In the throes of one of the most destructive and dehumanizing wars in world history, something extraordinary occurred, never to be repeated. It happened on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914.
One of the most vexed questions for my students over the years was why the Jews never accepted Jesus as the Messiah or as God. So I sat down and wrote out the following explanation that tried to shed some light on this question for them.
Jews throughout history have devised clever ways to horn in on the Christmas holiday. They have created their own traditions that usually involve going to the movies and/or eating Chinese food. They get trees and festoon them with blue ornaments and call them Hanukkah bushes.
Jewish Defense League,
Levi-Yitzhak Of Berditchev,
Rabbi Israel Jacobson,
Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn,
The Menuhins: a Family Odyssey,
Now I stood in the foyer of 790, behind the heavy entrance doors, uncomfortable because I could be naught but a stranger to the bearded Jews chanting in the next room with a passionate, melodic, electric hum that I recognized.
I thank you for the Bloomington Police Department, and the Mall of America Security Force, for their willingness to keep things calm and peaceful. May their humanity continue to shine in the difficult months ahead, as we work towards systemic change when police are accountable to the same laws as other citizens.
Just before Christmas the previous year, my mother ("Mimi" to her grandchildren) had died in my childhood home in Savannah, Georgia. For the first time in my life I had decided to spend Christmas away from my family of origin, away from Savannah. It was not an uncomplicated decision, but I had made peace with it.
How many children has our greed killed? How many children grow up without proper education? How many children are subjected to the slow deaths of racism, homophobia and sexism? How many children are dead because of our thirst for guns and violence? The questions can go on and on.
In the context of the "Mindfulness Revolution", mindfulness has been introduced to many college and university campuses as an element of classroom activities, student clubs, and offerings from wellness centers.
Instead of pitting the deaths of Liu and Ramos against Garner and Brown; we can join them together, understanding them as martyrs whose live inspire us on both sides of the blue line to work for a more just, safe and united America.
Gospel Of Matthew,
Gospel Of Luke,
The Angel Gabriel,
Joseph and Mary remind us that Christmas is a genuine love story--the story of God's unwavering love for us and our love for him; the marvelous love of a wife and a husband and the joyous wonder of a first child.
What's more annoying than the constant ringing of bells by Salvation Army donation-bucket volunteers during the holiday season? The organization's longstanding, outspoken homophobia, of course!
Rabbi Katy Allen teaches that Hanukkah is a time to rededicate ourselves to the holy and hard work of responding to climate change. She writes that we "increase our holiness by rededicating ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint."
Why are anti-Islam rallies taking place in a part of Germany where there are almost no Muslims? One explanation might be that having little experience with Muslims, the inhabitants of Dresden are frightened of any newcomers, especially refugees from Syria. But other factors merit consideration.
Blue Sky For All,
Prayer In Public School,
Recently I wrote a simple piece titled "Where Is the Faith?" that made it onto The Huffington Post. What ensued as a result of this rhetorical debate were discussions and experiences that led to a higher education that I had not bargained for. Here is what I learned.
"My mother is Orthodox Christian and my father is Muslim," said my new friend, Ismail.
The choirs are rehearsing their music, the preachers are mulling their texts and volunteers are organizing to once again deck the halls for the six services of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
And King Herod's appearance in Matthew 2 explains the context of Jesus's arrival on earth. But these and many other central facts about the Bible's narrative escape the modern Bible reader.
First he upended a 50-year U.S.-Cuban Cold War. Then he celebrated Hanukkah with 400 Jews from across the United States. He probably got a national security briefing somewhere in-between.
French Jewish Life,
Jewish Life In France,
Jewish Schools In France,
Battered by hatred, French Jews are getting scared. Promises to emigrate abroad (including, but not only, to Israel) have increased significantly. Is leaving the only solution for the Jews of France?
Broadway Baptist Church,
Cathedral Of Hope United Church Of Christ,
New Heart Community Church,
Darkness filled the sky and night was upon me. Throughout my drive to the airport, I thought about the death of my grandmother. I was hurting.