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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

Why Sukkot Trumps Yom Kippur

I don’t mean to sound heretical, but if given my druthers, I would rather Jews observe the seven days of Sukkot than the 25 hours of Yom Kippur. (Of course, I would prefer they do both, but this is one […]

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What’s Behind Fasting, Anyway?

It’s fascinating to see the wide range of intense emotions that fasting has generated on Virtual Talmud, from gratitude and appreciation to distaste, even disgust. I think one of the reasons we may have such strong feelings on the subject […]

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Why Do You Have to Bring In Auschwitz?

Rabbi Grossman seems to fast on Yom Kippur for reasons ranging from something to do with snapping at her son to not being in the Holocaust. This is all very nice. I, too, don’t like snapping at children. And boy, […]

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Fast Food for Thought

For Rabbi Stern, fasting on Yom Kippur is sociological and familial. He does it because the people around him are doing it. That may be enough of a reason for him, but it is certainly not for me. I fast […]

Starving for Meaning on Yom Kippur

If there’s one thing American Jews and Muslims have in common, it’s that they share a very similar relationship to corporeal forms of atonement. Roughly half of the American Muslim community fasts in the month of Ramadan. The same number […]

Nevertheless…

I’m disappointed by Rabbi Stern’s pessimism. There’s no question that there is much to be dismayed about in the year that is drawing to a close, and I can’t dispute the prevailing mood of anxiety and concern. Which is why […]

The Low Down on the High Holidays

Enough with the homilies. There is no high in this year’s high holy days. My fellow rabbis are missing this year’s significance: Most people who will be walking into synagogue feel a sense of loss, confusion, and bewilderment at a […]

Finding the “High” In the High Holidays

Rabbi Waxman rightly points out some of the cognitive dissonance we confront in the High Holiday liturgy that makes it hard to get the most from services. Largely written in the Middle Ages for a population who viscerally understood their […]

Rosh Hashanah: Recreating our Selves

This week is the final countdown to Rosh Hashanah, the day when our fates are written for the New Year. The liturgy tells us that God sits in heaven judging all people and writing our fates in a giant book–“Who […]

The Best Jewish Advertisement

Check out this High Holiday video put out by Jewish Impact Films. In a much more comical way than I can describe here, the film depicts just how impossible it can be for the majority of Jews to “get into” […]

How Many Rugelach Do I Get With That?

As a rabbi, I find myself in a bit of a bind when it comes to the question of synagogue membership and the High Holidays. On one hand, I’d never want to turn anyone away who wants to pray at […]

No Membership Required

Does the high cost of membership in synagogues deter membership? Absolutely. It doesn’t matter that my synagogue is dedicated to never turning anyone away for lack of funds. I personally know individuals who do not want to have to ask […]

Yes, but…

Rabbi Stern raises some very legitimate points about how disenfranchising it can be when prayers are in Hebrew if you don’t understand the language. That being said, I don’t agree with his solution of abandoning the siddur (the Hebrew prayer […]

Who Needs Hebrew?

I agree with Rabbi Stern that Hebrew is often an impediment to getting the most of the High Holy Days. But I disagree that Luther was right about the vernacular. There is a place for English in the service but […]

Hebrew: The Big Hurt?

For far too many Jews, the High Holidays are marred by confusion and boredom. They come to synagogue and are lost. Everything is foreign except maybe their parents sitting next to them, who once again purchased tickets for the whole […]

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in ...

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe ...

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s ...

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the ...

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced ...

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »

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