Posted inReligious News

Israel and the West: The global fight to outgrow national strife

Reading Time: 10 minutes On March 29, 2022, a gunman from near Jenin in the West Bank killed five people in a district of Tel Aviv. Two were Ukrainian nationals. One was a rabbi who died shielding his two-year-old. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah celebrated the killings, while the Palestinian National Authority joined other world […]

Posted inCulture

Israel and the West: Netanyahu and Israeli national politics

Reading Time: 11 minutes On December 29, 2022, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government came into power: a coalition of right wing nationalist and religious groups with a complex backstory and contentious plans for settlement, military action, and civil rights. On January 4, 2023, Justice Minister Yariv Levin announced government plans to limit Supreme Court power and provide […]

Posted inStrange Customs with Sasha Sagan

Greg Epstein—The Transformation

Sasha Sagan talks with humanist rabbi GREG EPSTEIN about an ancient tradition they participate in each year, with themes and messages they find both inspiring and abhorrent. How can a thoughtful person engage a tradition shot through with such contradictions?

We’ll also hear from historian of religion DR. CAROLE CUSACK about how this tradition and others like it connect with the deep cycles of the earth and its creatures.

Posted inHistory

Israel and the West: How we lost nuance with Jewish state politics

Reading Time: 6 minutes On May 14, Israel will celebrate seventy-five years since its Declaration of Independence in 1948, when the British Mandate of Palestine was terminated early after a UN resolution promoting partition between Arab and Jewish sectors led to a breakdown in British regional authority and sparked a massive civil war that stretched well into 1949, and […]

Posted inCulture

It’s past time for Bittul ha-Tamid

Reading Time: 2 minutes There has always been an element of protest in Jewish religiosity. We can picture ancient biblical prophets like Nathan or Amos or Jeremiah ranting at someone, or no one, or everyone about even small injustices inflicted upon seemingly unimportant people. We can imagine their grim visage on such occasions, illuminated paths of sweat scoring their […]

Posted inDeep Dive

Who invented Christianity?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Here’s the thing: No one knows for sure if the words of Jesus in the gospels are his actual words. We’re fairly certain that some of them definitely aren’t. There is even a not-very-good argument to be made that Jesus never existed.  Most biblical scholars accept that Jesus probably did exist. They agree that at least […]

Posted inLeaving Religion

Why I am no longer a Jew

Reading Time: 5 minutes For many years, I was an integral member of a Reconstructionist synagogue in Pittsburgh—Dor Hadash, now known to all the world because of a gunman’s attack in 2018. My three children celebrated Bar and Bat Mitzvahs there. I was very happy at Dor Hadash. I still send a contribution every year. But a few years into […]

Posted inSexuality

On bikinis and hijab

Reading Time: 5 minutes For Americans, as in most of the West, the meaning of the Arabic word “hijab” is as opaque as the term “bikinis” is clear. But the ancient misogynistic traditions that spawned both are still very much alive in the United States as elsewhere where Christianity still reigns. The recent movement to ban abortion in the […]

Posted inReligion

On Yom Kippur, and its homophobic beginnings

Reading Time: 3 minutes In the early days of October, millions of Jews will observe Yom Kippur. During this most sacred day of the Jewish religion, the faithful will spend hours fasting, praying in synagogue, and spiritually atoning for their wrongdoings against God and people. While many Jews are not regular synagogue attenders, if they do ever go to […]

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