Nechama Tec. Historian Tec explains how this distorted understanding arose, discusses the severe conditions faced by the Jews during the Holocaust that impeded many resistance efforts, and charges that such an assessment blatantly disregards resistance of the spirit. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths, Part II. Winter 2013.
Alan Morinis. Re-examining the Hanukkah exhortation, “A great miracle happened here,” not as the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days, but as a spiritual miracle—that the Maccabees lit the wick despite knowing they did not possess enough oil. While recalibrating Hanukkah through a spiritual lense, Morinis explains its potential to open our hearts. Winter 2013.
Geoffrey Mitelman. There is mounting evidence that “religion” and “science” are not adversaries but potential allies which, working together, can improve our lives and our world. Cover Story, Winter 2013.
Gabe Snyder. A teen shares poignant lessons about faith at Auschwitz which he internalized on the URJ’s L’Dor v’Dor program. Winter 2013.
Penina Eilberg-Schwartz. Personal reflection by a 20-something Jewish woman about how she became anorexic at Oberlin in order to conform to social norms, a body image ideal, and a then topsy-turvy belief system that eating less and less would help repair the world. Later she discovers that “depriving ourselves of food keeps us from realizing our full potential—and almost cost me my life.” Winter 2013.
a conversation with Lawrence A. Hoffman. The editor of We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet discusses how our ancestors understood sin, how the Jewish view of sin differs from the Christian notion, why Jews don’t confess frequently, why there are two standard public confessions, and more. Fall 2013.
Patricia Ratner McWeeney. Taking off on the tale of Jonah and the whale which we read on the High Holy Days, the author reflects as an adult about the mistake she made after her Sweet Sixteen party that changed her life. Fall 2013.
Harvey Brownstone. Growing up as a Reform Jew and becoming the first openly gay judge in Canada led Justice Harvey Brownstone to play a role in one of the most important civil rights cases in U.S. history championing equality for gay and lesbians in marriage. This is his story. Cover Story, Fall 2013.
Stephen S. Pearce. Why did Abraham nearly sacrifice his son Isaac? Of these 10 possible explanations of the Akedah (which we read on Rosh Hashanah), which speaks to you and why? Fall 2013.
Phil Cohen (yes) and Barry Block (no). Rabbi Phil Cohen: “Let us offer a humane response to patients who needlessly suffer.” Rabbi Barry Block: “Don’t short-circuit the deep meaning in the natural process of death.” Summer 2013.
interview with Wendy Mogel. Technology opens wonderful worlds for children—but may also carry risk. The clinical psychologist and author of two parenting books discusses how Judaism and social science can help families navigate our new cyberworld. Summer 2013.
Janos Maté. Reflections on how the author’s whole life journey, including his Jewish upbringing, inspired him to become an activist, taking on perilous assignments to make the world a better place. Summer 2013.
Alan Morinis. Reflection on how, at moments of experiencing yirah—which the author defines as feeling awe, fear, and reverence all at once--our hearts are open to discovering the essential meaning of our lives. Summer 2013.
Daniel Reisel. The biblical story of Moses breaking the tablets “teaches us that even God agrees that to seek truth means to question authority. Quite literally, it means to break the rules.” Spring 2013.
Anonymous. My husband was committing crimes to feed his serious drug addiction. I feared public humiliation. Part of Focus: Shanda. Winter 2012.
Marlene Myerson. Packing up my mother’s apartment after her death, I finally found the answers I’d yearned for all my life. Part of Focus: Shanda. Winter 2012.
Annette Powers. My father believed that intermarriage was a shanda. I hoped to prove him wrong. Part of Focus: Shanda. Winter 2012.
a conversation with Edythe Mencher and Dale Atkins. How society has changed what it deems a disgrace, when shaming is harmful or useful, and how to break the cycle of unjustified shame. Part of Focus: Shanda. Winter 2012.
Theodore Bikel, Susan Caro, Rachel Cowan, Stacia Deutsch, Emily Goldberg, Lawrence A. Hoffman, Liz Lerman, Richard N. Levy, Cynthia Roosth Wolf. Nine Jewish thinkers reflect on the teachings that inspire them to take an accounting of their souls, how they take stock of their actions, and the life experiences that have prompted them to seek change. Fall 2012.
Arnold S. Gluck. What we can learn from the Talmudic tale of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. Part of Focus: Civility. Summer 2012. PDF.
Alan Morinis. Jewish tradition emphasizes kindness, graciousness, and respect to teach us to uphold the human ideal—and to promote good government. Part of Focus: Civility. Summer 2012.
Arnold S. Gluck. Learning to respect and care about those with whom we profoundly disagree. Part of Focus: Civility. Summer 2012.
Jack Riemer. A prayer that can help us as we begin the sacred task of closing down and emptying out our parents’ home after they die. Summer 2012.
Donald I. Abrams and Jim Hornstein. Two medical doctors who are Reform Jews debate the issue. Dr. Abrams: “Marijuana Use is Medical & Moral.” Dr. Hornstein: “Only Medical Marijuana Use is Moral.” Summer 2012. PDF.
