So what is Purim about? This short guide explains the various holiday traditions and celebrations, as well as a few suggestions of unique and fun ways to partake in the festivities.
I had prepped my boyfriend for what he was going to encounter. From a Hebrew 101 lesson the night before, to a quick 1-2-3 seder crash course in the car ride over.
On Sept. 1, my husband, Larry, and I will move our son, Gabriel, into his dormitory room at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where he will begin his freshman year.
When the El-Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia was bombed by Al Qaeda in 2002, the fragile remnant of a once thriving Jewish community was even further shattered.
Like many single Jews, Sharona Saghian met her husband on JDate, the Internet dating service aimed at Jewish singles. Although by doing so, the 28-year-old broke her community's old, venerated matchmaking traditions.
Saghian is Persian and in her community most parents prefer to know the background of their child's prospective mate when dating begins.
Just remember: The most important parts of planning an event is having fun and enjoying the benefits of all your hard work.
Dad, I have my first big test in biology next Thursday, Sandy explained. Next Thursday? Yep. Sorry, honey, you are going to have to miss it. Next Thursday is Rosh Hashanah and I want you to go to services with me.
Food is the centerpiece of every Jewish holiday.
It's hard to imagine a period when Jews and Arabs got along -- but that's apparently what they did from 800-1400 B.C.E., in the historical Al-Andalus period. In Spain and North Africa, Jews, Christians and Muslims got together and collaborated on arts and sciences to create one of the world's most advanced societies.
Now, Al-Andalus, an eclectic group of musicians from all over the world is recreating the spirit of the historical Al-Andalus in concerts that celebrate the mystical pluralism of the Arab-Jewish music traditions.
I'm sitting in Gina's Pizza, the local hotspot for members of UC Irvine's Greeks.
My mom yells at me: "Hurry up, it is almost Pesach and we haven't done anything yet."
The memory goes back several years, when I was a teenager living with my parents and brother in our three-story building in western Tehran.
When newer, color versions supplanted the 1923 Union Haggadah Revised, Tamar Soloff's brother and father hoarded enough copies of the original to ensure that their extended families would have a supply of their own.
When I was in college in New Hampshire, the pastor of a nearby church asked our Hillel rabbi to send over a Jewish student who could help his parishioners learn about Passover. I volunteered. For all the fuzzy, feel-good reasons that a liberal arts education supplies in abundance, I felt it was important to teach others about my faith and culture.
I added a new experience to my Passover preparation last year. In addition to counting the haggadahs, practicing the Four Questions with my daughter, inviting guests, shopping and cleaning the house, I made gefilte fish from scratch for the first time ever.
Neither my mother nor any of my grandmothers had felt the need to initiate me into the gefilte fish sorority, even though I know they all had this experience. After trying it myself for the first time, I think I may have a good idea why they decided not to pass on this tradition. I went in with blind and irrational optimism after watching the instructor at a cooking class make it look so easy. Here's what I learned.
Some people like their Passover seders just as they remember them: the same lines recited by the same relatives with the same emphasis, the same songs, jokes and foods, the same delicate glassware that picks up the light in a certain way, reflecting past and present.
My family never went to church but celebrated Christian holidays by putting up a Christmas tree in December and hunting for Easter eggs in the spring.
Many Jews understand Shabbat as a series of restrictions. But the purpose of all the Thou-Shalt-Nots is to clear a space for the Thou-Shalts and for what is different and sacred about Shabbat. Laws against work, errands and many hobbies preserve Shabbat as a haven from relentless busyness. Shabbat sets aside time to rest and reflect, to reconnect with God, self, family and friends.
Kess Hadane wears a deep blue velvet cape richly embroidered with gold and a white turban. But under the cape is the conventional white shirt and dark pants, and that might be more indicative of Kess Hadane's ardently assimiliationist philosophy.
If Pesach signals the emergence of spring, with Shavuot, the season bursts forth in a riot of color and luscious flavors. "Kosher by Design" by Susie Fishbein, captures the beauty of every holiday with a feast for the eye as well as the palate.
