Jewish Holidays and Culture

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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Mixed marriage

June 25, 2016

“Can I ask your advice?” Shraga said on a sunny Shabbat afternoon a couple of weeks ago. “How do you make it work, religiously? You know, being in a mixed marriage?” I was taken aback momentarily. I had never heard my marriage described that way although, on consideration, it was in fact accurate. For years, […]

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A Seder for Non Believers

April 15, 2016

Jewish tradition commands Pesach Seder participants to imagine that they themselves had been enslaved in Egypt and were redeemed through the Exodus. But what happens if you don’t believe that there were Israelites in Egypt or that the Exodus was a real historical occurrence? What do you do on Seder night if your personal take […]

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Secular in City

March 16, 2016

Yaniv doesn’t like Jerusalem. “It’s nothing personal,” he said nonchalantly between demonstrative slurps of my wife Jody’s famous chicken soup, as he joined us at the Shabbat table a few weeks back “I just don’t feel welcome here – in the city that, is,” he added, looking sheepishly at Jody. “It’s just so…you know…religious.” There’s […]

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