Compassion and the Heart of Jewish Spirituality

Compassion and the Heart of Jewish Spirituality
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Rabbi Shai Held

Co-Founder | Mechon Hadar

We often hear that Judaism cares only about what we do, not what we think or feel. Rabbi Shai Held, however, argues that Judaism cares deeply about how we feel. Using Carmel Academy in Connecticut as an example... See more

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No Place for Pity

"Pity," explains Rabbi Shai Held of Mechon Hadar in New York, "is a vertical posture." Pity, he argues, means looking down from a safe distance, objectifying another's pain, and offering our commentary. Compassion, on the other hand, is a horizontal posture. It requires a sense of empathy.

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From a Rabbi, An Open Letter to People Who Are LGBTQ

It is now four days since the heinous attack in Orlando. In the world of cable news, an eternity has already passed. But for those of us entrusted with caring for students and congregants, the story is only now beginning to unfold-and the pain being expressed is simply searing.

Rabbi Shai  Held, 

Co-Founder | Mechon Hadar

Rabbi Dr. Shai Held is Co-Founder, Dean, and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, where he also directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas. Previously, he served for six years as Scholar-in-Residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and Halakha at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also served as Director of Education at Harvard Hillel. A 2011 recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, Rabbi Held has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. He holds a PhD in religion from Harvard University, and received rabbinic ordination and an MA in Jewish Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary; his main academic interests are in modern Jewish and Christian thought, biblical theology, and the history of Zionism. Rabbi Held's first book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, was published by Indiana University Press in 2013; his next book, The Heart of Torah, a collection of essays on the Torah in two volumes, is due out next year.