Jewish Journal

Esther D. Kustanowitz

  • Talking tachlis with ‘YidLife Crisis’

    2 weeks ago

    Two 30-something Jews sit in a restaurant, eating and bantering in sharp comedic bites. Their cadence is classically familiar, evoking influences from the Talmud to “Seinfeld” and the Borscht Belt; their arguments are essentially Jewish, centering on Jewish tradition, identity,...

  • Wisdom of layers: Reflections on the Collaboratory

    March 18, 2015 | 1:08 pm

    “What am I supposed to wear to a ranch?” 

    The “ranch” in question was the headquarters of the Leichtag Foundation, a major funder of Jewish and Israeli causes, headquartered in Encinitas, Calif. (in northern San Diego County). My snow-logged East Coast pals were consulting me on...

  • Ancient wisdom optimized for the digital age

    March 11, 2015 | 3:13 pm

    Nine presenters spoke TED-style on how ancient Jewish wisdom applies to creating opportunities for creativity and joy during a Feb. 22 Los Angeles kickoff event for Wisdom Tribe, a collective of Jewish educators and innovators providing digital and experiential learning...

  • Are there limits to humor?

    February 26, 2015 | 5:22 pm

    Scandals involving rabbis or celebrities, a massively destructive Web hack, Ebola, Middle East unrest, growing anti-Semitism in Europe, even ISIS — when it comes to brainstorming for Purim content, today’s Jews see every strange or terrifying story as comedic potential. In...

  • Coping with loss in the age of the internet

    September 10, 2013 | 4:47 pm

    When my mother, Shulamit E. Kustanowitz, died in May 2011, the in-person Jewish community provided all the basics — post-shivah meals, abundant hugs and three places to say Kaddish: Temple Beth Am for daily minyan, Friday nights at IKAR and Shabbat mornings at B’nai David-Judea....

  • Central Casting: A tashlich meditation

    September 8, 2010 | 2:02 am

    My shoes slip off, my feet sink into soft sand and then approach the sea, where they submerge and are washed. But even freshly emerged from water, they remind me that just because you’ve washed something doesn’t mean it’s truly clean.

    Rosh Hashanah marks the world’s birth...

  • ‘Bridas Touch’ — Some Don’t Feel the Magic

    February 19, 2009 | 2:59 am

    Weddings are magic. The details have come together according to plan. Two people have found each other and decided to spend their lives together, no matter what fate brings them. The bride looks like a queen; plus, she has special powers.

    On her wedding day, the Jewish bride has the...

  • Don’t panic!

    May 22, 2008 | 11:00 am

    My parents’ old car (a Ford LTD sedan, as I recall) had a red button affixed near the dashboard marked “Panic Button.” As soon as I learned what “panic” was, I asked the question: What happened if you pushed it? The answer: It was a gag button, so nothing happened. Maybe it was to...

  • Status symbol

    April 24, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Status used to be about social hierarchy -- whether you made a good living or were born into the right family or had achieved prominence in your community. But these days, if you say the word "status" to Generation Single-and-Facebooking, you may be understood very differently.


  • What is chivalry?

    February 21, 2008 | 5:00 pm

    Once, I went out with this guy who was really traditional -- not Jewishly, but when it came to dating. He believed in chivalry: If we drove somewhere, he would always run around to my side and open the door, even though it took longer and I was perfectly capable of opening it...
  • The moment it dawned on me that being Jewish is important

    December 6, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    During the opening session for the Professional Leaders Project (PLP), a conference for young Jewish leaders, a man delivered inspirations via PowerPoint, asking us to consider the one "moment" that inspired us to connect to Jewish projects and commit to the Jewish professional...
  • Generation Next—a new vision for the Jewish future

    November 29, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    This speech, by writer/editor/blogger Esther D. Kustanowitz, was delivered at the 2007 General Assembly convened in Nashville by United Jewish Communities as part of the "Next Generation" plenary. At the plenary, a range of young Jewish and Israeli activists, bloggers, an...
  • Courting Forgiveness

    September 13, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    In this season of atonement, Jews of every stripe of observance stream into temples, synagogues, shteibels and shuls to recount their wrongs. Beating their breasts in repentance, they beg for absolution for the sins they have committed in their daily human interactions over the past...
  • Syndicating Purim

    February 22, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Television shows traditionally wait until their 100th episode -- usually in their fifth year -- to syndicate. Although The Shushan Channel hasn't reached 100 episodes, after five years of creating comedy sketches best described as "pop-culture-meets-Purim,"...
  • Comedic Timing

    July 24, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Occasionally someone -- usually my mother -- will ask me why I, a vibrant, intelligent, attractive and witty Jewish writer, am still single. And my answer has three parts: Jonathan Silverman, Ben Stiller and Jon Stewart. Each perfect for me in his own way: funny, cute, Jewish. Each...