More from and about
Harold Kushner
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

What cannot be achieved in one lifetime will happen
when one lifetime is joined to another.

   

I believe strongly that one of the primary goals of religion is to teach people to like themselves and feel good about themselves. All my experience has taught me that people who feel good about themselves will be more generous, more forgiving of others, less defensive about their mistakes, more accessible to change, and better able to cope with misfortune and adversity.
  
  
If you have been brave enough to love, and sometimes you won and sometimes you lost; if you have cared enough to try, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't; if you have been bold enough to dream and found yourself with some dreams that came true and a lot of broken pieces of dreams that didn't, that fell to earth and shattered, then you can look back from the mountaintop you now find yourself standing on, like Moses contemplating the tablets that would guide human behavior for a millennia, resting in the Ark alongside the broken fragments of an earlier dream. And you, like Moses, can realize how full your life has been and how richly you are blessed.

      
When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.
  
We have confused God with Santa Claus. And we believe that prayer means making a list of everything you don't have but want and trying to persuade God you deserve it. Now I'm sorry, that's not God, that's Santa Claus.
  
I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.
   

Sometimes we are simply “blown away” and in awe by finding ourselves in the presence of God. Other times, however, even when we are participating in acts of kindness—complimenting others, writing a check to charity, donating time to a good cause—we are oblivious to the miracle of what is happening at that moment.

     

We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail
to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.

   

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Integrity is not something that grownups have and adolescents
can aspire to. Integrity is something that all of us,
at all ages, are constantly striving for.

   

Too often, people make the mistake of believing that if they only had
more money or more sex or a different partner or a better-looking body, they
would feel the sense of "wholeness" they have always craved. Virtually
without exception, this is not the case. What is actually lacking is the
dimension of giving and kindness as a means of nourishing the soul. To
add this dimension to your life is to nourish your soul.

   

When a mentally retarded child is born, the religious question we
often ask is, "Why does God let this happen?" The better question
to pose is to ask, "What kind of community should we be so that mental
retardation isn't a barrier to the enjoyment of one's full humanity?"

   
    
Harold Kushner is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Columbia University. He has six honorary doctorates, has studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has taught at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Kushner was the editor of the magazine Conservative Judaism for four years. In 1995, he was honored by The Christophers, a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading messages of hope and understanding, as one of the 50 people who have made the world a better place in the last 50 years. In 1999, the national organization Religion in American Life paid tribute to him as their clergyman of the year.

Harold Kushner is best known as the author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, an international bestseller first published in 1981. This volume has been translated into 14 languages and was recently selected by members of the Book of the Month Club as one of the 10 most influential books of recent years. He has also written When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough, which was awarded the Christopher Medal for its contribution to the exaltation of the human spirit. Rabbi Kushner's other books are The Lord Is My Shepherd (2003), Living A Life That Matters (2002), How Good Do We Have to Be? A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness (1996), When Children Ask About God: A Guide For Parents Who Don't Always Have All The Answers (1995), To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (1993) and Who Needs God (1989).

  

  

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