Thursday, April 13, 2006


Since immigration is, once again, a hot issue I thought that these might be helpful:

Nationalism and xenophobia are not new. Here's a clip from The Forward from around 100 years ago: "Immigration to America is on the rise, according to a report issued by the commissioner of the bureau of immigration. The number of new arrivals to America is the highest since 1893. This past year has seen a total of 303,762 immigrants enter the country at various ports. The largest immigrant groups to arrive are Syrians, Greeks, Italians, various peoples from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Polish and Russian Jews. The commissioner states that most of these people are not worthy of living in this country, which would be better off not to have these individuals among its citizens."

The Moderate Voice: Who Are the Aliens?
by Holly in Cincinnati

We are the aliens.

Diaspora Voice: Those undesirable immigrants
By SAMUEL FREEDMAN in the Jerusalem Post

She never wanted to come to America. She only did it to make money, enough money to bring over her five brothers and sisters. She waited 16 years before bothering to become a citizen, and took the step mostly to avoid being deported.

She never learned more than a few words of English, not even after decades in her ambivalently adopted land. She shopped in stores where she could use her native tongue, and she read newspapers that were written in it, and she attended plays whose actors spoke it. If something needed to be done in English, she left the transaction to her children.

Most of what the kids cared about, the movies and sports and foods, was only fit for "American dopes," as she put it in one of her favorite phrases. Everything was better back in her home country. The bread was better, the clergy was better, the holidays were better.

He lied his way into America. He hid any record of his prison sentence and his jailbreak. He snuck past the border guards by carrying a stolen passport and using a false name. After just a few years in the United States, he was in jail again, suspected of being part of a terrorist gang.

He never married his female companion, just shacked up and had children. He sired four of them, and for a while he did not even enroll them in public school. The eldest, a daughter, took up at 18 with a boyfriend, and naturally they, too, had a son out of wedlock.

WE ALL know, we Americans in the midst of a vitriolic national debate about immigration, just how abominably newcomers to our country behave - the way they take jobs from our own people, the way they refuse to assimilate, the way they flout our moral values and our criminal laws.

I certainly know, because the two undesirable immigrants I've described to you happen to be my grandparents...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Some Resources for LGBT Jews

The Halakhic Status of Homosexual Behavior

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly (or CJLS) is scheduled to meet December 5-6, 2006 to consider the halakhic status of homosexual behavior under the Conservative Movement. The information on this website, compiled by The Jewish Theological Seminary using a variety of sources, provides background on the issue to help concerned Jews and other interested people to understand the mechanics of the CJLS and the history behind the discussion of homosexuality in Conservative Judaism.

JTS will update this site as needed to keep the material as fresh, comprehensive, and accurate as possible.

On this JTS website you will find:

* History of the Issue
* Introducing Conservative Judaism
* Decision-Making Process
* JTS Process
* Additional Resources

For more information, visit the websites of the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Recent Articles:

Conservative Rabbis Reconsider Stance on Gay Sex -

LA Times: Panel faces tough debate on gay Jews

US Jewish movement moves to allow gay rabbis - REUTERS

JTA: Conservative decision on gays will be a watershed, either way

Conservative Rabbis To Decide on Gay Unions, Ordination -

The Jewish Week: Coming Out For Gays At JTS?

Bay Area LGBT Jews to get helping hand from new group


WCGLBTJ - Keshet Ga'avah (World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews - Rainbow of Pride)

Jerusalem Open House

Mosaic: The National Jewish Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Jewish Values and Inclusivity: The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation - Article by Francine Lis in HUC Chronicle Spring 2006

Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center on Sexual Orientation Issues in the Jewish Community

Sermon about Hate Crimes

"Tolerance: The Sacred Link - Parshat Trumah 5764" Excerpt from a Sermon by Rabbi Alan Lew (formerly) of Cong. Beth Sholom of San Francisco CA. The reference to Rabbenu Tom should read Rabbenu Gershom.

"Family Violence: Our Problem, Too" by Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff

Resources from the USCJ Website:

USCJ = The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (umbrella organization for Conservative synagogues):

June 2006: USCJ leadership takes stance on proposed Marriage Amendment

On June 6, 2006, Dr. Raymond B. Goldstein, President, and Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, Executive Vice President, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, issued the following statement:

In 2003 The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism adopted a resolution that provides in pertinent part:

"The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism views the application of equality as a standard which cannot be eroded by any other determinant, race, religion or history. Members of our faith are not unfamiliar with discrimination and worse. We will reject it, however rationalized. We will remain determined to fight for genuine equality, accepting neither discrimination per se nor discrimination garbed in the dress of double standards."

All Americans are entitled to equality under the civil laws of the United States. Marriage being both a religious and a civil status, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism does not support any action by the federal government or by any state or local government that discriminates and denies equal protection of the civil laws to gay and lesbian Americans who seek to have relationships recognized when they fall within the bounds of the civil law. Where the civil law recognizes certain rights and obligations as following from a relationship created under the civil laws, those rights and obligations should not be denied to any two Americans seeking to create such a civil relationship.

The federal government of the United States has no authority to define the religious elements of a marriage for any religious group.

While our scholars may debate the status, rights and obligations under Jewish law of various individuals who seek to conform their lives to Jewish law, no matter what Jewish law may or may not provide concerning marriage, there is no reason for Congress to seek to pass a Constitutional amendment, which limits or discriminates against the civil or legal rights of any individual or group.

Gay Unions - Sanctified and Separate (Rabbi Gerald Zelizer in USA Today 5/31/2000)

POINT: We Can’t Legitimate Homosexuality Halakhically (Rabbi Joel Roth)

COUNTERPOINT: Medical and Moral Reasons to Change the Law (Rabbi Elliot Dorff)

USCJ Torah Sparks: Nitzavim-Vayelekh 5764 - What is your opinion on the issue of the ordination of gay rabbis?

