For most Israelis in the Jewish state, there is one legal way to get married - God's way. Israeli law empowers only Orthodox rabbis to officiate at Jewish weddings, but popular opposition is growing to this restriction and to what some Israelis see as an Orthodox stranglehold on the most precious moments of their lives.
Anna Melman and Ari Bronstein are in the midst of planning their wedding, which will be held in January in Israel. They have a venue and a rabbi. But they want to find ways of making the traditional ceremony more egalitarian.
Arriving in London this past Friday, April 29, I was immediately enveloped in a carnival-crazed country, a nation-wide block party made up of the tiniest Brits to those who had been alive at the 1926 birth of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, a
Morgan Friedman loves the way people talk. He wants others to love it, too. The 35-year-old social media entrepreneur, formerly of Brooklyn, N.Y., and now living in Buenos Aires, launches new digital projects like marshmallows from an air gun. Pow! Here’s Overheardinnewyork.com, a site for offbeat conversations that his team of eavesdroppers hears on the streets.
If you scroll through the list of Madoff's philanthropic victims, you'll find plenty of evidence that even Jews who have shed every vestige of their ancient practice short of circumcision still resonate to the prophetic call to heal the wider world.
It's not that I have Christmas envy -- I don't celebrate Christmas,and I love, honor and embrace Jewish holiday traditions -- but there's just something about those Christmas carols that gets to me.
From painted-clay preschool classics to sterling silver family heirlooms, the eight bright lights of the chanukiyah have a unique and artful way of revealing our values, holding our histories and telling our stories.
Judaism has a lot to say about how to create a balance between using the resources we have and abusing or destroying them.
Yoav was my kibbutz brother, secular and an ardent Zionist. He had an encyclopedic mind that could recite in detail kibbutz history, lore and socialist ideology. Today, Yoav is an equally intense, knowledgeable and ideological Charedi guy living in the Midwest. He recently offered to pay me money for introducing him to the woman he married more than 25 years ago.
Belief is not a static illusion to be knocked down at the introduction of a new scientific hypothesis or discovery. Faith is an orientation of soul, a posture toward God's universe that finds expression in many religious traditions.
Although the Orthodox community is committed to the existing ketubah document, whose language comes from the Mishnah, Blau said he has no problem with a bride and a groom making additional agreements and commitments, as long as they do not controvert Jewish law.
When I look at my daughters, I see their faces as both azoy shayne and uruwashii, "so beautiful" in Yiddish and in Japanese.
For as long as rabbis have been arguing Talmud, their wives have been at home preparing Shabbat dinner. Yet that image, along with expectations for clergy spouses, has evolved. For one, they're no longer all women. They're no longer always hovering in the background. And they're not always different genders.
Photo: Rabbi Brian, Rabbi Deborah and Heshel Schuldenfrei
It was an ordinary brit milah -- until the mohel passed out cold . . .
If you are offended either by the idea of cremation or humor about the dead, you may want to stop reading. It's OK.
A traditional Jewish funeral is simple and not ostentatious -- good news for people concerned about the high cost of dying. But while Jewish law doesn't require embalming, elaborate floral displays or 16-gauge metal caskets with tufted crepe interiors, it does require Jews to be buried in the ground. And that costs money.
While not everyone is jumping on the 'I gotta be me' funeral bandwagon, a funny thing is happening on the way to the mortuary. When it comes to thinking about the end of life, be it in the business of funeral homes or in the minds of Jews everywhere, the world is changing.
Our Moroccan ancestors, the rabbi explained, were Torah romantics. They were so in love with Shabbat that they didn't want it to end
Since 2002, when I started becoming open about my personal religious choice to stop having sex with men, liberals on gay issues have repeatedly accused me of being a Jewish "ex-gay.
Diet books don't often include approbations from rabbis, but they're appropriate for "The Life-Transforming Diet," a structured eating plan based on the writings of physician and Torah scholar Maimonides.
Local Iranian Jewish community leaders recent incidents of violence among and the taboo on discussing the topic.
