Just as devoted readers of The New Yorker magazine immediately peruse the cartoons in each new issue, when a new issue of Moment Magazine--the premier Jewish magazine of our time--arrives every other month, its loyal readers immediately turn to its highly popular and long-running “Ask The Rabbis” feature. Every issue, rabbis of different denominations consider some of the most difficult and provocative questions of the present day. The rabbis’ responses span the range of modern Jewish thought and include Independent, Humanist, Jewish Renewal, Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Sephardic, Chabad perspectives. Sometimes they agree—but not often. Argument is a Jewish pastime and even a form of worship; it's been that way throughout the ages, ever since rabbis sat on dirt floors in Babylonia and disputed the words of the sages. That thirst for wisdom is as strong now as ever. As the old joke goes, ask two Jews a question, and you’ll get three opinions. With ten or more rabbis debating creative questions, you get all that, and more: intelligent discussion of topics both timely and timeless; deep interrogation of Jewish text, law and commentary, often cited in surprising and original ways; and an unparalleled look at the breadth and creativity and the continued relevance of the Jewish tradition. The debate is registered in short takes, and the rabbis’ voices are lively and accessible, so you don't need to be a scholar yourself to follow the arguments. The questions and their responses open a portal to the vast riches of Jewish wisdom—intellectual, spiritual, literary, folkloric—for even the casual reader. The rabbis’ repartee illuminates the diversity within Jewish thinking over time and today, creating cross-denominational discussion that leads to a deeper understanding. Readers will meet these rabbis and see their personalities unfold as they address different aspects of life. Regulars include the renowned Yitz Greenberg, a Modern Orthodox pioneer who met with the Dalai Lama; the Reconstructionist Rabbi Caryn Broitman, who leads a small but star-studded congregation on Martha's Vineyard; and rabbis from New York to Minneapolis and on to Los Angeles. Readers will learn their stories and hear their responses to some of our favorite questions, including: Does Jewish anxiety have a theological basis? In what ways, if any, do science and Judaism conflict? Is whistleblowing a Jewish obligation? Are there things that cannot be forgiven? Is Judaism good for women? Is there a Jewish way to parent? Should Jews strive to be happy? What sins should we atone for in or use of social media? Is it kosher to tell a white lie? Should we edit our children’s genes? Can a robot be Jewish? What is the Jewish relationship to time? Is democracy Jewish? Does Jewish law forbid racism? Is there such a thing as romantic love? Do Jews believe in an afterlife? Should there be an eleventh commandment, and if so, what should it be? Are Jews still expecting a Messiah? Should Jews be for or against the right to bear arms? In these Solomon-like deliberations, the rabbis answer these and many more contemporary questions about modernity’s most pressing questions.
Amy E. Schwartz, editor, a longtime editorial writer and op-ed columnist at The Washington Post, is Moment Magazine’s Books and Opinions Editor, as well as editor of the magazine’s popular Ask the Rabbis section. Schwartz, who has also worked at Harper's, The New Republic and The Wilson Quarterly, is president of the multi-denominational Jewish Study Center in Washington, DC. She speaks and runs workshops on topics of Jewish commentary, psalms and literature nationwide.
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Can Robots Be Jewish? Inspirational rabbis answer pressing questions of modern l