I love God and my country and my family and my friends and my synagogue and my writing and I also really love golf. Two bad knees and the rehab after their replacement have put a crimp in my game, but I am slowly returning to the links. This is why Tiger Wood's victory at the Masters after over a decade of physical and emotional challenges was ...Read more
I sent along my Passover/Easter meditations and greetings last week to give you all time to consider these immense springtime liberation/salvation holidays. If you read this column before Passover and Easter I am including a spiritual meditation to help you go a bit deeper than brisket and ham in your spiritual ...Read more
Every springtime when we wrote this column together, my partner Fr. Tom Hartman would write about why he loved Passover and I would write about why I loved Easter. Since Tommy's passing we cannot do that anymore. So I offer to you, dear readers, a menu of questions to go along with the holiday food. I hope you will send me your ...Read more
Q: Recently you wrote about God and 12-step programs, particularly Alcoholics Anonymous. In their statements they refer to God as "He." In my work with women in prison and in reproductive justice, I stress that since women and men are both created in God's image, God does not look like people. And even though the Hebrew Bible used 'He' (being ...Read more
Q: My daughter is Jewish and is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors. She has assured me that after they marry, she and her Catholic boyfriend will have kids who are Jewish. However, her boyfriend wants his children baptized. As long as they are baptized, he agrees that the kids will be Jewish. That seems contradictory to me. If it is a boy, he...Read more
"The righteous of all nations will have a share in the world to come." -- Rabbi Yehoshua from the commentary to the Talmudic tractate Sanhedrin 13:2
Rabbi Yehoshua taught about Heaven to rabbis who taught rabbis who eventually taught me. They taught me that death is not the end of us. They taught me that the World to Come is the reward for the ...Read more
We are in the midst of a rabbi/reader dialogue on what we think dying is like. Thank you for your spiritually sensitive thoughts about the mystery of human finitude that awaits us all and frames our faith and our futures.
-- From G:
I want to share the belief of the Northern Cheyenne ...Read more
Q: I am Catholic but I read your column every week. Why don't you do a column on how 12-step programs, particularly Alcoholics Anonymous, have benefited both Christians and Jews? -- From C
A: I admire and respect 12-step programs as the most effective rehabilitation programs for substance abuse (and gambling addiction). I think one of their ...Read more
Q: A Catholic priest told me that the Ten Commandments are for Jewish people. Is this true? -- V from Buffalo, N.Y.
A: Get a new priest. Perhaps it is time to revisit the Nine Commandments. Yes, nine!
Here is the Jewish (and Anglican) counting:
1. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD
2. NO IDOLATRY
3. DO NOT TAKE GOD'S NAME IN VAIN
4. KEEP THE SABBATH
Q: Can you imagine the horror of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when God slaughtered the animals there to make the clothing for the couple? Most people see God in a theophany that shed the blood of the animals in their stead; however, the horror of the animals must have been profound. What is your take on this matter? -- From S
A: "Unto ...Read more
Valentine's Day is a holiday like Halloween that over time has been scrubbed of its religious origins and exists now as an annual national orgy of chocolate, flowers and cards with red hearts on them. However, its spiritual nougat center is love, and love is always worth considering.
I recently tried to explain why...Read more
This week marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year. It is a good week to consider with joy and praise the Chinese culture and calendar.
I have understandably focused my column on the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam over the years, but the world cannot come together in understanding unless it begins to know...Read more
Q: The question I would most like to ask God is what is the purpose of prayer? When someone is sick, we are asked to pray for them. And if they die, it's often said that it was the will of God. But if they recover, the power of prayer is often given credit. Do you think enough prayers will change God's mind? It seems like that would give an ...Read more
Q: First, Rabbi Gellman, let me thank you for the wisdom, tolerance and kindness you share in your column. I look forward to reading it each week and have often been comforted by your perceptions. As for questions for God, I don't really have any serious ones. I trust Him. I trust that it will all be set forth for us in His time. I believe God ...Read more
Tommy (Father Tom Hartman, my pal) and I would often joke about what would be the hardest thing for each of us to accept if we ever converted. For me, the hardest Christian belief to understand and accept was the Trinity. The idea of three Gods who were really one God but also three but really one ... was a mystery wrapped up in a riddle. For ...Read more
I want to thank all of you, dear readers, who took the time and the effort to send me condolences on the passing of my mom Rosalie. You did what any community of faith or friendship can do at its best; you convinced me that I am not alone in my grief.
Reader M told me of how her first great grandchild was born on the day my mom died. Reader T ...Read more
I am 71 and I just became an orphan.
My dad Sol died in 2007 at age 90 and now Mom has died at age 97. Rosalie died on Dec. 14, before the Sabbath. At that moment I became an orphan.
I have been thinking that the Bible speaks about caring for orphans often (Psalm 146:9; Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 16:14, 10:18, 24:17, 27:19; ...Read more
Q: How do we know that the Bible is the word of God? -- From J, a devoted reader in Wilmington, N.C.
A: Your question, dear J, is at the root of every religion on earth. The path of every religion goes first through the experience of revelation of the founder (Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.). They tell of their revelation and the ...Read more