Category Archives: Judaism

36 Under 36: Nominate Young Jewish Activists

Do you know a younger gal or guy that is actively working to make the New York Jewish community a better place? Nominate them for 36 Under 36 – an annual competition that recognizes activists, educators, artists and other folks who are standouts.

The only restrictions are age (36 and under as of December 31, 2018) and location (must currently live or work in New York).

I think it’s extremely important that younger folks are encouraged to be active in Judaism and Zionism. They are the future, after all, and a little well-deserved publicity can make a huge difference.

Told By a Reader That I Need to Accept Christ; Here’s My Reply.

The following is a snippet from a series of emotional emails that a reader sent to me. It has been reprinted with her permission. I share it not to create controversy, but to clarify. I think this is a very sensitive topic that many people are afraid to address.

“My name is Bethany and I have been subscribing to your blog since 2015. Since I’ve been reading for so long, I feel like I know you. I am intrigued by your ideas and it’s obvious you are genuine, but I worry so often that you are missing out on life’s greatest gift: Jesus Christ.

Christ unifies us. I pray that you will come to know Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior. Jesus is the Messiah for all mankind, not just Christians. I wish that Jews could see what they’re missing. Jesus is here for you, for everyone. All you have to do is be born again and you will become whole through His love. Jesus is the only truth.”

Because Bethany and I have discussed this at length, in a respectful and honest way, I think she’s being sincere. (I receive enough hateful comments to know the difference.) When someone approaches me politely, I am willing to provide an equally polite answer.

Throughout my life, I have heard similar statements. When I was much younger, it would upset me. At this stage of my life, it doesn’t concern me one bit, because I don’t need other people’s approval. I am secure in myself and my faith. Their opinion, their faith, and their truth does not determine what I believe.

Jews and Christians have many things in common. We both acknowledge the same God, yet we interpret Him differently. Every human being has a soul and each soul will connect with God in their own way. There isn’t one road; there are many and each one is equally valid.

While I would never claim to know all the answers, I am positive that Judaism is right for me and other religions are not. What is right for another person, I would never dare to say, because it’s none of my business and quite frankly, I don’t care.

I do not need Jesus Christ. He is not my Messiah. He is not my truth. He is not, in any way, a part of my belief system. Why? Because I am Jewish and that is not part of the Jewish faith. I have never felt that I’m missing out or inferior because of it.

If someone wants to believe in Jesus, that’s perfectly fine, provided it’s their free will. There is no lack of literature regarding Christianity and any curious person can access it, for free, anywhere, at any time. I seriously doubt there is a member of the Jewish community that has not heard about Jesus at some point. I am not confused, or misinformed, or rejecting “the truth” as other people may see it. I believe my way and they can believe their way.

I understand that for many Christians, spreading the Gospel is huge. They knock on doors, send flyers in the mail, and dispatch missionaries all around the world. They feel “it” and they want others to feel the same.

Judaism is the complete opposite—we don’t advertise, we don’t encourage conversion and faith is always regarded as a private matter. It’s a “Live and Let Live” attitude, which is the best way to be—no force, no coercion, no judgment.

Open dialogue and constructive discussion is great. Anyone who is firm in their own faith should welcome it. Jews and Christians should be friends, not enemies. Interfaith activities are important, and if each side is there to listen, rather than instruct, we can learn so much. We should have an open door policy, in our houses of worship and our homes, and welcome others.

I am not offended by Bethany’s statements and I hope she isn’t offended by mine. But there is nothing she can say, nothing anyone can say, that will change my mind about Jesus Christ. If thousands of years of persecution, an Inquisition, Pogroms, and a Holocaust hasn’t dissuaded the Jewish People, nothing will. We’ve made our choice and we’re not budging. Please let us go; I promise we’ll be fine.

Texas Jewish Community Helping Muslim Neighbors After Fire

Contrary to popular opinion, Jews and Muslims in America are not enemies. Both communities deal with constant abuse and isolation. This should bring us together and a recent tragedy in Texas demonstrates how easily it can.

After a suspicious fire destroyed the mosque in Victoria, Texas, the local synagogue offered their space for worship. The mosque, which has 100 members, and the synagogue, which has 35, are located in a city of 67,000 people.

Three churches and an office space were also offered, showing that the entire community at large is pulling together and being good neighbors. I fully support interfaith activities and believe we must help others who are in need. This isn’t about favoring one religion over another or proselytizing; it’s about different faiths coming together as a human race to love, support, and encourage each other.

Despite the different ways in which we worship and the different beliefs we hold, all Jews, Muslims, and Christians have the same God. We are brothers and sisters in faith. Let’s stop the petty fighting and concentrate on what’s important.

As for the mosque, they’ll have no trouble rebuilding—over one million dollars has already been raised through GoFundMe. Pretty amazing!

Purim is Not About Drinking Yourself Stupid

While Purim is my favorite Jewish holiday, there is one thing about it that I dislike: An excess of alcohol, and the problems that can result from overindulging.

Because it’s the only holiday that actually encourages unrestrained drinking, many folks take it to an unfortunate extreme, especially the young people. This can cause dire consequences like car accidents, domestic disputes, property damage and unwise (possibly unwanted) romantic encounters.

There is nothing wrong with having a good time. We are meant to celebrate and enjoy ourselves. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can drink ourselves into a coma and pretend it’s ok. Many people have experienced firsthand what happens when too much alcohol is combined with too little common sense (it’s not pretty!).

All of the guidelines I’ve seen recommend no more than 2 drinks per day for women. Doubling that amount to 4 drinks during a holiday celebration may be risky. Tripling it would be asking for disaster, yet so many do it anyway. (Binge drinking, in particular, is even more dangerous for the mind and body, and puts you at greater risk for physical harm.) 

Anyone who is hosting or attending a party needs to be extra careful. The cost of a taxi or an Uber can literally save a life. There is never, ever a reason to drive drunk! Pay attention to those around you. If someone seems unsteady on their feet, or confused, or is vomiting, they need immediate attention. I once knew someone who passed out after a wild night and tragically asphyxiated in his sleep. That sort of accident is almost entirely preventable.

And, let’s not overlook, the large number of alcoholics in every community. Individuals who are problem drinkers should not be left unsupervised while the punchbowl is full. It’s always smart to offer soft drinks and water for anyone who may need it or simply prefers it.

I don’t say all of this to be a killjoy. I say it because a fun time can turn into a tragedy in the blink of an eye. Have a glass of champagne, by all means, just don’t make it an entire bottle.