A Million Jews Minyan Noon Tuesday 8/1

Government Press Office Announcement (Communicated by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger's Office)

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has initiated a global project designed to unite approximately 1,000,000 Jews around the world to pray at the same time (19:00 Israel time on 1.8.06), via the internet. Rabbi Metzger has composed the special prayer for well-being and safe return of abducted soldiers Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. There is also prayer for the well-being of IDF soldiers and for the recovery of those who have been wounded.

An interactive website (http://www.tfila.org.il/ ) has been set up, in both Hebrew and English, in which people may add their names to the project. The site includes – inter alia – the texts of the aforementioned prayers, a message from Chief Rabbi Metzger and an interactive 'chain of hands' graphic with the names of those who have agreed to join the project.


"When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross"

I know Minnesotans. I lived there for 18 years. Some of my friends are Minnesotans. I taught 6000 of them at the University.

Minnesotans have a lot of common sense. Even some of the bible thumping Jesus freaks there know where to draw the line.

This minister took a big chance by divorcing his church from the program of political involvement that is expected by the Republicans who know how to exploit religion for political gain.

Bravo Rev. Boyd.

Now we need to convince some of our own bible and talmud thumping rabbis to back off from their political harangues. Even now during these tough times it is still a good time to remind ourselves to keep religion and politics separate -- like milchig and fleishig.

Some of our rabbis are really saying awfully silly things about political matters. (You know who.) Here is the Times:
Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock - New York Times

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. -- Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing -- and the church’s -- to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute "voters’ guides" that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called "The Cross and the Sword" in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a "Christian nation" and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

"When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses," Mr. Boyd preached. "When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross."

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul -- packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals -- was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.... (more at the Times)

Wounded pregnant woman hailed as hero in Seattle shootings

Video from KATU TV

Wounded pregnant woman cited as hero in shooting rampage:
SEATTLE -- With people fleeing out second-story windows and bullets flying, Dayna Klein - already wounded by a bullet to the arm - crawled away to an office to call for help.

The gunman had already warned his victims at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle not to call police. And as he stalked through the charitable group's offices, he found Klein defying his orders.

Somehow, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said Saturday, Klein persuaded her assailant to talk with emergency dispatchers. A short time later, he laid down his weapons and surrendered to police.

Klein, 37, who police said was shot in the arm while shielding her pregnant belly, was singled out Saturday for her help in ending the crisis.

'She's a hero in my eyes,' Kerlikowske said, also praising the dispatchers who talked down Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, identified by police as the shooter.

One woman was killed and five others - including Klein - were wounded in the rampage, which lasted just minutes Friday afternoon. Haq was ordered held on $50 million bail Saturday pending charges of murder and attempted murder.

There's way too much shooting going on in this world of ours.


A Drunk Mel Gibson Rants About the "F--king Jews"

The Talmud says. "When wine goes in, secrets come out." Mel Gibson got drunk the other night and revealed to us all beyond any doubt that he is indeed an anti-Semite. We had already known this from his film, "The Passion.." a movie full of anti-Semitism.

He cannot stop apologizing now. Somehow I cannot but think how ironic it would be if the statement of apology that he has issued was written by his Jewish lawyer.

Mel Gibson "Out of Control" - Yahoo! News:

Mel Gibson 'acted like a person completely out of control.'

This, according to Mel Gibson, who apologized Saturday for his behavior during a drunken-driving arrest in Malibu. The Oscar-winning star did not elaborate on how he 'disgraced' himself; TMZ.com did.

The entertainment news Website, citing, in part, a report filed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who took Gibson into custody, charges the actor-director, only two years past criticism that his film The Passion of the Christ set back Christian-Jewish relations, spouted anti-Semitic remarks, addressed a female deputy as 'sugar t-ts,' tried to evade arrest, got rough with a telephone and threatened to urinate in his jailhouse holding cell.

'My life is f--ked,' the Mad Max star said, more than once, per TMZ.com, after being pulled over by a sheriff's deputy early Friday morning on Pacific Coast Highway.

According to the sheriff's department, Gibson was flagged for speeding in 2006 Lexus sedan--allegedly going about 80 mph in a 45-mph zone. A sobriety test revealed Gibson's blood-alcohol level to be 0.12, exceeding California's 0.08 legal limit, the department said.

