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Jewish Journal

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  • Ensuring the spirit of halachic marriage

    By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

    April 9, 2014 | 2:26 pm

    Each time we hear of yet another heart-wrenching and infuriating agunah story, we tend to point an accusing finger at the Jewish legal system that has created these circumstances, in which spiteful, angry husbands can cynically abuse the divorce laws to extort and torment their...

  • What ‘Divergent’ can teach us about post-denominational Judaism

    April 2, 2014 | 12:51 pm

    Disclaimer: Having only seen the movie, I won’t speak about the other two books of the trilogy. This article contains spoilers.

    Picture a society that subdivides its members into factions, each of which has a unique virtue, and then enforces a separation of those groups so strict...

  • The Coyne wars reach Einstein

    By Roger Price

    March 27, 2014 | 9:55 am

    Q: What do Jonathan Sacks, Ross Douthat and Albert Einstein have in common?

    A:  Let’s see. The first is the former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, the second is a New York Times based columnist who writes frequently about religion, and...

  • Why evil committed in the name of God is worse

    By Dennis Prager

    March 19, 2014 | 2:06 pm

    If I could ask one question of a religious person — of any faith — it would be, “What is the worst sin in your religion?”

    The answer to this question can often tell you more than that of any other question about that person’s religion, or at least about that person’s own...

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  • A Person of Depth: How Faith Makes Us Whole

    By Beit T'shuvah

    March 14, 2014 | 12:08 pm

    By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

    In today’s New York Times Opinion Page, David Brooks writes a very good article on the Human Condition. He talks about the way current literature about being human adds a third dimension. He talks about a person with deep character having certain qualities....

  • Reading the fine print of the “Haredi draft” bill reveals an unpleasant surprise

    By Noga Gur-Arieh

    March 13, 2014 | 10:20 am

    Yesterday, Israel’s Knesset passed a law requiring Haredi, Ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. This so called "revolutionary" bill was  supposed to be a step forward for the Israeli society. Instead, the bill, also known as the "Equal service...

  • Become the sanctuary: Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)

    March 12, 2014 | 3:46 pm

    Where is God, and what does the Holy One want from us? These timeless questions animate so many of us spiritual seekers. 

    Of course, there are better places to look for an answer than in this week’s Torah portion, Tzav, unless you consider barbecuing as divine service. If you...

  • Celebrate Queen Esther with chocolate

    By Judy Zeidler

    March 12, 2014 | 11:50 am

    Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim tale, was quite a woman. Not only did she outwit the evil Haman and save the entire Jewish population of Persia, she did it all as a vegetarian. According to tradition, when she moved into the palace, she became quite a party girl but limited...

  • Letters to the editor: Rob’s goodbye and connecting to Judaism

    March 12, 2014 | 11:35 am

    Not ‘Goodbye,’ Just ‘See You Later’

    I was disappointed to read Rob Eshman’s last column (“Why We Write,” March 7). I will so miss it during the time you are away. It’s the first thing I read in the Journal. I am a home delivery subscriber and have been ever since I had back...

  • Top 50 (okay, 10) ideas for filling the Newsweek rabbis list void

    February 28, 2014 | 1:26 pm

    As every rabbi in America no doubt knows by now, the Newsweek/Daily Beast Top 50 Rabbis list is no more.

    The list’s founders/authors wrote earlier this week that they had decided to discontinue the annual ranking because it “got out of control.” Not only did the list, launched in...

  • A Fundamental Change: The Clash of New Ideas and Fundamentalism

    By Beit T'shuvah

    February 28, 2014 | 11:40 am

    By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

    What a week! Last Shabbat was the first one in our new space. This week we began to remodel our old space. Many changes! Yet, there are only two constants in my belief, God and change. For many people, this is problematic. Since none of us can fully know...

  • Interfaith program joins Muslims and Jews in prayer

    By Roberto Loiederman

    February 26, 2014 | 6:28 pm

    On Feb. 7, at Shabbat services at Temple Beth Hillel (TBH) — a Reform shul in Valley Village — a small, attractive woman sang religious songs she had coauthored. In a sweet, self-assured voice — with undertones of depth and strength — Ani Zonneveld, brimming with heartfelt energy,...

  • Q&A with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

    By Jared Sichel

    February 26, 2014 | 4:18 pm

    Jewish Journal: What are you able to do differently now that you are no longer Chief Rabbi?

    Rabbi Sacks: My first passion has always been teaching and rabbi means, “my teacher,” and although I did a fair amount of teaching as Chief Rabbi I didn’t have the chance to really focus...

  • Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks spends a weekend in L.A. envisioning the Jewish future

    By Jared Sichel

    February 26, 2014 | 4:07 pm

    Swiping his finger to the left, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s now-former chief rabbi, and arguably the world’s most prominent religious Jewish leader, was looking for a text he felt might show how Orthodox Jews can spread a Jewish message to the Western world.

    He wasn’t...

  • Israeli Apartheid Week 2014- is this the beginning of the end?

    By Noga Gur-Arieh

    February 25, 2014 | 11:15 am

    Israeli Apartheid Week is now at its peak, but this year, unlike any other year before, it is followed by a wind of change.

    As these words are being written, people in over 200 cities worldwide are being exposed to bigotry, deception, and shallowness as part of the 10th annual...

