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If you love jazz and Jewish culture, as I do, it seems only natural to seek out connections between the two. That’s exactly what a select group of jazz lovers in New Jersey did this past fall and winter, bringing to the fore the exceptional exhibit, Jazz, Jews and African Americans: Cultural Intersections in Newark and Beyond. The show was a collaboration of the Institute of Jazz Studies (Rutgers University-Newark), New Jersey Performing Arts Center, WBGO, the Jewish Museum of New Jersey, New Jersey City University, and Congregation Ahavas Sholom...

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A lot of people ask me why I do it. Why do I serve in the Army?

Earlier this month, I finished serving two wonderful years as the student rabbi at Temple B’nai Israel in Petoskey, MI. Petoskey is a beautiful little town of 5,000, surrounded by massive birch bark forests and nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, about 40 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge, connecting the upper and lower peninsulas. It’s peaceful, tranquil, and quiet. The air is fresh and the people – Jews and Gentiles alike – are some of the most welcoming and...

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Often, peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have gotten stuck on the status of Jerusalem. Debates over the future of this holy city are often informed by deeply held views of history, religion, and politics. We are left wondering whether or not a compromise can be made that will take into account the political desires of both Israelis and Palestinians and safeguard the freedom to for people of all faiths to visit their holy sites.

For millennia, Jerusalem has been a focal point for Jewish life. At Passover seders...

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I had always thought of Jewish cemeteries as solemn places – but that was before going to a hilloula (festivity) 30 years ago in the Moroccan town of Ouazzane on Lag BaOmer, the Jewish holiday that falls on the 33rd day between Pesach and Shavuot.       

In the town’s Jewish cemetery, more than a thousand Jewish pilgrims from inside Morocco and abroad pitched tents around the tomb of the venerated Jerusalem-born...

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One of the most challenging parts of adulthood is the realization and acceptance that many of your friends, family members, and colleagues will make different decisions than you. From who to vote for, to where to live, to how they express their Judaism, to if and when they start a family, we are often more different than we think when it comes to how we want to live our lives.

This is especially hard in the contemporary social media age, where you can see an up-to-the-minute documentation of what other people are doing. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people and think, “I...

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