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Jewish Holidays Archives

The Gluttonous American Child

This past I week I attended a Tu B’Shevat environmental sedar/symposium led by my friend, Rabbi Charlie Buckholtz, at The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. Charlie suggested that more than anything else our treatment toward the environment stems from a certain attitude […]

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The Demands of Interdependence

Rabbi Grossman’s distinction between actions we do because we wish to and those we do because we are commanded to is a vitally important one. Vice President Cheney famously asserted that conservation was a personal virtue–that is, a nice thing […]

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Is It a Mitzvah to Carbon Offset?

Monday night begins Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees. According to Jewish tradition, God judges trees’ productivity for the coming year. Our trees are in trouble and so is our world. That should worry us every day of […]

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Merry Christmas, Mike Huckabee

Much ado is being made out of Mike Huckabee’s, all I want to do is wish you “a Merry Christmas” TV advertisement. Huckabee’s ad seems sincere. He is an ordained minister, a devout Christian, and someone who seems to be […]

Acts of Heroism Increase the Light

While Rabbi Grossman’s sentiments are certainly heartwarming and worthy, and I tend to agree with Rabbi Stern’s analysis of the Adler-Askari incident, I don’t think this story proves that anti-Semitism is rampant on the Upper West Side of New York […]

The Randomness of Anti-Semitism

Only in America, was my response to the New York Post story referred to by Rabbi Grossman. Could one ever imagine the same scene playing itself out in a European subway? Aside from it being a truly heartwarming story of […]

Muslim Rescues Jew in NY Hanukkah Miracle

I was in New York this week and actually bought a New York Post for the first time in my life. Why? Because it featured on it’s Dec. 12 cover a photo of Walter Adler, a Jewish subway passenger, with […]

Hitchens: Got History?

Rabbis Stern and Rabbi Waxman are right that our Hanukkah rituals are multi-valanced, as is any ritual that has lasted thousands of years. As such, Hanukkah responds to the human needs for light and hope at this darkest time of […]

Why Christopher Hitchens Just Doesn’t Get It

I was as aghast as Rabbi Stern was by Christopher Hitchens’ article on Hanukkah in Slate from last week. Not because of the venomous rhetoric or offensive bombast–this is Hitchens’ stock-in-trade and without it it’s not clear anyone would know […]

A Response to Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Hanukkah’

Christopher Hitchens is more than a clever chap. He is one of those rare public intellectuals that no matter what is the subject matter being addressed one can sit and listen to him rant and rave for hours on end. […]

The Truth About George Washington’s Hanukkah

For centuries, the lights of the Hanukkah menorah have inspired hope and courage. They may have also been responsible for inspiring then-General George Washington to forge on when everything looked bleak when his cold and hungry Continental Army camped at […]

What Would Judah (Maccabee) Do?

We Jews have our own WWJD: What Would Judah Maccabee Do? Judah lived at a time much like our own. A large number of Jews spent their days enjoying the pleasures of modern (for them Hellenistic) society, not really caring […]

Hanukkah’s Lesson on Conserving Energy

It seems each day we hear about the continued consequences of our dependence on oil as a source of energy–the greenhouse gas emissions that come with burning fossil fuels, the devastation to local communities and ecosystems of exploring for and […]

Too Much of a Good Thing?

If the Jews are so smart, why is it we bundle five holidays together in a row, one on top of the other, through an entire month in the fall? Of course, every month, except one, does include a Jewish […]

Iraq in Sukkot

If there is one thing we have learned from the Iraq war it’s that the day after revolution is much harder to deal with than the revolution itself. What America is in the process of realizing is that teaching people […]

The Hidden Meaning of the Fall Holy Days

By this time of year, many Jews are holidayed out. We’ve sat through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and used our personal days at work for the privilege. Perhaps we managed to celebrate Sukkot. But hold on, there’s still Hoshanna […]

This Sukkot, the Whoa of Israeli Farmers

As Jews have done for thousands of years, I am in Jerusalem celebrating the festival of Sukkot. As one journalist put it to me the amazing thing about Israel is that on any given day there are 10 stories that […]

Greening Sukkot

Wednesday night begins the holiday of Sukkot, a time when Jews around the world move temporarily out of our comfortable homes and eat, and sometimes also sleep, in sukkot, fragile structures with three to four walls and a roof that […]

Jerusalem: A Matter of Perspective

As American Jews prepare once again to pray, “next year in Jerusalem,” on Yom Kippur, they should know that plans are being made to prevent that from taking place. For better or for worse, if it were up to Ehud […]

On the Road to Perfection

Rabbi Grossman’s post on the wish “Next year in Jerusalem” reflects the fact that for much of Jewish history Jerusalem has been more of an ideal than a historical or geographical reality. It is only in the last hundred-odd years […]

Why Next Year in Jerusalem?

Why do we end our Yom Kippur services with the prayer: “Next year in Jerusalem?” Why not: “This year in Jerusalem?” Last year when we ended our holiday services, many in my congregation meant just that: this coming year in […]

Ten Things Jews Should Ask Forgiveness for

For not being more honest about the Armenian Genocide For not being more responsible for the upkeep of our sacred tradition For not putting an end to the case of Agunot For not reaching out and being more welcoming For […]

The Language of Sin

Someone once told me that the number of words a culture has for a particular idea or phenomena reflects its importance to that culture. The Yupik Eskimos are reported to have 24 words for snow, which makes sense since much […]

The Power of Sin

With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fast approaching, Jews around the world are supposed to be reflecting on our behavior over the past year by acknowledging our wrongdoings, asking forgiveness, and committing to doing better in the year ahead. It […]

Isaac and Ishmael Side by Side

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that we must be proactive in working towards strengthening the relationships between our various Jewish movements to facilitate closer cooperation and deeper respect within the Jewish community here and in Israel. However, I also agree […]

We Need to Get Our Own House in Order

I appreciate Rabbi Stern’s insightful and eloquent plea for the American Jewish community to make a concerted effort to begin building bridges to the Muslim world and to the American Muslim community in particular. It certainly is one of the […]

Preparing for Rosh Hashanah in Ishmael’s House

If there is one thing Rosh Hashanah teaches us, it is the importance of self-reflection and the ability to be self-critical in the way we relate to one another. Communally speaking, as we enter the High Holidays the American Jewish […]

Tisha B’Av: Looking for God in the Dark

Both Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Stern grapple with the question of God’s role in calamitous events that befall us, either as individuals or as a people. If God is loving and good, it is difficult to understand these catastrophic occurrences–either […]

Tisha B’Av: The Blame Game

My friend and colleague, Rabbi Leon Morris of the Skirball Center of Adult Jewish Learning, asked me to sit on a panel Tuesday, July 24, (the day of Tisha B’Av), entitled “Because of Our Sins: Do We Blame Ourselves Too […]

Tisha B’Av: A Time for Mourning

Centuries ago, our sages ruled that the destruction of the First and Second Temples would be commemorated together on Tisha B’Av. Early after World War Two, some suggested that Tisha B’Av also serve as the memorial to mark the Holocaust. […]

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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