Why Henry Ford is Turning in His Grave

Two days ago the front page of the Wall Street Journal featured a story about Ford Motor Company. It discussed the expected new CEO, Mark Fields.

fields

Predictably, the WSJ is a business publication, the focus of the article was Fields’ experience and likely challenges. It did not mention that he is Jewish.

Why does this detail matter?

Henry Ford, the founder of his eponymous company, was one of America’s most virulent anti-Semites. He despised Jews, publishing a hateful newspaper and blaming them for America’s social and economic problems.

His newspaper even published excerpts of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a horrific document that first appeared in nineteenth century Russia, then reappeared in Nazi Germany and recently has been republished in parts of the Arab world.

While Ford’s immediate successors did not share his hatred, the company did not have a Jewish officer until 1977. The company was—and in some circles still is—associated with an awful period in American Jewish history.

Now it will be led by a proudly Jewish chief executive officer.

At the risk of seeming melodramatic, I think we can all see in this decision the best of America. We are a country that strives, as Martin Luther King dreamed, to judge people not on the color of the skin but by the content of their character. To that we can all say Amen. 

Is God Lost in Translation?

To best understand the Old Testament, we need to consult the original Hebrew. Every translation is an interpretation.

Greek_NT_RECT

Now some translation are better than others, and the vast majority of both Jews and Christians do not understand Hebrew. Yet, sometimes momentous ideas are lost in translation.

Among the most important ones is found in God’s encounter with Moses at the Burning Bush.

Author and Reverend Lillian Daniel and I had a wide-ranging conversation on Palm Sunday. It has already generated hundreds of YouTube views and several Huffington Post pieces.

Here is an excerpt where we discuss the legacy of antisemitism in the Church. To lighten the mood, we also tell a few good jokes.

Batter Up: 7 Spiritual Truths from the Baseball Diamond

Sports are one of the great sources for spiritual insights. As a child, I remember paying extra attention when the rabbi used an illustration  from baseball or football.

baseball life lessons

They helped me visualize and understand the spiritual lesson. Of all sports, baseball lends itself best to Jewish wisdom.

Every year as the season opens, I am reminded of this truth. As a Chicagoan, most of whose synagogue members are Cubs fans, I need to draw from that wisdom often.

Here are seven insights gleaned from the baseball diamond.

Can God Make It in Hollywood?

God is now on the Hollywood A-List. With the release over the last month of both Son of God and Noah, studios have clearly bet on the popularity of religious themes. Will they succeed?

hollywood

The answer depends on what we mean by success. If success is studio profits, the answer is probably yes. Religious themes resonate with Americans. We know the stories and recognize their power.

If success is spiritual growth, however, the answer is no. The purposes of film and faith differ fundamentally. To say a film can teach faith is like saying a great tennis coach would also make a great basketball coach. 

Are You Married?

“Life is like a wedding.” So Jewish wisdom teaches. What does this mean?

wedding canopy

One rabbi says it is the Jewish equivalent of “carpe diem, seize the day, live life to its fullest.” This rabbi points to one of the Hebrew words for wedding, Huppah.

Huppah means wedding, but it also refers to the wedding canopy.  A canopy goes up. Then, soon after the marriage ceremony, it is taken down. Our lives are similar.

We are here for a brief period. Then we are no more. During that brief period, we should live as if we are at a wedding, celebrating, making merry, enjoying ourselves with legitimate pleasures.

A More Original Idea

Is It Ever Okay to Hate? A Lesson for Purim

In Sunday school we tend to emphasize the inspiring parts of the Bible. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God.” (Leviticus 19:18; Micah 6:8)

Tough Topics

But what about the more difficult passages? What about the murdering and pillaging and sexual perversity? As we begin the Jewish holiday of Purim, we confront an immensely challenging text.

A People to Destroy 

The Blessings of an Imperfect World

The most charming character in Disney’s hit movie Frozen is the snowman Olaf. He is goofy and wise at the same time. His wisdom is a gift for each of us.

olaf

Why Olaf? 

Olaf is a snowman who dreams of summer. For him it is perfect in every way. It is the time , as he sings, when he can tan, play with the followers, and roll around in the sand.

The joke is, of course, is that as a snowman, he can only live in the cold. He is wishing for the one thing thing he can’t have. He is idealizing the one experience he can never experience. 

Life is not a Fairy Tale