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Victoria’s Secret, Shabbos Walks, and Interrogating Rape Cultures

I love guerilla feminism. And I love that this group of feminists from Baltimore used online guerilla feminism to critique Victoria’s Secret and promote consent. And I’m not the only one who loves this stuff! I love the celebration of consent. I love the celebration of bodies. I love the way in which the campaign […]

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Is BVO Kosher?

The Times reports on the possible health issues of BVO, an additive found in Gatorade and other drinks. According to Jewish law, the chemical is kosher. But given the health risks, we don’t think anyone should consume it. We are told that, “about 10 percent of drinks sold in the United States contain brominated vegetable […]

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95 Lives: A Film You Should Know About

Ever wanted to learn more about an amazing, captivating, female pioneer only to find the story undocumented, or worse, simply buried? That’s what happened to me when I discovered the work of Jewish American photographer Helen Levitt. I am making a film to fill that gaping hole. 95 Lives uncovers Helen Levitt’s legendary career documenting NYC […]

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Yosef: Metrosexual of the Torah

All the signs are there. The primping of the hair. The eyeliner. The channeling of Alice Cooper with a disco perm. The man chosen to represent klal Yisroel, ushering the Tribe from the days of our forefathers and onto the birth of Moshe rabeinu. A metrosexual all the way. We’re only left to ask ourselves: […]

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Our Great Grandfather Harris Epstein the Inventor

I am named after my great-grandfather, Harris (Tzvee) Epstein, aka, Epstein the Inventor, who lived in New York City and Spring Valley. I probably inherited my technical curiosity from him. He was the inventor and patent holder of many practical items, a folding umbrella, an extension ladder, a double sided toothbrush, a vegetable grater and more. Here are […]

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Rosa Parks and Hanukkah: Why Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss

On the Thursday night before Hanukkah began, I attended an event called A Sip of Eser, an introductory session to the ten-part young adult learning program Eser (meaning 10) run by Hebrew College in nearby Newton, MA. Amidst the tumult of a Boston bar, and alongside several dozen people I had never met, I heard […]

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Nechemya Weberman is Guilty

Guest post by Rabbi Elyahu Fink Nechemya Weberman has been found guilty on 59 counts. The unlicensed therapist with ties to the infamous Vaad Hatznius was accused of abusing a teenage girl and there are rumors of many other victims swirling. In what must have been a grueling two weeks, the young woman who stood […]

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Happy Madoff Investment Fraud Day

The Times’ Paul Sullivan reminded us to wish everyone a happy Madoff day on this 4th anniversary of the discovery of the massive investment fraud, “On ‘Madoff Day,’ Think About How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Fraud”. Just for the record we did not know until we saw it in the Times that today […]

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A Hanukkah Analogy at West Point and a Plea to Light a Menorah in Protest

We’d like to see Cadet Blake Page retract his resignation from West Point, and go back there, and light a menorah in the Chapel as a protest against religious oppression in our day in our country. Here is our basis for that plan. Blake’s story out of the US military academy at West Point reminded […]

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How Can I Make My Life More Meaningful?

Question: Although children did not come easily to me, thank G-d I now have three school age children. Sometimes I can’t help feeling like I’m neither here nor there – not really immersed in child-rearing to the exclusion of everything else, but not entirely free to go back to school to pursue my interests. I […]

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Larry Ritter: Modern Day Zionist and Israel Supporter

There are Zionists and there are lovers of Israel. Some are both. On a United Jewish Appeal mission to Israel in 1982 Larry Ritter claims he became a full Jew. There was no conversion involved as he was born Jewish and raised in an Orthodox home. However, the Livingston, New Jersey native visited Israel for […]

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Chanukah, Vayeishev and Mikeitz

Why does Chanukah always fall out during the parshiot of Vayeishev or Mikeitz?  The midrash in Mikeitz tells us that Hashem had a master plan. He wanted Yosef to be imprisoned for two years.  Therefore, he caused Pharoh to have a dream, so Yosef would be freed in a natural way. This is contrary to […]

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Best Hanukkah Videos of 2012

Hanukkah, Hanukah or Chanukkah… no matter how you spell it there’s one thing you can be certain of when Hanukkah arrives and that is that there will be no shortage of fun Hanukkah videos on YouTube. Since posting my list of the top Hanukkah videos the past couple years I now receive dozens of videos […]

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Chanukah 2012: The Survival of the Celebration

The holiday of Chanukah is celebrated annually to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem which took place in December 164 BCE.  On the third anniversary of the Temple’s defilement through pagan sacrifice at the hands of Jewish Hellenizers, the Temple was restored to pristine Jewish worship of God in accordance with the […]

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What is The Secret Life of Girls Around the World?

At the NOW (National Organization for Women) conference I attended in June, playwright Eve Ensler delivered the keynote speech. Ensler, who is featured in JWA’s online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, was a riveting speaker whose passionate words truly rallied me to action. I’ve been hoping to see one of her plays ever since. Luckily, […]

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Have You Ever Considered the Girl to be the Somebody?