Gibson was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, booked at the sheriff's Malibu/Lost Hills Station, and, after posting $5,000 bail, released from custody at about 10 a.m. Friday, online records show.

When asked Friday afternoon if Gibson gave deputies any trouble, sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore said no. Gibson's own apology--not to mention the TMZ.com report--says otherwise.

'I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things I do not believe to be true and which are despicable,' Gibson said in a statement. "


Howard Dean: Iraqi PM is an Anti-Semite

Way to go Howard! As I said before, I for one am certain that W approved the PM's anti-Israel statements.
Dean Calls Iraqi PM an 'Anti-Semite'... : By BRIAN SKOLOFF Associated Press Writer WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an 'anti-Semite' for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel.


A Bunch of New _Real_ Books on Faith, Reason, God and Other Imponderables

In today's science section there's a great review of seven new books on the subject of Faith, Reason, God and Other Imponderables in the New York Times. The books covered are:

THE LANGUAGE OF GOD By Francis S. Collins. Free Press, 2006.
THE GOD DELUSION By Richard Dawkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2006
GOD’S UNIVERSE By Owen Gingerich. Harvard University Press, 2006

Now, in the middle of the review-article the author, Cornelia Dean, remarks,

All of which leads one to ask, who are these books for? The question is easy to answer when it comes to Drs. Collins, Roughgarden or Gingerich. First would be young people raised in religious families, who as they progress through school suddenly confront scientific reality that challenges Sunday morning dogma.
I say these are "real" books to differentiate them from the amateur efforts that have addressed the issues of science and faith in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Compare this professional review-article to a bunch of alternatives here for instance. The disconnect between the "real" world of learning and inquiry and that other world is quite dramatic.


"Puppet" Iraqi PM Defies Bush - Condemns Israel

Someone ought to tell Mr. Bush that he is not getting his money's worth from his puppet PM in Iraq.

Or is the puppet doing what Mr. Bush tells him to do? My guess - he had complete permission from Bush to condemn Israel.

Whoa. That makes Bush so boldly two-faced and inconsistent, you say! Yes I say. I don't and won't trust Bush for one moment.

Middle East: In break with U.S., Iraqi leader assails Israel - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President George W. Bush's position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East.

'The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon's infrastructure,' Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. 'I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.' "

Hezbollah is also praying for victory

[On a gut level it is great to see pictures of Jews praying before going into battle. What is prayer for if not to ask for G-d to trample your enemies before you? Problem is both sides pray for victory. It diminishes the purpose of prayer to see it flatly as a means to obtain a tangible result.

Here is a relevant item from the wayback machine at archive.com (where you might find content from defunct web sites). On March 31, 1997 B.B. (before blogging) I published this short op-ed online at the JCN.

Let Us Pray For a More Mature Discourse!

A cover story (Newsweek, March 31, 1997) reports some astonishing results of a Newsweek Poll on the current common American beliefs regarding prayer.

87% say that God answers prayers
82% ask God for health or success of a child or family member when they pray
82% say that they believe that God does not play favorites in answering prayers
82% don't turn away from God when prayers go unanswered
79% say God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease
75% ask for strength to overcome personal weakness
73% think prayers for help in finding a job are answered
54% say when God doesn't answer their prayers, it wasn't God's will to answer
51% think that God does not answer prayers to win sporting events
35% never pray for financial or career success
29% say they pray to God more than once a day
25% pray once a day

These are valid concerns about praying. But Newsweek sticks to an analysis of a childlike, lowest common denominator, theology of prayer. "Lord, I need a job." "God, I need to get well." From a pop magazine about pop culture perhaps all we can expect is pop theology.

Astonishing that we cannot say more about prayer. In this day and age after so many years of study and analysis at schools and seminaries, we ought to be able to go deeper into the meaning of devotion. All those endowments, fellowships and scholarships have gone for naught. Apparently we have out there a vast theological wasteland.

And I mean that we should be considering the social, the psychological and the political dimensions of prayer. And maybe we ought to delight in the poetry of liturgy. Let me offer a few short examples of these facets for your consideration.

Consider the prayers that we say, where and how we say them, what they highlight and how we include or exclude others in our community of devotees. All of this has a profound effect on the social construction of our reality.

