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"Knock, knock." "Who's there?" "Russia." "Russia who?" "Russia Shana."

My mother's curse came true: I have children "just like me."

With imported parents and imported children, I'm the native-born pastrami between two slices of naturalized rye. My parents were born Jewish in Germany; my Asian-born kids converted. Not that they had a choice, of course; their dad and I took them to the mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) well before they hit the age of reason. Our son's b'rit milah (circumcision ritual) didn't occur on the eighth day of his life, but rather on the eighth day of his...

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Last Friday, Women of the Wall outsmarted the Western Wall's gatekeepers when we managed to bring in a tiny Torah scroll to celebrate the first bat mitzvah at the Kotel in modern Jewish history. This operation came in the wake of a Women of the Wall campaign featured on buses in Jerusalem, encouraging girls in Israel to have a bat mitzvah ceremony at the Western Wall.

Buses featuring the ads had their tires slashed and more than half of the signs were vandalized. Yet 100 girls have already dialed the hotline and asked to have their bat mitzvah at the Western Wall. These girls are...

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I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all from families with some level of dysfunction. It’s a human thing. It’s healthy. Look at the founders of Judaism: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. They all came from dysfunctional families and had dysfunctional families. And look how they turned out. Where else would we learn to cope with all the mishegas (Yiddish: craziness) in our lives? I recently saw This is Where I Leave You, directed by Shawn Levy, and based on the best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper, featuring Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Jane Fonda (...

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Several years ago, I launched an educational start-up. I left a wonderful position at a prestigious educational institution. It was a big risk.

It didn’t work out as I hoped.  

After teaching Jewish texts for 20 years, I wanted something more: I wanted to bring God back to the conversation.

I had a dream of reviving the most central idea in Judaism – a personal relationship with God. I wanted to create a safe venue where any Jew could explore his or her personal relationship with God. This start-up would be a place where people would be encouraged to articulate...

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I like the symmetry of the concept of return.

I like the idea that, no matter how linear we think we are, or time is, or God is, we tend to find a way back. Even God recognizes this view: Why else create t’shuvah (repentance) before ever creating the heavens and the earth?

It’s one of my favorites, this tale of creation. There are 10 things, the rabbis tell us, that were created before God ever created the world. Depending upon the rabbi and the midrash, these included the rainbow, the Burning Bush, and the ram's horn. There were others, like manna and Miriam's well that...

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