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Farmar in Israel, LeBron and Kobe at the JCC, and Hebrew with Amare Stoudem

NBA basketball players got a much longer summer vacation than they expected because of the lockout. It feels odd to have gone through the entire month of November without any professional basketball games to watch. So what have these NBA stars been doing with their newly found free time? NBA player Jordan Farmar has been […]

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Chovot Halevovot: Using Ones Self #13

After the death of the two sons of Aharon, Hashem taught Aharon the laws of sacrifices. Rashi quotes Rav Elazar ben Azarya who tells a parable. A doctor once warned an ill person not to sleep in damp places or eat sharp vegetables, but he didn’t take the admonition seriously. When a second doctor told […]

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A Nesting Dreidel Mobile Craft Kit

My nesting dreidel hanukkah mobile is back in my little Etsy shop! Why not get a start on your hanukkah/chanukah crafting with my pdf kit? After all you really can’t have too many decorations to fill your house with holiday joy! The mobile craft kit pdf file is available in either brights or pastels, so there’s […]

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Is that love song kosher?

Is that love song kosher? Kipa, an Israeli Orthodox Hebrew web site, reports that Rabbi Eliyahu of Safed has declared pop love songs off limits - not kosher — see the article, חדשות - הרב אליהו: לזמרים של היום אין מושג מה זאת אהבה. Now, we have a suspicion that the rabbi is preparing to […]

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Anthony Castelow Also Taught Mitch Albom About Faith

Last night’s premiere of Mitch Albom’s “Have a Little Faith” was an emotional tribute to both Rabbi Albert Lewis and Pastor Henry Covington. It was great to see that so much of the film had been shot at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan’s largest congregation. Rabbi Harold Loss even made a small appearance in […]

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Should Rabbi Natan Tzvi Finkel Have Mattered More to Us?

I try to keep up with the current events of the worldwide Jewish community. I read all of the major Jewish newspapers (or at least their websites). Therefore, I knew when Rabbi Natan Tzvi Finkel died on November 8 in Jerusalem. And yet, I admit I had never heard of him before. Rabbi Finkel was […]

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Engaging in Kindness

In secular society, chesed (kindness) is considered a positive attribute but it is not something regulated or legislated. In Jewish tradition kindness is a significant value. In fact, the Chafetz Chaim wrote an entire book called Ahavat Chesed, in which he codified the numerous laws pertaining to this middah. The Gemara in Suka mentions that […]

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Is David Mamet Jewish?

Yes, David Mamet is a Jew. A Jew with lots of opinions about things. The JJ tells us that, “David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony- and Oscar-nominated playwright, essayist, screenwriter and film director.” Mamet was born, says Wikipedia, “in 1947 in Chicago to Jewish parents, Lenore June (Silver), a teacher, and Bernard Morris […]

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My First Car Wreck

I got the idea for this post from my friend Brainrants’ (who runs a super-funny blog over here) first run-in with a tree. -Btw, two links to the same blog in one sentence means check it out. You’ll like it. Back to the story though: I was in 1st year Bais Medrash in an “out-of-town” […]

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Chanukah: Torah and Play Do Go Together

One of the more interesting and different stories related to Chanukah are those surrounding Dreidels. According to many traditional accounts, the Dreidel was used as ruse to cover up the studying of Torah when Greek soldiers would come upon groups of children with their teachers. Rather than observing Torah study, they would see a bunch […]

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Mitch Albom’s Having a Very Jewish Year

Last month when I encouraged my friends to attend the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame’s annual induction dinner I made certain to tell them that local Detroit sportswriter Mitch Albom was being inducted. I figured that would be a draw. I was surprised by the response that many of them had — “Mitch Albom’s […]

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Crocheted Scalloped Bracelet Ornament

Here’s a sweet little crocheted scalloped ornament that I made for Chanukah, but that would really look great any time of year. For Chanukah I’ll be hanging ornaments from our dining room chandelier and hopefully making some mobiles and garlands with them too. You can always find a place to hang a little handmade touch […]

