“How different this night is from all other nights!” The familiar singsong of Mah Nishtanah reverberates in Jewish homes throughout the world on Passover eve. What Seder would be complete without the beloved Four Questions chanted by the young and the young-at-heart? These questions are the literary device that introduces the maggid, the embellished Exodus narrative that is the essence of the Pesah celebration. Put another way, the Passover Seder is the quintessential Jewish storytelling experience.
We are your neighbors. All we want is a life of peace and prosperity for your children, and ours. Please urge your government to stop their violent actions against us. Show to the world that you are committed to peace and a better life. There is no glory in death; only widows and orphans, blood and tears. For peace is not a dream but can become a reality.
...I noticed that my hosts were talking about something called the third ear. It sounded like worn-out hippie schmaltz - this notion of tapping into our "third ear energy" to bring more harmony into our lives, and to the world.
"If we don't have something to yearn for, some dents in our life to fix, some messiness, some crucial quality of our life is missing," Kula tells the audience. "Yearning can be a path to blessing."
The New Year is a time at once joyful and solemn for Jews, because it marks a new beginning for each of us. It carries the assurance that we all do get a second chance and urges us to seize hold of it.
It is the small things that merit the blessings. It is the "heel" commandments, the acts we forget about, that can change lives and bring holiness into our world.
At last Sunday's visit by Pope Benedict XVI, not only was Kaddish recited, but a whole new Catholic sensitivity to Jews was on display -- even as Poland struggles to battle xenophobia and anti-Semitism, sometimes from Catholic sources.
It's not that glitz, glamour and secular themes at b'nai mitzvah are inherently problematic, like in the soon-to-be-released one-upsmanship film, "Keeping Up With the Steins," but when they're inadequately balanced with Jewish values we can be left with an empty shell of a party that undermines the entire point of these meaningful milestones.
Perhaps what's at issue is my own life: I'm a word person. For more than 20 years I've made my living by writing and editing. Getting the words right is what I labor to achieve, all day every day. It's a struggle that often leaves me in despair.
If there's one thing in marketing that piques interest, it's the element of surprise. For synagogues, however, this is easier said than done, because so much of a prayer service is based on repetition. And repetition itself has an emotional benefit: It makes us feel safe and comfortable.
The moral -- these many years later -- is not immediately obvious. Yes, it's about what one person can do, but it is about much more than that. It's about leadership and about community organization
Bob and I had an unusual bond. We were both folk singers, but as friends, each knew the other had a weakness for the music of Buddy Holly. I was from Texas and knew Buddy, so Bob and I had lots to talk about. Our other passion was this new musical adventure.
In the days of communism's fierce grip on the Soviet Union, there lived a Chasidic Jew named Reb Mendel Futerfas. Reb Mendel repeatedly put his life at risk with his efforts to promote Jewish education behind the Iron Curtain and for some 14 years was incarcerated in prisons and labor camps for his "crime" of teaching Torah.
In the middle of summer, when it is the hottest, we are told that we cannot eat or drink for one whole day.
In Parshat Naso, we are introduced to the rituals concerning the sotah, a wife who is suspected of adultery.
"What an emotional place this is, as we go from each one of these very, very holy spots to the next," Laura Bush said. "We're reminded again of what we all want, what every one of us prays for," adding, "What we all want is peace."
The message is a universal one and it is directed to all mankind. How much better would the world be if we looked at people and thought first of what we have in common with us instead of analyzing how they differ from and are therefore inferior to us?
"Our modern brand is in trouble," Weinberg told a group of Los Angeles Jewish leaders who gathered last week to discuss branding and advocacy on Israel at the Israeli consulate.
Instead of demonizing Israel, as Epstein had done, Darwish directed her criticism at the Arab world, which in her estimation is conducting a campaign of death and destruction against Israel for the purpose of turning the world's attention away from heinous human rights violations taking place within the Arab world, itself.
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.
As the train pulled into the Iraqi border police station, the lanky Jewish boy at the window became more and more nervous. The bulging package under his robes felt heavy like lead.
"People wear this jewelry to make a statement," Yael Swerdlow said, "and we hope to make ours."
With a couple of weeks left before we choose our next president, I've been reflecting on how the process has affected me, both as a Jew and as an American.
The last time my name appeared in The Jewish Journal, I had just been dubbed the "Milken Idol" for winning a public-speaking contest with what The Journal termed a "stirring pro-Israel speech" that called for "Zionist solidarity."
Cornell University psychologist Uri Bronfenbrenner agrees with Julius Segal, and adds that children crave the respect, acceptance, patience and feeling of being cherished from at least one parent or other significant adult in their lives.
In 1990, the late psychologist and author Julius Segal wrote an article of exceptional depth, wisdom and practicality for Parents Magazine.
Ah, the High Holidays. The mere words conjure up memories of long services, uncomfortable clothing, endless Hebrew passages, Mom and Dad dozing off, semi-fasting against my will, and, most of all, not quite taking in what the holidays were all about. What can I say? I was a kid.
