Josh Feigelson

A Listening Heart: Nurturing a Citizenship of Mutual Responsibility

The move from you to we introduces a whole new set of considerations into a Big Question. It’s risky, because some people might see that question and say, “Hey, I’m not part of your we! I never consented to being part of your group!” In the culture of distrust many of us inhabit, we may look at a question directed at ‘we’ and, out of habit, become suspicious: Who is the asker of this question? What big interest—corporate, government, or otherwise—is manipulating me? Who presumes to make me a part of their group? Nobody else can speak for me. I’m not part of anyone’s we, and certainly if I didn’t give my consent.

Talking to Strangers, Trusting Each Other

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working through what I've found to be a must-read book by Danielle Allen, called Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education. Allen’s key argument is that modern democracies have been founded on a notion of unity as the imaginary touchstone for the existence of the will of the people.

I ignored the violence in football... until I had kids

I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our house was five blocks from Michigan Stadium. I lived and breathed Michigan football.

The Particularities of Giving: Reflections on Tzedakah

I had the great privilege of representing the Jewish tradition at the annual dinner of the Niagara Foundation, alongside Bishop Demetrius of the Chicago Greek Orthodox Church and Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, chairman of the Parliament of World Religions in January of 2010. We were asked to give short remarks about charity in each of our traditions. My speech is below.


Niagara Foundation Dinner January 28, 2010

The Oysters are Teaching Us

Oysters. There used to be oysters in New York Harbor. Gajillions of them. As Paul Greenberg tells it, the many rivers flowing into the harbor made the shores of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Newark and Staten Island an ideal breeding ground for oysters for thousands of years. Then European colonists arrived, and oyster harvesting began. In short order, the oyster haven was gone.

The Passover Seder: A Night of Questions, but What Kind of Questions?

I am a rabbi. When I tell people that I lead a program called Ask Big Questions, many of them respond something like this: “Oh, that makes so much sense. Judaism is all about asking questions!” Jews are a people who love questions, who are characterized by questions, who “answer a question with a question.” Or so we tell ourselves.

Ideas for Memorable Seders (and Conversations)

Practical Ideas for Making Great Conversations (and Great Seders)

One of the most important elements of a successful conversation, like a good Passover seder, is participation. A second element is preparation. Find a way for a lot of people to contribute. Ask folks to bring an item of food. Ask them to reflect on a question or do some homework before the event—nothing strenuous, but enough to be meaningful.

Here are a bunch of ideas (in addition to the ones in our conversation guide on the question “Are we free?”)

What do you conform to?

Conforming has gotten a bad rap of late. Well, not really of late. More like of the last few hundred years.

What would you sacrifice to repair the world?

As we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, that question looms large. Challenging economic times are causing many of us to make financial sacrifices for the sake of our families. We're deferring retirement. We're working multiple jobs. We're going to less-expensive colleges. A recent report on NPR highlighted how the divorce rate is down in this economy, as the costs of splitting up are leading us to stay together. We're sacrificing personal happiness.