Jewish Holidays and Culture

Texting on Shabbat? Guidelines for the observant Jew

February 19, 2017

The growing phenomenon of Orthodox Jewish teenagers keeping what’s been called “Half Shabbos” burst into the Jewish media several years ago. “Half Shabbos” describes someone who observes all of the Sabbath regulations except one: using his or her smart phone to send text messages. Religious leaders reacted predictably to the revelation of what had been […]

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Breaking the rabbinate’s monopoly on marriage

January 2, 2017

Rabbi Chuck Davidson is on a holy mission to end the Israeli Rabbinate’s monopoly on marriage. Nearly every night of the week, Davidson conducts wedding ceremonies that the rabbinate deems “illegal.” His goal: to get arrested. That’s the only way, he says, to force the courts to rule on what he considers one of the […]

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Wedding in Cyprus – the modern Zionist irony

November 28, 2016

When my daughter Merav married her high school sweetheart Gabe last month, the date they set for their wedding just happened to come out on the 22nd anniversary of our family’s aliyah. When we made the decision to move to Israel, one of our greatest hopes was that our children would find nice Jewish Israelis […]

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How are you still Jewish?

November 11, 2016

I didn’t go to synagogue this Yom Kippur. To be frank, I didn’t even fully fast. My ongoing rebellion against religion has turned into a full-fledged insurrection. As my wife Jody left the house without me for Kol Nidre, she turned and said, “I can understand that Jewish Law and prayer don’t speak to you […]

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Lowest common denominator

November 6, 2016

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu buckled under haredi pressure in September and canceled 20 long standing Israel Railways permits to do regularly scheduled repair work on Shabbat (leading to the cancelation of train service the following Sunday morning that inconvenienced tens of thousands of commuters and soldiers), he probably wasn’t thinking it would reignite Israel’s […]

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The epic fail of Rosh Hashanah

October 2, 2016

“Rosh Hashanah is an epic fail.” That was the gist of a provocative column by Jay Michaelson published earlier this month in the Forward. Michaelson, who writes on religion and progressive politics and is the author of a half dozen books, including “Everything is God,” wasn’t talking about whether Rosh Hashanah should or should not […]

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The secret to making my mixed marriage work

September 16, 2016

“I know my husband uses the microwave on Shabbat,” a friend told me, after I shared my story of being in a mixed secular-religious marriage, “but he makes sure to do it while I’m out of the house at shul.” While this bifurcated approach may work in the short term, where the less observant partner […]

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I’m in a mixed marriage and it’s not what you think

September 16, 2016

I have a confession to make: I’m in a mixed marriage. But not the kind you usually think of when you hear the term, which conjures up images of countless Tevyes sitting shiva. These days – and in Israel, in particular – “mixed marriage” refers not so much to two people of different religions, but […]

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Keeping kosher “in my own way”

September 16, 2016

Dennis Prager has a radical proposal. In a column published earlier this month in the Jewish Journal, he makes the argument that “if you don’t eat bacon or shellfish because you are a Jew” – even if you eat beef or chicken that hasn’t been slaughtered according to Jewish Law or you eat out in […]

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Abolish the rabbis

August 15, 2016

A radio campaign called Hatuna Shava – a play on the Hebrew for a wedding that is both egalitarian and “worthwhile” – has been running over the past month in Israel. The radio spot urges young couples to get married, but to keep the Israeli Chief Rabbinate out of it. Hatuna Shava is a collaboration […]

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