Why a Manual for Creating Atheists Isn’t

I’m hoping to publish in another forum a more detailed review of Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists, so my comments here will not be especially comprehensive. But I was, in some important ways, rather disappointed with the book, and I want to express a bit of that disappointment here.

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Pass(ed)over

So this morning I had a moment of stark realization. My son has never attended a real Passover seder.

We’ve given ourselves some passes on this; a seder is long and difficult for adults to sit through, let alone children, and a kid with autism and non-stop chattiness…well, a seder just didn’t seem like a great fit.

Then I realized that Humanistic Judaism is perfect for constructing a meaningful Passover experience for a special needs child, because we don’t consider ourselves bound to the rules.

(I know, I know, I promised a series on a Pitch for Humanistic Judaism, and I’ll get back to that, though in a way this post will be a great pitch in itself.) Continue reading

Constructing a Pitch for Humanistic Judaism – Part I – Rationalism and Mysticism

(This is the first in a series of posts on my thoughts about pitching–both as a public proposition and in a more musical sense–Humanistic Judaism. This post will discuss what I think the challenge is Humanistic Judaism faces in gaining traction among American Jews. In the coming posts in the series, I’ll think a bit about how we might do that, and how we might pitch Humanistic Judaism outside our own circles–particularly since Americans don’t do doctrine much in their selection of a religious community.)

(Note that while I am a rabbinical student at IISHJ, I’m speaking here for myself–not the school, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, or the Association of Humanistic Rabbis.)

Last November (it seems like ages ago, so much has happened!) I went to a retreat for rabbinical students that was sponsored by Clal‘s Rabbis Without Borders. (Many thanks to Rabbi Chalom at IISHJ for encouraging me to go.) Students from various denominations and seminaries attended–Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (an “Open Orthodox” yeshiva), Jewish Theological Seminary and Ziegler (Conservative-affiliated schools), the Academy of Jewish Religion (nondenominational), HUC-JIR (Reform), RRC (Reconstructionist), ALEPH (Renewal) and IISHJ.

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Ice-olation

Surely you’ve noted I’m in Indianapolis. This means that, for most of the week, we haven’t gone outside. Because COLD.

School has been closed since the Winter Break in December, and everyone with a kid who’s not yet been returned to school is probably noticing that said kid is getting a little stir crazy.

No doubt trying to help, after my wife mentioned the situation on Facebook, one of the folks who works for the local Jewish community chimed in with the wishing-to-be-helpful response that the local JCC was providing aftercare (after-school care) services starting at 9 a.m. today. Which is nice, unless you’ve got a kid with special needs.

My wife, showing the better side of–valor? something?–said somewhat obliquely that we haven’t used the aftercare program because the JCC doesn’t have the space or manpower to deal with our needs.

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Book Review: “The Heavens Are Empty”

I’ve recently finished reading Avrom Bendavid-Vol’s The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town to Trochenbrod. If you haven’t seen this book about, it’s a non-fiction account of the history of the town that Jonathan Safran-Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated centers on.

So, what are my impressions?

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