Blog

THANKSGIVING AND JOB

By David Perlstein | November 26, 2010 |

A few years ago, a Baptist from Texas confided he’d once been short on his rent. So he prayed for money someone owed him. A check arrived the next day. This proved that God—or more accurately, Jesus—responds to people’s prayers. After all, Matthew 21:22 states, “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will…

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GOD WAS IN THIS PLACE

By David Perlstein | November 12, 2010 |

This week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, tells of Jacob leaving Isaac and Rebekah to avoid the wrath of his brother, Esau. Sleeping in “a certain place,” he dreams of a ladder—sulam in Hebrew, perhaps a stairway or even a ramp—with angels going up and others coming down. God stands over Jacob and promises him the land…

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GOD BLESS AMERICA! AND THEN WHAT?

By David Perlstein | November 5, 2010 |

I’m as patriotic as the next guy. Or gal. I served three years in the U.S. Army—as a volunteer. (Amazing how many patriots avoid military service.) I pay taxes without complaint. I vote. And I continually thank this country for provided a safe home and a world of opportunity to my family and millions of…

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THE PSYCHOPATH AND THE FOOL

By David Perlstein | October 29, 2010 |

As a student of the Hebrew Bible, I’m embarrassed. But I call ‘em as I see ‘em. The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes (see: Andersen, Hans Christian). Samson is a psychopath. A biblical hero known for his incredible strength, Samson, I’m convinced, had a screw loose. True, he isn’t the only vicious Israelite in the…

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THE RANTING RIGHT AND RELIGIONS OF PEACE

By David Perlstein | October 15, 2010 |

Another email rant came my way. Its theme: “I’m tired.” It offered a litany of conservative complaints. Many possess a kernel of truth. That’s what enables the far right to sound believable. But the complaints were basically black and white, no grays. One really got my attention: “I’m tired of Muslims saying Islam is a…

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WHITE DEERSKIN/RED HEIFER: WE CAN ALL RELATE

By David Perlstein | October 8, 2010 |

I spent last weekend in Trinidad on the Humboldt County coast near Oregon. And I found out something very interesting—and instructive—from Don Verwayen, my cousin Bev’s husband. Don is an archaeologist helping area Indian tribes to protect their land, particularly sacred sites. Here’s what I learned. The Karuk Indians maintain ancestral territory along the middle…

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ADAM & EVE: A FASHIONISTA FABLE

By David Perlstein | October 1, 2010 |

Mysteries abound in B’reishit, the Book of Genesis and name for the Torah cycle’s first weekly portion. Where, for example, does Cain’s wife (4:17) come from? Midrash—a story or comment that fills in textual gaps—provides answers. Cain, the Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b) explains, marries his sister. Okay, that’s cleared up. But questions remain. Like where did…

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STUMBLING BLOCKS AND THE MEDIA

By David Perlstein | September 24, 2010 |

All the world’s a stage, Jaques comments in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Shakespeare, however, could not anticipate how literally that statement would be taken centuries later following the establishment of the United Nations. World leaders love to strut upon that particular stage—none more than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Given yet another 15 minutes of…

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BURNING BOOKS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

By David Perlstein | September 12, 2010 |

I’m going to burn a copy of God’s Others. During the run-up to this year’s anniversary of 9/11, I learned an important lesson in public relations. After 40 years in advertising, you’d think I’d have picked up this bit of business savvy. But I’m not embarrassed. I’m encouraged. Now I can launch a wildly successful…

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GROUND ZERO AND MY SYNAGOGUE

By David Perlstein | September 6, 2010 |

They’re coming to tear down my synagogue, San Francisco’s Congregation Sherith Israel. Forget that our 105-year-old architectural and artistic treasure is undergoing a multi-million-dollar earthquake retrofit. They’re coming. And the reasons are obvious. The building is large. Prominent. You can see its gray dome from quite a distance—not surprising in a city of hills. And…

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