USCJ Convention Resolution on Hate Crimes (1999)

Resources from Keshet Rabbis (Gay-friendly Conservative & Masorti Rabbis):
1) Teshuvot / Responsa relating to GLBT issues and Conservative Halachah
2) Sample Rituals for Marriage Commitment Ceremonies
3) Divrei Torah by Rabbis and lay leaders relating to GLBT issues
4) Biblical and Talmudic Resources (Compiled by KeshetJTS Student Activist Group)
5) Suggested Books and Articles on the Conservative Movement and Homosexuality
6) Making Your Synagogue Welcoming to Gays & Lesbians (Compiled by KeshetJTS)

Resources from the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement:

Reconstructionism Today, Winter 2003-2004
The Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage Has Just Begun (Rabbi Toba Spitzer)

"GAY JUDAISM" AND THE STRUGGLE FOR INCLUSION Reconstructionism Today, Autumn 2003
The values-based approach of the Reconstructionist movement recognizes homosexuality as a fundamental aspect of identity that deserves to be treated with the Jewish value of b’tzelem elohim (respect for human beings as made in God’s image)....
(Rabbi Joshua Lesser)

BECOMING A "KEHILLAH MEKABELET" (welcoming congregation)
Reconstructionism Today, Summer, 1998
The Struggles of Transformation (Roberta Israeloff)

Welcoming the Once Alienated: In an archived radio broadcast The Welcoming Congregation, author Roberta Israeloff traces her faith journey from alienation to her spiritual home in a Reconstructionist congregation.

Charting the New Maps: Reflections on Jewish Lesbian and Gay Life Cycle Celebrations, (Rabbi Leila Gal Berner), pp. 23-28, Reconstructionist Journal, Spring 2000

The Report of the Reconstructionist Commission on Homosexuality
1993, 42 pages Softcover $10.00 ($9.00)

A Reconstructionist Workshop Series
Edited by Rabbi Robert Gluck
1993, 115 pages Softcover $18.00 ($16.20)

From the Union for Reform Judaism on Gay & Lesbian Inclusion:

Kulanu, All of Us: A Program for Congregations Implementing Gay and Lesbian Inclusion, The UAHC Task Force on Lesbian and Gay Inclusion, URJ Press, 1996.

Resolution on same gender officiation made by the CCAR (the Central Conference of North American Reform Rabbis).

Statement by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the URJ, in response to the CCAR resolution on same gender officiation.

CCAR Responsa (Decisions by Reform Rabbis on Jewish Law):

CCAR Responsum from 5756 (roughly 1996) On Homosexual Marriage. NYP no. 5756.8

CCAR Responsum from 5758 (roughly 1998): Baby Naming for a Religiously-Mixed Lesbian Couple. NYP no. 5758.2

CCAR Responsum from 5762 (roughly 2002): Boycotts in the Name of Social Justice.
NYP no. 5762.4

SHJ (Society for Humanistic Judaism) Statement Commending and Supporting Reform Movement Request for Boycott of Boy Scouts

And you shall love your friend as yourself (Leviticus 19:18)
Same-Sex Kidushin v-Nisu’in

ALEPH proudly announces the publication of a ground-breaking paper on same-sex marriage by rabbinical student Eyal Levinson. Working within the parameters of halachic discussion, particularly as described by Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits in his book "Not In Heaven," Levinson develops an argument which draws on classical sources even as it demonstrates the necessity of going beyond them in the service of the ethical. The paper, which includes a suggested k'tubah / marriage contract for same-sex couples and a special afterward by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is available from the ALEPH ReSources Catalog
Same-Sex Kidushin v-Nisu’in by Eyal Levinson
From the Author's Introduction: "This paper is divided into three sections. The first explains the halachah as I understand it, the way it functioned in the past, how it operates today, and how we can renew its meaning in our lives. The second deals with homosexuality and suggests how halachicly, klal yisra’el can change its present attitude and welcome gays and lesbians into its Jewish communities. The third section deals with the ever evolving institution of marriage, examples of same-sex relationships in our tradition, and finally, it focuses on the marriage ceremony and proposes a halachicly based kidushin v-nisu’in ceremony for same-sex couples."
$20 non-member or $18 ALEPH member

Some Books Available by and for LGBT Jews:

Exile in the Promised Land. Marcia Freedman Firebrand Books (out of print)

Gay American History. Jonathan Ned Katz, Penguin Books

Lesbiot: Israeli Lesbians Talk About Sexuality, Feminism, Judaism, and Their Lives.
Tracy Moore, Cassell

Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition. Rebecca T. Alpert

Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology., Evelyn Torton Beck, Beacon Press

The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals. Richard Plant, Henry Holt and Company

Stone Butch Blues: A Novel. Leslie Feinberg, Firebrand

Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. by Leslie Feinberg, Beacon Press

The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology. Melanie Kaye and Irena Klepfisz, Beacon Press

Twice Blessed: On Being Lesbian, Gay, and Jewish. Christie Balka and Andy Rose, Beacon Press

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Text Studies in the Tradition of Talmud

Hillel Foundation's Text Studies in the Tradition of Talmud:

Here it is using

Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"

A Tale of Two Anthems: Hatikvah & Psalm 126

United States of America Constitution Preamble

The First Amendment

The First Murder and Evil Inclinations

The Declaration of Independence

Eshet Chayil

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dealing with Missionaries

Usually these are Christian missionaries, some of whom claim to be Jews. Here are some web links which may be helpful:

Jews for Judaism
Online Publications:
# The Real Messiah
# Counter-Missionary Handbook
# Missionary Impossible

My friend Michael Cook's faculty webpage:
Here are some of his articles that are available online at his webpage:
* "The Bishop's Cop-Out" in The Forward (site registration required) (2004)
* "Some Jewish Reactions to Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ" (2004)
* Excerpts from Postings Concerning: 'Our Gibson Strategy,' including a 'Checklist' of 48 critical motifs to look for in the Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ" (2004)
* "An Insider's Account of the Mel Gibson Ordeal," Chronicle Issue 63 (2004) - available in PDF format
* "Jewish Understandings of the New Testament," Chronicle Issue 58 (1999) - available in PDF format

Noachides (Righteous Gentiles) & the 7 Noachide Laws

Want to learn about the Noachide covenant and the Seven Noachide Commandments?

