As Jews, we put our hearts, souls, and minds into the rituals and customs our tradition values. It’s important that we know the origins of these traditions, how they evolved over time, and what they look like today. Only then can we make informed choices about what meaning, if any, they have for us today.
One such custom, wearing a yarmulke (kippah), is not mandated by Jewish law, but rather is a widespread custom that, for some, is practiced in the same way as traditions that are dictated by Jewish law. The Talmud includes references to wearing a head covering and there are...Read More
My son spent his college summers working in an orphanage in Costa Rica. One year I traveled down there to meet him on his break. He and some friends and I went to Manuel Antonio National Park to hike and see the wildlife.
Monkeys chattered in the trees above us. They were fuzzy and cute and definitely crowd-pleasers. We tourists kept taking their pictures and they ate it up. We saw wonders everywhere: sloths, lizards, insects, all kinds of creatures I had never seen before. The greenery was...Read More
Ear of grain in the field, bowed in the wind from the weight of its seed, which is great… Arise, o arise, look, children of the villages. The tall grain has already ripened in the meadows. Harvest, extend the scythe – it’s time for the beginning of the harvest. -- “Shibolet Basadeh” (“Ear of Grain in the Field”) Israeli folk song
In the mid-1940s, two kibbutznikim (kibbutz dwellers), both pioneers who immigrated from eastern Europe 20 years earlier collaborated to create a new Jewish holiday...Read More
The Torah is filled with horrible stories. Though we paint Noah’s pretty ark on nursery walls with animals two by two, the real story is that of a flood that kills all life on earth. We celebrate Joseph’s beautiful coat of many colors but have far fewer conversations about how cruel the brothers are to one another. We focus on the bravery of Moses, but ignore the fact that his first act of leadership is to kill a taskmaster.
We don’t like horrible stories. Though they have lessons to teach us about life and pain, and how to survive this world, we don’t like them – and as parents...Read More
In literature as in life, liminality represents the state of being “in between,” altered by what has come before and in anticipation of what is yet to come. We find ourselves in such a liminal moment in the Jewish calendar: the celebration of our Exodus from Egypt is weeks behind us and Shavuot, that moment we mark the covenant at Sinai, is still weeks away. This, however, is a moment of opportunity and possibility.
At Passover, we celebrate the breaking free...Read More