“As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry,” reported the New York Times a few months back. “Some 45 percent of the faculty members in Stanford’s major undergraduate division are clustered in the humanities—but only 15 percent of the students.”
I post this blog at a moment when the Jewish community in North America urgently needs good rabbis. If you are considering the rabbinate as a vocation or have toyed with the idea in the past or are open to weighing the possibility now, I hope to persuade you to do so.
The story that dominated news and conversation during my first week in Israel this past December was the snow. A foot and a half fell in Jerusalem in the course of a three-day weekend: the most in a generation (and some say: in a century).
I was puzzled when I received the invitation from the President and First Lady to celebrate Hanukkah at the White House last Thursday evening—hours after the holiday would have ended. How would they handle this awkward ritual conundrum?
The Yom Kippur liturgy holds out a special welcome, which I want to reinforce, to the tens of thousands of Jews who will attend High Holiday services this year, and perhaps fast all or part of the day despite complex and ambivalent feelings about religion and uncertainty or outright skepticism about belief in God.
On the day a couple weeks ago that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Washington DC to resume the long-stalled peace process, my wife and I toured Belfast, site of another intractable conflict that long seemed beyond resolution.
When I met with Natan Sharansky in May to discuss the compromise solution he was proposing for prayer at the Western Wall, I thought the plan he laid before me was ingenious and well worth supporting.
The Jewish world, both in Israel and the Diaspora, lost a great teacher, thinker, and institution builder yesterday when Rabbi David Hartman (z”l) passed away in Jerusalem after a long illness. Many of us also lost a good friend.
The news about the school shootings in Connecticut reached me just before Shabbat, the seventh day of Hanukkah. Candle-lighting seemed more needed than usual that evening.
I am leaving Israel for America in a few hours, along with JTS Executive Vice Chancellor Marc Gary.