Jewish Holidays and Culture

Is Judaism an operating system or an app?

July 23, 2017

Is Judaism more like an operating system or an app? The answer could help solve problems such as the recent Kotel and conversion crises in Israel.

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When words and belief clash

June 25, 2017

It was Friday night, and as I was preparing to say the Shabbat kiddush – the traditional sanctification of the wine – one of our guests made a surprising request: “Could I, um, make my own kiddush?” The question seemed innocent enough, but I knew what he was getting at. It was not that he […]

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What kind of God do you want to believe in?

June 20, 2017

The paradox of modern Jewish life is that, while many believe in a “transcendent” conception of God they long for an “immanent” kind of relationship.

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Finding your place: New Haggadah makes Passover personal

April 16, 2017

I’m a Haggadah hoarder. Over the years, our family has collected dozens of different Haggadot for the Passover holiday. They range from the highly traditional to the decidedly modern. We have classic Haggadot with commentaries from the Me’am Lo’ez (originally written in Ladino by Rabbi Yaakov Culi in 1730), Rabbi Marcus Lehman of Mainz (late […]

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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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