How does our Jewish community make a decision on an issue that is crucial to our own future and the fate of the world around us -- like the decision that faces us now about making sure that Iran adheres to its own claim that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons?
For the most part, Schachter-Shalomi's success was based in his liberal acceptance of people exploring alternate paths of spiritual awakening (from LSD to Yoga), and his legitimizing of alternate possibilities within Judaism.
From the evening of Tuesday June 3 through the evening of June 5, Jews will be celebrating the festival of Shavuot, which in most of Jewish life today is focused on the revelation and acceptance of Torah at Mount Sinai.
There it sits on the Seder plate: charoset, a delicious paste of chopped nuts, chopped fruits, spices, and wine. So the question would seem obvious: Why is there charoset on the Seder plate? That's the most secret Question at the Seder.
Recent controversies within Hillel International, the "home" for many Jewish college students of diverse backgrounds and beliefs, have made public in a sharper way a profound spiritual issue confronting American Jews and their "official" organizations.
There is an issue of which all of us who would like to see peace in the Middle East are aware, but which is mostly going unmentioned today because of fear of reprisals. The issue is the state of war currently existing between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.
On Hanukkah we wish one another, Hanukkah same'ah! 'Happy Hanukkah!' Because it's a celebration, a remembrance of something good, a time in our mythic past when our ancestors saw miracles . . . and needed them.
On Shabbat Hanukkah (this year, Nov. 29-30), we read an extraordinary passage from the Prophet Zechariah. Speaking during the Babylonian Captivity, he envisions the future Great Menorah, taking its sacred place in a rebuilt Holy Temple.
The God I believe in brings a richness and depth to life. The God I believe in makes it possible for us to be fully human. To rise from despair to hope; to transform bitterness into love; to move the world as it is a little closer to the world as it ought to be.
In the midst of our wreckage that I speak to you, both as a Jew and as a New Orleanian, because survival is not just a matter of urban planning, or of financial aid, or willfulness. It is something deeper. It is of the soul.
My sense of the meaning of Shavuot, a Jewish holiday that begins in the evening on May 14, has been deeply transformed by an ancient teaching from the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of Gnostic texts.
Jewish prayer begins with kavanah -- intention. It gives meaning to our rituals of marriage and birth and death. It inspires us to perform a mitzvah on a more conscious and ultimately more rewarding level. It lies at the heart of Jewish devotional life.