Trump triggers crisis of faith for some religious Jews

February 6, 2017

The election of Donald Trump has created a profound crisis of faith among some Orthodox Jews who opposed Trump’s candidacy. How is it possible, they ask, that so many of their co-religionists allowed themselves to look past Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, his pathological falsehoods and moral failings that seem to go against so much of what […]

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Israel: the new Jewish shtetl

January 23, 2017

Hebrew Union College Professor Steven M. Cohen published an essay last month with some startling conclusions about Jewish demography. Reviewing figures compiled by the Pew Research Center over the past half century, he writes in The Forward that the number of Orthodox Jews in America has quadrupled in just two generations – with 79,000 “grandparents” […]

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Can religion boost your immune system?

January 13, 2017

When I was young, I remember being taught that the laws of kashrut derived from a pre-modern understanding of hygiene. Pigs were “dirty” and you took the risk of contracting trichinosis if you ate raw or undercooked pork. Keeping kosher, as a result, was a way of staying healthier. Indeed, today even non-Jews will buy […]

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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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The blessing of the broken toe

December 8, 2016

Three days before our daughter’s wedding, my wife Jody broke her toe. She dropped a large plata (a hot plate we use to warm food on Shabbat) on her foot. The toe turned purple and I rushed Jody to the nearest Terem emergency center for an X-ray and some advice on proper bandaging. After 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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When God offers you a raft, take it

November 16, 2016

My wife Jody and I recently spent a relaxing weekend at a small vacation bungalow in Poriah, a moshav overlooking the Sea of Galilee, with our friends David and Shelley. On Friday afternoon we had a few hours to kill before we needed to get ready for Shabbat and we wanted to go on a […]

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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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