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  • Shock is followed by awe over Foer’s new novel

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    August 31, 2016 | 1:58 pm

    A colleague of mine admonished me to include a warning in my review of Jonathan Safran Foer’s brilliant new novel, “Here I Am” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). And so I will.

    Be forewarned, dear reader, that there is plenty of explicit sexual language in “Here I Am.” Or, to be more...

  • Tattooed Jews

    By Ilana Angel

    June 15, 2016 | 7:18 am

    Someone commented on a tattoo of mine at Target. We got to talking about tats and I shared that I actually have seven. She told me she wished she could have one, but since she’s Jewish, she couldn’t. I told her I was Jewish and loved mine. Although she tried to cover her judgment,...

  • Sadness

    By Ilana Angel

    June 11, 2016 | 11:14 am

    I went to bed sad and woke up sad. The kind of sadness you can’t do anything to fix, just need to ride it out. It is 6:00 pm and not only am I still in bed, but have no plans to get out. I have been sleeping, crying, and waiting. I’m not sure what it is exactly I am waiting for,...

  • God Bless You

    By Ilana Angel

    June 8, 2016 | 5:04 pm

    Today I saw a man on the freeway off ramp with a sign telling people he was an unemployed carpenter and needed help. Last week I had a rather vivid vision of someone who looked like Jesus, and so when I saw the sign about him being a carpenter, I thought back to the image of Jesus,...

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  • Compassion Isn’t Sexy (Omer Day 16)

    By Marcus J Freed

    May 9, 2016 | 5:06 pm

    Day 16 of Sefirat HaOmer & this week's practice is Tiferet/Compassion - the Tikkunei Zohar teaches this is our body/torso. Compassion isn’t sexy…but it changes people’s lives. I like the Starfish story: two friends are walking by the sea, carefully stepping over hundreds of beached...

  • Forgiveness & Saying Sorry to Yourself

    By Ilana Angel

    May 2, 2016 | 8:17 am

    I had a great weekend. There was learning, happiness, a touch of magic, and a small emotional breakdown. It felt quite real at the time it was happening, but this morning it looks ridiculous and I am more embarrassed than anything else. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic....

  • My Half-Century Birthday

    By Ilana Angel

    April 7, 2016 | 5:28 am

    I turned 50 years old today. I feel happy, blessed, healthy, and at peace. I worked really hard to get here and am now able to take a deep breath and look upon my life with a real sense of accomplishment. Fifty is just a number, but a big deal, and I am welcoming it with...

  • Ten Steps For Spiritual Growth

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    March 9, 2016 | 8:21 am

    The aim of life should be to grow, to be better than we were yesterday, to find what makes us special and to use that gift to give back in order to help others grow.  Part of the definition of love is helping another grow.  To grow- we need to move away from negativity and hatred,...

  • God’s Business Advice to Moshe

    By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

    February 25, 2016 | 10:08 pm

    This shall they give...a half Shekel. (Parsha Ki Tisa: Ex. 30:13)

    God showed Moshe a coin made from fire, teaches the Midrash, showing him the amount that everyone must give towards the mishkan, tabernacle. Based on this Midrash, the great Polish hassidic Master, Rabbi Elimelech...

  • Be True To Your Past.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    February 24, 2016 | 4:18 pm

    From 1979, the beginning of the Iranian revolution, until 1988, I spent most nights sleeping on the floor, bed-less.  With limited resources, I gave priority to other family members, over myself.

    Friends ask why I tell such stories that can belittle me in public.  I like to write...

  • Do all believers believe in the same God?

    By Dennis Prager

    February 17, 2016 | 8:54 am

    Most Americans, including most Jews — despite the fact that so many Jews are secular — say they believe in God. And around the world, religious Jews, Christians and Muslims all say they believe in God.

    But the truth is that this is largely meaningless. If all those who say they...

  • A Little Torah and Chill?

    By Rabbi Robin Podolsky

    February 8, 2016 | 1:54 pm

    Had the Torah not been given, we would learn modesty from the cat, (to be against) theft from the flea, faithfulness from the dove, and derekh eretz (good behavior) from the rooster who obtains consent and only then has sex." (Eruvin 100b)

    Wait, how many human genders did the...

  • Pechanga, Dating & Barcelona

    By Ilana Angel

    January 22, 2016 | 8:00 pm

    It is time for me and my “24 Hour Girlfriend Getaway” friends to getaway.  We're due for a trip and since we've discovered we all have some form of gambling addiction, we decided to stick with the casino theme and selected The Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula as our next...

  • Happy Anniversary & F U Cancer

    By Ilana Angel

    January 15, 2016 | 1:03 am

    This time last year I was told I had cancer, had my thyroid removed, and while recovering from surgery, celebrated my son’s 19th birthday. I ended up having two surgeries, am now cancer free, and on Monday will celebrate my son turning 20, and being a mother for two decades. It was...

  • 2015: My Year in Review

    By Ilana Angel

    December 31, 2015 | 8:24 pm

    On January 1, 2015, I went out to breakfast wih my son. He was about to turn 19 and I had just been diagnosed with cancer. I remember what we wore, what we ate, and the look on his face as he told me everything was going to be okay. I recall looking across at my baby boy and seeing...

