Jewish Journal

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  • Where the Heart Is - Thoughts of an American Israeli

    By Noga Gur-Arieh

    October 2, 2015 | 8:38 am

    This post was written by my friend, Jillian Altit, who made Aliyah 2.5 years ago, and has recently returned from a visit to her family home in New York.

    Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always had my heart in two places.

    Having been away from New York for so long and now...

  • Hurricane Joaquin: Can Jews take down their sukkahs for a storm?

    October 1, 2015 | 2:37 pm

    As Hurricane Joaquin gains steam off the southeastern coast of the United States, the question has begun to circulate online: Are Jews allowed to take down their sukkahs in the case of a storm?

    The holiday of Sukkot, which began last Sunday, runs through this Sunday evening....

  • Laugh Factory, an annual sanctuary for the ultra-unaffiliated

    By Melissa Weller

    September 30, 2015 | 12:20 pm

    For 35 years, the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood has been a revolving door of comedy legends and hopefuls, up-and-comers and burnouts, roaring crowds and silenced rooms. It’s seen boys become men and men become girls. 

    But whichever way the punches roll any given night, the...

  • Why Jews don’t have a pope

    By David Suissa

    September 30, 2015 | 10:33 am

    I know plenty of Jews who would love to see a pope-like figure tell other Jews what to do. An Orthodox pope, for example, would have the power to boot out “Open Orthodox” rabbis who have been irritating the establishment lately with their progressive ideas. You mess with tradition,...

  • Return, reboot, reload

    September 25, 2015 | 1:28 pm

    In 1913, a 27 year old Jew, who had grown up in the home of totally assimilated, wealthy German parents, came to a Kol Nidre service in Berlin for what he thought would be his last time.  He had decided to convert to Christianity.  This service was to be his way of saying goodbye...

  • Reclaiming JEW

    September 25, 2015 | 1:14 pm

    Jew. Jew. Jew.
    I’m a Jew.
    I imagine the majority of us here are Jews. We’re Jews.
    And friends of Jews.

    What is it about the word “Jew”?

    Comedian Louis CK observed: “Jew is a funny word, because Jew is the only word that is the polite...

  • Happy new year, Pope Francis

    September 24, 2015 | 5:15 pm

    Dear Pope Francis,

    I’m sure your much-anticipated visit to the United States was not timed to coincide with our season of holy days, a time of personal renewal and return to God, all in celebration of the world’s creation. But we are delighted to share this special season with...

  • Walk with me: The Akeidah as a call to communal support

    September 18, 2015 | 3:05 pm

    Today we cry out to Hashem as individuals who have strayed and sinned. We pour out our hearts, pains, and petitions before God asking for life. We know from the Gemara in Masechet Rosh HaShanah 18a that today we pass before God as “בני מרון”, as sheep being counted one by one by...

  • The search for meaning

    September 18, 2015 | 2:47 pm

    The basic accoutrements of any typical workspace: a computer connected to the Internet, a phone, a desk with some drawers, a printer. Maybe a coffee maker, a small fridge for snacks. These are the bare minimum you need if you have realistic hopes for getting any real work done.  

  • 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...

  • High Holy Days: Los Angeles rabbis share their sermons for 5776

    September 17, 2015 | 4:46 pm

    Some of Los Angeles' many renowned rabbis have shared their High Holy Day sermons so that we can all learn from their wisdom.

    The Jewish Journal welcomes the sermons of all rabbis from this year's High Holy Days. Please submit to sermons@jewishjournal.com, and please include a...

  • Our story ... Our mission ... Our fight

    September 17, 2015 | 4:29 pm

    Many of you know that I had a “previous life” composing and editing music for TV shows and movies.  For most of my twenties, I was working on what is now the Sony Studios lot in Culver City – which somehow led me to rabbinical study in Jerusalem… but that’s a sermon for a...

  • Rescuing God

    September 17, 2015 | 4:24 pm

    This is the first holiday in 45 years that Rabbi Harold Schulweis will not be on the bima. In his memory we offer this sermon.

    Elie Wiesel offered a parable about our times:

    Once upon a time, Man complained to God: “You have no idea how hard it is to be human -- to live a life...

  • Two seconds: An exploration of racial (in)justice and privilege in the United States

    September 17, 2015 | 4:19 pm

    On Friday July 10, at 7:22 a.m., Steve Julian, the host of KPCC’s Morning Edition reported the following, “About 20 minutes ago a Color Guard in South Carolina lowered the Confederate flag at the state capitol, stretched it out, rolled it up, tied a string around it. That flag no...

  • Wide awake: A spiritual response to the collapse of compassion

    September 17, 2015 | 4:12 pm

    Four facts:

    1. In the last 4½ years, the war in Syria has killed about 240,000 people, including 20,000 children.

    2. 11.6 million people have been displaced, 4 million of whom are now refugees.

