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One day after a Girl Scout Brownie meeting, my wife received a call from an irate mom accusing our third-grader of ruining her daughter’s childhood: “Mimi announced in front of all the girls that there is no Santa Claus!” My wife apologized, but in Mimi’s defense, pointed out that sooner or later they would realize that Mimi was right. The woman didn’t want to hear about truth. In her view, a cherished Christmas custom had been spoiled.

Mimi is now 30 and married to Wes, a Jew-by-choice. As they are expecting their first child in February, I thought this would be a good time to ask...

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Today we light the fourth candle of Hanukkah. We kindle lights – each Shabbat and, as we’re doing this week, during the darkest period of the year. We also kindle lights during the darkest moments in history, and in countless ways: in the values we espouse, in the kindnesses we extend, and in the visions we hold of a world redeemed and whole.

Despite the way it’s celebrated, though, Hanukkah really isn’t a holiday for children. Sure, we tell our kids the story of Antiochus, the “bad guy” who oppressed the Jews, and then we tell them about Judah Maccabee and his brothers, who fought...

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PBS’ new six-part series Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler premieres on December 16th. caught up with Feiler, who is the author of six consecutive bestsellers, including Walking the Bible, and writes the "This Life" column for the Sunday New York Times. Here's what he had to say about Sacred Journeys.

Sacred Journeys follows the experiences of individual spiritual seekers of different faiths who travel to pilgrimage sites in six countries: India, Japan, France, Nigeria, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. What makes these sites so revered?

They are revered for...

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The challenges and contradictions of being a Jew in America are never more obvious than in the month of December. Christmas is unavoidable from before Thanksgiving until well after New Year's. Every year, I wonder how much I should participate in the hoopla. There are holiday parties and holiday shopping all around. The streets are decorated for the "season" and my kids are encouraged to share in the "cheer" in their public schools. At what point does ignoring it or intentionally removing myself from it become more bother than it is worth? At what point does giving in to it become...

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Singer/songwriter Josh Nelson has long been sharing his gift of Jewish music with the Reform Jewish community and beyond. Now, he brings that gift to the big stage in the Off-Broadway return of Soul Doctor, a musical about the life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. caught up with Josh to learn more about this production, which officially opens at the Actors’ Temple Theater on Dec. 14th.

Tell us a little bit about Soul Doctor. What’s the focus of the show?

Soul Doctor tells the story of Shlomo Carlebach, sometimes called “The Singing Rabbi,” whose family escaped...

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