President Bush one-upped John Kerry by uttering the word "Israel" in his speech Sept. 2 accepting the Republican presidential nomination, but it's unclear whether the simple mention of the Jewish state will have any effect on Jewish voters.
Jews are attentive, high-propensity voters. Nearly one in five Los Angeles voters are Jewish (with only 6 percent of the population). If past history is a guide, however, the Jewish vote will play a more important role in the expected runoff between the two top candidates than in the multicandidate primary.
The leadership of our mainstream political parties meanwhile vowed that in the future, they would prevent the hijacking of their congressional nominations by extremists. For a quarter of a century, they were mostly able to keep that vow -- up until now.
Before David Weiss came to Hollywood as a 24-year-old screenwriter hopeful, the elders of his church put their hands on him to entrust him with a Godly mission.
I chose not to attend Tarbut's trial of King David. Billed as "the people against King David," it promised to be a trial that was "3,000 years in the making."
"So what were my dying words?" Hallie Lerman laughs as she recounts the dream in which she was on her deathbed, surrounded by her husband and two adult daughters.
Back in the social-action heyday of the 1960s, tikkun olam was everyone's favorite mitzvah.
The midrash in the Yalkut Shimoni uses this insight to provide a beautiful homily. The midrash points out that the one who flees from positions of honor and authority, achieves honor and authority.
I can't explain it any better than this. I think I've lost my mojo.
During "Naharin's Virus" a provocatative dance/performance piece that the Batsheva Dance company will excerpt this week at UCLA, a dancer holds chalk in her hand, dragging it through her body movements: Arching her back, outstretching her arm, she trails Hebrew words on a blackboard.
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 boychick is Etan G, who calls himself The Jewish Rapper and whose CD, "South Side of the Synagogue," features songs such as "Yo Yo Yarmulke" and "Hava Na Wha?" Even so, it's startling when he ushers a visitor into a living room that appears to be decorated by the set dressers from both "Yentl" and "Shaft."
For the Kids
Tikkun has, of course, changed since its early magazine years. Its statement of purpose today describes Tikkun as a center for those of all religious and spiritual traditions who seek to integrate spiritual depth with social change. It is no longer in its ambition a voice solely of and for Jews.
Reform Jews cannot go it alone.
That was the message at the Reform movement's 67th biennial in Minneapolis last week.
Despite numerically dominating the North American Jewish landscape, Reform Jews must reach out to other Reform Jews in Israel and Eastern Europe and fight anti-Semitism by forging closer ties to Christians, said the movement's president, Rabbi Eric Yoffie.
Robert Sturman said he never felt the need to observe Jewish rituals.
"Yossi & Jagger" has earned critics' praise and top ratings when it aired on Israel's cable Channel 3, and is now opening in U.S. theaters.
Rabbi Harold Kushner's son, Aaron, died two days before he turned 14 following a battle with a rare and horrific childhood disease.
Like many unaffiliated Angelenos between 30 and marriage, I face a problem every Rosh:
In the past, PETA has been responsible for in-your-face activism like slinging red paint at people wearing fur coats and breaking into laboratories to set animals free. Their antics have at times influenced public opinion -- such as turning the fashion tide against fur in the '90s. But will this Holocaust campaign have a similar effect?
"Girl Culture" began while Lauren Greenfield was perusing pictures she had shot in Las Vegas for a German magazine. She kept returning to an image of a 30ish showgirl primping at her dressing table at the Stardust Hotel. Taped to her mirror were magazine cutouts of models and a note, "I approve of myself"; the surrounding area was cluttered with the beauty tools Greenfield first encountered at sleepaway camp. The photographer suddenly realized she had something in common with the showgirl.
Tashbih Sayyed believes in democracy as a way of life. He can be counted among the few Muslims in America who believe that modernism, free-thinking and education are keys to rid Muslims from the morass of extremism.
We are standing before God and God is standing before us -- especially during this particular time, when certain fundamental liberties are being denied individuals and when justice is being withheld from specific groups -- all in the name of "homeland security."
For the Kids
"I got hooked peering into the lives of strangers," said Jed Weintrob, a self-described Jewish "techno geek." "It was both calming and mind-blowing to log on and see Jenni on Jennicam.org who was also awake at 4:30 a.m., but in the end it was also kind of alienating.... You're watching this person do the most intimate things, yet you're never going to know them or touch them."
To what extent do we (and would we) internalize the essence of the Torah?
Your article on the "Rabbi Revolution" (May 30) omitted one very important Westside rabbi.
I got to wondering why Amanda chose to dump me in such a cold fashion when what preceded it was 10 months of passion. And the only thing I could come up with was that Amanda chose to take the easy way out -- for her. She didn't want a confrontation, an argument or the pain of raw, exposed emotion; she simply left -- and left me holding the big, unopened Pandora's box of sudden loss.