I have often observed that Judaism is a high-input, low output religion. There are countless commandments (over 600) and obeying them is a full-time job...yet there is no well-defined promise of punishments or rewards in the after life.
So why do it? Why bother with dietary laws, 3x/day prayer, a zillion Sabbath regs, and much more?
Occasionally my wife or I will take a walk on the wild side and visit chabad.org,, a nexus for Modern Orthodox Jews and a platform on which they…Continue
Added by Alan Perlman on January 1, 2015 at 7:30pm — No Comments
I recently received an invitation to the bar mitzvah of the son of my first cousin; this ceremony is, as you may know, the induction of the youngster into Jewish adulthood.
Bar/bat mitzvah invitations have been getting cuter, trendier, and ever more adolescent in form and content, as if we needed to be reminded that it’s all in honor of a child whom we pretend has reached some sort of milestone.
I just got a chance to see my own invitation (1956), in a photo album I salvaged…Continue
Thanks to all who read my previous post. I found out today that Mom is in hospice and sinking fast, so I launched the letter (previous blog entry) to the Rabbi, slightly edited. Done and done, right? Not so fast. Here's the auto-reply:
Thank [sic] for your email.
I will not be reading my emails during the Jewish Holiday of Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah or the Sabbath following them.
I will look forward to reading and responding to my emails…Continue
There is nothing that is too obvious of an absurdity to be firmly planted in the human head as long as you begin to instill before the age of five by constantly repeating it with an air of great seriousness.
– Arthur Schopenhauer
Followers of the riveting “Zachary’s Brain” series of posts will know that the narrative is not a gothic horror tale…but something that is just as disturbing: resisting the religious programming of a child.
Added by Alan Perlman on July 2, 2013 at 12:00pm — No Comments
I was contacted by www.askimo.com , a new internet portal featuring video interviews of experts talking on their field of expertise. I decided that my field of expertise would be “what the Torah really says” (since I am one of the few laypeople who has actually bothered to find out), along with related questions about atheism, blasphemy and the “clear alternative to the Torah” (It's SCIENCE!).
The questions were partly supplied by me, generally…Continue
Added by Alan Perlman on May 8, 2013 at 1:00pm — No Comments
In an email exchange, an old friend and fellow English-prof colleague wrote this:
"I know you're 'the Jewish atheist,' but don't you feel a strong sense of identification with the Jewish ethos, aside from religion? You've sought out Jewish wives, and friends to some degree could be, the way I might seek out writers as friends. I think of my former Catholicism not angrily but gratefully. When I grew up, I decided on my own that I didn't believe. But my Catholic education was excellent;…Continue
I recently received an invitation to the bar mitzvah of the grandson of my first cousin; this ceremony is, as you may know, the induction of the youngster into Jewish adulthood.
The invitation itself was colorful and cheery, produced, no doubt, with invitation-creation software and thus exhibiting neither coherence nor originality but just an electronic mad mix of fonts, patterns, and such, chosen from among an infinity of alternatives.
Strangely, the trifold invitation had a…Continue
“Put on your yarmulke;
It’s time to celebrate Hanukkah…”
Adam Sandler, “The Hanukkah Song”
“Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of Jewish backwardness.”
“Long as You Know You’re Living Yours”
Song title, Keith Jarrett
"The world is impermanent. One should constantly remember death."
“In this world, we eat, shit, sleep, and wake up. After that, all we have to do is die.”
“Please enjoy your only life!”
“The power of a man’s…Continue
Added by Alan Perlman on November 25, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments
(Several years ago, I undertook to read the Torah. For specific reasons, see below. But basically I wanted to find out, to my own satisfaction, just what it said, to the extent possible, given that it's such an ancient text that's been repeatedly copied and edited.
To rabbis, thus to most Jews, it is a repository of priceless wisdom. I set out to find it.
What I found was both enlightening and disappointing. …Continue
The mailed invitation to the presumed induction of the daughter of my first cousin to Jewish adulthood read “We cordially invite you to celebrate with us on the occasion of the bat mitzvah of our daughter Carly Sarah on Saturday morning, the Twelfth of November, Two Thousand and Eleven at Nine Thirty in the morning. Congregation Adath Jeshrun…Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.”
Apparently it’s more dignified to use no numbers and capitalize everything, as if it were 18th…Continue