April 14th, 2014
11:44 AM ET
By Joel S. Baden, special to CNN
(CNN) - Moses: the main character of the Torah, the paradigmatic law-giver and the star of multiple motion pictures.
As Passover rolls around again and Jews the world over retell the story of Moses’s big moment, it’s worth remembering that there are aspects of Moses that haven’t made it to the big screen or into public consciousness.
For example, here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Hebrew prophet.
1. Moses was probably Egyptian.
The most important piece of evidence for this is his name.
In the Bible, it is explained that his name is derived from the Hebrew word mashah, “to draw,” as in “to draw him from the waters of the Nile,” where he had been hidden as an infant.
Unfortunately, it is awfully hard to get from that verb to the name Moses, which would probably mean something like “the one who draws," which isn’t how the story goes.
September 1st, 2013
03:26 AM ET
Opinion by Jeffrey Weiss, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Pope Francis surprised Israeli and Palestinian leaders last month when he invited them to a special prayer ceremony at the Vatican this Sunday - not least because religion has often been the source, not the salve, of the region's conflicts.
Still, Pope Francis offered his "home" - the Vatican - as the perfect place to plea for some divine assistance, and Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dutifully agreed to attend.
"The Pope has placed it in this perspective: Prayer is like a force for peace,” Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin told Vatican Radio.
"We hope that there, where human efforts have so far failed, the Lord offers to all the wisdom and fortitude to carry out a real peace plan."
But Sunday's special ceremony at the Vatican raises an interesting question: When Francis, Peres and Abbas bow their heads in prayer, will they be talking to the same God?
After all, Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their faiths back to a fellow named Abraham, whom they all claim was chosen for special treatment by the Almighty.
February 6th, 2012
09:38 PM ET
Editor’s note: Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer and writer in New York City. She writes about social issues, parenting and relationships on her blog, Carolyn Edgar.
By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN
Now that Bishop Eddie Long has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for a service at his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church that purported to crown him a “king,” one has to wonder what Long was thinking.
With all the scandal that has surrounded him recently, Long and the New Birth leadership should have anticipated that the video of the New Birth service would attract a great deal of attention, including from Jewish groups. Even if Long were unfamiliar with Jewish rituals and traditions, he might have guessed that having himself wrapped up in a Torah scroll might be considered controversial. Long rightly apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for misusing the holy Hebrew scriptures and Jewish rituals in his “coronation” ceremony.
However, Long still owes some apologies.FULL STORY
September 12th, 2011
08:16 PM ET
(CNN) - Sol Laufer, an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor, celebrated his bar mitzvah Saturday.
The German native missed his chance as a young man to celebrate the coming-of-age ritual, which young Jewish men participate in at age 13, because his family was on the run. At age 14, he ended up in a concentration camp.
"I am doing this to proclaim to the Nazis that they did not succeed," Laufer told CNN affiliate WWSB. "Here I am, after all of that. I am healthy, I have a nice family, and I am having a bar mitzvah."
August 17th, 2011
04:00 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, looks forward to Fridays, when he can get home, switch his BlackBerry off and just be Joe - Hadassah Lieberman's husband, father of four, grandfather of 11.
Lieberman is an observant Jew who has long made a point to put his faith before politics - even if that means a post-sunset vote in the Senate will force him to walk the four miles from the U.S. Capitol to his Georgetown home.
In keeping the fourth commandment to honor the Sabbath to keep it holy, he doesn't work or get in a car or turn on a light.
April 1st, 2011
01:00 AM ET
Editor’s note: David Hazony is the author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life," published recently by Scribner.
By David Hazony, Special to CNN
I am a person of faith. But sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally. Usually this oscillation between faith and skepticism serves me well, with faith giving reason its moral bearings, and reason keeping faith, well, reasonable.
It’s a nice balancing act — except when the question of who wrote the Bible comes up. My Jewish faith tells me that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. Reason tells me to be open to the idea that somebody else had a hand in it.
And there are definitely a few glitches in the text that back up those suspicions - notably the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, which describe Moses’ own death.
But try as I might, I just can’t believe that the Five Books of Moses were written by J, E, P and D – the four main authors whose oral traditions, biblical scholars say, were cobbled together to make the Torah. (The letters stand for the Jahwist, the Elohist, the Priestly source and the Deuteronomist. Those, we may assume, were not their real names.)
October 31st, 2010
01:09 AM ET
From CNN's Dan Gilgoff:
A Torah that was stolen from an Arizona synagogue on Monday has been returned after a Craigslist ad offered a $500 reward for the scrolls, the synagogue's rabbi said Saturday.
"The hardest thing to figure out is what this person was expecting to do with it," said Rabbi Reuven Mann, who leads the synagogue in Phoenix. "There is a market for people that buy and sell Torahs, but it has do be done legitimately."
A member of Mann's congregation, Young Israel of Phoenix, posted the Craigslist ad Tuesday, a day after the Torah - which the rabbi says is valued around $35,000 - was discovered missing in an apparent theft.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.