Preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah is time consuming. A student in the throes of becoming a teenager has to learn Torah and haftarah portions, plus required prayers and blessings. Then there’s the speech, the mitzvah project and the weekly meetings with the cantor or rabbi, or both.
100 or so young Jews gathered to celebrate the third issue of Guilt and Pleasure, a literary quarterly out of New York whose first issue featured a cover photograph of a border collie smoking a cigarette.
After schlepping 40 years in the desert, it's hard to imagine a CD to exercise by coming from a people who have harbored a subconscious distrust of walking. But with my daughter's upcoming nuptials, my unending kvetch about fitting into the dress won out over my skepticism.
When he was 6 years old, Los Angeles artist Ted Meyer had two life-changing experiences. He won his first art show prize after copying a flamingo drawn by an older friend. Secondly, he was diagnosed as suffering from Gaucher Disease after intensive bouts of pain in his knees and hip bones.
I met Dan a few weeks ago at an awesome party downtown. It was held on the entire floor of an industrial building on Spring Street, where a dozen or so artists were showing their work -- mostly photographs and paintings but with a couple of jewelry and clothing designers interspersed. The lighting and the ceilings were low in a way that made everyone look more scintillating than they might in a retro basement bar in Santa Monica. Of course, it could have been the flutes of wine or the chocolate truffles. Or could it really have been Dan?
The pain and anguish of infertility has been passed down from matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel to women today. But while our traditions have given us words to say and ways to act during other lifecycle events -- death, birth, marriage -- there is little guidance for how to help a friend or loved one deal with the loss of a pregnancy or the pain and despair of infertility.
A feeling of trepidation takes hold of my heart. The Jewish holidays are upon us again, and as a 30-something single in a family of all married siblings, I'm feeling anxiety and pain.
Letters to the Editor
On the day our wedding was to have been, I was intensely aware of the time when we would have been standing under the chuppah, without seeing a clock or watch. My breath stopped, and I stood still, feeling the growing ache in my chest. I spent the day alone, and I cried. And I thought about cosmic meaning and why this was happening to me. And then everything was fine.
Judah White's shoulders curl in and his eyes shut tight as he coughs violently. A look of pain flashes across his face. As his coughing slows, he looks up to the ceiling of his mother's kitchen and takes a deep breath.
White is battling his third occurrence of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. The fight has taken most of his energy.
"For me, the disease has always been associated with pain, and it's been a smorgasbord of pain," he said, his voice trailing off. "There's burning, there's aching, there's stiffness, there's bruising.... Literally, any type of pain you could possibly imagine."
White, a 38-year-old resident in internal medicine at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, recently completed his latest round of chemotherapy, a traditional treatment for his disease. As expected, the chemotherapy has weakened his immune system, leaving him vulnerable to common infections and other complications.
To rebuild his immune system, to restore his health and vigor, White is trying a newer treatment, one that has been linked to a national debate over medicine, religion and ethics. Doctors have given White donated stem cells. If he's lucky, these stem cells will replenish his lost bone marrow.
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?
Any slaughterhouse, whether kosher or nonkosher, is by definition a disconcerting, blood-filled and gruesome place. Torah law, however, is most insistent about not inflicting needless pain on animals and in emphasizing humane treatment of all living creatures.
The loud, affectionate, occasionally crude, left-wing bohemian Fockers are essentially the polar opposites of the Byrneses. And so the fun begins, as Greg tries to convince his future father-in-law that his family won't be a "chink in the chain" of his lineage.
Irving Brecher, 91-year-old wannabe-stand-up comic, is nervous. The Doctors Emeritus Society of Cedars-Sinai is at the buffet in the Harvey Morse room, a conference hall where the old practitioners gather every month to hear specialists on subjects like pain control. Sometimes a marine biologist will discuss Darwin.
It all looks like another story of another dysfunctional family, a recurring theme in Israeli movies, when Shlomi's life slowly turns around.
In Kibbutz Negba, a dozen Israeli teenagers attending a summer camp in the guesthouses of this Negev kibbutz were asked to model small trees, and then decorate them with photographs of themselves.
Last month, seven Los Angeles rabbis and five community leaders traveled to Argentina for a whirlwind 72-hour trip. The mission, organized by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, helped them gain firsthand knowledge of the crisis in Argentina. Upon their return to Los Angeles, the leaders have begun promoting the Federation's Lifeline to Argentina campaign, a $1 million challenge grant matching every dollar raised. Below are some of their thoughts and photos of the trip.
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.
When rabbi and author Jan Goldstein was suddenly faced with the news that his 12-year marriage was ending -- leaving him with primary custody of his three children -- he felt his life was ruined, until he learned to make sense of his pain.
When painful loss occurs in our lives, we want to make some sense of it: Why did she get so sick? Why did I lose my livelihood? Why can't we conceive a child? Why did he die? In his new book, "Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times" (Riverhead Books, $23.95), David Wolpe, author and rabbi of Sinai Temple in Westwood, begins by asserting that during periods of great pain, we tend to ask the wrong questions. Whether consciously or not, we search in vain for an answer to the plaintive "why" in order to gain some measure of control over what has made us so powerless.
A typical seventh-grade essay might be about a soccer game, a trip to the mall or a favorite pet. But Mathew Rudes isn't a typical 12-year-old.