It's a sweaty summer day in the city, and the sun -- worthy of a heat-advisory at 9:30 a.m. -- mercilessly scorches the sidewalks as I dodge bus-exhaust fumes, doughnut carts and the tourist masses while making my way to my office cubicle.
Rita Milos Brownstein, author "Jewish Weddings" (Simon & Schuster, 2002) said she wishes she had known about yichud before she was
As a young Jewish student in the '60s, Robin Siegal believed that Chanukah was basically ignored in the public schools she attended, which included Hamilton High School. "
Osik Akselrud got a little help from his friends in staging a recent workshop designed to teach students to teach others about the history and traditions of Chanukah.
"Entertaining is a lot like gardening," Linda Burghardt said. "You can't make mistakes."
Celebrated cookbook author and chef Joyce Goldstein can trace her bloodline to a Russian shtetl, but her heart and soul lie in the Mediterranean.
If Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna hopes to becomes Israel's next prime minister, he faces a daunting challenge: resuscitating a moribund Labor Party in a little more than two months.
The calls increase in frequency as Rosh Hashana gets closer. "Rabbi, I'm thinking of putting my kids in Hebrew school.
Italian scholar Francesco Spagnolo is keenly aware of the long-standing Jewish presence in Italy.
"Never before the creation of the State of Israel did Jews of so many varied origins live together, and in such a stimulating, if at times threatening, environment as in the land they called in Hebrew 'I-Tal-Yah,'" he says.
"I-Tal-Yah" -- Island of Divine Dew in Hebrew -- means Italy in Italian, a land where Jews have lived for more than 2,000 years and which has seen layer after layer of immigration from all over the Jewish Diaspora.
A few years ago, Aish HaTorah Rabbi Yaacov Deyo (of SpeedDating fame) presented me with a book before Rosh Hashana. With this simple, gracious gesture he changed forever the way I relate to what can be the most daunting time on the Jewish calendar.
If you like babbling brooks and floating waterlilies, City of Hope probably has your idea of an interesting and unusual Saturday afternoon.
Late-night giggles in a bunk bed, lazy afternoons in a cool pool, sweet summer Shabbats with friends that will last a lifetime -- to Rabbi Daniel Greyber, the new executive director of Camp Ramah in California, the Jewish camp experience is a delicate balance of athletic, social and artistic adventures, all peppered with soulful Jewish traditions.
Colleagues in faith, we must act together now. We owe it to our respective faiths and our common calling.
Hold onto your son's baby blanket. Don't give away your daughter's cheerleading uniform. If they hold precious memories and deep meanings, you may be able to recycle them -- as part of your child's chuppah.
In the framework of public obligation and commandment, Jewish men are the central characters of wedding ceremonies, with women taking a more passive role.
This Thanksgiving, following the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, we are already a patriotic and unified country. But, we are also a frightened and anxious country, in need of the comfort that tradition brings.
When does life begin?" is not your standard political question, but it's forcing the debate behind one of the hottest topics in Washington -- stem cell research.
"A Letter in the Scroll: Understanding Our Jewish Identity and Exploring the Legacy of the World's Oldest Religion" by Jonathan Sacks. (The Free Press, $25.)
Gently, gracefully, thoughtfully, Jonathan Sacks unfolds an emotionally compelling argument for Jews to reclaim and engage with traditional faith, traditional texts and traditional acts. Wisely, he eschews philosophic reasonings: Jews teach by words, with words, through stories, songs, psalm, exegesis. Logically constructed arguments cannot convince one of religious veracity nor demonstrate a revealed truth.
My brother and I are sitting on the kitchen floor cutting pipe. Actually, he's cutting and I'm criticizing. This combines two venerable family traditions.
So here's my vote to simplify Hanukkah and restore its inherent values: freedom, conviction, dedication, hope, continuity, peace, rebuilding, community, family.