Here is an article from January 2006 -
Arutz Sheva: Sanhedrin Recognizes Council to Teach Humanity ´Laws of Noah´

Here are some websites about Noachides:

Ask Noah

Bnei Noach (UK)

Ahavat Israel - The Seven Noachide Laws - Universal Laws for Humanity

Jews and Hasidic Gentiles—United to Save America

JLaw: The Obligation of Jews to Seek Observance of Noachide[1] Laws by Gentiles: A Theoretical Review
by Rabbi Michael J. Broyde

Here's Where It All Comes From:

Genesis Chapter 9 - JPS 1917 Translation:

8 ¶ And God spoke unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying:
9 'As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.'
12 ¶ And God said: 'This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow is seen in the cloud,
15 that I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.'
17 And God said unto Noah: 'This is the token of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why religion and politics should never mix

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. This article was in The Times Online (UK) on December 10, 2005:

Different freedoms, or why religion and politics should never mix
Credo by Jonathan Sacks

THE election of David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party has quickened the pulse of British politics, and though I believe profoundly that religion and politics should never mix, there are times when it is important to say something religious about the political process itself.

In 1996, when one party had been in power for almost a generation, I asked a civil servant in an unguarded moment which he thought more dangerous for a nation: the coming into office of a party most of whose members had no experience of government, or the lack of a credible opposition. Without hesitation he chose the second. Politics lives, he said, on the existence of alternatives, the clash of opinions, the cut and thrust of debate. Without that, democracy dies.

In a flash I realised that he had clarified for me the profound difference between religion and politics and why neither must ever invade the territory of the other.

Democratic politics — the worst system ever invented apart from all the others — is more than the rule of the majority. That, as Alexis de Tocqueville rightly said, can lead to the tyranny of the majority and the loss of rights on the part of minorities. Its virtues are that it allows for the non-violent resolution of conflict. It makes possible a change in government without revolution or civil war. Most importantly, it safeguards the free expression of dissent.

Politics turns into virtue what religions often see as a vice — the fact that we do not all think alike, that we have conflicting interests, that we see the world through different eyes. Politics knows what religion sometimes forgets, that the imposition of truth by force and the suppression of dissent by power is the end of freedom and a denial of human dignity. When religion enters the political arena, we should repeat daily Bunyan’s famous words: “Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the gates of Heaven.”

This is easily said, but behind liberal democracy lies a long and bloody past. Twice in the history of the West, religion discovered its inadequacy as a means of conflict resolution. The first occurred in the first century CE, when Jews began their disastrous rebellion against Rome. It failed because of internecine rivalry between Jews themselves. The result was the destruction of the Second Temple and an exile that lasted almost 2,000 years. It was Jewry’s worst self-inflicted tragedy.

The second took place in Christian Europe between the Reformation in 1517 and the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. For more than a century Europe was convulsed by religious war, Christian fighting Christian as Jew had once fought Jew. Out of these experiences, first Jews, then Christians, eventually learnt to separate religion from politics, influence from power, the noble dream from the willingness to compromise that alone allows us to live graciously with those with whom we disagree.

It may seem odd to say that the most important feature of liberal democracy is its modesty. Humility is a virtue not always associated with politicians. Yet it is built into the system. The secular democratic state has no ambitions to proclaim the truth, fulfil the metaphysical longings of the soul, or pass judgment on the great questions of ethics. It is there to help us get along with one another, making our several contributions to the common good. It is the best way yet discovered of allowing us all to feel heard, our views considered if not always accepted, and of constructing a society we see as tolerable if not ideal.

There is something noble about this self-limitation. Liberal democracy does what few great religions have ever achieved. It makes space for difference. It honours the person regardless of his or her beliefs. It allows societies to negotiate change without catastrophe. It teaches us the difficult arts of listening to our opponents and — in Isaiah’s phrase — “reasoning together”. These are modest virtues but necessary ones.

We are living in an age in which, not just in Britain but throughout the world, many people are disillusioned with secular politics, and are turning to religion instead. In itself that is a blessing. Religious faith is our noblest effort to understand ourselves and our place in the universe. The expansive air of the spirit redeems the narrowness of the material world. But to expect it to solve political problems is to invite disaster. Religion becomes political at its peril, and ours.

posted by American On Line

Friday, December 02, 2005

More Pagan Stuff to Ban

This began as a comment I posted at Pam's House Blend:

While the wingnuts are busy banning Harry Potter and other pagan things, they might want to consider dropping use of the names of the days of the week (from pagan gods) and months of the year (from pagan gods, festivals and emperors).


Unless Noted Otherwise, These Definitions are from and Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Sunday : \Sun"day\, n. [AS. sunnand[ae]g; sunne, gen. sunnan, the sun _ d[ae]g day; akin to D. zondag, G. sonntag; -- so called because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship. See Sun, and Day.] The first day of the week, -- consecrated among Christians to rest from secular employments, and to religious worship; the Christian Sabbath; the Lord's Day.

Monday : \Mon"day\ (m[u^]n"d[asl]; 48), n. [OE. moneday, monenday, AS. m[=o]nand[ae]g, i.e., day of the moon, day sacred to the moon; akin to D. maandag, G. montag, OHG. m[=a]natag, Icel. m[=a]nadagr, Dan. mandag, Sw. m[*a]ndag. See Moon, and Day.] The second day of the week; the day following Sunday.

