All posts by Rabbi Joshua Ratner

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Compulsory Love: What the Building of the Tabernacle Can Teach Us About Valentine’s Day

I have a fraught relationship with Valentine’s Day. Perhaps this is because I cringe, as a Jew, at observing what was first a pagan and later a Christian holiday; Valentine’s Day originated from a pagan mid-February fertility celebration called Lupercalia and was transformed into St. Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius. Perhaps it is because of the consumerism that permeates Valentine’s Day, which might as well be sponsored by Hallmark and… Read Article →

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Religious Zealotry, Then and Now

Hot-blooded anger. Self-righteousness. Unflinching certainty. Extreme measures. These are some of the hallmarks of violent religious zealotry. We see its vicious resurgence all over the world today: the headlines from Iraq, Syria, and much of the Middle East are filled with Islamist jihad, as Sunnis slaughter Shiites and vice versa; Boko Haram, a radical Islamic group in Nigeria, gained notoriety for kidnapping 300 young girls for the sin of going… Read Article →