Posts

Showing posts from 2013

The Technology of Moral Choices

This has been quite a week of crisis over Syria.  But even with immediate crisis postponed, we are left with many difficult moral questions.  Last week, President Obama proclaimed that  President Assad of Syria crossed a red line.  He deployed chemical weapons against his own people.  According to the Obama administration,  1,429 people died in that war crime, including 426 children --  and this act warranted a response because it clearly violate s the norms of the international community.  In the ensuing arguments and political deals in the past few days, one question gnaws at us:  why, in particular, are chemical weapons worse than all the countless atrocities that Assad has been perpetrating for years now?  It’s a good question, and that’s why it gnaws at us. You see, deep down, we Jews in particular, we know well—very well—why chemical weapons cross the line from pedestrian atrocity to unacceptable horror.  It was our people who were forced into the gas chambers.  It was our peopl…

Why Jews should NOT Believe in God

There’s an old joke:  a young Jewish man in the shtetl suddenly realizes that he doesn’t believe in God.  He goes to his rebbe, and says “I don’t believe in God, what should I do?”  The rebbe says, “You don’t believe in God?  I can’t help you, but I know who can.”  “Who?” Asked the young man.  “Go to Krakow and seek out the Atheist Rebbe.  He can help you,” replied his rebbe.  So the young man got a horse and buggy and made the schlep from the shtetl all the way to Krakow.  He went to the shul where the Atheist Rebbe davened (all the while thinking it very strange that an Atheist Rebbe would daven in a shul at all).  He got to the shul during prayer time.  And there, at the back of the room, was the rebbe, in long black coat, a black hat, a long white beard, and long curly payes;  in fervent prayer, shuckling.  “Excuse me, rebbe…” said the young man.  “Sha!  I’m davening!” said the Atheist rebbe.  When the rebbe finally finished davening, the young man said “If I could just…”  “Sha!” …

In the Huffington Post:

A Rabbi on the Economy & The Great GatsbyPosted: 06/03/2013 2:45 pm
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby in 1925 as a poignant commentary on the excesses of the pre-Great Depression jazz era. And now, in 2013, Baz Luhrman has brought it, once again, to the silver screen--a gaudy and beautiful rendering in a moment of economic recovery and rebounding housing markets. We watch this movie in an America hoping to return to dreaming big. I have long appreciated Fitzgerald's novel as a commentary on the limits of the American Dream that we all hold sacred. Dreams and fantasies, the pursuit of wealth and fame and success--these vanities have been lifted to the highest levels of respect and hope and yearning over the past century. For many, they replace core values. They replace real connection and contentment with the pursuit of praise, which is a false kind of love. When we have achieved fame and power and wealth, we are validated, appreciated, fawned-over. Jay Gatsby could r…
Image
Login with Facebook to see what your friends are readingEnable Social Readingi Senior Rabbi, Adas Israel Congregation GET UPDATES FROM RABBI GIL STEINLAUF 6

Slavery lives in our attitudes

Image
1/30/2013 12:05:00 PM
Slavery lives on in our attitudes
by Rabbi Gil SteinlaufDuring the holiday break, I took my kids to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. We went to an exhibit about the emancipation from slavery in this country, its effects a century later and on to this day. We went past a glass case that contained tiny shackles, meant for the wrists of a child. It was crowded, but I couldn't but linger at that horrifying object. It's not unlike the huge pile of shoes in the Holocaust Museum - tangible objects that silently make unspeakable horror so very real and palpable. My God, I thought, how could this be possible? How could any human being sink to such cruelty and heartlessness? But here is proof, literally in front of me.
The story of the Exodus from Egypt attests that there has been slavery, brutality and cruelty for as long as there has been human civilization. It's still a reality today around the world. Thank God, we think, we're past institutiona…

The Queerness of Love: A Jewish case for same-sex marriage

Image
The queerness of love: A Jewish case for same-sex marriage
BY RABBI GIL STEINLAUF
Follow JewishJournal.com on 
11 Rabbi Gil Steinlauf Last year, I officiated at the first same-sex wedding in the 145-year history of my synagogue.  For a Conservative congregation, this was quite a break with tradition.  Nevertheless,  I was proud to stand beneath the wedding canopy with this couple, who affirmed the sacredness of their union “in accordance with the laws of Moses and the people of Israel.”  Before I chose to officiate, I studied the texts, teachings, and arguments in my tradition.  I didn’t make this decision lightly.  Today, I am unfazed by the apparent biblical injunction against homosexuality as an “abomination.”  I am confident in my stand, despite a 3,000-year-old tradition that has no precedent for such a marriage.  In fact, it is from a place of humility and awe before my tradition and God that I have chosen take this stand.
The Hebrew word for wedding is “Kiddushin,” which means …