Rabbi Friedman was talking about the human soul as if it had a mind of its own, a very confident mind.
As the doctor predicted, the breath-holding eventually subsided. By the time my second son came along, my child-rearing methods had evolved considerably.
This will be the 17th year that a select group of Jewish collegians, as members of the Do the Write Thing team, will have its own prestigious place in the General Assembly.
My daughter, the animal lover, has a father who isn't. A hamster is the biggest pet I've gotten talked into so far. It lives in her room, and basically I wouldn't even know it was there except for one thing -- it's nocturnal.
There is logic to honoring one's parents. There is a rationale for not stealing or murdering. But for purification in a ruddy, bovine shower, why would God ask such a thing of us?
I'll be honest with you. I don't know. But neither did King Solomon, the wisest of men. It seems that this is part of the definition of a chok, that its raison d'etre remains a mystery.
Years of Kassam rocket fire at Sderot have shattered the sense of normalcy in this desert town. The fire has become so intense in recent weeks -- often three or four rockets a day -- that daily life here has come to a virtual standstill.
Here it is: 5,000 years after Moses wandered the Sinai, his people have finally found a home in Reseda, no less, at the Jewish Home for the Aging, the largest continuing residential care facility for the elderly in the Western United States. Yet while these Jews are no longer wandering, they are today wondering when the big simchah begins.
No matter where you are in the menopause transition, it's never too late (or early) to get your health act together to ensure the next 40 or so years are as terrific as or better than the first were. Here are 10 things you can do right now.
I worry about children who are told they must get every answer correct. I worry about kids told there's no room for second best. I worry about the child who must always be the star. If we demand success each time, and leave no room for failure, our children's dreams will shrink to fit their certainties. They will play it safe and never try too hard, never reach too far, never put too much of themselves into any pursuit. It is entirely possible to exalt the mind while crushing the soul.
Michael Sachs remembers that he had initially thought that a program on death wasn't really important for people in their 40s.
"But, in fact," he now says, "I learned things I assumed I wouldn't need to think about for many years. I thought the program dealt with potentially distressing material in a nonthreatening, matter-of-fact fashion," he said.
Let me tell you why this honor means so much to me. I did not learn about the Holocaust in school. I did not really understand what happened until I came to America. And even today, I am still learning. Just when I think I have heard a story so horrible that it cannot be surpassed in barbarity, I hear or read something even more inhumane and incomprehensible.
Whether you're trying to capture a wedding, b'nai mitzvah or 50th anniversary celebration, the day will come and go whether you're ready for it or not. Unless you're prepared, the opportunity to capture family history can easily slip through your fingers.
Rashi, the most famous of our medieval biblical exegetes, quotes a beautiful Midrash to explain the unusual grammatical construct.
"Calling," Rashi writes, "preceded every statement, every saying and every command. It is lashon hibbah, the language of love."
I asked myself if Jews really are clannish and, if so, should blacks use that as a model for advancement? But more to the point, I asked myself if there were things Jews do that blacks should adopt to become more prosperous.
My answer: an emphatic yes.
The Yiddish words flew -- sometimes fluently, sometimes haltingly and occasionally "shreklich" or awful as the seniors reached for a word long forgotten or the students for a word they had not yet learned. They raised their voices, gesturing with their hands as they spoke.
The Hadera Democratic School, which receives funding from both public and private sources, was the first of its kind in Israel. Since its founding in 1987 in this city about 60 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, 23 other schools have opened around the country based on its model of democratic education, in which student participation and choice is emphasized.
A voice expert known for coaching singers and nonsingers, and working with deaf and autistic students and contestants for TV shows like "Extreme Makeover" and "American Idol," Coury is unique and considered "revolutionary."
Betty Friedan, who died last weekend at age 85 at her home in Washington, D.C., was both universal woman and particular Jew. The word Jewish does not appear at all in "The Feminine Mystique," her seminal work, yet every heartbeat was a Jewish one. Once, in her 50s, after fame, fortune and independence had filled her life, she asked one favor of friends -- to find her a nice Jewish husband.
At Temple Beth Israel, the planting project, which is being done in phases with funding and physical assistance from a Jewish environmental group, has transformed congregants' preconceived notions of drab native plants.
It's not surprising that my husband is the first in line at one of the earliest "Kong" press screenings. He's loved the giant simian since he first watched the 1933 classic film on TV when he was 7.
Local Iranian Jewish leaders George Haroonian and Bijan Khalli were involved in setting up the Museum of Tolerance event. They said they felt a responsibility as Jews to inform their non-Jewish Iranian compatriots about the truth of the Holocaust.
"David Karp made it possible for us to have this program," said attorney Yacov Greiff, scoutmaster of Troop 613 at Shaarey Zedek. "Aside from personal kindness and modesty, exemplary menschlichkeit and tireless efforts on behalf of the Jewish community, he deserves particular recognition for going out of his way to reach across sectarian lines."
Ziplining with the Orthodox. Digging for Maccabean relics with archaeologists. Off-roading on the Golan. We planned our family trip to Israel on the theory that our kids would learn more if they were happy and engaged than if they were bored and bedraggled.
Archaeologists believe the Essenes were highly concerned with maintaining their ritual purity and bathed at least twice a day. An aqueduct system caught water from the hills above and channeled it into an elaborate series of mikvahs, or ritual baths.
Couples who have created a partnership and life together consistently talk of the effort involved. Yes, some relationships seem easier than others, but all say it takes time, energy and a true willingness to face whatever comes along on their journey together.