"Blessed art thou, O Lord our God - who has not made me a woman." Those of our faith who say this blessing, mean it. Those who oppose it are demeaned by it. But all Jews say "Our God" in blessings to define the parameters of social solidarity.

"Let us stand. Please be seated. We pray silently. Let us chant together." The monotone of the rabbi of New York's Temple Emanuel lulls us -- over the radio airwaves -- into another slightly altered state of mind. We become receptive to suggestion, calmer and more certain that a God looks upon us with favor. Or we may shuckle together in close proximity in our shuls, exchanging a nervous energy that renews our wellsprings of creativity. I'd call all of this, the psychological metaphysic of praying. You may prefer to see it as the invigoration of the soul. Newsweek? Hello are you there? We are not all asking the Almighty for new bicycles!

Of the politics of prayer, I think back to Rabbi Aqiba, tortured and martyred by the Romans for teaching Torah. Surely the sight of his thousands of followers "studying and praying" sent shudders up the spines of the local Roman governors. Today in Israel, West Bank Jews and Arabs alike gather for "prayer" and have in mind mainly the political conflict that they thrive on. A few years back, when the Catholic Pope stood before a million Poles to conduct a "mass", the communist authorities heard no prayers. They saw only the "masses" rising up against their rule. Surely Newsweek understands politics. Yet they reduce prayer to its most trivial value and leave it there. Clever secularists, those journalists.

The beauty and poetry of prayer. Nah, why even bother discussing that? I'd guess if Newsweek got into the subject, the most profound text they would choose for a serious analysis would be this elevated epiphany of cynicism from a great cultural icon (recently inexplicably relegated to the advertisement of the product it invokes):

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porches, and I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So, oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
-- "Mercedes Benz" By: Janis Joplin, M. McClure, B. Neuwirth. Album: Pearl.


Every War Has a Silver Lining: Jerusalem gay parade cancelled

Jerusalem gay parade called off due to war - News from Israel, Ynetnews:

The Open House Organization announced Friday that the World Pride parade, which was scheduled to take place on August 10 in Jerusalem, has been called off due to the war in Lebanon.
Let's see if the Meah Shearim theologians come up with the logic that G-d instigated the Lebanon war in response to their prayers so that this parade would be cancelled.


Does Using a Phony Rabbi Invalidate Your Marriage? No!

Today's fun article in the Bergen Record: - 'By the power vested in me by the Internet ... ' - addresses the issue of Internet ordination. Well that is the same thing in this writer's opinion as phony ordination. But wait. Many states don't give a hoot. They accept any ordination as valid. The author tells us:

New York City, for example, does not recognize the authority of ULC officiants because recognized ministers must have a stated meeting place for worship. Though based in Arizona, ULC officials don't regularly gather for worship at a specific place.

Other cities, such as San Diego, will certify anyone as a "deputy commissioner" for a day, enabling them to solemnize a friend's or family member's wedding. Such a temporary post renders the legality of an online certification essentially moot, said Rev. Christopher Tuttle, president of the San Diego-based National Association of Wedding Officiants -- a group that also will verify the legality of ministers' certifications to ensure marriages are legitimate.

Here in New Jersey, where I plan to marry, officials are divided over the legality of online-certified ministers.

State statute allows marriages to be performed by any federal, county or municipal judge (currently serving or retired), any county clerk, mayor, deputy mayor or township chairman, and "every minister of every religion."

To be a true religious minister, an individual must be authorized by a recognized church, synagogue, mosque or other religious association, according to the statute.

"I don't know much about these online ministries," said Carol Pressler, the registrar in Elmwood Park. If the officiant had an authentic certificate from a religious organization, however, Pressler said "it would be legal, sure."
The Record reveals a bit further, an interesting tidbit about a court case that makes a posteriori nearly all weddings valid regardless of the phonyness of the clergyperson:

In 2002, hundreds of couples were shocked to learn that a popular rabbi who signed the marriage licenses of many interfaith couples was, in fact, not properly certified to perform weddings in New York and New Jersey. Their wedding certificates were thus missing a required signature and, by some readings of the law, technically invalid.

Some couples worried about the technicality causing problems with family insurance and tax credits and were advised to have shotgun civil ceremonies.

