Tag: Just for Fun

My Favorite Quotable Reform Jewish Movement Greats

There is a raging discussion going on in the Rabbi Listserve about where are, or who are, the great scholars of the Reform Jewish movement, who are quotable and should be regularly quoted. Since I think the whole discussion is a bit inane, and because it is Purim, the holy day when we can make fun of everything and anything, I wrote the following and sent it to all of my colleagues on the listserve:

From: Paul Kipnes
Subject: My Favorite Quotable Reform Movement Greats

I have been thinking a lot about my esteemed colleague Dan Fink’s post about where are all the shining quotable stars of the Reform Movement. I have been reflecting upon the thinkers whose ideas influenced me the most, as I pursued my studies and as I built my rabbinate. I thought of all the great books we were assigned in rabbinic school (that I bought but didn’t read), and the lectures I attended (and slept through). It led me to identify the great quotable Reform Jewish greats.

I’d like to suggest that we are overlooking some of the most thoughtful, quotable, quoted people right here in our midst.

For example, me.

Am I a shining star? If you ask my mom and dad, they will offer their unbiased opinion that I am one of our movement’s shining stars. In fact, whenever any scholar visits their synagogue, my dad goes up to them and tells them that I am his son. They always say they know me and think I am wonderful (most of those people have never heard of me before). And my mom regularly places me on her list of top 25 pulpit rabbis, an unpublished scientific study rivaling Newsweek’s list.

Am I quoted regularly? No less than once or twice a day, one of my kids (usually when I am not home) – when caught doing something that they probably shouldn’t have done – can be heard saying “dad said we could.” “Dad,” incidentally, is what they call me. Comparable to “Rambam” or “Sforno”. And my congregants similarly quote me saying “the rabbi said we could do this or that.”

Is my quotability a recent phenomenon? When I was a kid, and we would get in trouble, my siblings would regularly say that I told them to do it. This shows that my quotability goes back decades. Plus, it shows that people listen to me and remember what I have to say. And that I influence their behavior. And, another sign I am famous, that there is a hagiography surrounding me: I don’t really think I said all the things I have been blamed for over the years.

Finally, if you google me, my name shows up alot. Not in books, but who reads them anyway.

So stop worrying about whether we have enough quotable dead white Jewish rabbi guys. You have your own quotable boring white Jewish rabbi guy right here.

Oh, and, happy Purim.

Hiddush, a New Way to Promote Religious Freedom and Diversity in Israel

Let’s celebrate Hiddush, new Jewish advocacy organization, aimed at “promoting religious freedom and diversity” in Israel. Its a public education organization comprised as a partnership between Israeli Jews and world Jewry. And it has a purpose, direction and leadership that makes it destined to move Israel in the direction of religious freedom.
Hiddush, which in Hebrew means innovation and renewal, marks an unprecedented new drive to strengthen Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to realize the promise of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which states that “The State of Israel… will uphold freedom of religion and conscience and ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion.”
The new organization was launched at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on September 14th, held at the historic building where, on May 14, 1948, Israel’s independence was announced and David Ben Gurion, the country’s first prime minister, read Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Hiddush is led by Israeli and Jerusalem-based Rabbi Uri Regev, Esq. as its president and CEO (husband to Garri Regev, my former Bar Mitzvah tutor and clarinet teacher), and chaired by prominent Los Angeles-based American businessman and Jewish philanthropic and communal leader Stanley P. Gold. On its Board of Directors are author and activist Amos Oz and Rabbi Henry (Hank) Skirball, former head of NFTY in Israel.
This launch marks the first time that Jewish leaders hailing from the worlds of religion, finance, entertainment, academia, and more have come together from the various Jewish religious streams and secular Judaism and from diverse political views, to promote religious freedom and diversity in Israel.
Once I heard about the creation of Hiddush, its leadership and direction, it took me about 5 seconds to decide to sign up and support it. You should too! Support Hiddush here.