    3. Half of the refugees, vulnerable to starvation, disease, abuse and...

  • In the new year, moving forward ... together

    September 16, 2015 | 3:00 pm

    A reporter called us one day last month. He had been reading our columns and saw that we were on opposite sides of the Iran deal debate, yet we were working together running the Jewish Journal. How could that be?

    Our first reaction was a kind of bemused sadness: When two Jews who...

  • What shall live and what shall die?

    By David Suissa

    September 16, 2015 | 11:55 am

    As I recited the climactic “Who shall live and who shall die” prayer during Rosh Hashanna services this year, it struck me that maybe I should replace the “who” with “what.”

    The “who” is connected to survival: Who will be inscribed in the Book of Life, and who will not. We make a...

  • The N.Y. Times is wrong to equate Judaism with Iran deal opposition

    September 10, 2015 | 4:16 pm

    In a new chart of lawmakers who are against the Iran deal, The New York Times singled out Judaism as a cause of opposition to the nuclear agreement.

    The chart, posted Thursday, originally included a column with the heading “Jewish?” “Yeses” are highlighted in yellow (yellow!),...

  • Read Rabbi Barry Freundel’s full apology letter

    September 10, 2015 | 10:02 am

    Rabbi Barry Freundel is serving a 6 1/2 year prison sentence for voyeurism for secretly filming 52 women in the shower room of the mikvah adjacent to Kesher Israel, the prominent Orthodox Washington synagogue he led for some 25 years. On Wednesday, he published this apology letter...

  • The High of the Holy Days

    September 9, 2015 | 11:54 am

    So what is the “high” of the High Holy Days, exactly?

    With the Hebrew month of Tishrei nearly upon us, replete with prayer services and celebrations, it’s a time to be mindful of what the inner dimensions of these special days actually are. Every holiday in the Jewish calendar...

  • Atheism as my path to High Holy Days enlightenment

    September 9, 2015 | 9:59 am

    Not long ago, I was having lunch with a colleague and we got around to the almost-always-perilous subject of religion. He asked me how I define myself, and I said, “I’m Jewish. And an atheist.” He laughed and said, “No, really, what are you?”  

    For my colleague, a non-Jew, one is...

  • The Iran deal is done: What history should teach us

    By Michael Berenbaum

    September 2, 2015 | 4:27 pm

    Thirty-four senators — 32 Democrats plus two Independents who caucus with the Democrats — have come out in favor of the Iran deal, enough to sustain a presidential veto, so approval of the deal with Iran and five American partners is a foregone conclusion. The questions to ask now...

  • How Moishe House is helping turn social lives into Jewish life

    By Aron Chilewich

    August 26, 2015 | 10:18 am

    “Are you all from Moishe House?” Ben Zauzmer asked as he approached a circle of about 15 young adults, all in their early to mid-20s, who were eating sandwiches on the lawn of the Silver Lake Recreation Center on a recent Saturday morning. They were, so he joined the group,...

  • New Pew report highlights Modern Orthodox Jewry straddling two worlds

    By Jared Sichel

    August 26, 2015 | 5:01 am

    Just as Charedi Jews in the United States are likely to enroll their kids in a yeshiva, attend synagogue every week and vote Republican, so too are Modern Orthodox Jews.

    But also, just as non-Orthodox Jews in the United States tend not to marry before the age of 25, earn at least...

  • When Your Child Isn’t on the Guest List

    By Dr. Afshine Emrani

    August 25, 2015 | 5:38 pm

    Jewish schooling is a huge investment.  We spend a large portion of our after tax money to belong to a community that is loving, nurturing and all inclusive.  The school constituents become our family. 

    For years, I heard the complaints of friends with older children attending...

  • Our fight over Iran: Kishkes vs Sechel

    By David Suissa

    August 21, 2015 | 12:25 pm

    The Jewish community is used to intense internal debates, but our fight over the Iran nuclear deal has taken us to new levels of divisiveness. Why is that?

    The first and easy answer is that this is an existential issue, especially for Israel. When an anti-Semitic regime that...

  • 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...

  • Rabbi counseling those at life’s thresholds shares her wisdom

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    August 19, 2015 | 3:38 pm

    “Rabbi” is derived from the Hebrew word for “my master,” which leaves a lot of room for describing what a rabbi actually does. A rabbi is trained to be the spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation, of course, but he or she may also serve as a teacher, a judge, an administrator and...

  • Jenna Jameson on her new spiritual journey to Judaism

    August 19, 2015 | 11:47 am

    In a cozy apartment near The Grove, in the heart of Los Angeles, lives an unlikely couple. He is Lior Bitton, 41, an immigrant from Israel and a diamond broker. She is perhaps the world’s most famous porn star, Jenna Jameson.

    Since her June announcement that she is converting to...

  • Spain condemns of Matisyahu cancellation at reggae festival

    August 18, 2015 | 1:04 pm

    The Spanish government condemned on Tuesday a Spanish reggae festival's decision to cancel a concert by an American Jewish musician after he failed to reply to a demand to clarify his position on Palestinian statehood.

    [MORE: Matisyahu's comments on the concert controversy]


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