A court case in 1912, however, set a legal precedent that probably protected them. According to Ross vs. Sparks, if a man and woman believed a "clergyman" had married them and subsequently lived together as husband and wife "they became husband and wife, even though the minister was not a 'stated' minister and was not authorized by statute to celebrate marriages."

As a result of this court case, as long as a couple believes the person marrying them has the proper authority, their marriage is likely to be recognized, should challenges arise.

I don't know the details of this phony rabbi's story. But I am impressed with the idea of online semicha. Maybe I'll go into the business. Meanwhile I've been ordained by ULC.

Here are some more free phony ordinations -


Israel Will Never Hunker Down, Mr. Cohen

If you want to puke, read the opinion Hunker Down With History, by Richard Cohen, Washington Post, Tuesday, July 18, 2006; Page A19.

The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself...

Another gifted British historian, Tony Judt, wraps up his recent book "Postwar" with an epilogue on how the sine qua non of the modern civilized state is recognition of the Holocaust. Much of the Islamic world, notably Iran under its Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stands outside that circle, refusing to make even a little space for the Jews of Europe and, later, those from the Islamic world. They see Israel not as a mistake but as a crime. Until they change their view, the longest war of the 20th century will persist deep into the 21st. It is best for Israel to hunker down.
Finished puking? Ok, let's see what the word "hunker" means. Michael Quinion tells us:

Nobody seems to know exactly what its origin is, though it has been suggested it’s linked to the Old Norse huka, to squat; that would make it a close cousin of old Dutch huiken and modern German hocken, meaning to squat or crouch, which makes sense. That’s certainly what’s meant by the word in American English, in phrases like hunker down or on your hunkers.

The Oxford English Dictionary has a fine description of how to hunker: “squat, with the haunches, knees, and ankles acutely bent, so as to bring the hams near the heels, and throw the whole weight upon the fore part of the feet”. The advantage of this position is that you’re not only crouched close to the ground, so presenting a small target for whatever the universe chooses to throw at you, but you’re also ready to move at a moment’s notice.

Hunker down has also taken on the sense of to hide, hide out, or take shelter, whatever position you choose to do it in. This was a south-western US dialect form that was popularised by President Johnson in the mid 1960s. Despite its Scots ancestry, hunker is rare in standard British English.
To me it seems you "hunker" when there is a powerful force hurled against you and when you are not capable of withstanding the onslaught in an upright position.

Well Mr. Cohen, Israel does not need to "hunker". Israel can stand up tall and proud. And Israel does not need to take shelter. Israel can go ahead and take the initiative.

I am quite sure that there is no idiom in Hebrew equivalent to "hunker down". This is not part of the language of the modern Zionist.

We are proud. We stand tall. We take action against our enemies.

The mistake in history will be made by anyone who thinks that Israel will ever "hunker down."

And while I'm on the subject Mr. Cohen, you are wrong about the infamous Harvard-published-essay by Walt and Mearsheimer. You say:

No, It's Not Anti-Semitic: On April 5, for instance, The Post ran an op-ed, 'Yes, It's Anti-Semitic,' by Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a respected defense intellectual. Cohen does not much like a paper on the Israel lobby that was written by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University. He found it anti-Semitic. I did not.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, Yes it is! I'm not 'hunkering down' on this issue.


"Yearly God" conference of religious blogging liberals in Montclair NJ

NJ Jewish News On-line religious liberals plan meeting for Montclair:

Religion, liberalism, and Web savvy are the watchwords of the first Progressive Faith Blog Con, a convention to be held over the July 14 weekend in the Conference Center at Montclair State University.

Jews and Christians, Buddhists and Muslims, and at least one self-proclaimed pagan will gather to continue in person the kinds of conversations they wage on-line as authors of blogs, the Web diaries that range from the queasily personal to the politically influential.

Like the “Yearly Kos,” a convention of liberal political bloggers that drew Democratic heavyweights to Las Vegas last month, the Montclair “con” will feature discussions on using the participants’ Web sites and chat rooms as agents of social and political change in a liberal — and in this case, religious — framework.

The Conference Blog is at http://progfaithblogcon.blogsome.com/ and the organizer has amassed the relevant links here http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/.

[*Including Therevada Buddhists? Then we will have to change our headline.]


War in the Middle East: I am Afraid. Very Afraid.

There is not doubt that the War in the Middle East has heated up today.