Living in the Year 2010… A List

My mom passed this one onto me:


1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.

2. You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you..

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn’t have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile.. : )

12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a #9 on this list.


Go on, forward this to your friends. You know you want to..

Me, My Wife and Bruce Springsteen: Dancing in the Dark:

Our May anniversary came early as Michelle and I danced the night away with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (and a few thousand of our co-celebrants). We bumped into many Or Ami friends including Marcy and Clark Cameron, Greg Wiviott and his son, Bruce Drooks, and others, as we celebrated Glory Days.

Admittedly, my brother was the big Boss fan when we were younger (he even looked like Bruce, sideburns and all). In our later years, Michelle and I have tried to see the Boss whenever he’s in town. Something about his honest lyrics. Something about the truth he speaks. Bruce reminded us about the power of music to inspire and uplift. (I once wrote that Redemption comes through singing here.) Last night, Bruce Springsteen once again taught me:

  • Glory Days: While you can’t go back to your youth, the music from our younger years has the power to propel us out of responsibility and stress to a more innocent existence. Such a blessing. Even for just 2 plus hours.
  • Red Headed Woman: Early in the concert, dancing next to my wife of (almost) 19 years, I leaned over, gave her a kiss, and told her that it was fun to feel 20 years younger. (Admittedly, I’m pleased that this current phase of my life is the best yet.) Still, if you get to feel the abandon of youthfulness every now and then, it is great to do with a gorgeous girl on your arm, and an inspiring song in your heart (ears).
  • Human Touch: Bruce nails it when he sings …in a world without pity, Do you think what I’m askin’s too much. I just want something to hold on to, And a little of that Human Touch, Just a little of that Human Touch. Isn’t that what we all seek, a way out of the impersonalization of life, a way of connecting? That’s what we try to do in our lives. That’s what we seek to do with and through Congregation Or Ami.
  • Dancing in the Dark: In the midst of stressful times, I can always count on my mother to remind me that exercise is a great release of pressure. Dancing last night with thousands of others, jumping around, pumping my arms in the air, offered blissful release and unbounded joy. The early Chassidim made unfettered movement part of their worship of the Holy One. Are we missing something as we sit in our chairs at services?
  • Born to Run: It’s good not to have to be a “tramp … born to run”. It’s fun, every so often, to think about the alternatives, even if only in someone else’s song. But mostly, it’s good to have friends, family and a community with which to celebrate life.

Ears still ringing, we finally in bed after 1 am. Looking over at my Red Headed Woman, I thanked our Maker that for this slice of Paradise. Ain’t got no Pink Cadillac, but what I gots me is way better.

Top 50 Rabbis List: Not as Statistically Accurate or Methodologically Sound as mine!

A year ago, when Newsweek’s Top 50 Rabbis list came out, I commented upon how statistically inaccurate and methodologically unsound it was. Having taken two sessions of statistics during a grad school course more than 15 years ago, I am better suited to critique. Moreover, I have already done the research.

So here’s my response to the Top 50 Rabbi’s List.

Read it and weep, you self-serving amateur pollsters, you.

By the way, #1 Rabbi, David Saperstein, was a mentor of mine and was and is amazing!

I Friended God on Facebook!

I spent much time during my time in Israel, playing on and updating my Facebook page. I reconnected with some old friends and developed connections with some newer ones. There’s nothing like discovering an old friend and catching up again.

That’s why this is so fascinating. While in Israel, with the help of creative people from Hebrew Union College‘s library, I was able to “Friend” God.

Yup, the Holy One has a Facebook page. Like most busy beings – corporeal or otherwise – God hasn’t updated the page since, oh, just after Creation. Still, its quite a ego boost to be able to “friend” Yedid Ha-lam, the Eternal Friend of the Universe.

Check out God’s Facebook page.

Reform Rabbis’ Prayer Works: Rain in Israel after Months of Drought!

