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I’m From Detroit Too: A Response to Toby Barlow

I was excited last week when the Huffington Post launched its new Detroit section. I clicked the link to take me to the new page dedicated to my hometown and the first article I read seemed to tell me that I wasn’t really from Detroit after all. Toby Barlow’s “Detroit, Meet Detroit” rant would have [...]

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Hilchot Shabbat: Final Halachot of Havdala class #17

Havdala is recited twice, the first time in Maariv with the blessing of Ata Chonantanuand again over a cup of wine. Why do we say Havdala in the blessing of Atah Chonen? The Yerushalmi in Brachot says, “Im ein da’at havdala minayin.” Without intellect, it is impossible to distinguish between different things. To make Havdala, [...]

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Crocheted T-Shirt Yarn Basket For Holiday Giving

Crocheting with t-shirt yarn is so much fun, and lucky for me I happened to have a few balls of t-shirt yarn on hand. I whipped up this basket quite quickly, which qualifies it as a great green gift for those on your list who’d appreciate such a rustic vessel. I think it would be [...]

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What Issues are You Confronting This Thanksgiving?

What issues will you be confronted with on Thanksgiving? Kosher food issues. Inappropriate discussions. Inappropriate dress. Hostility towards Orthodoxy. General discomfort. Everything is fine. And if you don’t have any issues to share, here’s our BBT Thanksgiving Roundup from last year. It’s clear that Thanksgiving is an “issue” for many Baalei Teshuvah. In addition to [...]

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What are your red flags of dating?

I was just talking with my new GF about my red flags of dating. The biggest one for me is when a girl states that she cannot pee in the woods, if you know me it’s actually not so ironic, but many people find it to be insane. But get this moshel, the girl of [...]

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Responsibility not Chesed

Chesed is never quite disinterested. Even the tahara (purification) of a deceased person, chesed shel emes done without any expectation of reciprocity, provides the one performing the mitzvah with a feeling of satisfaction. Part of that satisfaction lies in the feeling that doing chesed is in the category of eino mitzuveh v’osei – ­one who [...]

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What is Glatt Kosher

As a panelist for Jewish Values Online, I am asked to weigh in on various values-based questions from the perspective of a Conservative rabbi. A recent question I was asked to respond to was odd in that it wasn’t a question that had to do with values. I was asked to answer the difference between [...]

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Bulletproof Stockings

Chassidic women typically wear something called the bulletproof stocking. These stockings are typically olive or some sort of brown, they aren’t those sexy black one’s they sell in Victoria’s Secret. These stockings are typically called bulletproof stockings by the rest of the Orthodox world. One of the interesting things about bulletproof stockings is that they [...]

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Chanukah Craft: Tissue Paper Cut Outs

I love tissue paper, and the brilliant colors are perfect for Chanukah decorations. Think light….bright, happy…..and my friends, the idea that Chanukah is a blue and silver holiday is a commercial fabrication, so please don’t let it hamper your creativity as you prepare for the festivities which are just one month away, yikes! I actually [...]

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Parshat Chayei Sarah: Chevron Connecting Us All

The Zohar tells us that the Me’arat Hamachpeila is called the double cave because it connects this world to the next. It is a counterpart to the city of Yerushalayim. However, if we examine Jewish law, the strictures of sanctity pertain only to Yerushalayim and not to Chevron. Why is this so? Rav Wolfson in [...]

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My friend needs your advice: He really doesn’t want to get divorced!

I got a call from an old friend the other day and he started it off by asking me in a very distressed voice if I knew anyone who had been divorced twice and was under 30. To make him feel better I said yes and then said “I can’t believe you’re f$%^ing thinking about [...]

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Sarah Silverman on Being Jewish

This year I’ve given a handful of presentations on the topic of Jewish Humor. I talk about the Jewish comedians who have been making people laugh over the past sixty plus years. I show video clips of the legends of Jewish comedy from Sid Caesar, Jack Benny and Milton Berle to Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen [...]

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To Fur or Not to Fur?

This week’s moral dilemma is brought to you by a bunch of bubbies: I don’t know how this happened, but suddenly my closet contains three fur coats. Well, if you want to get all sartorially technical, two coats and a vest. But still, it’s a lot of animal to be hanging with my J. Crew [...]

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Are you just a Jew on shabbos?

For most people, morning minyan is a way of life. Either they find the virtue of starting their day with connection to God, their families force them to go or they feel driven to complete a fledgling minyan. I myself have been attending minyan lately and much to my dismay, the place I go to [...]

