Dozens of men sit around a few tables, humming a soft Chasidic niggun (tune), swaying slowly back and forth, noshing on cold cuts, salads and light snacks. Some are sipping on small cups of vodka. Most wear white dress shirts, black dress pants and a long black coat.
There are very few places where one could learn about the Jewish prison population, sing Kiddush with a Broadway legend and do tai chi — all in one weekend.
With the run-up to the first-ever internal primaries for the Jewish Home Party (Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi) in full steam, one of the most hotly discussed issues is the candidacy of 36-year old Ayelet Shaked.
At the end of Shabbat services last Saturday, I watched a 7-year-old boy recite the blessing over the wine, the Kiddush. His voice was pure, the Hebrew, a learned language for him, flowed fast and flawlessly from his mouth. His face shone.
My friend and I go to the same synagogue but almost never run into each other. “How come?” I was musing the other day.
My bat mitzvah was an unmitigated disaster.
I'd hoped the guests would be as taken as I was with my dress, first high heels and the orange and yellow petit fours at the Kiddush.
One of the great rituals of Jewish life: The sukkah.
On Sukkot, the time tradition tells us is zman simchateinu, the season of our joy, we dwell in a fragile hut, open to the winds and rain and cold of the world, to remind ourselves that our joy is enriched, is deepened, when we glimpse, if only for a moment, how weak and fragile we are.
Single malt Scotch. Schmaltz herring. Cholent. Kugel. Marble sheet cake. What do all these delicacies have in common?
Yes, they all contribute to heart disease, but there's something more: They are all served at the Kiddush Club. A Kiddush Club is an exclusive group of shulgoers that meets somewhere outside the sanctuary during services -- usually during the chanting of the Haftorah -- to have a private "pre-Kiddush" Kiddush.
It may not be as long and involved as the Passover seder, but for Raquel Bensimon, the ritualized dinner of Rosh Hashana is just as sweet and just as replete with memories.
A women's tefillin set with a beaded velvet box and blue satin straps.
A silver "Kiddush" cup in which ceremonial wine passes through a delicately crafted silver net formed from the Hebrew word for "blessed."
A sukkah with brightly painted walls made of the long, plastic
strips found in industrial-sized refrigerators -- and furnished with stools and a mirrored table symbolizing the self-reflection expected during the High Holy Days.
Like most converts, the Hardins take the precepts of their adopted faith more seriously than many born to it, and they display an intense hunger for knowledge, as if to make up for what they missed during their childhoods.