The God Squad: What happens at Jewish burials

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I have enjoyed reading your column for years and have learned a lot about the different religions in our world. A person I work with, who is Jewish, lost his mother recently. Due to the current pandemic, I had the opportunity to watch his mother's service via Zoom. I was surprised to listen to their version of the 23rd Psalm. But what ...Read more

The God Squad: New New Year’s resolutions from readers

Religion / God Squad /

I asked you, dear readers, to join me in the hunt for truly novel and spiritually impactful New Year’s resolutions. You flooded the inbox of my life. Thank you. Here is a sampling of some of the things some of you will sometimes try to sometimes do…

From S in Branford, Connecticut:

My resolutions are to be kind and to stay positive. I have...Read more

The God Squad: New Year’s Resolutions

Religion / God Squad /

Of all the popular secular rituals that sometimes enrich (Thanksgiving family meals) and sometimes degrade (Halloween vandalism) our public life, my favorite is the custom of making resolutions at the end of the year. I know that most of these resolutions are honored mostly in their abandonment and yet I still think they are a spiritually ...Read more

The God Squad: Some great ideas for spiritually acceptable gifts from spiritually acceptable readers

Religion / God Squad /

Hi, Rabbi Gellman, this year the adults in my family have decided, instead of gift to each other, we are donating what we would have spent to a veterans organization that helps homeless veterans with food, housing and provides other assistance as needed. Have a safe and happy 2021 — M

Purchase a subscription to a magazine or newspaper as a ...Read more

The God Squad: What the rabbi loves about Christmas

Religion / God Squad /

One of the oldest traditions that Father Tom Hartman and I created and preserved during the many years we wrote this column together was to write two holiday columns in December. In one, Tommy would tell what he loved about Chanukah and I would tell what I loved about Christmas. With his passing from this world to the world to come, the Chanukah...Read more

The God Squad: Spiritually acceptable holiday gifts

Religion / God Squad /

Hanukkah this year begins at sundown on Thursday, Dec. 10. I freely admit that I am not a big fan of Hanukkah because the Maccabees it celebrates in their revolt against the Syrian Greeks began the Hasmonean dynasty that was thoroughly corrupt and led to the weakening of the Jewish community and its fatal vulnerability to the Roman conquest of ...Read more

The God Squad: Treat all hurts directed against you as little sins and all hurts you direct to others as major sins ...

Religion / God Squad /

Q: Dear Sir, how will I not get angry at someone who betrays you. Thanks and Regards, -- S in India

A: Dearest S, I am honored to try to answer your eloquently short but spiritually profound question. Plus, I am also happy to answer a question from my only reader in India.

Let us begin by acknowledging the deep pain caused by betrayal. I ...Read more

The God Squad: We need to laugh more, smile more

Religion / God Squad /

This was obviously a very sad year and Thanksgiving was obviously a very sad holiday because of travel restrictions, social distancing and forced prohibitions of large gatherings.

One of the consequences of this tsunami of sadness and suffering is a reflexive orgy of complaining and griping, all of it understandable and all of it excusable, but...Read more

The God Squad: My annual little things to give thanks for list

Religion / God Squad /

Every year before Thanksgiving I offer up my own personal list of little things for which I give thanks. Most of us have a ritual that before we eat, we go around the table and tell of one thing for which we are thankful this year. I began this list years ago when I realized that most of the things we are thankful for are, well to say it simply,...Read more

The God Squad: More questions from kids about God

Religion / God Squad /

The best quote about these times came from another time. These words were spoken by the son of Nancy Hanks and Thomas Lincoln, who were pioneer farmers from Hodgenville, Kentucky. Their son, who spoke these words and who preserved our union, was born on February 12, 1809. These were his words, “We are not enemies but friends. We must not be ...Read more

The God Squad: Kids ask questions about God

Religion / God Squad /

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,

The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

A theologian is a person who knows more about God than we do. The key to being a great theologian is being...Read more

The God Squad: Why the rabbi loves Halloween

Religion / God Squad /

Halloween is just barely a Christian holiday. It is All Hallows Eve, which comes just before All Hallows Day, also called All Saint’s Day. It is part of a three-day feast celebrated in Western Christianity in honor of all the saints who have been canonized over the years.

Some scholars think Halloween was an attempt by the Church to ...Read more

The God Squad: Lost and found

Religion / God Squad /

Q: Dear Rabbi Gellman, I want to start off by saying how much I love your column each week in Newsday. I always watched “God Squad” with you and Father Tom. I just lost my husband of 54 years. At the end of his life I was his caregiver for three years. One day he went to sleep and never woke up. It was heartbreaking, we had the best ...Read more

The God Squad: How Dare You!

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I read your article while in an extremely dark place, and, first of all, how dare you. Until you sit on the ground clutching to any form of hope, sobbing and praying and begging yourself to live, you do not know pain. When you can’t even get up to shower or eat or move, you don’t know pain. But you somehow have the audacity to speak like...Read more

The God Squad: Human beings, not animals, are created in the image and likeness of God

Religion / God Squad /

Q: Rabbi Gellman tells us that in the Bible, while eating meat is tolerated by God, it was not as spiritual as a vegetarian diet. "God is saying that being a vegetarian is a higher way." Rabbi Gellman then tells us that "eating meat makes us comfortable spilling animal blood ... then maybe spilling human blood as well.” He surely cannot be ...Read more

The God Squad: On blaspheming the Holy Spirit

Religion / God Squad /

In response to a heart-rending note from a reader, T, who knew that the only unforgivable sin in Christianity is blaspheming the Holy Spirit and who feared that during a recent medical crisis she had indeed blasphemed, I wrote an answer trying to console her and offering my outside-the-fences answer that God would never reject someone who acted ...Read more

The God Squad: The mirrored washbasin

Religion / God Squad /

Every year during the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I send out to you an edited version of my sermon for my congregation, Temple Beth Torah. Edited means I take out most of the jokes. This year, I taped my sermon in advance and it was included in our synagogue’s internet-aided remote prayer services. My friend, Rabbi ...Read more



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