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Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
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Rabbi Eric Yoffie is a writer, lecturer, internationally-known religious leader and President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism.

A bold, compelling, and inspiring speaker, he lectures at universities and congregations on Israel and the Middle East, interfaith relations, social justice, American Religious Life and American Jewish Life. He has presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, and many other news outlets. His writings are collected at ericyoffie.com.

In his articles, Rabbi Yoffie has addressed matters of belief and spirituality as they impact Americans of all faiths and of no faith. He has been an articulate advocate for a modern and thoughtful approach to American religious life. He has applied his progressive religious point of view, rooted in Biblical text and religious teaching, to issues of sin, atheism, and community as well as contemporary matters such as immigration and healthcare.

Rabbi Yoffie has devoted much of his career to promoting understanding among religious groups. An expert in interfaith relations, he is known for his many “firsts.” He was the first rabbi to address the students and faculty of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University; the first major Jewish leader to speak at the convention of the Islamic Society of North America; and the first Jew ever to address the Church-wide Assembly of the Evangelical Church of America. He holds an honorary degree from Assumption College in Worcester, MA, where he delivered a groundbreaking address on Catholic-Jewish relations.

Rabbi Yoffie also has been deeply involved in issues of social justice. A prominent spokesperson for sensible gun control, he was the only religious leader to speak at the Million Mom March in Washington, DC.

Rabbi Yoffie is an expert on Modern Israel, and has written widely on issues of peace and security in Israel and on relations between Israel and America and between Israelis and American Jews. He has been a major force in formulating American Jewish attitudes on issues of religious freedom and was instrumental in the founding of the Israel Religious Action Center, the primary advocacy group for religious pluralism in the Jewish State. For 30 years he has met regularly with Israel’s top leaders.

In addition to The Huffington Post, Rabbi Yoffie writes regularly for Time, the Israeli daily Haaretz, and The Jerusalem Post.

Entries by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie

Freedom of Expression Is Not Unlimited

(21) Comments | Posted January 11, 2015 | 4:37 PM

Freedom of expression does not mean that anyone has the right to be heard at any time and in any forum, no matter what. There are times when lines can and must be drawn for reasons both moral and legal, but there are other times when it is inappropriate and...

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The Three Mistakes Atheists Make

(831) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 3:52 PM

The God Wars mostly bore me. In my younger days I enjoyed, at least for a while, the intellectual back-and-forth of the God debates. For me, these exchanges had a game-like quality, and it was fun to play the game. How can a student of religion ignore the rational argumentation...

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Brandeis Gets It Right on Islam

(127) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 6:45 PM

Brandeis University, a Jewish-sponsored university and my alma mater, has withdrawn its offer to give an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As reported in The New York Times and elsewhere, Brandeis changed its mind eight days after announcing the honor to Ms. Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia...

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The Frances Phenomenon and America's Yearning for Values, Leadership and God

(9) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 2:25 PM

There is much vigorous discussion about what the election of Pope Francis will mean for the future of the Catholic Church. Speculation about such matters and all matters of Church doctrine and theology are best left to Catholic believers to address. But of interest to us all is the impact...

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The Bright Future of Liberal Religion

(134) Comments | Posted September 29, 2013 | 10:18 AM

I am filled with optimism about the future of liberal religion in America.

It is not fashionable to hold this view. In both the Jewish and the Christian world, conventional wisdom affirms that the liberal religious groupings are in crisis: Their numbers are falling, their institutions are in decline, their...

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Doubt Is the Heart of Belief

(72) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 10:28 AM

Doubt does not undermine belief. It is central to belief, an indispensable part of accepting God and the mandates of a religious tradition. Even fervent believers have doubts -- lots of them.

The correlation between belief and doubt is not always easy to see, in large measure because of what...

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We Will Not Give Up on Gun Control

(20) Comments | Posted April 18, 2013 | 10:00 AM

Our leaders have failed us, again. And I don't know about you, but as a religious person, I'm angry.

Approximately 90 percent of the American people believe that their fellow Americans should undergo a background check before they are permitted to purchase a gun. But the legislation mandating those background...

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Religion Has Nothing to Fear From the 'Nones'

(126) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 5:05 PM

Hardly a month goes by when we don't read about the decline or collapse of organized religion in America. But religion -- including the organized sort -- remains vital and vibrant, defying the predictions of doom that appear with numbing regularity.

The latest round of these discussions follows the...

