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On Jewish Chosenness and Israeli Chauvinism

by Alan Rutkowski   THE IDEA that Jews are the chosen people is a problematic concept, especially for contemporary non-Orthodox Jews living outside of Israel. More about Israel in a minute. Mordecai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, dropped the doctrine of chosenness altogether because he didn’t believe it could be interpreted in any way that doesn’t […]

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My Path to Atheism

by Alan Rutkowski I RECENTLY HAD an epiphany: I don’t believe in God. For a very long time — most of my life, actually — I sort of thought I did. Religion has played a big part in my life. For some reason my mother, who was not religious at all, sent my sister and […]

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Rabbi Sandy Sasso

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first woman ordained as rabbi by the Reconstructionist movement on this date in 1974. She was also the first woman to serve as rabbi in a Conservative congregation (Indianapolis’ Beth-El Zedeck), and she and her husband Rabbi Dennis Sasso were likely the first rabbinical couple in Jewish history and certainly […]

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American Jews Line Up Against the Trump Ban

by Ron Skolnik WITH NOT MUCH to smile about since Inauguration Day, it has been heartening to see the nearly undivided reaction of the American Jewish community to Donald Trump’s January 27 Executive Order (EO) on immigration and refugee admission – widely considered to constitute a Muslim ban. With one or two glaring exceptions — […]

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August 28: Reb Zalman

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, was born in Poland on this date (some sources say August 17th) in 1924. Interned under the Vichy government in France, he came to the U.S. in 1941 and was ordained by the Lubavitcher khasidic movement six years later. He served the Lubavitchers as a college […]

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Netanyahu’s New Clothes

The Emperor is Naked. Will American Jews Say So? by Ron Skolnik From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN’S 19th-century classic, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” tells of a pair of swindlers who claim to be able to weave beautiful garments that are invisible to anyone who is exceptionally stupid or unfit […]

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June 30: Matisyahu

Matisyahu (Matthew Paul Miller), who emerged as a hasidic hip-hop and reggae sensation in 2004-2005, then shaved his beard, took off his yarmulke, and began performing on Friday nights, was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania on this date in 1979. He became a bar mitsve in the Reconstructionist-affiliated Congregation Bet Am Shalom in White Plains, […]

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May 31: The “Chosen People” Doctrine

According to the Jewish biblical calendar, on this date in 1313 BCE, known as Yom Hameyukhas, “The Day of Distinction,” God told Moses on Mount Sinai that the people of Israel “shall be My chosen treasure from among all the nations… a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:4-6). This notion of the […]

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October 17: Spirit Day and Sojourn

Sojourn, the Southern Jewish Regional Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, founded by Rabbi Joshua Lesser, the leader of Atlanta’s Reconstructionist Congregation Bet Haverim, is the sole Jewish organization among eighteen faith-based organizations listed at the website for this year’s Spirit Day, October 17th. Founded in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan to oppose bullying and […]

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