Light in the Darkness? Hanukkah and its Possible Pagan Origins


What are the cultural-evolutionary origins of our Holiday of Lights? To be sure, the rabbis of the Talmud tell us in Tractate Shabbat 21a that the miracle of Hanukkah is what we teach our children, and perhaps why we eat latkes and jelly doughnuts, all laden with (way too much) oil. However other accounts of the story, including one other rabbinic source – the Al Ha’Nissim paragraph added to the Amida and Birkat Hamazon during the holiday – make no mention of this miracle.

Guarding Souls: Saving Life in the Age of Science and Technology


When God instructs Adam in Eden from which tree he is forbidden to eat, the instruction is fairly clear. God said, but: “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Gen. 3: 2-3). Genesis 2 differentiated between the tree of knowledge and the tree that was in the midst of Eden. Knowledge, and how it is communicated, can cause all sorts of problems. SMARTPHONES CAUSE DEPRESSION – You have probably seen the headline in capital letters more than once. Sometimes they add ANXIETY too.

Are Jews Smarter?


Debate abounds about its beginning, but all agree that the Anthropocene epoch is in full swing. The newly coined geological era is characterized by humans’ global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems and even on evolution itself. Did the period begin with the agricultural revolution more than 10,000 years ago? Did it begin with the industrial revolution? Did it begin when we started to mine and burn fossil fuels? No matter. We are in the era and confronting the many ethical dilemmas we as humans are creating with our own hands.

Are Jews Smarter? Rabbi Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox


Debate abounds about its beginning, but all agree that the Anthropocene epoch is in full swing. The newly coined geological era is characterized by humans’ global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems and even on evolution itself. Did the period begin with the agricultural revolution more than 10,000 years ago? Did it begin with the industrial revolution? Did it begin when we started to mine and burn fossil fuels? No matter. We are in the era and confronting the many ethical dilemmas we as humans are creating with our own hands.

The War of Cultures: An Evolutionary Analysis


At the Schechter MA graduation ceremony in Jerusalem a few months ago, the master of ceremonies, Jacky Levy, a well-known Israeli media personality, asked a poignant question in the context of the awarding of the Rabbi Marc and Dr. Henia Leibhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance in Israel, of which he himself is a recipient. The Liebhaber Prize was established 18 years ago in the wake of the political/religiously motivated assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.