The best we can hope for is a victory in a conventional war. I fear that this time we are looking at an escalation. No I do not fear nuclear war. I fear religious war.

I have thought about this. I have taught about this (last year a course called, "War and Peace in Judaism, Christianity and Islam"). I have blogged about this, as for example:

· God and Terror
· Religion and Terror II: Christian "Jihadists"
· Religion and Terror III: Jewish "Jihadists"
· Religion and Terror IV: Islamic "Jihadists"
· Religion and Terror V: Sikh "Jihadists"
· Religion and Terror VI: Buddhist "Jihadists"
· Religion and Terror VII: the Theater of Terror
· Religion and Terror VIII: Cosmic War
· Religion and Terror IX: Martyrs and Demons
· Religion and Terror X: Warrior's Power -- War, Sex, and God
· Religion and Terror XI: The Mind of God

I have wrapped my mind around the concept of a religious war. And I am afraid. Very afraid.

Minister: Ken Lay was Crucified Like Jesus

People say all kinds of nice things at funerals. Sometimes they go over the top. Comparing Ken Lay to Jesus, and Martin Luther King is an example of gross eulogizing.

Lay's memorial attracts power elite - Jul. 12, 2006 (Reuters).

The Reverend Dr. Bill Lawson compared Lay with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ, and said his name would eventually be cleared.

'He was taken out of the world right at the right time,' he said. 'History has a way of vindicating people who have been wronged.'

"Ken Lay was neither black nor poor, but I'm angry because Ken Lay was a victim of a lynching."
"The folks who don't like him have had their say. I'd like to have mine ... (Like Jesus Christ) he was crucified by a government that mistreated him."
CNET summarizes some of the most negative comments about Lay in the blogs.


Why no appeals system for Rabbinic decisions?

Laziness. Disorganization. Selfishness.

That's my opinion of why there is no appeals system for rabbinic decisions today in the US.

Let's say you ask your local rabbi a question. You get an answer. You can't or won't accept that answer. As it stands now, you are greatly discouraged -- some say forbidden -- from going to another rabbi to appeal the decision.

The logic presented to justify the no appeal policy is silly. If we let you appeal, they say, it would weaken the whole system of rabbinic authority.

Nonsense. Look. The process of appeals is part of every strong and vibrant judicial system. Period. We don't need to get into the details of how allowing appeals strengthens a system. It just does. It gives it integrity. It prevents autocratic, opinionated, biased or incompetent judges from making the law into a mockery.

The threat of appeals makes a judge work harder, think better and just professionalizes the entire process.

We need such an appeals process formally instituted in rabbinic religious law. It will make the authority of rabbis stronger. It will force them to work harder, be more organized and less self-centered.

Poor Joe Lieberman and the Liberal Inquisition

David Brooks rants about The Liberal Inquisition in the New York Times July 9 (Times Select). I don't get Brooks and never have. He is a conservative. He often argues points that defy logic.

Here he holds up Lieberman as a poor victim of the liberals. Only wait. He claims Joe is the quintessential liberal. Why then is poor Joe subject to the L. I.? Because by supporting the war he fails the liberal litmus test. Poor, poor Joe.

Brooks. What are you talking about? If Joe is such a liberal guy, why are you so sympathetic? And pul-ease. Inquisition is a Republican idea! So here is some of the screed, which really truly makes no sense at all:
What's happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition.

What's happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition. Whether you agree with him or not, he is transparently the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men. But over the past few years he has been subjected to a vituperation campaign that only experts in moral manias and mob psychology are really fit to explain. I can't reproduce the typical assaults that have been directed at him over the Internet, because they are so laced with profanity and ugliness, but they are ginned up by ideological masseurs who salve their followers' psychic wounds by arousing their rage at objects of mutual hate.

Next has come the effort to expel Lieberman from modern liberalism. In a dark parody of the old struggle between Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, the highly educated, highly affluent, highly Caucasian wing of the Democratic Party has turned liberalism from a philosophy into a secular religion, and then sought to purge a battle-scarred warhorse on the grounds of insufficient moral purity.

So these days, for example, one hears that Lieberman is a crypto-conservative, a Bible-Belter. In reality, of course, this is a man who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign. He has a Christian Coalition rating of 0.

