Monday, June 17, 2019


Anti-Semitism Before Hitler

Part 1

A friend in Englewood, Manfred Rechtschaffen, recently brought a 400-page book to my attention with the title of “Gesellschaftskrise und Judenfeindschaft in Deutschland 1870-1945.” As usual the German words are huge and therefore difficult to translate, but the best I can make out

The Shavuot Seder

The Shavuot-night seder is very special—almost as special as the seder that we have on the night of Pesach. We all know the story of the rabbis who stayed up for the Shavuot seder and learned all through the night until their talmidim came and said it was time for Kriyas Shema Shel Shacharis.

Unknown Opposites

If an alien from outer space were to land on earth, it might be difficult to explain to such a newcomer the current composition of the Jewish People. Technically speaking, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Practically speaking, however, many Jews put themselves or others into different groups with special names, labels and designations. For

Making Paper Blintzes for Shavuot

When thinking about a Shavuot project, I really wanted something having to do with the giving of the Torah. I have seen candy Torahs, mini hotdog Torahs, paper towel roll Torahs and so many others that it seemed like the Torah idea has been thoroughly taken care of! I decided to switch gears. Besides Torah, the

Parshat Bamidbar: We and Then Me

Parshat Bamidbar discusses the degalim: four groups of Shevatim, each with a specific camping location around the Mishkan. Although bnei Yisrael traveled and camped in the past, this arrangement only starts after the Mishkan is built. Why is that?

Jonathan HaCohen was quite a basketball player.

Women Leaders Meet at OU Leadership Summit

Last week, 100 women of varied ages, 56 communities or geographic locales and representing the spectrum of hashkafot (backgrounds) within Orthodox Judaism engaged in networking, formal and informal discussions, and workshops on volunteer recruitment, public speaking, forming nonprofit boards, team building, dealing with

A Modest (B’Dieved) Proposal: Take the Men Out, Too

We all know the new look: A couple is honored. Their names are both printed, but only the man is shown.

An ad for a grocery store shows a family shopping for groceries: a toddler sister (with hair blocking her face, of course), a big brother, and… an uncle? Big brother’s best friend?

If I Am Only for Myself, Who Am I? An Argument for Modern Orthodox Kiruv

What do we think of when we think of kiruv (i.e., bringing non-observant Jews back to Jewish observance)? Most likely teenage Chabadniks working the train stations on Erev Shabbos, Aish HaTorah’s Discovery seminars, or Ohr Sameach’s baal teshuva yeshiva in Jerusalem.

What is missing from

Sephardic and Ashkenazic Roommates: How to Place the Mezuzah?

Rashi vs. Rabbeinu Tam

There are two manners in which to interpret the Gemara’s statement (Menachot 33a) that mezuzot may not be placed “in the manner of carpenters.” Rashi (ad. loc. s.v. Avida) explains that this forbids placing mezuzot horizontally, while Rabbenu Tam (cited in Tosafot

‘If I Forget You, Jerusalem...’ (Psalms 137:5)

Psalms 137:5 reads: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, tishkach yemini.” But what do the last two words mean? Note that that second to last word is “tishkach,” not “eshkach” (=I will forget).

On the simplest level, “tishkach yemini” means “my right [hand] will forget.” But forget

A National Kiddush Hashem

Parshat Bechukotai

In the midst of the prophet Yirmiyahu’s severe condemnation of Israel, after excoriating the nation for their repeated sins and warning them of the defeat and tragedy they would soon suffer, the navi shifts his focus and, almost as if in a sudden, semi-conscious trance, he

Graduation Tears

It’s that time of year again in the RYNJ middle school. During these finals weeks, the teachers are clamoring to finish covering their curriculum and prepare students for their finals. The students, enticed by the warm sunshine and bitten by the spring fever bug, are counting the days until summer vacation begins. The