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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 12, 2005 / 11 Kislev, 5766

Protecting life by taking it away

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last month, by a vote of 237-4, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a pastoral statement calling for an end to the death penalty. The 20-page document — "A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death" — makes a number of claims. Among them: that the execution of murderers "violates respect for human life and dignity," that it fuels a "cycle of violence [that] diminishes us all," and that "we have other ways to punish criminals and protect society." The bishops acknowledge in passing that Catholic teaching has never banned the death penalty outright or declared it "intrinsically evil." Nevertheless, they insist, since the modern state "has other non-lethal means to protect its citizens, the state should not use the death penalty."


They aren't breaking new theological ground. Pope John Paul II made a similar argument about the death penalty in his 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)." But the new document is shockingly blunt in brushing aside the suffering of the victims, or the viciousness of the murder, as irrelevant to the question of capital punishment. "No matter how heinous the crime," it says, "if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so."


Executing killers, in other words, has nothing to do with justice. No act of murder, however calculated or cruel or catastrophic, requires as a matter of sheer decency that the murderer make atonement by forfeiting his life. In the world according to bishops, the death penalty never balances the scales of moral judgment. Timothy McVeigh shouldn't have been executed. Ted Bundy shouldn't have been executed. Not even Osama bin Laden, with the blood of thousands on his hands, would deserve to be executed if we had him in our power.


This is what it means, the bishops claim, "to reject a culture of death, and to build a culture of life." Their pastoral statement closes with a quotation from Deuteronomy 30: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live." Choose life, that is, by keeping murderers alive.


But is that really what Deuteronomy teaches? Does G-d frown on the death penalty even when it comes to the worst killers in our midst?


I am neither Catholic nor a theologian, and I wouldn't presume to teach religion to a bishop. On the other hand, the new statement's authors write that their purpose is to "encourage engagement and dialogue" on a subject about which "people of goodwill disagree." In that spirit of dialogue and goodwill, then, some reflections:


The point of view the bishops express is sharply at odds with the Judeo-Christian tradition in which American law is rooted. It is no coincidence that the United States is the only advanced Western nation in which (some) murderers are still put to death. The United States was founded by religious believers; its culture to this day remains deeply influenced by faith and the Bible. And on this point, biblical tradition is unambiguous: For premeditated murder, death is an appropriate punishment.


No passage in the Bible — Jewish or Christian — disapproves of the death penalty, which is why the bishops do not cite one. The Sixth Commandment (in Catholic reckoning, the Fifth) is clearly no bar to capital punishment. The penalty for those who violate "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13) is made explicit just a few lines later: "Whoever strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:12). The text goes on to specify that this applies only to deliberate murder, not unintentional killing. Accidents are not capital crimes. But for a willful killer, there can be no sanctuary: "Take him even from My altar and put him death" (Exodus 21:14).


Similar declarations appear in all five books of Moses, nowhere more dramatically or universally than in Genesis. Speaking to Noah after the Flood, G-d enjoins him — and through him, all of human society — to affirm the sanctity of human life by making murderers pay the ultimate price for their crime. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of G-d has man been made" (Genesis 9:6). By man shall his blood be shed. Scripture could hardly be more explicit, yet the bishops make no mention of Genesis 9:6. They deride the idea that we can "teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill."


Of course American law is not determined by biblical quotations. But our legal system is deeply influenced by Judeo-Christian morality — the same moral framework to which the bishops' statement appeals. And yet Judeo-Christian teaching has always been clear: When murderers keep their lives, human blood is cheapened. That is why reverence for life and capital punishment belong to the same ethical tradition. Civilized communities have not only the right but the responsibility to execute murderers. It may be a difficult responsibility to carry out. It may involve an assertion of moral authority that modern thinkers condemn.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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