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The Lifecyclist

  • Judaism without the “experts”

    Some folks in the Jewish community decry the rise in “privatized Judaism.” From a Jewish institutional perspective, this makes perfect sense. The bar or bat mitzvah celebration that takes place outside of the synagogue; the wedding officiated by friends of the couple without a rabbi present; couples who create their own wedding ceremony mixing Jewish… More ▸

  • When a child dies

    The death of a loved one is always hard to bear. How much more unbearable is the grief when it’s one’s own child. In this essay, a father talks about the devastating loss of his teenage son, and how the shiva ritual helped him past those first days he could not have navigated on his… More ▸

  • Justin Bieber and the Shema

     Jewish rituals aren’t just for Jews anymore. Conservative Rabbi Jason Miller,  founder of the Kosher Michigan certification agency in metropolitan Detroit, points out in his blog how prevalent certain Jewish traditions have become in non-Jewish America. Quoting JTA Editor Ami Eden’s description of the hora at the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding, Miller suggests that Chelsea would have requested the dance even… More ▸

  • Mazal Tov: Baby in the mikveh

    In this cute-beyond-words video, ten-week-old Clara Grossman becomes an official MOT when parents Ricky and Jennifer Grossman immerse her in the ritual waters of Mayyim Hayyim, a community mikveh in Newton, Mass. Jennifer hadn’t quite completed her conversion when Clara was born. So to make sure she’s accepted by Jews beyond the Grossmans’ Reform community,… More ▸

  • A Jewish wedding without God?

    As a Jewish life cycle consultant who guides couples and families toward creating meaningful ceremonies, I am presented with all sorts of creative, sometimes puzzling requests from couples planning their weddings. One client had a particularly interesting request — a Jewish wedding ceremony that left God out of it. Both members of the couple are… More ▸

  • Biff and Buffy do b’nai mitzvah

    Synagogue can be a scary place, and not just because you might get hit up for dues. What if you’re not Jewish and it’s your first time there? With intermarriage constantly on the rise, more and more of the folks in the pews for life cycle events are not Jewish. What happens? They get handed a book with… More ▸

  • Welcome help for Jewish mourners

    As families live farther apart and fewer Jews belong to synagogues, dealing with death and funerals becomes ever more difficult. And no one needs more aggravation when they’re grieving. Now there’s an online service to help. provides an online portal for people to announce a death, post an obituary and provide details of the… More ▸

  • Shelter from the (urban) storm

    Some strange-looking sukkahs are set to go up in Manhattan’s Union Square Park on Sept. 19. They’re the 12 finalists in Sukkah City: New York City, an architectural competition to fashion “radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site.” Here’s what the LA Times has to say: As the competition’s background materials… More ▸

  • Taking the waters

    Ritual immersion in a mikveh, or body of living water, is an ancient part of Jewish tradition. Among observant Jews it is required for converts to Judaism, for brides, and for women who practice family purity, who immerse monthly. Mikvehs can also be used for other purposes, most often by men before Shabbat or holidays…. More ▸

  • It’s Rosh Hashanah — do you know where your tuchis is?

    The High Holidays are here, and so is shul-shopping, that time-honored ritual whereby Jews who don’t belong to a synagogue — or those unhappy with their current choice — check out congregations they may deign to join. Synagogues know that, which is why some are abandoning their usual high-priced ticket schemes to offer free seats… More ▸