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Hanukkah Sale: 4 copies of God’s Favorite Prayers for the Price of 3

Buy 4 copies of God’s Favorite Prayers for the Price of 3 To take advantage of this 4-for-3 promotion, follow these steps: Add 4 copies of God’s Favorite Prayers to your Amazon Shopping Cart. Proceed to checkout. When you’re done shopping on the Amazon site, click the “Proceed to checkout” button in the Shopping Cart. […]

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Menorah of the Week: Stick it in the Spokes of a Consumer Economy

Oy, Black Friday, Cyber Monday…sounds like extra Passover plagues, nu? I come from a long line of bargain hunters, but trampling each other at Wal-Mart might be an indicator that shopping has become a sickness in America. Yes, sitting at home today with a cocktail and clicking until the credit card charges prompt a phone […]

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I’m not frum enough for my own advertisers

Like almost every normal person out there, I find myself googling myself every now and then. The first 30 pages usually suck, but then it always starts to get interesting, comments on blogs and websites mentioning me as if I’m some authority on scandals in the orthodox community or pictures that have copied and pasted […]

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Kaddish for JFK on His Yahrzeit

It was bright and sunny in Washington on November 22, 1993, thirty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was attending an annual conference of over 7000 professors of religion and biblical studies in the capital city. What a shame, I thought, that at this conference there was no formal recognition of the […]

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Parshat Toldot: Wells of Faith

In Parshat Toldot, the Torah tells us that Yitzchak dug wells. The Avot were the progenitors of the Jewish people and their actions were indicative of everything that would happen to their descendants in the future. The Midrash says in the name of Rav Yehuda that Yitzchak dug four well. In the future his children […]

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Finding Values in Detroit Sports: Tigers Fans, Lions Fans and Ndamukong Suh

As a rabbi blogger who writes about sports, I’m always interested in the values that can be learned from watching sports. There are many situations in which the players, coaches, management or fans will do something that leads us to discuss how the situation was values driven. In Detroit, there are three situations that occurred […]

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Thanksgiving is Part of the Jewish Experience

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is certainly my favorite secular holiday. I love waking up on Thanksgiving morning knowing that it will be a relaxing day spent with family and friends. I will contemplate all the things for which I am thankful, including being an American. This week one of my children asked […]

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Whole Wheat Oatmeal Banana Loaf

I’ve been meaning to share this delicious whole wheat oatmeal banana bread with you for some time now, just I keep wondering whether the photo is just a little bit strange? You’ll forgive me right? I made this cake for Simchat Torah, and rushed outside to photograph it just before the holiday began. My usual […]

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Dvar Torah Toldos: Keeping the Faith

Rashi brings down the Talmud (Yoma 28b) asserting that Abraham observed the entire Torah and more, and ostensibly, this can be extended to include the other patriarchs as well; this is pretty much what we all learn in 3rd grade, and it has its source in this week’s parsha: “Abraham listened to My voice and […]

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Ryan Braun and Justin Verlander Win MVP Awards

Here in Detroit we couldn’t be happier. Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander won both the Cy Young Award and the MVP Award for the American League this year. Justin is the first starting pitcher to win the MVP Award in 25 years and the first Detroit Tigers player to win both awards since Willy Hernandez […]

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Chanukah Centerpiece: Yarn Wrapped Hurricanes

Here’s a really simple idea for your Chanukah table this year, yarn wrapped vases! You can use this idea to make a stunning Chanukah centerpiece, or make a bunch to place individually. I’d go for a bunch together, as they look amazing in a group. And it’s just a simple as wrapping some yarn around a glass vase or […]

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Frum society’s approach to frum girls is stiffling

Hi, I wrote this. I don’t know if its any good. What do you think? I am so irritated. I am trying to pick a seminary for next year, and of course, everyone has their opinion. I am a baal teshuvah and I became religious through NCSY. However, I’m in a big region and i’m […]

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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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