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Is Google NOW Incredible or Creepy? Is NOW Kosher?

There sometimes is a fine line between incredible and creepy.The Times hints at this in a review of phone app technology that seems to know what you are thinking, especially Google NOW. Case in point. Yesterday I had to go from Teaneck, NJ to Forest Hills Queens, NY to attend the funeral for my sister’s […]

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The High Cost of Being Jewish

Serious Jewish journalism consistently laments the high cost of being Jewish. So why is being Jewish such a financial bust? ‘Cause it has to be! It’s God’s will. It says so in the Torah. Take, for example, the command, “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” This command is given three times […]

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My Dear Rabbi Talmudic Advice Column for August

Dear Rabbi, My son, his wife and children have decided to make aliyah to Israel. My husband and I understand their practical and idealistic motivations for this decision. We applaud what they are doing and feel pride in their Judaic and Zionist ardor. We plan to visit them in Israel periodically, but we have no […]

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My/Her Tattoo

My Tattoo by Emilia Diamant I knew when I went to get my first tattoo that the hardest part wouldn’t be the pain (although it did hurt quite a bit), it would be telling my mother. I had the idea when I was living in Israel, where I fell in love with Hebrew–it’s twists and turns and […]

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Letter to the Editor: Why Make Fun of Yeshivish People so Much

Hi, I happen to run across your blog in doing a search for Pomegranate Supermarket. I read a few of your posts and I have to wonder, why all the negativity about yeshivish people? Many yeshivish bochurim and men (my husband as an example) will not use the internet as these bochurim and men take […]

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To Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo

I am leaving tomorrow for a trip home to LA. Between visiting cousins, friends, new babies, and family, my trips home tend to whiz by in a blur of too-short-check-ins. With all of the wonderful (albeit short) visits I make while I’m home, the most important ones I make are to my grandfather. Papa is […]

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The Tragedy of the Four SEED Boys

Four SEED boys came to Orchard Beach this summer. And the results were not good. They were Shimon, Akiva, Elisha, and another Shimon; students from a small yeshiva in Monsey who were sent to spread Torah “out of town” over the summer. The first Shimon started at the swirly blue marble countertops at the home […]

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The Incredible Pebble Watch and the Free Caddie Golf App and the Pebble Bike App

I play golf, I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 android smartphone. I started to use the Free Caddie app for determining distance to the green. The problem was that the phone is hard to see in the bright sunlight and it is awkward to keep pulling out your phone to see the distance to green. […]

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Slash Coleman Talks ‘The Bohemian Love Diaries’

Listen, we all have our weird childhood stories. The ones that we tell on the third or fourth date to gauge whether this relationship could get more serious, the tales of familial dysfunction that reveal our own inescapable flaws, those embarrassing yet vital moments in the formation of the imperfect, weird people we are now. […]

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Caroline Kennedy: the Daring Swimmer

In the article we read about a surprising facet of her life. She is an avid open water swimmer. …A few years ago, Mr. Hughes made an offhand comment that he and his partner, Dr. Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist who directs the psychopharmacology clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital, made a ritual of competing in Swim […]

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Do You Really Need to Ask a Rav?

The purpose of this article is to challenge the firmly entrenched idea within the Torah community that rabbinical counsel should be sought in all crucial life decisions or halachic quandaries. In this article, I will argue why the rigid interpretation of this belief may have made sense in the past, but no longer does. The […]

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NYC Triathlon Swim: My Hudson River Diary

Minute Zero: Coming down the ramp onto the race-start-barge in the Hudson River at 99th Street. Goggles, check; swim cap, check; stopwatch on zero, check. Interview with the race announcer over the public address, I’m Tzvee from Teaneck, New Jersey. Yes, it’s my first triathlon; yes, I’m on a relay team. Line up, look into […]

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Baal Teshuva Schlemiel

If it is to grow, change, and thrive, every new or emerging culture needs to see itself.  Whether in film, comic strips, or novels, all artists worth anything will tell you that works-of-art can help a culture to take account of itself: where it’s come from, where it’s at, and where it’s going to.  That […]

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3,000 Universes

The Talmud in Sanhedrin says that someone who saves one life is like someone who saved an entire universe. If this is true, then Irena Sendler saved nearly 3,000 universes. Since its inception, Yad Vashem has been in the forefront of identifying and honoring Righteous Gentiles saved Jews during WWII. Many of these individuals hid […]

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10 Ways to Know You’re in a Modern Orthodox Shul Without Going into Shul

Anyone with a kindergarten level of Jewish education can tell they’re in a modern orthodox shul, the mechitza, the seating style, the siddurim, the flags, there are literally dozens of ways to tell. However, being able to tell you’re in a modern orthodox shul without actually stepping foot into the sanctuary can make things a […]

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Sternberg Hot Dog Story Confirmed

The Sternberg Hot Dog story is one of those frum Jewish urban legends that has never been confirmed. It goes as follows, a girl at Camp Sternberg (a large frum girls camp in upstate NY) was playing around with a frozen hot dog and it broke and became lodged inside her. From a yeshiva guys […]

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Conan O’Brien Teaches Halacha (Jewish Law)

As the founder and director of a kosher certification agency, people often send me anything and everything having anything to do with kosher certification. So last week when the Rabbinical Council of California first certified a sexual lubricant product as kosher and then rescinded the certification, you can imagine I received several articles about the […]

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Camp Care Packages or Parcels of Dysfunction?

