Sukkot is 'z'man simchatenu' -- our season of rejoicing. It is a time to celebrate, to enjoy meals with guests, to sing, to study and to appreciate life. It is a time 'le-shev ba-Sukkah,' to live life to its fullest -- in the sukkah.
Questions, Prayers and Shabbat Lights.
Reading the Megillah in esoteric tongues is part of the Purim fun at this Los Angeles synagogue, and congregant Maggie Anton Parkhurst has chosen this infinitely tongue-tying imaginary language of the Trekkies to make her bid at hilarity.
Kids and Teens
Jews often live in calendar dialectics. Annually, we oscillate between two Jewish New Years (Tishrei/Nissan) and two "Judgment Days" (Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur). the Dubner Maggid, Rabbi Yaakov Krantz, perhaps the greatest Jewish storyteller of all time, was once asked: Why do we celebrate both Simchat Torah and Shavuot? Why not condense them into one grand holiday?
"I have to wait a month longer this year to eat apples and honey," complains Jeremy, 16.
"Many people have spoken or written, thanking us for portraying characters ... in a way where their Jewishness isn't always the main point, but just another aspect of their lives," LaBan said.
Inch by Inch, Row by Row! This week's Torah portion, Tazria, means: "If a woman gives birth," but it can also mean "plant." And so, being the beginning of spring, that is exactly what it is time to do!
For most parents, preparing a child for a bar or bat mitzvah is just another of many coming-of-age stresses. But for parents whose children have special needs, the stress can be almost unbearable. Yet arranging b'nai mitzvah ceremonies for such children are not impossible, with a little love and support.
Margie Kommer, whose son, Max, was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), understands the loss of face some parents feel.
"It's very hard to go to a bar or bat mitzvah and see these shining stars, and see your own children struggling," she said.
And, naturally, children compare themselves to their peers. They can become so disheartened that they give up.
arshall, 92, served as the center's first public relations director five decades ago. For an instant, he allowed himself to become lost in remembrance of things past.
"There was always so much going on back then," he said. "Never a dull moment."
And so it was on Sunday, Dec. 12, when the Westside JCC threw a 50th anniversary party for itself, and 250 of its friends came. Septuagenarians and octogenarians who hadn't seen each other for years reminisced about the good old days, when the Westside JCC was considered one of the country's state-of-the-art Jewish community centers.
When it's time to celebrate Chanukah, nobody should be left out of the fun. We've scoured the holiday gift scene to find the perfect presents for Mom, Dad and the whole family.
For millions of American Jews, the official end of the summer season brings with it an important new beginning. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, ushers in the holiest period of the Jewish calendar.
Ah, the High Holidays. Time to gather, celebrate, eat, fast, repent and eat some more. But before you can get to any of that, there's another, perhaps less-ancient tradition that takes place a few weeks prior. It's the High Holiday scramble, and anyone without deeply planted roots knows how the dance goes. Jewish New Year works much like Dec. 31: You don't want to be alone; there's pressure to have someplace to go; and for transplants, singles and others, the options are less obvious than a meal with the family and services at the synagogue where you grew up. A little originality is called for, and the industrious don't miss a beat.
Article for children.
It's hard to imagine a period when Jews and Arabs got along -- but that's apparently what they did from 800-1400 B.C.E., in the historical Al-Andalus period. In Spain and North Africa, Jews, Christians and Muslims got together and collaborated on arts and sciences to create one of the world's most advanced societies.
Now, Al-Andalus, an eclectic group of musicians from all over the world is recreating the spirit of the historical Al-Andalus in concerts that celebrate the mystical pluralism of the Arab-Jewish music traditions.
"Why is the festival of Shavuot called 'The time of the giving of our Torah' and not the time of the receiving of our Torah? Because the giving of the Torah happened at one specified time, but the receiving of the Torah happens at every time and in every generation. -- Rabbi Meir Alter of Ger"
Nearly 60 years ago, out of the ashes of the Holocaust, thousands of Jews came with not much more than the shirts on their backs to a land recognizable only as a collective and distant memory.