There are those who believe that if you pray, God brings the rain. Even though I don’t really believe this theology, it needs to be said. Tongue in cheek. Mostly.

Israel has had a bad winter, at least as far as rain goes. Not enough. Drought-like season.

So the Ultra-Orthodox gather at the Kotel (Western Wall), pray for forgiveness for their sins (sexual) and hope to bring the rain. Some even take credit for it:

Shevat 28, 5769, 2/22/2009. Sheer Coincidence?, We wrote that sexual transgression prevents rain from falling in Israel. We said that Thursday night’s mass prayer at the Kotel was to atone for sexual transgressions. Look what happened. It has been raining buckets ever since.

Sheer coincidence, right? Pure happenstance. You’ve got to be kidding! For sure, our
prayers brought the rain.

Here’s the rub. The ultra-orthodox prayed for weeks. No rain.

Then Reform Rabbis gathered en masse on February 23rd in Jerusalem for the Central Conference of American Rabbis convention and voila! It rains. It pours.

Now I’m not saying that our prayers brought the rain.

But it IS kind of interesting that while various orthodox groups have been praying for rain all season. But when we put our prayers to it, the rain comes.

Hmmm… Perhaps if we extended more religious rights to the Progressive Movement in Israel, we could really renew the state, making it clean (of religious corruption), shine (with the light of real Jewish spirituality) and sparkle(with the brightness of social justice).

Professional Baseball in Israel: Take 2

Though I’d rather see my Red Sox behind this venture, I am excited to report that Israel might see a new Baseball in the next few years. Alan Schwartz, in the NYTimes baseball blog Bats, reports:

Yankees Partner Looks to Play Ball in Israel

By Alan Schwarz

Professional baseball in Israel could be alive, if not well. The nation’s first foray into pro ball – with most players from the Dominican Republic playing on poor fields before empty seats — ended in financial disaster after one season in 2007. But from that experience could rise another attempt, and a considerably more thoughtful one. Marv Goldklang, a limited partner of the Yankees and the owner of several prominent minor league teams, said Tuesday that he and a group of other North American baseball insiders hope to start an entirely new league in either 2010 or 2011. Goldklang was on an advisory committee of the first circuit, the Israel Baseball League, and was so dismayed with its operation that he and other members resigned before the league folded. “I could spend an hour telling you everything that went wrong,” he said of the first I.B.L. “Essentially what we’re doing now is forming a group of people to do some fairly serious due diligence – the type of
due diligence that, candidly, was not done the first time around.” The Israel Association of Baseball, which oversees amateur programs in the country, has given its blessing to the group – which also includes U.S. businessman Jeff Rosen, owner of the Maccabi Haifa Heat professional basketball team in the Israeli Premier League. Goldklang said that the other partners wished to remain anonymous at this early stage, perhaps because of the debacle two years ago. Goldklang expects to look into the feasibility of franchises in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Raanana (a city with a large Western population), Haifa and a few others with the hope of having six teams. “There are no ballparks there that you would consider a ballpark in an American sense,” Goldklang said. “There are fields suitable for youth baseball programs, but you wouldn’t put a college team on that field. “We need to develop a strategy to build ballparks that would be suitable for professional play, with couple of thousand people in park.” Goldklang said he would prefer to market baseball to Israelis much as it is in the U.S. minor leagues, as a communal place for fun rather than a serious sporting event. (Although nuns giving massages in the stands, a hit with Goldklang’s St. Paul Saints, might be a tough sell.) “We want to create an atmosphere that makes it enjoyable whether or not they’re quote-unquote baseball fans, and build from there,” Goldklang said. “A quarter or third of people who attend games are not necessarily fans. But they enjoy the experience, and they come to appreciate the game itself. What will appeal to Israelis once they come to the ballpark and what will get them to relate to the game on the field?” He added: “Israel is a place where dreams come true – notwithstanding the twists and turns you read about in the front part of the paper. Israel is that type of place. Hopefully what we’re doing is not too much of a dream.”