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New York Is Right: Tell the Truth on Teen Pregnancy

(17) Comments | Posted March 13, 2013 | 11:10 AM

The City of New York is running an advertising campaign that urges teenage girls not to get pregnant. It is right to do so.

The campaign has drawn fire from Planned Parenthood and others, who say that it is intended to "blame and shame" and is therefore deeply flawed. In...

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The Blessings and Dangers of Wooing Worshipers With Food

(4) Comments | Posted February 20, 2013 | 3:05 PM

Religious leaders have long known that if you want to attract worshipers and increase your membership rolls, food can be a valuable tool. Christian services are often followed by coffee hours, and for Jews, Sabbath worship -- on Friday night or Saturday morning -- is generally followed by a Kiddush....

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The Self-Delusions of Secular Jews

(54) Comments | Posted January 15, 2013 | 1:09 PM

One of the most interesting things that I do as a rabbi is engage in conversations with people who define themselves as "secular Jews" or "cultural Jews." I find it interesting because these are good, serious and thoughtful people, usually deeply committed to Judaism, who struggle with big religious questions...

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Gun Worship Is Blasphemy

(12) Comments | Posted December 18, 2012 | 6:30 PM

Above all, let us remember this: Sensible gun-control is a religious issue.

The indiscriminate distribution of guns is an offense against God and humanity.

Controlling guns is not only a political matter; it is a solemn religious obligation. Our gun-flooded society has turned weapons into idols, and the worship...

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What Thanksgiving Tells Us About America, Community, Loneliness and God

(40) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 6:06 AM

Thanksgiving tells us a lot about America, about our yearning for community and connection, about loneliness and about God.

Loneliness destroys us in the same way that bullets and poverty destroy us. It eats away at our spiritual wellbeing. It eviscerates our sense of wholeness.

In fact, loneliness kills. "O...

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Dressing Up for Prayer and for God

(6) Comments | Posted October 18, 2012 | 7:26 AM

It is important, at least occasionally, to dress up for prayer and for God.

During the recently concluded Jewish High Holiday season, which I celebrated in two synagogues located in different metropolitan areas, I found it interesting that my fellow worshipers were a little more formally dressed than they have...

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Yom Kippur: The Battle Of Sin vs. Self

(16) Comments | Posted September 24, 2012 | 8:30 AM

One morning last week, I spent some time reading through the traditional liturgy for Yom Kippur. The Yom Kippur prayers are so stark, jarring, and intensely powerful that I find it impossible to absorb them on Yom Kippur day if I have not prepared myself by studying them in advance....

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The Obligations of American Exceptionalism

(5) Comments | Posted August 31, 2012 | 8:08 AM

I support outsourcing and offshoring. I applaud globalization and free trade. And I do so because of my moral convictions and religious beliefs, and my deep commitment to American exceptionalism.

As the election season heats up, I am troubled by the moral confusion of those who discuss these policies. The...

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When You Shouldn't Say What You Really Think About Other Faith Traditions

(31) Comments | Posted July 25, 2012 | 7:00 AM

Some recent, angry exchanges between leaders of different religious traditions have led me to consider the principles that should guide us when reacting to disagreements with other faith groups.

If I strongly disagree with a Christian or Muslim, I am free to say what I wish, of course, and there...

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Thank God for the Wisdom of the Supreme Court

(137) Comments | Posted June 28, 2012 | 11:13 AM

The Supreme Court has spoken. Yes, there is still much to worry about, but for now, the religious community can breathe a sigh of relief.

For weeks, we have been waiting for the Court to decide the fate of Obamacare. We have listened to endless fulminating from the Tea...

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What Atheism Lacks: Humility, Imagination, Curiosity

(206) Comments | Posted June 20, 2012 | 5:59 PM

As standards of living improve, religious belief will give way to atheism, and atheism's victory over religion will be complete by 2038. So argues Nigel Barber, writing on June 5 in the Science section of the Huffington Post.

Relying on what he calls the "existential security hypothesis,"...

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Jon Stewart Is Hilarious but No Teacher of Religion

(88) Comments | Posted May 31, 2012 | 10:33 AM

In a much discussed article in the new online publication Religion & Politics Journal, New York Times religion reporter Mark Oppenheimer offers an enthusiastic endorsement of Jon Stewart's coverage of religion on "The Daily Show," which Stewart hosts on Comedy Central. "Jon Stewart may not be a believer," writes Oppenheimer,...

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