Q&A with Jackie Curtis Silverman. The founder of The New Orleans Women’s Shelter reflects on having decided “to no longer live my sheltered life telling myself that homelessness was a government problem to solve.” Summer 2012. PDF.
a conversation with Edythe Mencher and Dale Atkins. When we assert ourselves respectfully while avoiding the temptation to act unkindly towards others, no one is diminished as a human being. Part of Focus: Civility. Summer 2012.
Hayyim Nahum Bialik and Yehoshua Iana Rawnitzki. The Talmudic tale of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. Part of Focus: Civility. Summer 2012. PDF.
Alan Morinis. What can each of us do to foster nefesh—soul love? Spring 2012.
Naftali Rothenberg. Rabbi Akiva’s wisdom about the ideal of human love. Spring 2012
Rex Perlmeter. Nurturing love in the face of tragedy. Spring 2012.
interview with Alan Morinis. The breaking of the wedding glass sends the message: To fully experience joy, one must also be able to feel deep sorrow. Part of Focus “Happiness.” Winter 2011.
Abraham J. Twerski. How to alleviate the cause of enduring happiness—neglect of the human spirit. Part of Focus “Happiness.” Winter 2011.
interview with the Dalai Lama and Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. The Dalai Lama and the Chief Rabbi reflect on finding happiness in the face of tragedy, loss, and injustice. Part of Focus “Happiness.” Winter 2011.
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson. Human happiness has been a central concern of Judaism since antiquity. And the ancient Jewish philosophers’ teachings about the “intrinsically good life” are just as relevant today. Part of Focus “Happiness.” Winter 2011.
Evan “Happy” Braude. “Engagement gives meaning to my life, and from meaning I derive happiness.” Part of Focus “Happiness.” Winter 2011.
Charles R. Krivcher. Personal reflection of a High Holy Day encounter with a mirror that led to an epiphany regarding the author’s relationship with God and personal responsibility in prayer. Fall 2011.
Dalia Marx. As we approach the Days of Awe, we can take three paths to forgiveness: focusing on the injured, on the injurer, or—ideally and most challenging—on the relationship between them. Fall 2011.
Michael A. White. Coming to terms with certain limitations of freedom posed by middle age and learning how to expand the possibilities for growth. Summer 2011.
A conversation with Mark Washofsky. How Jewish tradition views in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, genetic modifications, and extending the human lifespan. Part of Focus: Ethics in a Fast-Changing World. Spring 2011.
Edythe Mencher. The Jewish prescription for a healthy life is cultivating a middle path - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Part of Finding the Right Balance. Spring 2011.
Jack Riemer. Do I agree with Christopher Reeve, who was busy until the day he died, or with Moti Gur, who surrendered when he could not defeat cancer? Spring 2011.
Laura Geller. How do I balance the desire to be acknowledged while making space for others to shine? Part of Finding the Right Balance. Spring 2011.
Juliana Schnur. How do I balance my work - where I'm a valued member of the team - with what it takes to meet the right man? Part of Finding the Right Balance. Spring 2011.
Aron Hirt-Manheimer. For most of my life I have made a virtue of doing for others. I resolved to put myself first for a change. Part of Finding the Right Balance. Spring 2011.
A conversation between Krista Tippett and Dr. Doris Taylor. Embryonic stem cell research is uncovering secrets of how we age and how we heal. Part of Focus: Ethics in a Fast-Changing World.
A conversation with Jay Walker. We're moving into personalized medicine, wearable cell phones, and a mind-machine interface to augment human memory. Part of Focus: Ethics in a Fast-Changing World.
Why some adults act aggressively toward others - and what to do when you think it's happening to you. Winter 2010.
Helping kids - from tots to teens - handle bullying behavior. Winter 2010.
Interview with Dr. Dale Atkins and Rabbi Edythe Mencher. A psychologist (Atkins) and a clinical social work psychotherapist (Mencher) explore when it is best to keep the truth to ourselves, and when to reveal what's in our hearts. Fall 2010.
Alan D. Bennett. Questions about inheritance for thoughtful discussion at home and in synagogue. Summer 2010.
Zachary Brown. I had never been as considerate as I could have been to my family until in class, a pen went through the center of my eye and I was later asked to coach Little League. Summer 2010.
Interview with Dr. Dale Atkins and Rabbi Edythe Mencher. A psychologist (Atkins) and a clinical social work psychotherapist (Mencher) talk with the RJ editors about how to preserve sh'lom bayit (family harmony) before and after the reading of the will. Summer 2010.
Alan D. Bennett. Questions about meddling for thoughtful discussion at home and in synagogue. Fall 2009.
Interview with Dr. Dale Atkins and Rabbi Edythe Mencher. A psychologist (Atkins) and a clinical social work psychotherapist (Mencher) talk with the RJ editors about the dangers of meddling to family harmony-and how to express concerns that may elicit the very response you hope for. Fall 2009.
Aaron Mayer Frankel. I was just sixteen when I was given the honor of co-leading the teen Yom Kippur services at Temple Hashalom. When I came close to fainting, I had to eat...and eat, and eat.... Fall 2009.
