Rabbi James Rosenberg

Rabbi James RosenbergI am not a subscriber to The Wall Street Journal; so I was somewhat surprised to find a copy of this paper’s Oct. 3-4 weekend Review section lying at the door to my condo late one Saturday evening.

After a quick glance at the front-page headline, I understood why my neighbor had left it for me: “Swords Into Plowshares,” followed by “Islamic State’s creed embodies evil in the name of a sacred cause.  To defeat it, we must recover the values that can bring Jews, Christians and Muslims together.”  The author of the essay beneath the headline is Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of British Commonwealth and author of the recently published “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence” (Schocken, 2015).

In his essay, adapted from his new book, Sacks addresses a most troubling, most frightening phenomenon that we in the West are now forced to face: “the elemental, world-shaking power of religion when hijacked by politics.”

Rabbi James Rosenberg

One of the majestic phrases in the opening verses of Bereisheet, the first book of our Hebrew Bible, reads, “...v’ruach Elohim m’rachefet al p’nai hamayim,” which can be translated as “...and the breath of God was sweeping over the face of the waters.”  Ruach Elohim: breath of God, spirit of God, wind from God. Many of those who attended the multicultural, interfaith celebration at Barrington’s Temple Habonim this past Oct. 25 felt the breath of God; they felt the breath of sacred song and dance and prayer and pleas for peace.  Peace: salaam in Arabic, shalom in Hebrew – all three words rich with the overtones of wholeness and integrity. 

 

Rabbi James Rosenberg“My So-Called Enemy” is a feature-length documentary, available on DVD, that speaks to my mind, my heart, my soul. Lisa Gossels, director and producer of the feature-length 2010 film, explores the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the evolving perspectives of Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls.  With a touch of irony, the majority of this film is shot not in Israel and the territories but at a camp in Bridgeton, New Jersey, where the girls are participating in a 10-day leadership program under the auspices of Building Bridges for Peace, which at the time of filming had been in existence for 20 years.

 

Rabbi James RosenbergI have read “Googling for God” over and over again, and I still can’t figure out whether or not Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s front page opinion piece in the Sept. 20 issue of “The New York Times Sunday Review” is meant to be taken seriously. 

Consider his opening paragraph: “It has been a bad decade for God, at least so far.  Despite the rising popularity of Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, Google searches for churches are 15 percent lower in the first half of this decade than they were during the last half of the previous one. Searches questioning God’s existence are up. Many behaviors that he supposedly abhors have skyrocketed. Porn searches are up 83 percent. For heroin, it’s 32 percent.”

Could this be tongue-in-cheek?

Rabbi James RosenbergProvidence-based novelist Jon Land writes the kind of action-packed books I can’t put down.  Once I begin a Land novel, I accept the fact that I will be staying up late the following few nights, turning pages in order to find out what happens next.

Land has a genius for plot development. In novel after novel – he has written 36 – he juggles multiple subplots and somehow manages to bring them all together into a single satisfying conclusion.