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Prayer in Sports - Part 2

Last week I blogged about the role of public prayer in sports. What prompted me to blog about the subject was a Detroit Free Press article in which I was quoted that dealt with the trend of major league baseball players praying and performing various religious-related activities on the sports field like drawing crosses in the [...]

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On the Culture of Greed

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting discussing an upcoming ballot initiative which would eliminate the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Everybody in the room was opposed to the death penalty. The discussion was about the strategy that should be employed to convince voters to make [...]

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I hereby launch the Woman’s Voice movement

Those of you who haven’t been following closely may not be aware but in recent months there have been a number of public incidents in Israel where women have been asked to stop or avoid performing songs in public. There have been incidents where women have been removed from advertising campaigns and even advertisements. There [...]

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The Pope . . . and Truth

It is not every day that I agree with the Pope. After all, to say the least, we have several non-trivial theological differences. There is also the matter of the history of the Church, and its relationship with our people, and frankly, many more matters than I can list in this essay. Today, however, I [...]

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Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. It is time for us to think about how we can reach out to our Jewish servicemen and women, and show them how appreciative we are for all that they do for our country and to ensure our freedoms. One of the most active organizers of Veterans Day activities is the [...]

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Celebrity Shabbat Shalom Greetings

Sending out a weekly e-mail newsletter to friends has become a passion for Lisa Mark Lis. Lis, a suburban Detroit-based community activist and philanthropist, in her Friday morning e-mail posts to friends and family not only wishes her readers a “Shabbat Shalom,” but she often has a celebrity extend their wishes, too. Lis has videotaped [...]

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The Ugly Side of Idealism

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, P.J. O’Rourke described the mass murder as “an act of idealism.” Not idealism as we colloquially use the term to refer to the ability to place other values over one’s immediate self-interest, but rather “the concept that mankind and society could and should be perfected.” That vision of a [...]

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Parental Musings: Drum Sets and Boys (and girls….)

Boys like drums. Some girls like drums. Many more boys like drums. Right? No one is offended right? It’s just a fact of life, whether genetic or environmental or hormonal.  That said, I had a funny parenting moment last week that I thought I’d share with you. I knew something was up when my eight [...]

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Join the Minyan with Skype

It was 1998 and I was in my first semester of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. My Talmud professor, Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner, approached me after class one day to discuss a project he was working on. As a member of the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), he was [...]

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WTF is wrong with people?

So I’m wandering around Vos Iz Neias last night to see if there were any good frum scandals worth making fun of and I stumbled across a news piece about two Waterbury yeshiva students who were killed in a van rollover on a Connecticut highway. I felt bad for the families and was about to [...]

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Holiday Table Decor: DIY Gilded Apples

DIY gilded apples are just so much fun. And they’re an example of another project that you can make now and enjoy as a decorative touch until spring! Make a bunch and place them just about anywhere for a little crafty holiday touch. And of course there are so many creative ways to use them! [...]

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Should Jews be Paid to Study Torah?

I signed up this year to participate in a Bet Midrash program for international students studying abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The program pairs local English speakers with students to study in a one-on-one chevruta. I had participated in a similar program as a young professional back in Washington, D.C. and got so much [...]

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Athletes’ Public Displays of Religion

This past Friday evening I sat with my family at Adat Shalom Synagogue as we watched a performance by Storahtelling, which is known for its innovative and arts-focused take on the Torah. The Storahtelling performers interpret the themes from the Torah in new ways, acting out a theatrical midrash. In “Like a Prayer,” Storahtelling veterans [...]

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Giant Paper Flowers For Your Fall Table

Guess what? You’re in luck, I do think that giant paper flowers made in cremes and neutral tones look great right about now. Imagine a little candle light, some glitter, a little something rustic, like maybe some burlap or a table runner made out of pieces of aged wood, and you’ve got yourself a really [...]

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Shoutout to Toronto

Even though I’ve been living in California for 2 years now, this blog is still an East Coast blog. New York is the center of all things Jewish and my Jewish worldview will always center on the place I grew up in, so rarely do the people from “out of town” communities get any love [...]

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Technology in Jewish Schools

I still remember the time in 1st grade when my father brought our Apple II Plus into the classroom in an effort to show my classmates the wonders of Turtle Graphics. It was 1982 and each little 1st grader waited in line to get a chance to touch the odd looking keyboard and try to [...]

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