The Yenta children are off at Jewish camp for a few weeks, where they are presumably learning a rock ‘n’ roll version of the birkat hamazon and the finer points of a gaga slam. Of course, I am handling this terribly, roaming around their empty rooms looking for things to clean and carrying the dog […]

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Is the Chief Rabbi of Israel Kosher?

No, the chief rabbi of Israel is not kosher. Increasingly Israelis are growing tired of their failed institution of the Chief Rabbi. The Times reports on the chief rabbi selection process — regarding David Stav “currently the rabbi of Shoham” — “Promising ‘Real Revolution,’ Israeli Jolts Race for Chief Rabbi” that the nuclear option is on […]

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From Openness to Heresy

Outright heresy is emanating from the heart of the YCT rabbinic world. No, this time we are not dealing with Open Orthodoxy (as YCT founder Rabbi Avi Weiss refers to his movement) innovating novel practices that can sort of be reconciled with minority or exotic halachic opinions, nor are we dealing with Open Orthodoxy promoting […]

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Is the Dot-Kosher Internet Domain Extension Kosher?

Some rabbis say yes; other rabbis say no. Here’s a both ironic and Talmudic kosher story to end your week from Bloomberg (“It’s Rabbi Versus Rabbi in $17 Billion Dot-Kosher Battle”). “The Internet’s organizing body, called Icann, is meeting this week in the South African port city of Durban to begin a major expansion of […]

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Stop Teaching Students That Sexual Assault Is a Potential Consequence of Drinking

Probably the only thing better than reading a thought provoking piece in a major publication is realizing it was penned by a colleague. Leah Berkenwald, the former editor of our blog, wrote a fantastic article about sexual assault and responsibility. Her message veers away from the traditional, and unfortunate, message of placing blame on women […]

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When Old Technology is What We Need

It’s unusual for me to write about old technology. In the tech field what’s new is what’s interesting and newsworthy. Yesterday’s technology quickly becomes obsolete. Yet sometimes, old technology can be more interesting than the latest gadget or about-to-be-released mobile app. As is the case with Judaism, we can embrace change and still revere the […]

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Heartsick

Today is Tisha B’Av, when it is traditional to read the book of Lamentations.  Lamentations describes the calamities that befall the city of Jerusalem when it is under siege. Among the things that it describes as lamentable are a mothers eating their children and staggering amounts of death and destruction of all sorts. In Hebrew, the […]

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Ways to Spend Your Privilege

In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of George Zimmerman there has been a lot of talk about justice. While some of this discussion has been constructive, most of what I’ve heard has been simple, undirected anger about an injustice. Perhaps the most productive reaction I’ve seen has been from my friend Jacqui Shine. […]

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Free Kinnos Kinnot Lamentations Elucidations for Tisha B’Av

Reuven Brauner wrote to us from Raanana, Israel about his publication on the lamentations (Hebrew: kinnot or kinnos) for Tisha B’Av, “Key Notes for Kinnos.” The work is available in PDF format for free downloading at http://www.halakhah.com/: The Tisha B’Av poems of lament, the Kinnos, like all our Piyyutim and Selichos, were written in a poetic […]

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I Am the Egg (Wo)Man: Reflections on Rosh Chodesh Av & Tisha B’Av

The first 9 days of Av are seen in traditional Judaism as days of, if not mourning, then solemnity. We do not feast, we do not celebrate; we are once again living through the days leading up to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And, as many have already noted, one of the most significant […]

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Don’t Let George Zimmerman Ruin your Tisha B’Av

It seems that everyone talking about George Zimmerman, no one spoke about it over shabbos, yet as soon as shabbos was over it was suddenly on everyone’s mind. Today as I drove without any sound coming out of my stereo because I decided on these last two days of the 9 days to stop listening […]

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The Parable of the Rabbi Who Thinks He’s a Cop

Actual news story that serves as a parable: It seems impersonating a police officer isn’t just a recent problem in Queens. As the Associated Press discovered, it’s been a busy summer for Alfredo Borodowski, a city rabbi who’s suspected of trying to pull over other drivers who raise his ire by cutting him off or […]

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Parshat Matot-Masei: What is our Journey?

Last week we celebrated July 4th, a day that represents freedom in our American History.  Nowadays,  we look forward to July 4th as a day when we gather with family and friends, enjoy the weather, maybe bbq and watch concerts and fireworks either in person or on television. We may lose sight of the events that […]

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