Loving or Hating a Jew: Which is Easier?

“I have never seen such beautiful blue water!” Jennifer proclaimed as she is telling you about her amazing spring break trip to Cancun. You could not afford to go anywhere. You feel the tremendous stress of your forced smile and…

Parashat Acharei Mot: A Lesson in Comforting

As Parashat Acharei Mot begins, Aaron is still dealing with the fallout of the tragic death of two of his sons. The Midrash in Avot D’rabbi Nathan (1:14) states that Moshe had already comforted Aaron in the immediate aftermath of…

Taste of Torah: Shabbat Hagadol — Community and Nationhood

Shabbat HaGadol (the Great Sabbath) is the name given to the Shabbat immediately preceding Passover. It is very fitting that Passover, the ultimate holiday of preparation, should have its own day honoring the very fact that Passover requires preparation. In his…

They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.

Many of our holidays deal with this same progression of events. Jews were confronted with an existential threat, we surmounted it, and now we indulge in symbolically relevant dishes. But what does this continued retelling and celebration of our near-brushes…

Guide to Purim

You’ve heard of Purim, right? It’s a day we dress up, feast, and listen to stories. Sound familiar? For some, Purim may just be another day to dress up, eat and socialize. But Purim isn’t just about the triangle-shaped cookies…

Vayak’hel: Making Our Lives Beautiful

And Moses said to the Israelites: See, the Lord has singled out by name, Bezalel, son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  He has endowed him with a divine spirit of skill, ability, and knowledge in…

Meaningful Clothes: Spiritual Attire Then and Now

When I was a kid, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about going to synagogue, but I especially hated having to get dressed up for temple. Putting on fancy clothes just reinforced the formality and discomfort of the whole experience. If prayer…

Is God a Sexist?

Ethiopians say that their gods are snub–nosed and blackThracians that they are pale and red-haired –Xenophanes (c.570-c.475 BCE) Traditional religions of virtually whatever stripe are sexist: they cast men and women in sharply different roles, with males dominant. Religion plays a leading…

The Mishkan: A Lesson in Unity

The Midrash to Proverbs opens with a quote from the Book of Job: “Where can wisdom be found? Where is the source of understanding?” (Job 28:12). In the Midrash, Rabbi Tanhum ben Hanilai suggests that these questions refer to King…

Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

We live in an age of radical autonomy. Each individual zealously guards their own independence from everyone else. We resent when someone presumes to tell us what is right or wrong, seeks to impose external limitations to our discretion or…