Tuesday : \Tues"day\ (t[=u]z"d[asl]; 48), n. [OE. Tewesday, AS. Tiwes d[ae]g the day of Tiw the god of war; akin to OHG. Zio, Icel. T[=y]r, L. Jupiter, Gr. Zey`s;, cf. OHG. Ziostac Tuesday, G. Dienstag, Icel. T[=y]sdagr. [root]244. See Deity, Day, and cf. Jovial.] The third day of the week, following Monday and preceding Wednesday.

Wednesday : \Wednes"day\ (?; 48), n. [OE. wednesdai, wodnesdei, AS. W[=o]dnes d[ae]g, i. e., Woden's day (a translation of L. dies Mercurii); fr. W[=o]den the highest god of the Teutonic peoples, but identified with the Roman god Mercury; akin to OS. W[=o]dan, OHG. Wuotan, Icel. O[eth]inn, D. woensdag Wednesday, Icel. [=o][eth]insdagr, Dan. & Sw. onsdag. See Day, and cf. Woden, Wood, a.] The fourth day of the week; the next day after Tuesday.

Thursday : \Thurs"day\, n. [OE. [thorn]ursdei, [thorn]orsday, from the Scand. name Thor _ E. day. Icel. [thorn][=o]rr Thor, the god of thunder, is akin to AS. [thorn]unor thunder; D. Donderdag Thursday, G. Donnerstag, Icel. [thorn][=o]rsdagr, Sw. & Dan. Torsdag. [root]52. See Thor, Thunder, and Day.] The fifth day of the week, following Wednesday and preceding Friday.

Friday : \Fri"day\, n. [AS. friged[ae]g, fr. Frigu, the goddess of marriage; friqu love _ d[ae]g day; cf. Icel. Frigg name of a goddess, the wife of Odin or Wodan, OHG. Fr[=i]atag, Icel. Frj[=a]dagr. AS. frigu is prob. from the root of E. friend, free. See Free, and Day.] The sixth day of the week, following Thursday and preceding Saturday.

Saturday : \Sat"ur*day\ (?; 48), n. [OE. Saterday, AS. S[ae]terd[ae]g, S[ae]ternd[ae]g, S[ae]ternesd[ae]g, literally, Saturn's day, fr. L. Saturnus Saturn _ AS. d[ae]g day; cf. L. dies Saturni.] The seventh or last day of the week; the day following Friday and preceding Sunday. WIKIPEDIA: Saturday is the day of the week between Friday and Sunday. Its name is unique among the names of days, in that it is derived from the Roman god Saturn, while the other six names are derived from Saxon gods.

See also


Unless Noted Otherwise, These Definitions are from and the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

January : \Jan"u*a*ry\, n. [L. Januarius, fr. Janus an old Latin deity, the god of the sun and the year, to whom the month of January was sacred; cf. janua a door, Skr. y[=a] to go.] The first month of the year, containing thirty-one days.

February : \Feb"ru*a*ry\, n. [L. Februarius, orig., the month of expiation, because on the fifteenth of this month the great feast of expiation and purification was held, fr. februa, pl., the Roman festival or purification; akin to februare to purify, expiate.] The second month in the year, said to have been introduced into the Roman calendar by Numa. In common years this month contains twenty-eight days; in the bissextile, or leap year, it has twenty-nine days.

March : \March\, n. [L. Martius mensis Mars'month fr. Martius belonging to Mars, the god of war: cf. F. mars. Cf. Martial.] The third month of the year, containing thirty-one days.

April : \A"pril\, n. [L. Aprilis. OE. also Averil, F. Avril, fr. L. Aprilis.] 1. The fourth month of the year. WIKIPEDIA: The name is derived from the Latin aprilis, either from the Latin word aperire which means "to open", probably referring to the "opening of the light in the days, and of the life of the leaves, and of the voices of the birds, and of the hearts of men", or from the Etruscan name Apru for Aphrodite.

May(mā) pronunciation n. The fifth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English, from Old French Mai, from Latin Māius (mēnsis), (the month) of Maia, from Māia, an Italic goddess.]

June (jūn) pronunciation n. (Abbr. Jun.): The sixth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English, from Old English Junius and from Old French juin, both from Latin (mēnsis) Iūnius, (month) of June, from Iūnō, Juno. See Juno.] Ju·no (jū'nō) pronunciation n. Roman Mythology. The principal goddess of the pantheon and the wife of Jupiter, worshiped as the goddess of women, marriage, childbirth and the moon, and as the protector of the state. She came to be identified with the Greek Hera. [Latin Iūnō, from iuvenis, young (probably from her association with the new moon).]

Ju·ly (jʊ-lī') pronunciation n. (Abbr. Jul.) The seventh month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Julie, from Old North French, from Latin Iūlius, after Iūlius Caesar, Julius Caesar.]

August is the eighth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. August starts in Leo and ends in Virgo. In the wheel of the year August begins at or near Imbolc in the southern hemisphere and a few days before the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox. In the northern hemisphere it has a corresponding position with respect to Lughnasadh, between summer solstice and spring equinox. August was named in honor of Augustus Caesar. The month reputedly has 31 days because Augustus wanted as many days as Julius Caesar's July. Augustus placed the month where it is because that's when Cleopatra died. Before Augustus renamed August, it was called Sextilis in Latin, since it was the sixth month in the Roman calendar which started in March.

Sep·tem·ber (sĕp-tĕm'bər) pronunciation
n. (Abbr. Sept.): The ninth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Septembre, from Old French, from Latin September, the seventh month, from septem, seven.]

Oc·to·ber (ŏk-tō'bər) pronunciation. The tenth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Octobre, from Old French and from Old English October, both from Latin Octōber, eighth month, from octō, eight.]

No·vem·ber (nō-vĕm'bər) pronunciation n. (Abbr. Nov.): The 11th month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Novembre, from Old French, from Latin November, ninth month, from novem, nine.]

De·cem·ber (dĭ-sĕm'bər) pronunciation
n. (Abbr. Dec.): The 12th month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English decembre, from Old French, from Latin December, the tenth month of the Roman year, probably from *decemmembris, from *decem-mēnsris : decem, ten + mēnsis, month; see menses.]