Every Passover The Jewish Journal receives story pitches for a new batch of seders that the organizers tout as original or groundbreaking. Evidently the traditional ritual, at which Jews gather and retell the story of our people's liberation from slavery in Egypt, is so 2000 B.C.E.
We have been having a conversation in the Jewish community about gender for more than three decades. During that time there have been some remarkable changes: the ordination of women rabbis, the proliferation of egalitarian prayer services and bat mitzvah as a rite of passage.So why do we still need to talk about gender? Because in a critical aspect, the gender gap still persists in the Jewish community.
So we return, with the inevitability of quarrels in a shul, to the question posed at the outset: what makes a Jewish writer? I promised to avoid it, but there is a Wittgensteinian way out (and by the way, was he a Jewish philosopher?) A Jewish writer is someone whom we choose to call a "Jewish" writer. Would we rather have a clear category or fecundity and individuality of expression? Uniformity of commitment or divergence? The dilemma of modern Jewish writing is the same as that which bedevils modern Judaism: Where one can be everything, how likely is it that in the end, bristling with talent and showered with opportunity, one will come to nothing?
The change was subtle but undeniable. A slightly deeper shade of brown; carrots cut lengthwise rather than sliced; some scattered sprigs of rosemary. Any other day of the year, such a discrete rift in recipe might have gone unnoticed. But this was not any other day of the year -- this was Rosh Hashanah.
Forget the Bible, the Talmud or even the Code of Jewish Law. When it comes to figuring out who pays for what at a contemporary Jewish wedding, today's families are more apt to consult Modern Bride or TheKnot.com.
So while my brother got punched out at his bar mitzvah -- by me -- this other kid met God. Of course, some kids start getting into trouble at this age, while others really start to excel as students.
Bert Metter wrote "Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah: How Jewish Boys and Girls Come of Age," a guide specifically geared toward the b'nai mitzvah student. But more than two decades later, Metter said the book deserved an update, because it no longer reflects contemporary ceremonies, especially since practices and celebrations have evolved.
It is too easy to label Korah evil and dismiss his claims. There is nothing in the pshat, the simple reading of the biblical text, to castigate Korah as the embodiment of evil. In fact, it is suspicious how ready everyone is to get rid of him. What are we covering up? What truth does Korah know?
Lag B'Omer, literally the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer -- the period between Passover and Shavuot -- is a relatively minor Jewish holiday that in recent years has become more popular among spiritually seeking Jews. It marks the day that the plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students ended; it also marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who some think wrote the primary Kabbalistic text, the Zohar. The holiday has always been observed by the Orthodox, and in Israel, it's celebrated nationally and is a school holiday, but these days, some non-Orthodox synagogues, Jewish youth and singles groups and others have also taken to the beach to build fires, sing and revel in the fun.
Akira Mizutani, a tall, willowy Japanese man who's been living in Los Angeles for 12 years now, has long, flowing, jet black hair that hangs loose to his waist -- and on this night, his mane is topped with a yarmulke.
Not all of us realize it, but Parshat Emor is one of the most frequently read Torah portions we encounter. We typically read it in May, and again on Passover's second day and on the first two days of Sukkot. It is read on these two festivals because, like D'varim (Deuteronomy) chapter 16 in Parshat Re'eh, it sets forth critical details that define the Torah observances' unique requirements for us.
Jennifer Tralins' wedding on a private beach near Miami was picture perfect, from the warm sand under her bare feet to the sweet sounds of the flute as she walked down the aisle in an elegant beaded gown. But for the bride, the most memorable aspect of the ceremony was her yichud, the private moment a couple shares together after the conclusion of the wedding ceremony.
If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I asked you if there were Passover experiences that really moved you. Well, all I can say is I'm glad I asked.
Mimouna represented the love and intimacy of a neighborhood. There's nothing like popping in to see 10, 20, 30 different neighbors on the same night, most of whom you see all the time -- especially when you know your great-great-great-grandparents probably did the same thing in the same place.
