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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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Anti-Semitism

The Bible says that poverty will never cease from the earth. Sadly, hatred and prejudice will never cease either. Some hatreds are more widespread and persistent than others. Of these cultural and religious hatreds, anti-Semitism has always been the most persistent and widespread. Anti-Semitism is like a microbe that exists as part of the natural structure of physical organisms (of…

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Bulawayo

In the summer of 1966, I was studying in the great Yeshiva of Mir in Jerusalem. One day, I received a call from Rabbi Professor Dr. Louis Rabinowitz, former Chief Rabbi of South Arica and then Vice Mayor of Jerusalem. He was one of the most dynamic, charismatic rabbis in a generation of outstanding ones.  He was also a close friend…

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