The president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles recently visited refugee camps in the African country of Chad to bear witness to the pain and suffering of more than 250,000 victims of genocide from neighboring Sudan.
I understand tikkun olam, the repairing and healing of our world, as the central calling of our people. All of the prayer, teaching, outreach, pastoral work and congregational activities that I help facilitate lead me back to the notion that they are somehow helping to add the necessary energy into our global cosmos, which can facilitate the advent of a new and better time for all people. And I know that each of us is working, in our own way, to help better the world.
Have you noticed more and more lately that your child is engrossed in a constant, beeping dialogue with her computer?
"Everyday Miracles" is an original musical about four Hebrew school students who travel back in time to interact with their biblical heroes.
One of the biggest dangers for children during summer is drowning.
We learn in the haggadah, "B'chol dor v'dor, chayav adam lirot et atzmo k'ilu hu yatzah mi'mitzrayim" -- "In every generation it is one's duty to regard himself as though he personally had come out of Egypt."
The world of kosher junk food tours seems heaven-sent for Purim. Some of America's old-time favorites and a few newer arrivals offer factory tours and visits to megastores where you can taste kosher goodies and learn how they're made.
The Disney Concert Hall was the site of one of the largest Torah celebration in modern history in Los Angeles. On Tuesday, March 2, 3,000 Jews celebrated the Daf Hayomi Siyum, the culmination of the study of the entire Talmud.
When the woman at the ice rink said to me, "Remember, listen well for when you do you really can achieve anything," she was, in effect, summarizing the message of Parshat Mishpatim: Listen to the words of Torah and you can achieve a just society.
In last week's Torah Portion, the Israelites sat back and watched as God brought seven plagues upon the Egyptians. This week, in Parshat Bo, we read of the last three plagues.
When Amy Cohen graduated from Adat Ari El's day school in 2003, her family faced a decision: Where would she continue her education?
Jakob Finci, longtime leader of the Bosnian Jewish community, took a swallow of local draft beer and gestured at the mellow crowd enjoying dinner in an upscale new restaurant not far from the city's synagogue.
Albert Einstein was a very smart man -- probably one of smartest people of all time.
Indeed, like Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz," I am a young adult on a quest to find her inner soul and place in life. Dorothy transitions from childhood to adulthood, and travels to Oz only to fathom that everything she wanted was in her home, in her own backyard.
There seems to be an unwritten rule that states: "If you are going through a convulsive experience, you ought to be open to those with equally or more compelling issues." Whatever happened to: "Put your own mask on first, then, tighten the straps before you try to assist others"?
No, you didn't have to leave New York to discover Jewish observance, but something had to plant the desire. In my case, it was my bar mitzvah.
While most 13-year-olds gleefully rip wrapping paper off their abundant bar/bat mitzvah presents and dream of ways to spend their gift money, a growing number of teens are opting to make their bar/bat mitzvah more meaningful.
Next week, I am sponsoring a group of Israelis and Palestinians to spend a few weeks in a small village in southern France with a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. These two disparate groups of people do not know each other, but often feel hatred toward each other. Some of them have been hurt in the war.
But by the end of the two weeks, under the guidance of the monks, the Israelis and the Palestinians will learn to listen to, understand, forgive and maybe even like each other. They will be at peace.
Could this work on a larger scale for their respective countries? I think so.
Our Torah portion devotes more than 60 verses to the census of the Israelites.
It's been six months since I relocated for work, "taking a break" from the love of my life, Los Angeles.
Move over Baby Mozart and Baby Bach. If you really want your children to learn the classics -- and know the composer's name to boot -- check out "Beethoven's Wig, Sing Along Symphonies."
Laurie Gwen Shapiro is not, repeat not scion to a matzah fortune, like the heroine of her hyperkinetic new novel, "The Matzo Ball Heiress."
Back in 1981, when I was attending rabbinical college in Boston, there was a young rabbi -- fresh out of seminary -- who founded a small congregation in the Boston suburb South Brookline.
The service was uneventful (including the requisite rabbi's sermon on "The Passion"). The party was great -- classy in a way affairs that expensive rarely succeed in being. But as the day progressed, a subtle feeling I barely remembered kept sneaking up on me. The insecurity of 13.
The Kosher Culinary Academy is located in Jerusalem's Holy Land Hotel.
Where can an observant Jew learn to prepare gourmet cuisine that is not just delicious and pleasing to the eye, but 100% kosher as well?
This week, while fires raged, strikes festered and three or four wars smoldered, most of the urgent phone calls I received were about Chaim Seidler-Feller.
My girlfriend wants a ring. To say that I didn't see this coming is the understatement of the century.
"Back in my grandfather's time, the diamond business was almost entirely Jewish," Aaron Furlong said, as he graded small stones. "Mazel was your word, and if you went against it, you were ostracized from the business."
I want to respond to my observant friends who have asked me to answer this question: What can they take from a Jew who doesn't believe the Torah is the word of God and who feels no need or obligation to follow His commandments? What can they take from that "truth"?
While Louise Steinman was growing up Reform in Culver City, her father seemed unknowable. A taciturn, workaholic pharmacist, he never spoke of his combat experiences in the Pacific. But Asian food was banned from the house and his four children weren't allowed to cry in front of him. "Reminds him of the war," his wife said.
What do the Kurds have to do with Holocaust? More than you might think.
Michael and his wife went to a kibbutz in British-ruled Palestine in the 1930s. He joined the navy when war broke out and later ended up teaching French and metal shop at a London high school. It was there that he accepted a challenge that changed his life.