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Short History of Crucifixion

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The 6th Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Kill" or "Thou Shalt Not Murder" ?

Philologos: Killing Versus Murder, The Forward, January 9, 2004

Professor Berel Lang writes from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.:

"Perhaps you would give a couple of paragraphs to the misconception (and the mistranslation) of the Sixth Commandment [in Exodus 20:13], 'You shall not murder,' as 'You shall not kill.' The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means 'murder,' not 'kill.' If the commandment proscribed killing as such, it would position Judaism against capital punishment and make it pacifist even in wartime. These may be defensible or admirable views, but they're certainly not biblical."

Professor Lang has touched on what is, to put it mildly, a lively issue. A Google scan of the Internet comes up with 134,000 entries on the Sixth Commandment, a high percentage of them dealing with its translation! Although a sampling of these entries shows that few have anything cogent to say about the linguistic issues involved, many illustrate why the debate is so fervid. Not only pacifists and opponents of capital punishment are active in it. There are also vegetarians, anti-abortionists, environmentalists, animal-righters, and others, as well as those hostile to them, all feeling they have a stake in the question of whether the Bible forbids human beings to take life for any reason at all ("killing"), or only when there is no legal justification for it ("murdering").


Friday, August 19, 2005

Paul Nussbaum: The surprising spectrum of evangelicals

Q. Whose Bible is it? A. Whose isn't it?

Jon Meacham: Believers, Save the Republic!

Washington Post, Sunday, July 3, 2005; Page B01

On July 4, 1827, a leading clergyman of the day, the Presbyterian minister Ezra Stiles Ely, preached a controversial sermon in Philadelphia that was published around the country. Its title could not have been clearer: "The Duty of Christian Freemen to Elect Christian Rulers." Calling for the formation of a Christian party in politics, Ely, a supporter of Andrew Jackson's in the 1828 presidential race, said: "Every ruler should be an avowed and sincere friend of Christianity. He should know and believe the doctrines of our holy religion, and act in conformity to its precepts."

Reading the sermon, Jackson sensed danger in Ely's words. There was a time for politics and a time for religion -- but both at once, inextricably entwined, meant trouble. Like the early years of the 21st century, the 1820s was an age of great evangelical fervor, but Jackson had no interest in fueling the fire Ely wanted to ignite. "All true Christians love each other, and while here below ought to harmonize; for all must unite in the realms above," Jackson later wrote Ely. Having given faith its due, he also reminded Ely of the centrality of individual freedom in religious matters. "Amongst the greatest blessings secured to us under our Constitution," Jackson told Ely, "is the liberty of worshipping God as our conscience dictates."

Now, 178 July Fourths later, the commingling of religion and politics in America would seem a prime exhibit of the Old Testament's adage that "there is no thing new under the sun." Though we have been here before, there is something different and disturbing about the skirmishes of our own time. Always important, the religious factor in politics has become pervasive, converting public life into a battle of uncompromising extremes. Whether the subject is terrorism, Iraq, abortion, gay marriage, the judiciary or stem-cell research, virtually every issue is being viewed through the prism of faith. Our public background music has moved from "Stars and Stripes Forever" to "Onward, Christian Soldiers" -- and we have too many Elys and not enough Jacksons....

Op-Ed: Roe As A Jewish Issue

America had two different sets of spiritual fathers...

'Atheism is unknown there; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country, without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel."

Thus wrote Benjamin Franklin in his 1782 pamphlet, "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America." At least one thing hasn't changed since Franklin penned those words: America remains a godly nation. Among advanced industrialized countries, it is easily the most religious. Some 60 percent of its citizens say religion is very important to their lives, about six times the percentage of the French. But the divine looms even larger in most Americans' hearts than those figures suggest. Some 90 percent say they believe in God--94 percent if you add those who revere a "universal spirit" --while less than 1 percent call themselves atheists or agnostics. It is very possible that an American might still live to a ripe old age without meeting an atheist or infidel....

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A National Anthem Is Born

Two Versions of the Ten Commandments in the Hebrew Bible

From the 1917 JPS Translation of The Holy Scriptures:


1 ¶ And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
5 thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;
6 and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work;
10 but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;
11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not murder.
14 (20:13) Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 (20:13) Thou shalt not steal.
16 (20:13) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 (20:14) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


1 ¶ And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them: Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and observe to do them.
2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
4 The LORD spoke with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire--
5 I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare unto you the word of the LORD; for ye were afraid because of the fire, and went not up into the mount--saying:
6 ¶ I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
7 Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
8 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, even any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
9 Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me,
10 and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
12 Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD thy God commanded thee.
13 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work;
14 but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou.
15 And thou shalt remember that thou was a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God commanded thee; that thy days may be long, and that it may go well with thee, upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
17 Thou shalt not murder.
18 (5:17) Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
19 (5:17) Neither shalt thou steal.
20 (5:17) Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
21 (5:18) Neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's wife; neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's house, his field, or his man-servant, or his maid-servant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

WP: Versions of the Ten Commandments Vary by Tradition

Washington Post: Versions of the Ten Commandments Vary by Tradition


1. I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.
2. You shall have no other gods besides Me.
3. You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God.
4. Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house: you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or...anything that is your neighbor's.

Based on the Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Jewish Publication Society, 1985).

Numbering varies by tradition.


1. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

"A Traditional Catechetical Formula" in Catechism of the Catholic Church (U.S. Catholic Conference, 1991).


1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out
of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make yourself a graven image.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not kill.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or . . . anything that is your neighbor's.

Based on the Book of Confessions (Presbyterian Church USA, 1991).