Interview with Rabbi Edythe Mencher. A licensed clinical social worker describes what to cultivate internally in times of adversity and explains how "a smile, a good word, or a simple act of kindness can restore hope in a friend or stranger-in ways we may never know." Summer 2009.
Interview with Rabbi Harold Schulweis. If a religious law and your own conscience are in conflict, sometimes conscience may be the better gauge. Spring 2009.
Interview with Rabbi Jack H Bloom. The psychotherapist and spiritual leader explores the false notion of God as a perfect Being and the ways God can learn from us mortals about ethical and appropriate behavior. Winter 2008.
Debra Cohn. Personal story on how the practice of mussar led the author to newfound acceptance of others and self. Part of Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character. Fall 2008.
Fran Zimmerman. Personal story on how the practice of mussar led the author to newfound compassion. Fall 2008.
Henry Wodnicki. Personal story on how the practice of mussar led the author to newfound equanimity. Part of Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character. Fall 2008.
Gary Shaffer. Personal story on how the practice of mussar led the author to newfound freedom. Part of Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character. Fall 2008.
Leonard Felson. Part of Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character. Fall 2008.
Ellen Berk. Personal story on how the practice of mussar led the author to newfound humility. Part of Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character. Fall 2008.
Alan Morinis. This mussar discussion guide for congregations and families reflects on the Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character while offering new mussar insights and practical steps.
Leonard Felson. Reform Jews in congregations across the continent are now embracing a Jewish spiritual practice formulated in 19th-century Lithuania. Part of Focus: Mussar-A Spiritual Practice to Elevate Character. Fall 2008.
An introduction to the range of Reform Jewish thinking on leading an ethical life. Summer 2008.
Alan D. Bennett. This discussion guide on delivering gentle rebuke includes questions for congregational and family study, and a bibliography. Fall 2007.
Ruth H. Sohn. How to best handle the vital Torah commandment tokhehah, usually translated as "rebuke," which requires us to confront a person who is doing something wrong or disturbing to us. Fall 2007.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie. The URJ president reflects on what he learned from his teachers about Torah and relationships. Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006.
Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher. The Jewish lessons in each step along the journey of self-change. Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006.
Peter Pitzele. A midrash on the very imperfect biblical character whose name becomes Israel. Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006
Rabbi David Ellenson. The HUC-JIR president reflects upon an important life lesson that he was taught: "Judaism regards fragile and finite human beings who are prone to error as nevertheless capable of being partners with God in the task of repairing the world." Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006.
Rabbi Jack Stern. A rabbi (who is on crutches) speaks candidly about how, "When it comes to character development, I'm still learning." Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006.
Jesselyn Radack. "I was convinced that the Justice Department had acted illegally in the 'American Taliban' case. My Jewish conscience compelled me to act." Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. From Judaism's perspective, greatness of character is not measured by our lack of an evil inclination, but by our success in controlling it. The author offers 13 suggestions to develop one's goodness. Part of Focus: Character. Spring 2006.
Grant Perry. How is it that some Jews who are actively involved in the synagogue and charitable causes can so easily disregard Jewish teachings in their business dealings? Winter 2002.
Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig. Explores lashon hara (gossip) from Jewish, historical, and anthropological perspectives, offering ways Jews can communicate more honestly as well as tips grounded in Jewish tradition for congregations to curb a culture of gossip. Summer 2002.
Rabbi Jack Riemer. What Isaac and Abraham's relationship can teach us about our own family feuds and forgiveness. Part of Focus: Family Feuds. Fall 2001.
An interview with Rabbi Jan Katzew. What the Torah can teach us about family conflicts; the transformation of Jacob's son Judah from villainous to righteous shows that even in the most dysfunctional families, repentance and reconciliation are possible. Fall 2001.
Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer. Take this quiz to gauge how your values compare with important Jewish considerations and explore strategies for ethical decision-making. Winter 1997.
Rabbi Janet Marder. Explores what happens when issues of sexual misconduct involving rabbis, cantors, and lay leaders arise. Winter 1994.
Rabbi Jack Stern. Reports on Jewish discomfort after a number of prominent Jews were accused and indicted of political corruption in the 1980s, and espouses that in order to embrace a truly ethical way of life, Reform Jews must believe that they alone are accountable for their choices. Part of Focus: On Ethics. Fall 1991.
Susan Shapiro. How do we Jews define values, morals, and ethics? Part of Focus: On Ethics. Fall 1991.
Rabbi Eugene B. Borowitz. Discusses the origin of the Jewish passion for ethics and offers ethical behavior guidelines. Part of Focus: On Ethics. Fall 1991.
Rabbi Gregory S. Marx. Understanding the importance of distinguishing between what is legal and what is moral—and how Jews can translate this into everyday ethical decision-making. Part of Focus: On Ethics. Fall 1991.
Jim Simon. What Judaism can teach us about balancing the desire to lead an ethical existence and the yearning to earn a comfortable living. Part of Focus: On Ethics. Fall 1991.
Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer. The ten ethical concepts every synagogue should teach its congregants to ensure strong Jewish values. Part of Focus: On Ethics. Fall 1991.