian eat this meat with a clear conscience?
A- As they say at Citi Field, it’s time to “Meet the Meats.”
From noon this past Sunday to noon Tuesday forty-eight hours later, I was privileged to participate in a program called “The Conversation,” held in the lovely Pearlstone Conference Center just outside of Baltimore. Sponsored by The Jewish Week and made possible through the generous support of UJA-Federation, the program brought together some fifty Jews active in one way or other in the Jewish community of New York for what seemed like an odd purpose- to talk to one another.
Will we ever end poverty, hunger and genocide? Is there hope that tomorrow will look brighter than today? The social justice movement is guided by a messianic vision that a world that is more just and free is possible. Can we, as Jews, embrace this promise of progress?
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…"
Sir Walter Scott could not have been more right, as my congressman, Anthony Weiner, discovered this past week. The problems inherent in the lewd pictures, incomprehensibly bad judgment, and arrogant assumption of invincibility were only exacerbated ten times over by the untruths that followed. The whole affair is a tawdry mess, and an embarrassment.