| Thursday, 21 July 2011 16:28|
Rabbi James RosenbergShakespeare is believed to have written “The Merchant of Venice” in 1596 or 1597, and the play has continued to command large and enthusiastic audiences for more than 400 years.
Within the past 12 months or so, Al Pacino, in two separate venues in New York City, gave an “exciting, savage-spirited” interpretation of Shylock; up in Boston, F. Murray Abraham played Shylock as a calculating businessman trying to maintain his balance in a hyper-competitive, coldly high-tech world. Both productions earned highly positive reviews.
During the coming winter here in Rhode Island, Trinity Repertory Company will be offering yet another way for audiences to experience this complicated and often perplexing drama.
For all its popularity, “The Merchant of Venice” is the one Shakespearean play that makes Jews squirm. The reason for our discomfort is obvious: the portrayal of Shylock. As 18th century English poet Alexander Pope is said to have quipped, “This is the Jew/That Shakespeare drew.”
| Friday, 24 June 2011 16:04|
| Rabbi James Rosenberg|
Sixty-five million years ago planet Earth had a very bad day. An asteroid the size of Manhattan Island crashed into what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The impact of this asteroid, which created a gigantic crater centered near today’s town of Chicxulub, Mexico, unleashed an explosive force equivalent to 20,000 times the atomic energy stored in the nuclear arsenal of the entire world. In the aftermath of the impact, debris in the atmosphere blocked the sun’s light for several years in what amounted to a long nuclear winter.
The vast majority of today’s earth scientists now believe that the impact of the Chicxulub asteroid led to the K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) extinction event, which wiped out in a geologically short period of time at least 40 percent of all plant and animal life on land and in the sea – including almost all dinosaurs; no land animals larger than your typical house cat survived. It is estimated that it took our oceans close to three million years to recover their biological balance.
Over the course of my adult life I have been dimly aware of scientists’ perplexity over the sudden disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. However, this past June 4, during my 45th Columbia College reunion, I heard Peter deMenocal, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, deliver a mesmerizing lecture on this very subject. He titled his talk “Of Dinosaurs and Meteorites: An Appreciation of Rare Events.”
What I found of particular interest was deMenocal’s take on why, until the 1990s, most scientists resisted asteroid impact as an explanation for the dinosaur extinction.
| Friday, 10 June 2011 18:50|
Rabbi James RosenbergTwelve days after the first Seder, on 27 Nisan, Jews throughout the world observe Yom Ha-Shoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. For the past three decades Temple Emanu-El in Providence has been hosting our community-wide Yom Ha-Shoah service.
Attending this service year after year, I have taken comfort in what has become a familiar ritual structure: The opening procession of Holocaust survivors and their families accompanied by the solemn singing of Ani Ma’amin, a tragic echo of innumerable death marches into the gas chambers; the lighting of memorial candles; the reading of survivors’ testimonies; the chanting of the El Malei Rahamim memorial prayer; the recitation of the names of hundreds of individuals, relatives of Rhode Island Holocaust survivors, who perished during the Shoah; and, at the end, Kaddish.
Of course, the passage of time has led to changes in certain aspects of our communal Yom Ha-Shoah observance. Over the years, many survivors who used to walk in procession down the center aisle of Temple Emanu-El and who used to walk down the Sessions Street hill, candle in hand, to the Holocaust Memorial Garden have become too frail to do so; and many others have died. Moreover, each of our communal Yom Ha-Shoah services has had a unique emphasis: Kindertransports, Righteous Gentiles, the always hard-to-hear but necessary-to-recall descriptions of life and death in particular European ghettos and camps.
| Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00|
Rabbi James RosenbergThe May 13 issue of The Jewish Voice & Herald includes a front-page article by Executive Editor Nancy Kirsch headlined “Time to organize, to protest, to act.” Kirsch’s article provides a comprehensive overview of the third annual One Voice to Reduce Poverty Conference held at the Roger Williams Park Casino this past May 3. The conference was sponsored by The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition, whose motto is “Fighting Poverty with Faith.”
As a participant in the conference, I felt bludgeoned by one depressing statistic after another. Thus, Elizabeth Burke Bryant, J.D., executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, reported, “Sixteen percent (almost 38,000) of Rhode Island’s 224,000 children under age 18 live below the federal poverty threshold ($17,285 for a family of three in 2009)… In Rhode Island, nearly 18,000 children live in extreme poverty. In 2009, the extreme poverty level was $8,643 for a family of three with two children and $10,285 for a family of four with two children.” Consider if you will, how a family of four living in Rhode Island could have survived this past winter on an annual income of $11,000. How could they have kept warm? How could they have gotten enough to eat?
| Friday, 13 May 2011 00:00|
| Rabbi James Rosenberg|
In his April 22 op-ed column in The New York Times, David Brooks states that many educated Americans “have always admired the style of belief that is spiritual but not doctrinal, pluralistic and not exclusive, which offers tools for serving the greater good but is not marred by intolerant theological judgments.” He then goes on to argue that such “[v]ague, uplifting, non-doctrinal religiosity doesn’t actually last.” Brooks contrasts this “nice and naïve” religiosity with those religions which have true staying power precisely because they are “definite in their convictions about what is True and False,” because they possess “communal theologies, doctrines and codes of conduct rooted in claims of absolute truth” and therefore “provide an antidote to mere fashion.” It seems to me, then, that Brooks is trying to make the case that – in terms of what really works – various no-nonsense, absolutist versions of “old-time religion” are clearly superior to their wishy-washy competitors.
| << Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >> |
| Page 10 of 15|