My Feb. 2004 Essay on Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"

My Take on Mel’s Movie (Sight Unseen)
Holly in Cincinnati, 2/15/04

Mel Gibson claims that his new film, "The Passion of the Christ" is about "faith, hope, love and forgiveness." If I were to see his movie, I doubt that I would see even one ounce of these qualities – they are simply not connotations of the Cross for non-Christians. I cannot speak for all Jews and Mr. Gibson cannot speak for all Christians, but it should be obvious that when Jews and Christians look at the story of Jesus' crucifixion or even a cross on the outside of a church, we do not see the same things.

Superstitious Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe would spit or “poo-poo” to ward off the Evil Eye upon seeing such an ill omen. When they saw a church, they walked on the other side of the street. I do not know what a Christian sees when he looks at a cross or a crucifix. Quite possibly "faith, hope, love and forgiveness." At best, I see something to be ignored or something meaningless. More typically I see persecution, hatred, anti-Semitism, murder, bigotry, falsehood, racism, calumny and evil. I asked a friend who is converting from Islam to Judaism for his reaction: "Muslims see the cross as a symbol of oppression...when you see the cross coming, either prepare to run or fight: the Christians have come to kill you and take your land and possessions...I know that I would see a film that was sowing the seeds of hatred, persecution, destruction, and death." Do churches seriously think that this movie will be an evangelizing tool?

From what I have read, this movie is unbelievably graphic and violent and will be attended mostly by people who publicly deplore popular culture, sex and violence. This gives them an "acceptable" reason to attend the film and delight in their baser emotions. In Europe, the most common reaction of the ignorant populace to medieval Passion Plays and bloody sermons was to rush out of the church, murder the neighborhood Jews and seize their property. The Crusades were only an extension of this nasty attitude into the Muslim world. Although this is not likely to happen in North America, it is a real possibility on other continents.

Christians and Jews who express concern about this film are subject to vicious personal attacks. Some fundamentalist evangelical Protestants have made veiled threats that, since they support the State of Israel, Jews should shut up. Mr. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, said of suggestions that the film could spark violence against Jews, “The obvious implication is that Jews need to fear practicing Christians more than agnostics or atheists or Muslims.” Maybe this is news for Mr. Donahue, but I do fear (some) practicing Christians far more than I fear agnostics or atheists. Christians often seek to change my God-concept, religion, politics, values and sexual orientation, whereas agnostics and atheists generally respect me for who and what I am.

Mr. Gibson says that his movie is "meant to make viewers realize the extent of Christ's sacrifice." For non-Christians, "Christ's sacrifice" means nothing. Mr. Gibson’s statements that Jesus "died and suffered for all mankind” and “we're all culpable in the death of Christ” seem incredibly ignorant, insensitive and insulting to non-Christians. We do not consider ourselves to be guilty of any acts for which Jesus’ death could possibly atone. This Jew’s death seems wasted, a fabrication, as if you murdered my cousin Josh and blamed me for it. This is the theological equivalent of shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater just for kicks, thereby causing dozens of people to be trampled to death. A good case can be made that this controversial portrayal of a radioactive slice of the Gospels violates several of the 10 Commandments.

I have problems with being slandered as a murderer. If I were to see this movie, which I doubt because a) I do not want Mr. Gibson to get even one cent of my money and b) I'm not into snuff porn, I doubt that I would see anything but misery, false witness and Mr. Gibson raking in the dollars. It’s not about love – it’s about money. Is it at all likely that God will forgive Mel Gibson for this atrocity?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Reader Column in Cincinnati Enquirer

Monday, August 15, 2005

Your voice: John Brennan
Fly rainbow flag to endorse inclusion

I put a rainbow flag on my car the other day. No bigger than an index card, but bright and colorful.

And scary.

Now maybe I fancy myself as much more a rebel than actually I am. As I know one friend would say, this wasn't exactly like being on the front lines at Selma.

But I'm male, Caucasian, married with kids, and of Christian family background. Culture has told me all my life that this is my world, even though others do live in it. And once I popped on that rainbow flag, it just wasn't quite the same clubby feeling.

Quite potentially, in the eyes of any who might look on, I was no longer one of Us, but one of Them.

Copyright 1995-2005. The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Washington Post: Variations on a Pledge

I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.
- The original words of the Pledge of Allegiance, 1892

Since its creation more than a century ago, the Pledge of Allegiance has been altered four times. The first change, shortly after it was written, was placement of the word "to" in front of "the Republic."

1923 -

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

1924 -
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

1954 -
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So few words, so many arguments. Yet the Pledge of Allegiance has never been static. On this July 4 weekend, Outlook offers 19 variations on the theme…

Oh, "The legend, "In God We Trust," became a part of the design of United States currency in 1957 and has appeared on all currency since 1963." MORE

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Intersection of Religion and Politics

These resources on Religion, Culture, Ethics, Journalism and Politics are in no particular order.

Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

The Polis Center at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

The Forward's Campaign Confidential: E.J. Kessler on Politics

John C. Green, Professor of Political Science at the Univ. of Akron
Director, Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

Church and State Magazine, October 2005 Issue, Americans United

American Religious Experience Project

Religion News Service

Religion Newswriters Foundation: Resources for Journalists Reporting About Religion


Religion and Ethics Newsweekly TV Show (PBS, WNET-13 NYC)

RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY's Viewer's Guide 2005 contains a collection of essays and resources that will stimulate dialogue and thought about important issues across different religious worlds. The 2005 Guide includes in-depth articles on religion and assimilation; mysticism; Christianity and Buddhism; the politics of forgiveness; African Americans and the Bible; faith-based social services; and the meaning of martyrdom. Download the 2005 Guide and view an extensive list of related resources

Simple Wisdom TV Show with Irwin Kula

Speaking of Faith Radio Show (American Public Media, usually heard on NPR stations)

Faith Streams Video

Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University, Cincinnati OH

Yale University Center for Faith and Culture

Poynter Institute

Editor & Publisher Magazine

National Jewish Democratic Council

Republican Jewish Coalition

HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, Cincinnati OH

RRC Center for Jewish Ethics

Columbia Journalism Review - America's Premier Media Monitor (Columbia University)

Justice Learning (Constitution Guide): A partnership of Justice Talking and The New York Times Learning Network.

