I recall my experiences as a teenager working waiting tables in various restaurants. There was a high-paced energy that was difficult to maintain, but the greatest challenge was constantly being hungry while serving others food. Today, many have it much worse than anything I experienced, because they work long shifts with no breaks at all to eat.
I have been involved with many institutions where someone clearly overstayed his or her welcome in a certain position. That person should have retired, transitioned, or resigned years (maybe even decades) earlier, but found ways to maneuver such that he or she could stick around, with the majority of folks involved in the organization becoming deeply resentful and the organization itself having its growth stunted.
We have all become familiar with the tactics of bigots who distort our religious beliefs or make up horrible lies to advance their hatred. Fortunately, most people in our pluralistic society recognize and reject these tactics.
But how would we respond to a skeptic who points to the morally troubling verse, “When...the Lord your God delivers them to you and you defeat them, you must utterly doom them to destruction: grant them no terms and give them no quarter” (Deut. 7:1-2)?
A Chabad family in Nepal recently made a great public Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) by adopting a starving child. While definitions for these terms vary, what is clear is that there are millions of orphans around the world and we must all do our part.
On Feb. 10, we lost a gadol (a great leader). The world was blessed for more than 80 years (1931-2013) with the presence of a hero of Torah, a progressive force for good, a religious pluralist, and an astounding teacher of ethics and spirituality. Rabbi David Hartman was my teacher and the rebbe of thousands around the world. His reach extended from secular Israelis to religious Israelis, from Reform through Orthodox, from the young to the elderly, from the homeland to the diaspora. He was a Rabbi’s rabbi, a philosopher for philosophers, and a teacher for teachers.
We all agree that a responsible government must have a strong, punitive justice system that maintains order and security. More harmful to our justice system than not catching the guilty, however, is punishing the innocent. Unfortunately, this happens too often.
There are six primary reasons for wrongful convictions:
Every year around this time I begin to look forward to the holiday season here in America: spending Thanksgiving with my family, the familiar sounds of ubiquitous holiday tunes on the radio, the crispness in the air after the fresh snow. As I reflect on recent news, social trends, and the thought of admired leaders in justice and Judaism, the spirit and reality of consumerism gives me pause. Perhaps this feeling of ownership the holiday season brings out in us is not the ideal we, as religious people and thinkers, should strive for.