  • The Religious Brains exchange, part 2: ‘All God-talk is metaphorical, inexact and incomplete’

    By Shmuel Rosner

    November 25, 2015 | 4:05 am

    Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger is the leader of the Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, Texas, an adjunct faculty member at Brite Divinity School and has served as the Jewish co-chair of the Texas Conference of Churches' Jewish-Christian Forum. Rabbi Mecklenburger was ordained at the...

  • Your Reaction to Islam Will Define Who You Are.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    November 17, 2015 | 5:46 pm

    Your relationship with Islam will define you as a person.

    Once, as a child, I asked a poor gardener who lived in a neighbor’s garage with three sick children and an ailing wife, why he always smiled. I loved his wisdom. I saw him daily, and he never complained. “My son, Allah is...

  • Exploring prayer: A conversation with Alden Solovy

    By Roger Price

    October 28, 2015 | 9:18 am

    Alden Solovy is a poet and liturgist. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Alden made aliyah to Israel in 2012. His first book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing, was published in 2012 by Kavanot Press. He is currently working on a mythical journey, told with prayers and poetry, called...

  • My Grandpa Aghajan.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    October 21, 2015 | 4:58 pm

    Habibollah.  A beloved of God.  Beloved by Allah.  That was my grandfather’s name.  Each time I hear of trouble in Israel, I reach out for his memory as a sinking man to a buoy.

    Habib- the beloved, as his friends referred to him- and Aghajan to me- an endearing name given to...

  • The meaning of coincidences

    October 14, 2015 | 2:28 pm

    One of the most powerful ways we experience God’s closeness is through coincidences.

    I know this is certainly the case with me. Stuff happens to me all the time that I can’t explain.

    Here are two examples.

    One Friday night, I was in shul and my mind wandered a bit. I realized...

  • Muslims, Christians Should Celebrate Genesis as do Jews.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    October 7, 2015 | 9:05 am

    In Eden, there was God, Adam and Eve and no religion!

    Genesis begins with a wide angled view of diversity:  God creates a vast range of living things—fish, birds, cattle, wild animals “of every kind” and repeats “of every kind” with each living thing.

    When it comes to the...

  • How the Bible plays out in hospital intensive care units

    October 1, 2015 | 4:37 pm

    In this week's parsha, V'zot ha-Brakhah, we read about the farewell blessing of Moses to the Israelites.  At 120 years of age, Moses views the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendents.  The Israelites will proceed to inhabit this land of milk and honey, but Moses will...

  • Sukkot and Fifty Shades of Kosher.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    September 29, 2015 | 6:41 pm

    We love people who sin like us and judge harshly those who sin differently.  Jews quarrel so much over how to approach God that we end up pushing God out to win an argument.  There are so many shades of Kosher.  On Sukkot, we are told “come together.”

    A friend told me that he...

  • On faith, belief and God

    September 18, 2015 | 2:29 pm

    I love this quip from a favorite comedian of mine: “I have a lot of beliefs.  And I don’t live by any of them!” 

    It’s different to have beliefs than to live by them.  And that difference speaks to a little problem we have.  Here it is: I am not sure we all believe in the God we...

  • FACEBOOK:  Ten Questions for Self Reflection.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    September 16, 2015 | 1:46 pm

    When people tell me that Facebook is a waste, I tell them “it depends on the operator.” 

    In skilled hands a knife can save a life, but some use it to peel oranges. 

    When Otis Redding sang “sitting by the dock of the bay” was he really “wasting time”?

    In August, Mark...

  • Today a Child Washed up Ashore.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    September 2, 2015 | 3:11 pm

    Not a bird, nor fish, nor seaweed.

    Today a child washed up ashore.
    His sin?  Birth into a cruel world.
    Shunned by shameless shenanigans.
    Not even a basket to house this baby Moses.
    Landless- worse than homeless.

    I see him flying into the open arms of waves,
    Away from...

  • The Day Anger Broke Me.

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    August 20, 2015 | 12:13 pm

    It’s been eight years.  I still have nightmares about what I had become. 

    My wife and kids are scared in a room.  Sitting on the floor, they are trembling.  She is hugging them protectively, crying.  They are rolled up in fetal position, sobbing.  All I hear is nothing.  I am...

  • How to Improve the Relationship With Your Parents Forever & Bring Generational Healing

    By Marcus J Freed

    August 5, 2015 | 7:56 am

    Last year I learned a secret that transformed the relationship with my parents. I would like to share it with you. But first, a 10 Commandments soundbite: “I.. am a zealous God, who - for the haters - remembers the sins of the fathers up to the third and fourth generations” (Deut...

  • God will be our visitor

    July 27, 2015 | 11:13 am

    The Jewish family is in a constant state of mourning. Most of the time, we push our mourning to the back of our collective consciousness and carry on our daily lives as if we’ve suffered no loss. Once a year, though, we allow the misery and pain of our tortuous 2,000-year Diaspora...

  • Liberals Need to Stop Feeling Shame When Supporting Israel

    By Tamara Shayne Kagel

    July 24, 2015 | 12:33 pm

    All my life, I have been liberal and I have been Jewish.  These identities are badges I have worn proudly and which have long bolstered one another.  Except on one subject: Israel.  So for a long time, I just stayed away from the landmine that discussing Israel can be.  I wore...

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