Online Journalism Review (USC Annenberg)

Institute for Propaganda Analysis

The Revealer: A Daily Review of Religion & the Press (NYU Dept. of Journalism and Center for Religion & Media

First Amendment Center

University of Virginia Center for Politics

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Resources Concerning Abortion, Stem Cell Research and End-of-Life Issues

There are numerous resources on this issue.

The Hebrew Bible makes clear that abortion is not murder. The proof-text is Ex. 21:22...

"22 ¶ And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine." If it were seen as murder, there would be a much more severe penalty.

Abortion is not only permitted under Jewish religious law (Halakha), sometimes it is required. In Jewish law (even older than Catholic canon law) human life begins at birth, not conception. Therefore abortion is not murder. Under Jewish law, the mother's life and health take precedence over the fetus. Under Catholic canon law, the fetus takes precedence over the mother (I read the novel "The Cardinal" when I was a kid).

There is more than one valid religious viewpoint on the issue. For most Jews, being pro-choice is a religious obligation. This is not the same as being pro-abortion. I don't know a single pro-choicer who thinks that abortions are wonderful and that everyone should have them. We just want to be able to make our own decisions concerning our bodies, in consultation with our spouses or partners, our physicians and our clergy. We don't want politicians making those very personal decisions for us. Jewish physicians who are willing to perform abortions are not in it for the money but rather because keeping abortion safe and legal is a religious obligation.

My goal is to find issues on which sane pro-lifers and pro-choicers can work together (better and more accurate sex education [common sense as well as abstinence], access to safe and effective contraception, reduction of unintended pregancies, reduction of STDs, elimination of poverty, access to adequate healthcare [including prenatal care], premarital counseling etc... ) and work together on those issues to reduce the number of abortions needed as well as the number performed.

Let me tell you a couple of stories...

I have a friend who is a religious and active Christian with a husband and children. In her younger days she had an abortion. If I remember correctly, she was raped while medically incompetent and her family arranged the abortion. She is ardently pro-choice.

I have another friend who was raised as a strict New England Presbyterian. Her grandmother died as the result of an illegal abortion. She, too, is ardently pro-choice.

Some Christians have, as a religious obligation, protested at abortion clinics. I have, as a religious obligation, escorted clinic patients past the protestors.

Top Liberal Lobbyist Calls For Reduction In Abortions
By Ori Nir in The Forward, June 24, 2005

WASHINGTON — A leading Jewish defender of reproductive rights is calling on religious and political liberal leaders to launch a public campaign to reduce the number of abortions performed in the United States each year.

David Saperstein, the director of Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center and the movement's top Washington lobbyist, is pressing for a campaign to cut the number of abortions in half in the next two years. He told the Forward that such a campaign would help liberals "take back the moral high ground" on the issue, while creating common ground between liberals and conservatives on the most divisive issue in American politics.

"A lot of people in middle America, who are swing voters between liberal and conservative candidates, believe in a woman's right to choose, yet have a problem with the high number of abortions here," said Saperstein, arguably the organized Jewish community's most influential liberal in Washington. He added: "I happen to think that the liberal pro-choice community has a better argument on this issue, and it has needlessly given up the argument to the pro-life forces on the right."


This article is no longer online.

Spring 2003, Vol. 31, No. 3
page 10
Notes from the Underground: A Rabbinic Resister Reflects on the Era When Abortion Was a Crime in America
by Rabbi Simeon J. Maslin
While rummaging through his papers from 1970, Rabbi Maslin comes across a thank-you note and is reminded of his work with the Clergy Consultation Service on Problem Pregnancy (CCS) in Chicago at a time when abortion was illegal in the U.S. He relates the story of the letter-writer, a distressed young woman who, along with her boyfriend, came to him for counsel, in light of the current political realities which threaten to end pro-choice in America.

The ban on abortion is not absolute
By Shahar Ilan in Ha'aretz

Ostensibly, it is a well-known fact that halakha (Jewish religious law) objects to abortions, even if the infant that will be born will have a severe illness or be mentally retarded. For that reason, many religiously observant parents do not undergo genetic testing. If such tests were done and there was a chance of a baby being born with a serious illness, they would not abort.

But, is that really halakha? An article that appears in the latest volume of the halakhic journal, Tehumin, argues to the contrary: "Most poskim [halakhic arbiters] in our generation have permitted the aborting of a fetus, even when there is no danger to the mother." The author of the article, Rabbi Moshe Tzuriel, a former mashgiah ruhani (spiritual mentor) at the Sha'alabim hesder yeshiva, argues, "It is incorrect to state unequivocally and authoritatively that the ban [on abortion] is absolute," and that in a case of a disagreement among poskim, it is appropriate in this case to follow those with a permissive approach....


Protect Roe v. Wade

Concerned for the future of reproductive choice, the Reform Jewish Movement has developed an issue-based website which features advocacy and action initiatives, rituals and services, a program bank, and more.


Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice: Pro-Faith, Pro-Family and Pro-Choice

RCRC: "Between a Woman and Her God"

Pro-Choice Sermons and Prayers for Roe v. Wade Observances
Lilith Magazine
Vol. 22.4, Winter 1997-98

by Leila Bronner

As Promise Keepers cast their political opposition to ABORTION in religious terms, a biblical scholar offers us texts which help us understand the theological differences between Christians and Jews.

This article cannot be found online but may be in your local public library or in the library of your local Reform, Conservative or Reconstructionist synagogue. It can also be ordered directly from Lilith Magazine.

Also of interest in the same issue:
Our Sisters’ Keepers by Alice Sparberg Alexiou
Guess who loses in the Promise-Keepers’ "battle against Satan"...

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on Reproductive Rights

Some interesting articles from a more Orthodox standpoint:

Abortion in Jewish Law
Daniel Eisenberg, M.D.

