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My son has a very ordinary-for-his-age obsession with stuffed animals. Little (and some not-so-little) animals have been placed lovingly in every corner of his room. When we leave the house, we bring as many as we can carry. That’s why my mother and I were shocked on Hanukkah, when my little boy took a stuffed bear out of the Hanukkah gift bag and unwrapped him from the Hanukkah blue tissue paper in which he’d been carefully wrapped. My son gave a quick glance at the bear, dressed in a kippah and tallit, and simply said “...

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    To meet the Divine Make sure you're fully present Avoid distractions     Exodus 24:12 God said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them."   Every word of Torah is important. When a passage seems unnecessary we must look for a deeper meaning. In this verse the question is why it's necessary for God to tell Moses to "be there" (in some translations to "wait there") after instructing him to come to God on Sinai?   In his "Davar Acher" for this week's Ten... Read More

How does America’s favorite pastime align with Jewish values – or not?

It’s ironic that Super Bowl Sunday is played the day after we read the Torah portion Mishpatim, which is chock full of laws that govern civil, criminal, ritual, and ethical actions, as well as behaviors and relationships. Mishpatim translates roughly as “These are the rules” – and while there are many rules that govern the playing of professional football, I find myself thinking about the many less-than-desirable human behaviors the game...

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I have come to the Newtown Congregational Church, less than a half mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School, to attend an interfaith discourse about guns in our society.

The program opens with a showing of The Armor of Light, a film documenting Evangelist Reverend Robert L. Schenck’s change of heart about guns. A Jewish convert to Christianity, Rev. Schenck has become a leader in the “pro-life” movement, drawing national attention in 1992 when he displayed a preserved human fetus while leading demonstrations. He is now is president of...

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“To call a woman a “real baleboosteh” is to bestow high praise indeed: It means the honoree is a splendid cook, baker, laundress, and, above all, keeps so immaculate a home that ‘You can eat off the floor.’” – Leo Rosten, The Joys of Yiddish

I was praised as being a “real baleboosteh” as a young girl because I liked to bake and cook, and I understood that beyond tasting delicious, it was all about the presentation (e.g., carrot florets and sprigs of parsley on salads). But the first time I made butter...

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