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Jewish holidays

  • Write Your Own Dirge for Tisha B’av

    Jewish tradition teaches that we are commanded to write a Torah in our lifetime, but not a kinah, or dirge. For ages, our prophets and rabbis have done this for us, filtering and distancing, putting our most painful group memories into acrostic, poetic form. Beginning with Eicha (Lamentations) and continuing with additional kinot, our forebears… More ▸

  • At Shavuot, Professing a Love of Torah and for the Scroll

    In a knowledge world ruled by books and pages and digitized memory, why do Jews hold onto the scroll? As Shavuot and its focus on receiving the Torah approach, I must ask: Could it be that rolled along together somewhere in our minds with the love of Torah is the love of scroll? We are… More ▸

  • As Passover Winds Down, Can Pizza Be Far Behind?

    Just a few more days. The fear of what to eat quenched by the disappointment in what we’ll eat lasts just a few more days. For a holiday celebrated by more Jews than any other for its universal theme of freedom and ease of celebrating at home, I only feel liberated when Passover has passed… More ▸

  • Shatner Explores Passover Story in Dramatic Reading of Exodus

    Less than a month after the death of Charlton Heston, another of Hollywood’s great over-actors is taking center stage in the retelling of the Passover story. This week the Jewish Music Group is releasing “Exodus: An Oratorio In Three Parts,” a dramatic biblical reading by William Shatner accompanied by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. The album… More ▸

  • Astronaut in Space for Passover Remembers a Fallen Israeli Hero

    As Jews around the world prepare for Passover, the festival of freedom, one adventurous soul is experiencing emancipation in a most literal fashion. In his new abode aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman has slipped the bonds of gravity and won’t return to Earth’s shackles for approximately two months. Reisman, 40, a… More ▸

  • New St. Petersburg Shul is Key to Outreach on Passover

    The taste of liberation is spreading in St. Petersburg. It tastes like a saltless cracker: matzah. That’s because, with the recent opening of St. Petersburg’s new synagogue on the outskirts of the city, many of the 20,000 or so Jews who live in nearby neighborhoods will be celebrating Passover for the first time, local Jewish… More ▸

  • Passover Connects Us to Our Inner Immigrant

    Immigration restrictionists frequently charge that American Jewish attitudes about immigration are mired in a sepia-toned time warp where bubbes in babushkas and wide-eyed zaydes are still hobbling off boats from the old country. Sentimentalities aside, we must not lose sight of the fact that Jews are a religious and ethical people and the bearers of… More ▸

  • This is the Year to Reflect on Purim’s Darker Message

    Children dressed in costumes. Parents celebrating. Stories of massacres greeted with revelry. Sounds like a decent pitch for Hamas television – if you switch out the Hebrew for Arabic and ignore that it’s the scene at most synagogues in the world on the night of Purim. To be fair, most of the Jews in the… More ▸

  • Bush Uses Menorah Lighting to Meet Jews Who Knew Persecution

    President Bush used his annual Chanukah meeting with Jewish leaders to invite figures who had experienced persecution throughout the world. Among the 15 individuals who joined the president at the White House on Monday, International Human Rights Day, were Elliott Benjamin, the vice president of the Iranian American Jewish Federation; Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the… More ▸

  • With M-16s on Their Shoulders, Soldiers Mark Chanukah in Iraq

    In some ways, this year’s Chanukah in Baghdad seemed just like Chanukah any other year. Everyone gathered around the menorah outside. I spoke about the meaning of the holiday for us, in Baghdad today. A few people laughed as I pointed out some of the parallels between the Maccabees of old fighting for their just… More ▸