The traditional Jewish view of abortion does not fit conveniently into any of the major "camps" in the current debate over abortion.

When Men Strive: an Analysis of Shemot 21:21-22 and Related Issues


Some Resolutions of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism:

Stem Cell Research and Education (2003)
Support of Reproductive Health Care Workers (1999)
Violence and Pro-Choice (1993)

From Reconstructionist Jews:

The Hardest Decision
By RUTH ROUTTENBERG SELDIN in Reconstructionism Today
VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2, WINTER 2003-2004

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association:
Resolution on Educational and Political Support for Stem Cell Research, adopted March, 2005


Here is a good PPT on stem cells which can be viewed online.

The major Jewish women's organizations have adopted stem cell research as an issue and are promoting it to state legislatures. There was a wonderful presentation at my synagogue a few months back. Jewish religious law is largely in favor stem cell research.

Information on Cord Blood Donations provided by Ms. Julien's sister:

From the Society for Humanistic Judaism:

Reproductive Choice

Stem Cell Research

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Valuable Article for Understanding the Religious Right

How to do public prayer without offending people

Guidelines for Interfaith Prayer Services
Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington


NCCJ: When You Are Asked to Give Public Prayer in a Diverse Society: Guidelines for Civic Occasions.
Faith leaders and others are sometimes called upon to present prayer at civic occasions. These individuals hold a special responsibility to be clear regarding the public nature of the occasion and must be sensitive to the audience’s diversity of faiths. NCCJ published these guidelines for inclusive public prayer as a tool for leading authentic prayer in a way that can easily be shared by listeners from different faiths and traditions.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Advocacy Centers: Write Your Rep and More!

Sign Up for Action Alerts from These Organizations:

ACLU (Am. Civil Liberties Union) Legislative Action Center
AJC (American Jewish Committee) Legislative Action Center
Emily's List
GLAAD (G & L Alliance Against Defamation) Leg. Action Center
HRC (Human Rights Campaign) Legislative Action Center
Interfaith Alliance - Issues & Advocacy Page
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
LWV (League of Women Voters) Legislative Action Center
NARAL Pro-Choice America - Take Action
NCCJ CARES (N.C. for Comm. & Justice) Advocacy Action Center
NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women) Action Center
NGLTF (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) Action Center
NOW (National Organization for Women) Leg. Action Center
PFAW (People For the American Way) Legislative Action Center
PFLAG (Parents, Family...of Lesbians & Gays) Grassroots Center
Planned Parenthood Action Network
RAC (Religious Action Center - Reform Judaism)
SLDN (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network)Action Center

Investigate Rumors & Hoaxes Here

Israel and the Middle East

Informational Links in English

Jerusalem Online: Watch TV News from Israel's Channel 2


JCPA Daily Alert Newsletter Online (leans a bit right)
Arutz Sheva Israel National News (right-wing, settlers)
Jewish Indy (Indianapolis website, tends far-right)
JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) Wire Service
DEBKA (right, reliability varies)
MEMRI (translations from the Arab press)
Daniel Gordis - Dispatches from an Anxious State
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Myths & Facts/Mitchell Bard (leans right)
Ha'aretz interview with Benny Morris

Media Watchdogs:

Honest Reporting

CAMERA (leans right)


Ha'aretz (Israel, leans left)
Israel 21C - A Focus Beyond the Conflict
Jerusalem Post (Israel, leans a bit right)
Yediot Achronot's Ynet (Israel, tabloid)
Beirut Daily Star (Lebanon, IMHO best of the Arab papers)
The Forward (weekly, leans left)
The (NYC) Jewish Week (weekly, leans a bit right)


Jerusalem Report (weekly)
Reform Judaism (quarterly)
Moment (bimonthly)
Shma (monthly)


CLAL (leans left)
Gush Shalom (far left)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Tolerance & Interfaith Relations

ADL Anti-Defamation League - Interfaith Page
AJC American Jewish Committee - Interreligious - Left Sidebar Also - The Passion: A Resource Manual in pdf format
Center for Christian-Jewish Learning - Boston College
Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies - St. Leo U.
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies (ICJS), Baltimore MD
The Interfaith Alliance
Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish & Christian Relations
NCCJ National Conference for Community and Justice
Reform Judaism's Commission On Interreligious Affairs
Reform Judaism's CIA Special Page on Mel Gibson's Passion
Pharisees and Saduccees
Source of Jesus' Great Commandment: The Hebrew Bible, Deut. 6:5 & Leviticus 19:18.
Southern Policy Law Center
Teaching Tolerance
Xavier University's Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue

Other possibly useful stuff:

Hebrew for Christians
7 Noachide Laws for Gentiles

Separation of Church & State and Related Topics

ACLU American Civil Liberties Union on Religious Liberty
ADL Anti-Defamation League on Religious Freedom
AJC American Jewish Committee on Separation of Church & State
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Fundamentals of Extremism: Christian Right in America New email address for Kim Blaker

Hillel Foundation Text Studies in the Tradition of Talmud
1) The First Amendment
2) United States of America Constitution Preamble
3) The Declaration of Independence

The Interfaith Alliance - Issues & Advocacy
Jewish Council for Public Affairs - Church State Separation

NCCJ National Conference for Community and Justice

Religion in Public Schools: Overview & FAQ

Our Godless Constitution (The Nation)

Christie Balka: Political Activism as a Form of Prayer. Spring 2002 issue of Reconstructionism Today & Tikkun Olam Page of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation

PFAW: People for the American Way - Sep. of Church & State

First Amendment Center

Religious Action Center (Reform Judaism) - Sep. Church & State

USCJ United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

2002 Convention Resolution on Separation of Church and State and President Bush's Faith Based Initiative
1997 Separation of Church and State in the United States

From the Society for Humanistic Judaism:

Opposition to Funding Faith-Based Action & School Prayer