Read the First 2 Chapters of Sleeping Truth
We Need You Now!

Rethinking Conversion Policy

When one of the country’s leading Conservative rabbis states publicly his discomfort with a major policy of the movement, it warrants attention and consideration. In a Shabbat morning sermon, Elliot Cosgrove, rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, shared his thoughts about conversion, interfaith relationships, and the status of non-Jewish family members in Jewish families.

Rabbi Cosgrove said he has seen that love trumps religious affiliation, with the result being that few families are immune from the situation of a child coming home with a non-Jewish partner and wanting to be married in a Jewish ceremony. The policy of most Conservative synagogues requires the non-Jewish partner to complete a conversion program, often lasting a year or longer, but the rabbi feels couples see it as putting obstacles in their way. If the non-Jewish partner does not convert in advance, Conservative rabbis will not officiate at the wedding but encourage conversion after the fact. Read more »

Pragmatism and Judaism

In an article entitled “Word of the Year” (, January 12, 2012, page 34), Rabbi Yaakov Thompson talked about the word “pragmatism” (which Merriam-Webster announced was the “word of the year”–most looked up word– for 2011) and Judaism.

While noting that pragmatism is very apropos to American thinking in general, and to 2011 in particular because of the economic difficulties facing us then, he went on to say: Read more »

The Problem With Prayer Services

“Can there be spirituality, ritual observance, without thought or moral reasoning? It can be done. It’s being done. Prayer recitation, the chanting of the tropes of the sacred texts, fluency with words and cantillation replaces religious inquiry. The ritual gesture turns surrogate for theological meaning. Read more »

The Truth About the Boycott Israel Movement

Norman Finkelstein, author and lecturer and one of Israel’s harshest critics, rocked the Boycott Israel Movement with a critique devastating in its candor. Finkelstein has been a supporter of the Boycott Israel Movement (officially it’s called the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The Movement is about to begin its eighth annual Israel Apartheid Week. Read more »

“The God Upgrade”

“One day our five-year-old daughter Sadie noticed [a manual typewriter on my husband Jeff’s desk] and asked what it was. Jeff explained it was for typing. Sadie walked over and easily typed ‘Sadie’, then her sister’s name, ‘Ori’, and then asked, ‘Now what?’ She was dumbfounded when he explained that was all it did. No touch screen, no mouse, not even a monitor. The point of the contraption eluded her and she returned to [a game] on Jeff’s iPad. Read more »

“Kosher Jesus”

A new book has come out, called Kosher Jesus by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. For those who have not heard of him, he is the rabbi who has a television show called Shalom in the Home, where he counsels Jewish families to resolve their domestic difficulties. He also calls himself America’s Rabbi.

This book, Kosher Jesus, has a view of Jesus that is very similar to my own – that Jesus was a good Jewish boy who was observant and who today we would call Orthodox. He had no intention of changing Judaism significantly and certainly did not intend to start a new religion. He also did not consider himself the Messiah or the Son of God. What he did believe was that the Messiah would be coming in his own lifetime, so he went around trying to get the Jewish people to prepare for the Messiah’s arrival, which Jesus believed would usher in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Read more »

Path of the Soul After Death

In his book Does the Soul Survive?, Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz studied various sources to determine if the soul survives death. He looked into stories of near death experiences, past life regressions, stories of reincarnation, conversations with the dead, and multiple religious and philosophical sources, especially including Jewish sources.

I quote him as follows concerning what happens to the soul immediately after death [Does the Soul Survive?, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000, pages 143-144.] : Read more »