Critical as I often am of The Forward, it does occasionally provide some gems. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always push hard enough, even when it does turn over the correct stone. Even a blind pig will find an acorn once in a while.

Having extensively mixed my metaphors, what am I talking about? This. Apparently, the Israeli government wants to drop a few hundred million dollars to save American Judaism to help American Jews figure out how to be Jewish. Or something.

It’s like mansplaining, but about Israel. It’s “Israelsplaining”!

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Truth, from whatever source

Maimonides, in the Seven Chapters (Heb. Sheva Perakim), said that we should accept the truth, from whatever source it comes. And, so you don’t think I’m just a complete “theists are bad” guy, I commend you to read this post, “Rabbinical Girl,” at the Jewschool blog.

Happy Wednesday!

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Jewish Food and Humanistic Ethics

Rabbi Adam Chalom, rabbi at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in the Chicago area and dean of the U.S. division of IISHJ, posted this entry about the Jewishness of food as well as fasting. As I “turn[ed] it and turn[ed] it” (Pirke Avot 5:22) in my head, as well as other Humanistic Jewish writing about the status of issues of food and kashrut, I was reminded of a discussion I had in graduate school with one of my professors about the effect of the laws of kashrut on non-Jews. This conversation stuck with me, and I’m going to reflect on that and the ethical problems associated with maintaining kashrut.

(For my more traditionally-oriented Jewish readers: by now, you must have figured out I’m more or less a raging apikoros; I’d have to be to cite Torah and Talmud to reach the results I do. You won’t like what’s after the jump; I think you need to hear it, but you’ll likely disagree. I’m not picking a fight; it simply is what it is.)

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Review of Koren Publishers’ Steinsaltz Reference Guide to the Talmud

This is the promised review of the newly released Koren Publishers’ Reference Guide to the Talmud. I know, I know, I promised at some point to continue the Constructing a Pitch for Humanistic Judaism series; that promise stands. I have a second post partly composed, but I need to get through a few rabbinical school-related tasks before I can return to that; it will be a few weeks yet, I think.

So–onto the review. 

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This, I love

Rabbi Natan Slifkin blogs over at Rationalist Judaism. Rabbi Slifkin is an “Orthodox” rabbi with an interest in science and rationalism, sort of in the Maimonides vein. I don’t always like or agree with what he says–I think there’s just too much contortion necessary to reach the reconciliations he does. (See this post from Freethinking Jew for more than I’m willing to put into words on that topic at the moment.)

In any case, Rabbi Slifkin has this gem on his blog today. I’m not so much focused on the absurdities of the yeshiva system in Israel or the U.S. (though, let’s be clear, it’s absurd in so many cases and so many ways). But sometimes–sometimes–one just has to enjoy a little schadenfreude.

So here’s your daily dose.

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Autism, inclusion, and theodicy

(I will freely admit that this post is largely an emotional reaction. Tough. Go read something else if that bothers you.)

The “Daily Reyd” feature at Rabbi Gil Student’s Torah Musings blog has a link to an article at the Orthodox Union’s website. Titled “The Gabbai With Autism: A Living Lesson In Inclusion,” the article talks about Eli Gorelick, a young man with autism who serves as one of several gabbaiim in his congregation.

I will first say that the synagogue’s ability to adapt to Eli and to effectively welcome him to lay leadership is–or should be, anyway–a model for inclusion for those able and willing to serve with accommodation. I have no quibble at all with any of that, and it’s precisely that kind of thing that we’re missing in so many other places.

My problem, of course, is going to be the theodicy piece. Eli’s father is himself a rabbi, and when one of Eli’s siblings asked his father why God made Eli the way He did, the answer was, “Hashem wanted us to do chesed for Eli.”

And that, dear reader, is when I decided it was time to take the day’s lunch break.

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