Yonason Goldson

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How I learned the secret for peace of mind from the school of hard knocks.

Nobody likes fundraising dinners. The speeches are dry, the menu is dull, and the seating arrangements seem to have been drawn up by the Marquis de Sade. No one looks forward to these affairs, and we attend them only out of a sense of obligation.

Since one dinner I attended last year, however, I have become more wary than ever of this kind of event.

The evening began unremarkably and proceeded unremarkably — up to a point. The food was better than usual, the speeches ran longer than usual, the company was as good as could be hoped for, and…


How to heal the rift between the right and the left.

Can we really know the truth?

That is a question philosophers have pondered through the ages in contemplation of spiritual refinement and pursuit of higher purpose. Today, the same question no longer kindles the thirst for wisdom but rather fuels the flames of social strife and political acrimony.

Why does truth seem so elusive? And why should the search for it set us at one another’s throats?

From Mount Sinai to Dr. Oz, the image of the head locked in battle with the heart has represented the inner conflict of the human psyche. …


Thank you for sharing these thoughts, Lisa. It's our willingness to wrestle with these gray areas that builds our ethical muscles and calibrates our moral compass. Well done!


If you’re not experiencing déjà vu, you’re not paying attention.

“History never repeats itself,” Mark Twain purportedly observed, “but often it rhymes.” Indeed, it does. The repetition of rhyme and cadence and haunting alliteration across generations has become harder and harder to ignore.

“This is their plan… to stir nationality against nationality, race against race, class against class, creed against creed, that their mutual destruction of each other may work out for the glory of Hitler and the grandeur of Japan. They count on our freedom — our individual freedom, our individual interests, our individual pursuit of pleasure and happiness — as the means of our destruction of ourselves.

“And…


St. Patrick’s Day reflections on home and harmony

At first glance, the soggy, green downs of Ulster bear little resemblance to the parched and craggy hills of Israel.

But tug gently at the cultural fabric of either land and you will unravel an unmistakable common thread: two peoples, impossibly close geographically, impossibly distant ideologically, with more than enough fuel for hatred between them to burn until the coming of the Messiah.

Tromping over hills and through city streets, first in one place and then in the other, I discovered a more compelling similarity: the bitter struggle of humanity in exile.

“Which are the bad parts of town, the…


A road by any other name will lead to a different destination.

It’s been over a decade, but I still remember reading a delightful and refreshing account of a high school commencement ceremony, which I’ll summarize here:

“A collective sigh of resignation whispered through the assembly of relatives and friends as the graduate-speaker began reciting Robert Frost’s classic poem, “The Road Not Taken.” The captive audience seemed to anticipate a predictable excursion along the overly well-trodden path invoking Frost’s verse as a paean to individuality and non-conformism.

What a pleasant surprise, therefore, when the young speaker departed from the expected formula by arguing with Frost’s message and defending those who have courage…


Joe Biden’s presidential victory is cause for hope and dismay, but not for the reasons most people think.

From the outset of his candidacy in 2016, no one doubted that Donald Trump, if elected, would be a president like no other. It’s also no surprise that the nation has been cheering, mourning, and rebelling against November’s election results which will, barring unexpected court rulings, dispatch President Trump from the White House on January 20.

But amidst the one-sided reportage from both right and left, the paradox of his reign as Chief Executive has been lost in the haze of idol-worship on one side and Trump Derangement Syndrome on the other.

What is — or should be — undeniable…


Resist the subversion of darkness in the name of enlightenment.

23 centuries ago, the army of Alexander the Great marched into Jerusalem. The ensuing occupation of the Jewish capital proceeded, at the outset, with unexpected smoothness and goodwill.

The Greeks had brought to the world the first secular culture aspiring to more than wealth, lust, and power. Guided by pure aestheticism, Greek art, architecture, and drama demonstrated an affinity for abstract pursuits and singular respect for cerebral engagement. The result was an asynchrony of mutual admiration and appreciation between the Jews and their new masters.

But the veneer of intellectual integrity projected by Greek culture was a sham. Socrates, the…


If we want to live in a more equitable society, we have to confront the reality of systemic otherism.

Every spring, on the first night of Passover, Jewish families all over the world gather around the dining room table to reenact and reexperience the exodus from Egypt. This year will mark the 3,333rd anniversary of the Jews’ emancipation from slavery.

According to rabbinic tradition, the Jews were enslaved for 116 of the 210 years they dwelled in Egypt. And for the final 86 years, they were subjected to backbreaking, spirit-breaking, soul-crushing labor.

Even after the exodus, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.


It’s time we embrace the better angels of our nature.

To the American people:

Thank you for the honor of electing me to serve as your president.

The last year has battered us with a storm of pandemic and civil violence that none of us foresaw, a tempest that contributed to an ugly and dispiriting election campaign. The hardships and challenges we’ve faced have forced us to confront problems that for too long we’ve tried to ignore. Now we have an opportunity not to point fingers and lay blame, but to seek enduring solutions.

To you, the members of my party, I say: Do not look at these election results…

Yonason Goldson

Ethics keynote speaker, TEDx presenter, recovered hitchhiker, former newspaper columnist, retired high school teacher, and community rabbi at yonasongoldson.com

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