Understand others. Understand yourself.


Allowing Me To Live

Posted on 03/16/2015
My parents didn’t grow up in Richmond, where I was raised—Dad, Brooklyn and Mom, Philadelphia. Both the children of the children of the children of immigrants, my parents had very modest upbringings. Why wasn’t an agreeable lifestyle introduced to the family several generations ago? Where was the American dream? “It’s a different world, Rebecca,” is the response I usually got.  Sure, Dad could tell me stories about all the live shows he saw on Broadway, but he was leaving out the bits about dirty, crowded Subways and saving for months.

Ask Big Questions Receives Outstanding Program award from ACPA!

Posted on 03/02/2015

Ask Big Questions has been selected to receive the inaugural Outstanding Program award by the Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion & Meaning at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).

Ask Big Questions, an initiative of Hillel International, brings diverse college students together for conversations that help people better understand themselves and others. These conversations create community and inspire action.

Disagreement as a Demonstration of Love

Posted on 02/24/2015

For me, disagreement is a fundamental demonstration of love. That we care enough about the person and ideas we are passionate about to engage them. The defining issue is our ethic of how we choose to disagree.

Understandably, activists for any type of cause get mired in actions that often make people angry on one end of a spectrum or another. Remember: To live in community is to live in conflict.

We cannot be in community with others unless we are also willing to engage deeply enough to have conflict and disagreement.

Building a Resilient Community

Posted on 02/13/2015

How do we disagree? Depending on the day I’ve had, the weather outside, and the people I’m surrounded by, I have conflicting opinions.

When I’m in a primal state, like at the gym, I believe we disagree like wild animals- our nervous system tells us to fight, flight, or freeze.

After a poetry reading, I feel just the opposite.  “We have consciousness!” I argue. “We disagree like philosophers!  Like rational beings!”

Disagreeing for the sake of Heaven and Democracy: Commemorating 9Adar: Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict

Posted on 02/13/2015

Knowing how to disagree in a constructive manner is one of the core pillars for ensuring a healthy democratic culture.  As Thomas Jefferson once noted “Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to truth.”  It is also a core value in Jewish tradition.   

Slowing Down the Conversation

Posted on 02/13/2015

When it comes to an issue as highly charged as Israel, how do we disagree well rather than poorly? Israel has become the most volatile wedge issue in American Jewish life. People often have their hackles up in advance when it comes to Israel, and many are intimidated from speaking at all for fear of being labeled or inadvertently stepping on a landmine. Many experience that their only options are surrounding oneself with the like-minded, devolving into bitter argument, or avoiding the conversation altogether.

Figuring Out How to Love

Posted on 01/12/2015

The holiday season has come to an end; for many people, it was a filled with days spent decorating houses, catching up with friends and family, and going to the mall to return hideous sweaters. But for those of us in our twenties, part of your holiday may have been spent pouring an extra shot into our egg nog in preparation for the inevitable barrage of questions about our romantic relationships (or lack thereof.) My 85 year old grandmother, for instance, has started a fabulous holiday tradition where she watches football with me and points to the NFL players she thinks I should be dating.

How Do We Love?

Posted on 01/07/2015


Love: it sounds so simple, but is actually quite complex. People often describe a felt sense of the experience of love, as in “I feel so loved,” or the longing for “unconditional love.”  Love is not something we can measure, hear, observe or hold, but we believe in it.

There are many different kinds of love: