Showing posts from November, 2014

Doing God

Parashat Vayera  Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz  Doing God  “Proof to me that God exists.” Many a militant atheist has tried to bait me with this enticing polemical proposition. And yet, I always disappoint them by replying that I have neither ability (empirical, philosophical or otherwise) nor desire to test and proof the existence of a Supreme Being. In fact, I’d wager to say that even if, in some far-fetched future, we could find empirical evidence to proof God’s existence, religion would lose its value. Faith, or trust if we go with the Hebrew ‘emunah’, is not about hard facts. What’s the fun in religion – in the existential quest for connection and meaning – if it’s reduced to a trite attempt to proof, catch, contain and dissect God? So then we know God exists – snuffed out is our curiosity, critical thinking and creativity.  Thanks but no thanks.  What is more interesting to the experience of contemporary religion is showing godliness in the world: making God appear (

How to Make a Jew

Parashat Lech Lecha  Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz  How to Make a Jew  How do you make a Jew? This is a tried-and-true recipe that has worked fabulously well throughout the centuries, starting with Rikvah and Yitzchak. You get a Nice Jewish Boy to meet a Nice Jewish Girl under favourable circumstances and with a bit of luck and a bit of coaxing, you hope that they will fall in love, have a chuppah and produce some Nice Jewish Babies that we can all kvell over. Bonus points if you can get this Nice Jewish Couple to sign up to join your congregation and enroll their kinderlach in your cheder or religion school. Of course, the recipe can be updated a little in case a Nice Jewish Boy meets another Nice Jewish Boy. Or Nice Jewish Girl meets another Nice Jewish Girl.  Then there’s another, though less common recipe, that has worked nicely since the days of Ruth the Moabite. Nice Non-Jewish Boy or Girl might wander into your synagogue. They might be in relationship with a Jew, be