Yael Kohen’s new book, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy, has many revealing tales about how change happens. But one stands out for me: in 1966, the actress Marlo Thomas approached the head of ABC-TV programming with a novel idea. She wanted “to play the person with the problem, not the person […]

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The Miracle of Matisyahu

Kind of crushing on Matisyahu right now. (In a totally tzniut way, of course.) After years and years and years of suffering through the cheesiness of “I Have A Little Dreidel” and Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song,” Judaism’s reggae superstar has given us not one but TWO holiday jams all our own: Last year, he gave […]

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March for Soviet Jewry 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago today on Sunday, December 6, 1987, I headed off to Detroit Metropolitan Airport with my mother. Downstairs at the airport by the baggage claim we were divided into one of three chartered airplanes to fly to Washington D.C. for the march in support of Soviet Jewry. Those who were present at the March […]

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Making Family Stories into Art

This weekend I was lucky enough to see two talented Jewish women make memorable art from their family stories. On Friday night, I went to Club Passim, the legendary folk venue in Harvard Square, to hear one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Lucy Kaplansky. Her set mixed old favorites with songs from her new CD, “Reunion.” […]

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Latkes Off the Internet: Is This Even Legal?

I saw these flash-frozen latkes advertised in a pop-up ad yesterday and my feelings are, *ahem*, mixed: On one blistered hand, it sounds like a fantastic idea to save the greasy mess and let the nice mensches at SchmaltzOnline.com do the shredding and the frying. (It’s also an expensive one: $17 for a dozen potato […]

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Ford’s New Jewish Leader

It’s no secret that Henry Ford was a notorious anti-Semite, and his company’s dealings with the Nazi Party during the Holocaust are well documented. But the company’s story has changed drastically in recent years. The Ford family’s donation of a rare 500-year-old Torah scroll to a suburban Detroit synagogue and the appointment of a Jewish […]

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Nechemya Weberman: Rapist or Victim?

I’ve been back to blogging for a week and my new goal of avoiding Jewish websites, blogs and news outlets almost worked.The Weberman trial, though, is too hard to ignore. If it was a white collar fraud case I would just throw it into the bin of “frum guys caught cheating on their taxes and […]

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Gorging Yourself on Cheap, Coin-Shaped Candy? You Are SO Better Than That

Chanukkah (or however the heck you spell it) is a time of lighting the menorah, recounting yet another story of the resilience of the Jewish people, and celebrating miracles both great and small. It’s also a time of eating things you wouldn’t dare touch the rest of the year, letting your standards slide, and finding […]

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Healthy Kiruv…Respecting Those Whom We Bring Closer to Judaism

Many in the Torah-observant world would likely consider me an ‘outreach success story.’ Coming from a secular background I had little knowledge of Jewish teachings or observance when I entered my first year of college. However, I was open to spirituality and thirsting for truth. Naturally, I found myself relishing the Torah classes provided by […]

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Teaching Sex Ed to Young Modern Orthodox Women

In the years I attended Modern Orthodox day schools, I received close to zero sex education. Aside from one class period in the sixth grade dedicated to menstruation and a week during my senior year devoted to learning the laws of Neidah (Jewish ritual purity laws relating to menstruation), I remained in the dark about […]

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The Young Marrieds are Destroying the Frum Community

I’m not sure that I thought of the complications that surround the young couple trying to find other couples to hang out with. Now before I delve into another inside look at my oh so interesting married life, I should warn you folks that this post isn’t really about me, because I have retained my […]

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Chanukah Then and Now

The Judaism of my youth was defined by what I was not able to do. Is that not what characterizes any observant Jew? I may not eat non-kosher food, as G-d commanded. I may not work on Shabbat, as G-d commanded. I may not eat on Yom Kippur – as G-d commanded. I may not […]

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Big News: Jews Good at Sports

The New York Times knows that Jews is always news, and “Jews and Sports” is big time news. (Not exactly. Some might say, odd topic, odd book.) See the review of ‘Jewish Jocks,’ Edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy — Sporty Jews. 50 sports greats. Are they Jewish? If they are in the book, […]

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Is Science Fiction Jewish?

It’s a fair question. Is science fiction Jewish? Some bloggers say yes, science fiction, is Jewish! The Exploring Our Matrix blog brings up the question in this way, “Is the Oldest Science Fiction in the Talmud?” The basis for the question is this text from the Talmud (b. Menahot 29b) which presents Moses as a […]

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MSU Hillel: If You Build It

Like many rabbis I’m often asked why I chose to become a rabbi. People are interested to know if there was a pivotal moment in my upbringing that steered me to the rabbinate. In responding to that question I’ve always cited my years as a student leader at Michigan State University Hillel. A few weekends […]

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