  • Ukraine’s Jews again caught between a rock and a hard place

    February 24, 2014 | 1:53 pm

    Shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union, I received an invitation to participate in a conference in the newly independent Ukraine. The organizers asked me to appear on the country’s version of “Good Morning America,” watched by millions of citizens. The anchorwoman interviewed...

  • Celebs, hotels, humanitarism, a billion dollar deal and more…This week from Israel!

    By Noga Gur-Arieh

    February 24, 2014 | 12:03 pm

    Viber? Sold!

    Japanese Internet services company, Rakuten, has acquired the Israeli app Viber for $900 million. The Israeli-founded video and voice communications app allows users to make free phone and video calls within its network, and has over 200 million users all over the...

  • Online kosher, extra rabbis for visiting Jews in Sochi

    February 18, 2014 | 11:31 am

    Sochi's lone rabbi has drawn on reinforcements from the United States and shipped in 7,000 kosher meals to help cater for Jewish visitors to the Winter Olympics in Russia, a country where Judaism is reviving after decades of repression.

    Speaking virtually no Russian at the time,...

  • My friend’s seder with Sid: Remembering Sid Caesar

    February 13, 2014 | 1:54 pm

    Sid Caesar, who died yesterday at the age of 91, was a genius, a comedy legend, a gifted and sensitive performer who has probably influenced everyone working in comedy today. If you want to witness his inventive comedy, YouTube can be your guide. And although I may call him a...

  • Birthright the ‘LA way’

    By Julie Bien

    February 12, 2014 | 5:06 pm

    When registration opens Feb. 19, a Birthright trip sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles geared specifically toward entertainment professionals will represent the first time that young adults up to age 29 will be allowed to take part in the free Israel program. ...

  • A Coming Out Tale: Getting Over My Embarrassment and Calling Myself Religious

    By Tamara Shayne Kagel

    February 12, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    I have always been cagey when detailing information about myself that might classify me as religious.  Not that I was ever embarrassed or cryptic about telling people I was Jewish.  Telling people I was Jewish when people asked what my Christmas plans were, or just offering up the...

  • Rabbi Stephanie Kolin finds her strength in superheroes, from Moses to the X-Men

    February 12, 2014 | 11:22 am

    On a brisk December evening, Rabbi Stephanie Kolin stepped up to a microphone to address some 50 immigrants and advocates from a cross-section of civil rights organizations, including Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. They’d come...

  • What is Holiness?

    By Salvador Litvak

    February 9, 2014 | 5:31 pm

    [Remarks delivered Shabbat morning in the Library Minyan, Los Angeles, Feb. 8, 2014 – 8 Adar I, 5774]

    Good Shabbos!

    What is holiness? What does it mean to be holy? I have wrestled with this question ever since I found my way back to Judaism 16 years ago.

    This week’s Torah...

  • He's Abba to me

    February 6, 2014 | 12:01 pm

    On a Sunday evening last December I sat with my father, Rabbi David Ellenson — or, as my siblings and I call him, Abba — at a diner in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Weeks away from his official retirement as president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion...

  • Soul Cycle

    By Rabbi Lori Shapiro

    January 29, 2014 | 11:45 am

    White on White, the Soul Cycle storefront is the Apple Store of Fitness. It glows from within like the “Athletes” emerging from their classes. I call them “Athletes”, although I could have as easily called them “Rock Stars” or “Warriors” or “Leaders” because the walls as I enter...

  • Howard Stern’s secret, and ours

    By Rob Eshman

    January 28, 2014 | 4:10 pm

    On my way to work every morning I listen to Howard Stern. I’ve been listening for 20 years.

    In the beginning, I didn’t tell anyone. Polite society dismissed Stern as a crude, sexist, racist “shock jock.” Putting “shock jock” before someone’s name is an instant denigration, like...

  • Down-to-Earth Sinai: Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24:18)

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    January 23, 2014 | 3:06 pm

    I just returned from a four-day alumni retreat for rabbis and cantors who had taken part in an Institute for Jewish Spirituality program designed to deepen our own spiritual commitments. During this two-year program we studied Chasidic texts in a weekly telephone chavruta and...

  • What is nachas?

    By Dennis Prager

    January 22, 2014 | 2:03 pm

    The traditional wish that Jews offer fellow Jews is “May you have nachas from your children.” Nachas is understood to be pride and joy. And for most Jews, pride and joy from their children is the greatest blessing in life.

    Let me give an example.

    Having been in public life for...

  • Nomination deadline for tikkun olam award approaching

    By Ryan Torok

    January 10, 2014 | 4:39 pm

    Social-justice minded Jewish teens take heed. The Helen Diller Family Foundation is currently accepting nominations for its 2014 Diller Tikkun Olam Award, which is presented to 13- to 19-year-olds who have exhibited passion and leadership in tikkun olam.

    “Teens have a special...

  • Learning kosher slaughter

    January 10, 2014 | 1:31 pm

    “The knife afterwards, what should it look like?” asks Rachel Marder, a first-year rabbinical student studying ritual kosher slaughter. 

    Her instructor, Gabriel Botnick, explains that after killing a chicken in accordance with Jewish law, the knife needn’t be perfectly smooth —...

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