I am a New Orleans Jew. The values of those identities fuel me like the smooth-yet-caffeinated drink that is the trademark of my hometown. I embrace the changing communal calendars and the rituals for their observances of joy and tragedy. These have taught me what it means to be human and how to extract eternity from the changing seasons.
Even though I can readily explain the concept of the World to Come ("Did you hear the one about the rabbi in heaven posted next to the blonde in the bikini?"), eschatology isn't my really my strong point, and I'm not sure it's the point of Judaism.
On her big day, Yael spoke with maturity and depth about the concepts of oz and hadar, strength and splendor, for which the Jewish woman is praised in Eishet Chayil. She explained that this is the kind of strength that springs from faith in God and from the courage of one's convictions.
Letters to the Editor
All in all, 2006 was a very good year for Jewish music.
Moses made the first menorah. God commanded him to hammer out an ornate, free-standing, seven-branched candelabrum, replete with cups, knobs and flowers, from a solid piece of gold. Back then, in the desert tabernacle, and later in the First and Second Temple, the menorah fulfilled a largely inspirational and symbolic function. It was lit with the purest oil in an outside area, and it was meant to illuminate the world with the light of God and the Torah.But the menorah has changed over time.
It's important during Chanukah to teach children and grandchildren about Jewish traditions and to recall the miracle of the oil, when a one-day supply lasted for eight days, enough time until fresh oil could be made from the olive trees to keep the flame lit in the Holy Temple.
In a gallery carved into a stone wall amid the ancient ruins of Caesarea, Eran Grebler sits at a potter's wheel shaping clay dreidels.Grebler's dreidels are not your typical spinning tops. They don't have four sides, and they're not necessarily for Chanukah.
Ellison's decision to carry a Quran into the ceremony has infuriated some conservatives, who draw a fine line between constitutional rights and American tradition.
Regarding either Jewish or feminist art, we may ultimately be stuck with Justice Potter Stewart's comment about pornography, "I know it when I see it." And perhaps that will be the most valuable contribution of this exhibition.
The changes in the Diaspora community.
David Mamet has written a book, "The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews" (Shocken/Nextbook), that is by turns bold, courageous, and outrageous -- it is a book that calls Diaspora Jews to the table and asks: "In or Out?"
Father Michael Engh thinks it's only natural that a Catholic university host the citywide commemoration of Kristallnacht, which is marked by many historians as the beginning of the Holocaust.
Because of their intense activism, Jews have been among the paper's most devoted readers and fiercest critics. A substantial part of the paper's circulation base has long been in the broad Jewish belt extending from the Westside through the West Valley.
I can see going a little nuts on Purim, when we celebrate a seminal victory that saved the Jewish people, but going bananas on a day of Torah?
"One Night With the King," which, despite its somewhat titillating title, contains nary a hint of sexual abandon or even suggestive cleavage, opens Oct. 13 at close to 1,000 theaters across the United States.
When we think of bar and bat mitzvah gifts, many things come to mind: fountain pens, cuff links, picture frames, checks. But the true gifts of this religious rite of passage extend far beyond the envelopes and boxes piled up at the party door.
There is one program in particular that embodies all of the emotionalism and meaning of machon summer: Tza'adah. Tza'adah is a five-day, four-night overnight trip that takes campers far from the boundaries of camp and into the nature of Northern California, where we bond with friends, while experiencing the outdoors.
Diamont -- a 21-year "Restless" veteran -- has been sworn to secrecy about future episodes. He says he only learned of his character's true name upon reading a script a couple months ago. He was so startled that he telephoned head writer Lynn Latham, who confirmed that Kaplan was Jewish.
Jewish tradition is marked by rendering the oral tradition in print and recording the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs, the accounts of the prophets, the tales of Kings David and Solomon and the tales of the rabbis.
Three times over the past six years that I've been editing this paper, I've come to work in the morning to find an old man waiting for me. A different man each time, though I remember all of them being thin and frail.