But a lifetime's record is deemed not to matter any longer. For in the midst of the inquisition all of American liberalism has been reduced to one issue, the war. Just as some edges of the pro-life movement reduce all of conservatism to abortion, the upscale revivalists on the left reduce everything to Iraq, and all who are deemed impure must be cleansed away.


Madonna Dumps Kabbalah! Say it ain't so Madonna Louise Ciccone!

Independent > This Britain: Kabbalah: is Madonna losing her religion? Yes, say friends. They believe the singer is about to cut ties with the sect to which she has given millions. By Anthony Barnes. Published: 09 July 2006...> Read.

I never considered Madonna a Kabbalist > Read my previous posts >
Madonna: Still Not a Kabbalist
Madonna: Jesus is Not Mad at Me
The Magic of the Red Bendel...

> tip of the hat to jewish high


Old Glory in Shul, Church and Mosque

The Jewish Standard writes (Displaying-flags-in-sacred-spaces)incisively this week about the various ways the American flag have appeared in shuls in the USA:

"O say, can you see…" that flag up there on the bimah? And the Israeli one too? Never paid them much mind? Can’t even remember what your shul does, flag-wise?

You’re not alone. Although America’s Jewish and Christian sacred spaces often have flags on display, most people who talked flags with The Jewish Standard had never spent much time thinking about it, nor were they getting much direction from their national parent bodies...

Islam, however, forbids the display of the flag or any other object, including furniture, anywhere within the prayer space of a mosque, so that nothing distracts from prayer or can be misconstrued as an object of veneration, said Imam Saeed Qureshi, of the Darul Islah mosque in Teaneck. The Stars and Stripes does, after all, have stars, and there are people in the world who worship stars or trees or the moon and so on. "Muslims are very very strict of worshipping only Allah."


Ann Coulter Violates the Ten Commandments

Using software, experts have proven Ann Coulter to be a serial plagiarizer. Plagiarism is theft of another person's writing by presenting it as if it was your own.

Tell us it ain't so Ann!


Conservative scribe Ann Coulter cribbed liberally in her latest book, "Godless," according to a plagiarism expert.

John Barrie, the creator of a leading plagiarism-recognition system, claimed he found at least three instances of what he calls "textbook plagiarism" in the leggy blond pundit's "Godless: the Church of Liberalism" after he ran the book's text through the company's digital iThenticate program...
Al Franken must be sharpening his pen up right now -- to write his next book: "Godless: the Church of Plagiarism".

This little scandal has been brewing for 2+ weeks since it was mentioned in several blogs. It has more teeth now that an objective computer program has proven the pattern.


Video: Cong. Westmoreland Fails the Colbert Test on the 10 Commandments

It funny. About 3:30 into the video Colbert asks congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) about the legislation he co-sponsored to require the display of the 10 commandments in the house and senate.

Then he asks the poor fellow to name them.

Why do they go on his show?

Carville and Penn on the Power of Hillary

James Carville and Mark J. Penn write today in the Washington Post about The Power of Hillary.

We like Hillary. We think she can win too.

We've heard all this 'Hillary can't win stuff' before. In fact, the quotes above aren't from recent weeks but from six years ago, when many pundits -- and Democrats -- said there was no way that Hillary could get elected to the Senate. She won by 12 percentage points.

We don't know if Hillary is going to run for president, but as advisers who have worked on the only two successful Democratic presidential campaigns in the past couple of decades, we know that if she does run, she can win that race, too."
Anybody agree or disagree?


NY Times Quotes My Sister Miryam as an Expert on Bioethics and Judaism

An article today by Judith Berck deals with the issues linked to egg donation and surrogacy as remedies for infertility.

Religion Journal -When Science Aids Reproduction, Some Parents Wonder What It Takes to Be Jewish

The vast majority of rabbis view the practice of egg donation leniently. Jewish law has turned out to be supportive, largely based on the biblical charge to "be fruitful and multiply."

"This is one of the Torah's prime directives, because it's the very first commandment given to Adam," said Dr. Miryam Wahrman, a professor of biology at William Paterson University of New Jersey who writes about bioethics and Judaism. "It has led to the sanctioning of virtually any technique that can help couples have babies."

Of course Dr. W is an expert on these matters and author of the noted book, Brave New Judaism: When Science and Scripture Collide.

To study more of her writings see http://wahrman.org/.

Bravo. We are proud of you!