I hope that every religious tradition will teach tolerance and spiritual literacy of other traditions. That's a given. But I also think that there is more. Tolerance may be our supreme civic virtue, but it is not the most important virtue for using religion to its fullest.
I can be as born again as the former tax collectors and prostitutes of the New Testament, as devout as Mother Theresa, as divinely gifted as a saint, but because I was divorced at the age of 24, I can never be part of an Orthodox religion.
Instead of searching out problems and solutions, maybe we need to trust ourselves, our heritage and our Torah, and take a moment to marvel at the strength of Jewish life that has survived so many cultures throughout so many centuries.
In 1990, East Germany had to handle the delicate issue of the withdrawal of Soviet troops. This was no small question. There were 380,000 Soviet troops stranded by the fall of the Wall and the unification of Germany.
I was raised outside of organized religion, in a spiritual-but-not-religious home. I obviously did not stay a "none." I'm a pastor in the United Church of Christ and I try, for better or worse, to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Whether it's be-suited men standing along College Avenue, a horrible gay conversion preacher screaming in front of the student union, or Campus Crusade for Christ actively trying to convert people who are just sitting around, the conversion campaign is nearly constant.
For every Grand Inquisitor, there is a St. Francis of Assisi. For every Osama bin Laden, there is a Mother Teresa. Anything in the universe that humans touch will be ever thus: strands of good, evil and everything in between.
It's as if I'm being outed as an imposter, nothing more than a goy trying to pass with a Jewish last name and a Star of David around her neck. Even so, I don't doubt my decision for a minute, and I would be honored to have those same three rabbis as my witnesses if I were to do it all over again.
I touched down in Los Angeles only six weeks ago and started North on my Biblical Morality tour. Most of my time has been spent speaking at secular organisations and student groups, and I've been surprised at just how active the atheist/secular community is in the USA and Canada.
The leaders of the American Jewish community should begin collaborating on such a partnership agreement. Only if we are on the same page on the matter of Jewish status will we be able to seek harmony among the disparate denominations of liberal Judaism.
Infamous for circling the wagons, the Jewish people forgets its deep roots in conversion. Shavuot is a chance to reconsider our commitment to the image of the Jewish people and the image we portray when it comes to the convert in our midst.
When you consider that even small improvements in your conversion rate translate into dramatic increases in income, you begin to understand that investing time in trying to convert the traffic you drive is well worth your effort.
In early March, I received a letter from my bank informing me of an impending "Conversion Date" on May 4. As a Religious Studies professor, I read on eagerly wondering what aspects of my body or soul might change.