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Raising Your Children in an Open Society

How do you balance your desire to have your children continue in your footsteps with the recognition that they have the right to live their own lives? This is the tension that every parent and every child struggles with, and therefore this memoir by Mary K. Bogot will speak to the hearts of many people, for she has experienced it from both sides: first as a daughter, and then as a mother.  Read more »

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 »

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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 »

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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 »