Three Great Weekend Reads

In case you missed them…

How do our spiritual lives evolve as we age?

What will we lose when we lose second hand bookstores?

Why are labyrinths growing in popularity during the pandemic?

These seekers I talk with usually believe their spiritual yearnings are unusual, but they aren’t. Research from the United States shows that religious attachment commonly falls through young and middle adulthood, but then increases through one’s 40s and beyond. The theologian James Fowler explained this pattern in his famous 1981 book, Stages of Faith.

Decades, even centuries, of history and tradition are disappearing because of market forces, and the pandemic that we are all suffering through has sped matters up. So, although I would offer two hearty cheers for the Oxfam bookshops, please try and visit your local book dealer, if you’re still lucky enough to have one. Otherwise, this most eccentric and likeable of trades shows every sign of being annihilated forever, save for the most rarefied of dealers…

Given that public gatherings require a level of mindfulness and intention right now — not to mention air flow — labyrinths seem to be an answer made for the times, said Jones. As community spaces, they can provide a healthy distraction from troubling thoughts, he said, with no religion attached or pricey wellness purchase necessary…

Three Great Jewish Reads

In case you missed them…

What’s the significance of Israel’s historic peace deal with the United Arab Emirates?

Can great Jewish TV help battle antisemitism in America?

What does Judaism say about forgiveness and “cancel culture?”

Israel gained good relations with an Arab country. And by gaining it, it sends a message that cannot be lost on other countries: normalization is here, and those refusing to join in will be left behind. More specifically Israel, proves the point that time is on its side. It proves the point, made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu many years ago, that resolving the Palestinian issue is not the key to Middle East peace, or to normalizing relations with the Arab world.

While sheltering at home, millions have used this pandemic as an opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to observe Jewish life not stereotypically, but as authentic plot conceits. Who would have believed that Jews on TV would take so many minds off COVID-19? [.] Jews have always found success on the large and small screens but rarely, if ever, by playing Jews. Hollywood implicitly demanded Anglicized names and concealed ethnic identities.

Cancel culture is based on the heartless assertion that people can’t and won’t ever change. In Judaism, we learn the opposite: People can improve and repentance is even greater than perfection. Specific action, then, is stronger than an apology. What will the offender do to make up for an anti-Semitic offense?

Commentary on Parashat Re’eh

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Re’eh is under discussion. In Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) – Moses continues speaking to the people of Israel right before he passes away and before they cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Moses asks them to recite certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Ebal after they enter Israel. He demands that they destroy all remnants of idolatry from the Promised Land and asks them to choose a city which will host the Holy Temple.

“Our rabbis often say that the ideal is to do Mitzvot because you want to follow God. But the truth of human nature is that we often need a little fear as well.”

What is it about idolatry that brings about such appalling cruelty? And what, in contrast, is it about Judaism that brings about morality and holiness? The answer to these questions is hidden in the contrast between the story of creation told in the Book of Genesis and the story of creation told by idol worshipers. The Babylonians’ story of creation told of a huge battle among a number of gods…

you may eat meat, according to every desire of your soul.

Hello! Vegetarian poet speaking.
I’m here to tell you my soul is conflicted
about its many desires to eat meat.

I was eighteen when I gave it up –
a spontaneous decision after receiving
a pamphlet about vivisection from a penpal…

Click here to read more.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

Just in time for the weekend, three new podcasts about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel.

Reflections on how to approach a confluence of crises making us all dizzy.

“Can we be honest about the calamity we’re living through? There’s no way we’re going to have a synagogue experience during the High Holidays this year close to what we had in the past. So what would be the advantage of being brutally honest?”

Shmuel Rosner and Pew researcher Jacob Poushter discuss his latest study, which raises the question: Is belief in God necessary for good morals?

“We see that people who believe that it’s necessary to believe in God to be moral are more religious overall. That’s true not only on an individual level, but also for a whole country.”

Erin and Esther dive right into the barrel and pickle their minds in the majestic, artisanal brine that is Seth Rogen’s “An American Pickle,” now streaming on HBOMax. As the Bagels embrace the Pickle, they unpack its origins and themes and examine some of the most flavorful moments.

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Weekend Reads Three Great Jewish Reads Commentary on Parashat Re’eh Three New Jewish Podcasts