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Making Trouble with JWA

Yesterday, the Jewish Women’s Archive held its third annual Making Trouble/Making History Awards Luncheon. As a new member of the JWA staff, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Less than one week on the job, and I was packing my bags for a trip to New York City—ready to blog, tweet, photograph, and schmooze my […]

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The Great Minyan Day

It’s about two weeks before Pesach and Rabbis across the country are emailing their shul members with the chometz sales forms. I’m not going to poke fun at the whole business of “selling” chometz, since we’ve pretty much accepted this legal loophole as fact and are better off for it. But I am going to […]

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Is Niacin Kosher for Your Heart?

No, niacin is not kosher for your heart. USA Today via Detroit Free Press alerts us to a new study that found, “Niacin doesn’t help heart, may cause harm, study says.” We knew this eleven years ago. After Lipitor gave us hepatitis and the cardiologist told us to take Niaspan, instead we looked it up […]

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Locusts at the Seder?

The locusts are coming, the locusts are coming! Swarms of insects “the size of small birds” have descended on Israel, reports the New York Times, causing crops to fail and my stomach to retch. Giant freakin’ grasshoppers. Everywhere. Since it’s so close to Passover, you’d have to try verrrrrry hard NOT to make references Pharoah’s […]

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Is Marijuana Kosher for Passover?

Via Earth Times with a big smile. Passover pot is not a problem for Sephardic Jews. Is cannabis kosher for Passover for Ashkenazic Jews? Is pot kitniyot? It’s up to the rabbi JERUSALEM (UPI) In Israel, rabbis are trying to determine if hemp and its cousin, marijuana, are on the list of legumes that some […]

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Shabbat Around the World

I’ve experienced Shabbat in some very interesting places. One of the most memorable Shabbat lunches I can recall was in the home of a Chabad rabbi and his family in Kharkov, Ukraine. This was in August 2005 when I led a small Hillel/JDC mission of University of Michigan students to the Former Soviet Union. The […]

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There’s No Such Thing as Mainstream Judaism

The summer before I left for Israel to study in Mayanot (a baal teshuva yeshiva in Jerusalem) for the first time, I had gone to a Shabbos lunch at a rabbi’s home in St. Louis, where my parents live. At first, the lunch went well, and I was enjoying myself. Everyone was very friendly. But […]

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Meet the Jewish “Lady at the OK Corral”

Josephine Marcus Earp would really hate being on this page. Yes, the woman who lived with famed lawman Wyatt Earp for nearly 50 years was Jewish, and yes, she had plenty of attitude. But she had little interest in anything related to religion, cultural heritage, or history, and she may seem to be anything but […]

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Larissa MacFarquhar in The New Yorker on The Talmudic Life and Tragic Death of Aaron Swartz

Larissa MacFarquhar in The New Yorker published a long profile of what we call the The Talmudic Life and Tragic Death of the young technology visionary Aaron Swartz (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM: Aaron Swartz was brilliant and beloved. But the people who knew him best saw a darker side). We see his life as Talmudic […]

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Just When You Thought the Holocaust Couldn’t Get Worse

Growing up Jewish, you know about the Holocaust. You pray for the Six Million at synagogue. Your parents or your youth group leader (or my in my case, both) take you the museums their piles of eyeglasses and locks of hair and barbed wire installations. Maybe you even have a relative who was there, who […]

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Was Ludwig Wittgenstein Jewish?

At the Times, philosopher Paul Horwich asks, Was Wittgenstein Right? His answer is that most philosophers vote no, and yet Wittgenstein’s reputation is stellar. We want to know, was Wittgenstein Jewish? Despite his extensive Jewish heritage, according to Jewish law, no, Ludwig Wittgenstein was a not Jew. He was a Catholic. His mother and maternal grandmother were […]

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Why Do We Say When We Pray, “Let My Soul be Like Dust to Everyone”?

At the conclusion of the Amidah prayer, three times a day, we say the concluding prayer of Mar the son of Ravina as found “with monor variations (Steinsalz)” in b. Berakhot 17a. Rabbi Yissocher Frand comments on this: Tosfos [Brochos 17a] comments on the prayer recited at the end of the Shmoneh Esrei: “My G-d, […]

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Humor and the Holocaust: Where the Line’s Drawn

The New York Times article in yesterday’s Sunday Review section titled “The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking” uncovers the recent scholarly discoveries that the Holocaust was in fact even more catastrophic than researchers once thought. Such news almost 70 years after the Shoah reaffirms what a horrific, devastating era this was in human history. The Holocaust researchers, […]

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For Judith Malina, Place is a State of Mind

For Judith Malina, place has always been a state of mind.  This tiny giant of the theatre world has epitomized the life of a nomad over her 66 years of work with the Living Theatre.  Her peripatetic career has taken her company to five continents; she herself has gone from serving time in prison to […]

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The Last Year in Jewish Technology

Once again The Jewish Week asked me to try and summarize the last year in technology from a Jewish angle. This was not an easy task since technology is increasingly so much a part of our lives and it affects all areas of our world including religion. I decided to come up with the ten […]

