When I was in college, I went skydiving over the plains of Texas. Three years later, wanting to relive that unique moment of transcendence and tested limits, I went skydiving again, this time over the Swiss Alps. Ten years later, I’ve learned to embrace a spiritual alternative to jumping out of planes.
Why is it that, at a typical American Jewish social justice event, no one invokes one of God’s names? When our movement openly accepts the role of the Divine in social change and in moral development, we embrace the most powerful part of our tradition.
As the Presidential race progresses, once again the role of religion in politics has re-emerged as a common tension that cannot be dismissed. American Jews have often feared bringing religion into the political discourse out of fear of anti-Semitism, but this concern has hopefully lessened since Senator Lieberman was a serious Presidential candidate while being open about his traditional Jewish practices and perspectives. In our commitment to build a just society, we have an imperative to ask questions about the religious views of our politicians.
The United Nations has declared that the 7th billion person in the world was just born. Further, they have announced that since 1960, we’ve been adding a billion people to the earth every 12 to 13 years.
After decades of dry piano, violin, and guitar lessons, I finally retired without any real merits forfeiting my hopes of ever becoming a rock star or fiery composer. Only recently have I realized that music is still at the core of my Jewish spiritual and ethical passion. Singing at protests, including melodies into activist storytelling, and opening my heart to new ideas and ideals while listening to powerful symphonies have changed the way I feel and interact with the world.
I was 5 years-old and my father was the President of Crayola Crayons. This gave me significant popularity points as a kindergartner. One day, my parents came home to find that I had taken my Crayola markers and painted all over all of the white walls in the house. As protocol for this type of normal occurrence, my mother scolded me while my father, as a marketer of ideas, stood back and thought. It was in this precise moment that the washable marker was invented. I take some credit for this invention.
While I was recently giving a class at a Modern Orthodox synagogue in New York City on the topic of halachic approaches to weapons I asked this group of 25 people (most between 50-65 years old) how many of them owned guns. I expected 1 or 2 hands to emerge but was astonished to find that about 50-60% admitted to having a gun at home.