Blog Archives

Israel & Christmas

SOMETIMES CHRISTMAS COINCIDES with Hanukah, sometimes it doesn’t. Last year it did, this year it doesn’t. This lack of contiguity matters a good deal to American Jews but largely goes unnoticed in the Jewish State.  In America, when December 25th falls within one of the eight days of Hanukah, Jews are in sync with their surrounding culture–they celebrate at the ... Read More »

Ayar’ing, Maysik’ing & Gedid’ing 

MANY AMERICANS HAVE lost touch with the origins of Thanksgiving. When you ask someone to explain the reason for the holiday, more often than not, the holiday will be linked to American ideals like democracy, pluralism, and freedom of religion. Since most Americans live their lives far removed from agriculture, few remember that Thanksgiving grew out of the same impetus ... Read More »

The Big Move

senior woman and caregiver go walking outdoors

  A CENTURY OF my family’s living in Brooklyn came to an end recently, when my parents moved out of their Flatbush home of 41 years to the Gurwin Jewish Assisted Living Community in Commack, New York. My paternal grandparents, who married in 1917, raised four children in Brooklyn, three of whom elected to raise their own families there. Of ... Read More »

Casting Off

Honey jar with fresh apples

AS I SOMETIMES do for holiday columns, I turn to my friend and teacher Rabbi Lior Engelman for this year’s Rosh Hashanah column.  A note about Tashlich:  This Hebrew word means “casting off,” and it denotes a ritual (traditionally performed on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah) whereby one symbolically casts off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces ... Read More »

Twenty Years of Aliyah

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ON JULY 29 we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our aliyah. When we first told people that we were moving to Israel, almost everyone was encouraging–aside from the four people who would now have to board a trans-Atlantic flight in order to see their grandchildren. Some friends offered us advice on the order of: Things might be very hard at first, ... Read More »

Fearless Tennis & Hishtadlus

I RECENTLY DISCOVERED a deep connection between playing excellent tennis and traditional Jewish theology. It happened like this: When I was in the States recently, I bought a 12-pack case of Wilson tennis balls. Besides saving about $30 (off the Israeli cost), I received a free 2-CD program by sports psychologist and former professional tennis player Jeff Greenwald, called “Fearless ... Read More »

Twenty-somethings In Israel       

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THE GREAT RECESSION of 2008 broke what was once a taboo for American youth: moving back in with your parents after college.  Now that America is prospering again, I imagine that some of the old stigmas against living at home have returned. In Israel, it continues to be normal to live with your parents at any number of junctures in ... Read More »

Widen the Tent 

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SINCE 1993, the  Jewish Agency has been running a network of summer camps in the Former Soviet Union (FSU).  The Agency describes these camps as “a cultural lifeline to Jewish identity.” These summer camps are supported by several Russian Jewish philanthropists, and by Jewish Federations in such cities as Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, and St. Louis. The summer camps are ... Read More »

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