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Thank You, Judy Blume

Best-selling author Judy Blume is among the Jewesses with attitude featured in “MAKERS: Women Who Make America,” the film that premieres on PBS tomorrow night. Blume’s characters accompanied me while I navigated my way through puberty. They pondered the same questions I was too afraid to ask aloud, and seemed to understand the awkwardness I […]

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My Shero: Rabbi Susan Silverman

Look, Susan Silverman already had me at “Hello, I survived the same screwed up childhood as my sister Sarahand instead of growing up and talking about shaved tuchus puckers, I became a rabbi.” But Rabbi Susan has earned even more of this Yenta’s mad respect for her delightful act of civil disobedience at Jerusalem’s Western […]

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Purim and the Oscars

Purim and the Oscars

Yesterday was another fun Purim holiday celebration, but I didn’t post a Purim satire this year (last year’s edition). I also usually post a list of my favorite Purim YouTube videos before the holiday, but there really weren’t ten quality videos I could find to make my Top Ten Purim Videos list. A few standouts […]

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Are You Having the Purim Blues? I’m Just Not in the Purim Mood

I have the Purim blues, it crept up on me like it always does, but this year more than ever I’m just not in the mood for Purim. I’m not sad or anything, in fact I’m quite happy with my lot, but I have no interest in getting drunk at the local shul seuda. Like […]

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Money Making Faux-Mishloash Manot

The president of my shul called me this evening, furious that I did not participate in the shul’s mishloach manot program. “Reb Telz” he says “Why are you not on the list?  We are packing the bags, reviewing the mailed-in sheets, you are not participating! What’s wrong?” Our shul mails out a 3-page checklist of […]

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New York Times Merges With Tzvee’s Talmudic Blog

The New York Times announced that it has merged with Tzvee’s Talmudic Blog to form “The New York Times Talmudic Blog.” The Times was already known as a premier Jewish newspaper in the city with high visibility Jewish editorial writers like Tom Friedman, Roger Cohen and Paul Krugman and Israeli news bureau chief Jodi Rudroren. […]

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You Are What You Wear: Modesty of Dress

One of the highlights of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Jewish Camping Conference a year ago was the chance for me to get to know Nancy Lublin. I had learned about Nancy several years earlier after reading an article about her mitzvah project that turned into a successful nonprofit company. I spoke with Nancy, CEO […]

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The Sweet Success of a Jewish Baker and Businesswoman

The Sweet Success of a Jewish Baker and Businesswoman

Chocolate Snowball. Toasted Coconut. Blackout. Raspberry Swirl. Peanut Butter Cup. White Hot Chocolate. Baba Booey. It’s hard to choose just one! These are some of the offerings at Crumbs, a wildly successful chain of kosher cupcake stores founded by Mia Bauer. Israeli-born Bauer graduated from Brandeis in 1991 and went to work as a lawyer […]

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Breaking the Modern Orthodox Glass Ceiling

Recently, The Jewish Week published an article by Rabbi Dan Friedman about the roles of women in modern Orthodoxy. The article, entitled “Female Orthodox Rabbis? We Already Have Them,” argues that as women pursue the chance to become rabbis in some modern Orthodox circles, they undermine the influential roles women have in modern Orthodoxy, such […]

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Blessed Are you Lord Who Has Not Made Me a Woman!

The bracha of shelo asani isha is probably one of the only prayers we say on a daily basis that most folks can agree with. Amidst all of those prayers about redemption, incense, fear of the Lord, and sacrifices it’s nice to know that we have some that really make sense. I’ve never wanted to be […]

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Love Me or Drop Dead: A Psycho-Talmudic Inquiry into Calderon’s Choice of her Knesset Talmudic Passage

Somewhere on the road between quirky and bizarre, Ruth Calderon chose a passage from the Talmud to present in her inaugural address as a member of the Knesset in Israel. The passage talks about the consequences to men who fail in their obligation to have sex frequently enough with their wives. See our previous post […]

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Our Changing Perception of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton

It’s Presidents’ Day. And I find myself thinking about her, the woman who came closest to presiding over our nation, taking up temporary residence (for the third time) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I am fascinated by our nation’s changing perceptions—and altered reception—of Hillary Clinton. Do you remember Hillary Rodham Clinton? Do you remember Hillary with […]

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John Galliano’s Fashion: Anti-Semitic Absolution?

Remember ol’ Mr. Mean and Nasty John Galliano? You know, the fashion designer who was on top of the gilded world until he was caught on video gabbling about how much he loves Hitler? Well, he’s a Chasidic Jew now. No, not really. But to make his grand public reappearance at the Oscar de la […]

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A Jones by Any Other (Married) Name

I recently got engaged, and despite the fact that my byline is short and simple, figuring out what to do about my last name will be tricky. While I write under the name Abigail Jones, my full name is Abigail Goldsmith Drachman-Jones. That’s eight syllables, 29 letters, four words and one punctuation mark. It’s a […]

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Not Feeling the Candy Hearts and Kitsch? How to Turn Around 50 Shades of Abysmal Gray

It’s that time of year…chocolates, flowers, jewelry. Sappy advertisements and red and pink store displays. There are reminders everywhere. It’s Valentine’s Day. Sure, it’s a bit commercial (understatement) but it’s all good. We know that. It’s beautiful to celebrate love. But what about if you don’t have a special someone or even your favorite chocolate […]

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