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Jewish Names

We Jews are hyper-sensitive. Recently, several people have told me how embarrassed they are that Jewish names are so prominent in the current spate of legal cases involving sexual abuse.  We even get agitated over the pronunciation of Wineshtain instead of Weinstein and Epshtein instead of Epstein. Why? Because anti Semites, even unwitting ones, like to throw up such names as…

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Deborah

I have always been fascinated by the Biblical Deborah. Not the one in Genesis, but the most impressive one in the Book of Judges. The prophetess as well as a judge. A unique combination. She was the accepted authority of a majority of tribes in the Land of Israel some three thousand two hundred years ago. Amazingly she rose to…

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Jewish Tree Huggers

On Monday we celebrate the New Year for trees! Yes, we were tree huggers long before it became fashionable. Where did we get it from? The Torah’s interest in trees focused originally, in the Garden of Eden, as the sources of wisdom and life. Humans were told to guard and protect them otherwise they would face disaster. These trees were…

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My problem with Religion

Marx was right. Religion is the opiate of the masses. And Freud was right, too, that religion is wish-fulfillment and satisfies the need for a father figure. Religions produce murderous fanatics (and occasional saints). They often require mindless, obsessive ritual and petty restrictions that can impede progress and keep people socialized and passive. Religious authorities are concerned with preserving power…

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Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm, was one of the most influential psychiatrists of the last century. He was educated in Germany. When the Nazis came to power in 1934, he moved to Switzerland and then on to New York. He was a restless and brilliant man. I first encountered his work when, as a student, I read his short book You shall be as…

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Genius & Anxiety by Norman Lebrecht

Genius and Anxiety: How Jews changed the World 1847-1947 by Norman Lebrecht, is the best, popular Jewish interest book in years. It is an amazing collection of stories about the widest possible range of Jews – whole Jews, half Jews and ex-Jews –  spanning the century from 1847 to 1947. It is fun to read, told with infectious humor and…

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