There's something very ironic about Pesach. Why is it that getting ready to celebrate our liberation from slavery involves so much hard work?
We're told repeatedly that intermarriage is the death knell of the Jewish people, but let's face it: Jews have been intermarrying since the beginning of our tribe 4,000 years ago. Marrying "out" is precisely how we got Jews with looks covering the gamut from blonde hair and blue eyes to black skin and nappy hair. It's also one of the reasons that Hitler hated us: We were at it again, blending with the local race, destroying its ethnic purity.
My family never went to church but celebrated Christian holidays by putting up a Christmas tree in December and hunting for Easter eggs in the spring.
A kosher menorah can be fashioned out of any material, so why not get creative?
Hey parents... Uneasy about plopping your toddlers on the sofa to watch a puffy purple dinosaur? Think they need more Jewish culture?
I asked my long-time friend, "Are you a strict father?" "Not really," he said, "but I wouldn't let my daughter out for Halloween."
Netivot, the women's Torah study institute, will begin a program next month on a subject not often associated with Orthodoxy: bat mitzvah.
It is cold here this Sukkot in Jerusalem.
Sukkot, the eight-day festival that begins Oct. 11, commemorates a central event in Jewish history: the 40-year desert trek that followed the exodus from Egypt when Jews lived in portable shelters or booths.
People celebrate the holiday by building, eating in -- and sometimes sleeping in -- a temporary structure topped by a "natural" covering, such as tree branches or a bamboo mat which allows star-gazing. The structure is a show of trust in God's protection. During the festival -- sometimes called "Tabernacles" and "The Harvest Festival" -- we also say a blessing over the four species: the lulav, etrog, hadas and arava.
Events remembering Israel's fallen soldiers, on May 6, and celebrating the nation's founding, officially May 7, include two local benefits to address gaping needs of Israelis.
When Renee Taylor was growing up in the Bronx, her relatives described packaging matzah for Palestine with Golda Meir in the 1920s.
7 Days in Arts
It is hard to know for sure how many Jewish sailors may be among the thousands of Navy personnel -- including 102 fighter jet pilots who have been training for months to take out mobile targets like Scud launchers in the western part of Iraq that would be in striking distance of Israel.
Several companies, based both out of the United States and Israel, will be offering kosher-for-Passover luxury holiday vacations in exotic locales worldwide.
On Monday evening, we will celebrate Purim, the holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jews in ancient Persia, and reminds us of
the triumph of Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordecai, over Haman, the wicked prime minister.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a time to recall the miracle that occurred more than 2,000 years ago, and celebrate the discovery of the small amount of oil that burned for eight days, the amount of time needed to prepare pure oil from the local olive trees to rekindle the flame. That miracle is the focus of the Chanukah celebration that begins at sundown Friday, Nov. 29. Was it also a miracle that this event occurred at this time, since the months of November and December are the usual time for the olive harvest?
In early November this year, we joined Faith Willinger, our Florence-based food-journalist friend, on a trip to Naples and the Campania area of Italy. One of the highlights of our trip was spending several days at the hotel-restaurant La Caveja, located in the small village of Pietravairano, just a one-hour drive north of Naples.
For three years, I lived in an apartment in Jerusalem next to a bus stop. The rhythm of my life quickly adapted to the bus schedule.
7 Days in the Arts
This is a book for those who are or who some day may be ill, which is another way of saying for everyone. It contains wisdom culled out of ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary Jewish literature that is intended for the patient, the caregiver and the physician.
I'll be 54 this weekend. Not for me the modesty of hidden age. I'll take my years, gladly, as I'm given them.
L.A. resident Ralph Harpuder reports that he had a fantastic time at the 2002 Rickshaw Reunion in Foster City, Calif., which brought together 320 former refugees, including Harpuder, from around the world who were all part of the Shanghai Jewish Ghetto.
The news from Israel these days takes me back to 165 BCE. We all know the story: The Maccabees, a small band of Jewish rebels, fight the mighty Syrians who rule the land and have desecrated the Temple.
On the nights of Chanukah, Dec. 9-16, Jews around the country will remember a little pitcher of olive oil.
Celebrating Israel's 50th.