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Jewish holidays

  • Why a chicken?

    Ben Harris filed a report on the feud between animal-rights activists and Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim over kapparos. Here’s his interview with Rabbi Shea Hecht about why the pre-High Holiday ritual must performed with a chicken. Audio sound funny? Upgrade your Flash player. To subscribe to JTA’s Behind the News podcast, click here. More ▸

  • A Tale of How Rosh Hashanah Played a Role in the Bailout Vote

    Rosh Hashanah: a time for contemplation? Of course. A time for Jewish lawmakers to stop and reconsider how to save Wall Street from itself? Makes sense — four Jewish lawmakers changed their votes over the holiday. A time to heed the Jewish supplications of Newt Gingrich? Yes, it got that weird last week. The first… More ▸

  • The day Israel has no cars

    For thoroughly secular Israelis, Yom Kippur is not so much a day of atonement as it is a national car-free day. Even in secular Tel Aviv, cars are parked for the holiday and the streets fall silent – of engine noise, that is. On Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere around Israel, you can… More ▸

  • Blowing in the new year

    Nearly every newspaper in America seems to have a Rosh Hashanah story of one kind or another. Here’s a sampling: Alisa Israel Goldberg has some special guests to thank for the sweetness of her Rosh Hashanah table: 60,000 bees, reports the San Jose Mercury News. A project at the University of Washington Hillel called PostRegret… More ▸

  • Sukkot of Transition: Use Holidays to Help Cope with Economic Angst

    The start of the month of Elul brings our community into its preparation for the High Holidays. Now the pace of communal life starts to change and our focus is on reflection, reconciliation, repentance and the annual response to new beginnings. For too many in our community, however, this season will hold more angst than… More ▸

  • Rosh Hashanah Liturgy Reminds What We Can Do to Avert Evil

    Sept. 11, 2001 occurred just six days before Rosh Hashanah. It was the tail end of what had been a difficult 12 months on the Jewish calendar: violence in Israel, a presidential election arbitrated by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Enron scandal. Then, on a particularly gorgeous morning, terrorists attacked New York and Washington. Rabbis… More ▸

  • 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 ▸

  • Old matzah, new matzah

    The Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg, Va., published an ode to good old fashioned fried matzah: In a holiday filled with ritual foods, matzo is the oldest symbol of salvation in the Passover Seder. In fact, the Seder can’t end until the last piece of matzo has been recovered from its ceremonial hiding place and eaten…. More ▸