Felonious Faith?

Some years ago, Jewish Lights published an anthology of Jewish mystery/detective fiction called Criminal Kabbalah (heartily recommended, BTW). The title is meant to be cute: the stories have nothing to do with kabbalist philosophy or practice. Soon, however — if proposed legislation in 13 of the United States becomes law — many publishers may find a market for true-life “Felonious Faith” tales.

Legislation just introduced in Tennessee would make the practice of Shariah a felony punishable by 15 years in jail, for example. Although Tennessee is the first state to propose criminalizing religious expression, attempts to ban religious and other “foreign” law, some specifically including halakhah, have been introduced in 12 other states. See Clergy Beyond Borders news/views blog for some useful links.

The outright attacks on religious pluralism and other troubling aspects of these proposed laws have been discussed elsewhere. At least as dangerous to pluralism, however, are the ignorance and prejudice demonstrated by official descriptions of religious law.
Continue Reading

DC Voices for Religious Freedom — Solidarity with Women of the Wall

Hallel is my favorite prayer service. As an individual who cannot carry a tune in a satchel but loves to sing and loves the psalms, I find a Hallel [psalms 113-118] sung with gusto a great opportunity to join my off-key voice into a larger sound of praise.

So, as I watched video of Women of the Wall suffering through abuse for raising their voices in prayer on Rosh Hodesh Av and heard reports that a loud Hallel appeared to be a driving force behind the arrest of WoW Chair Anat Hoffman, I decided I would have to raise my voice…in Hallel for the new month, as a wake up call toward a more just new year and in solidarity with WoW.
Continue Reading