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Drew Barrymore Plans to Remove Tattoos for Conversion to Judaism

A year ago I wrote about Drew Barrymore’s journey toward conversion to Judaism and how she was turning to her friend Adam Sandler for assistance.  At the time she was engaged to marry Will Kopelman, an art consultant who is Jewish. The couple married on June 2, 2012 in Montecito, California and welcomed their child, […]

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No Time Out for This Troublemaker

JWA doesn’t just live online. Occasionally, we do things in real time, with real, flesh and blood people. Just a little less than a month from today, we will hold our Annual Awards Luncheon where we will honor three women, whom we fondly refer to as “troublemakers”: Rachel Sklar, Rachel Cohen Gerrol, and Bel Kaufman. […]

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Purim 2013 Gift Guide

Purim 2013 is on its way! Starting the evening of Saturday, February 23rd, the holiday that celebrates the clever salvation of Persia’s Jews is nearly upon us. Are you ready to make some noise, get dressed up, give gifts, and donate to charity? Don’t worry; we can help. Make Some Noise / Groggers The classic […]

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Guess What’s Being Taught in my Sunday School Class?

A few weeks ago, on the Sunday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I posed a question to the students in my class on “Jews and the Civil Rights Movement”: “If you could plan a Jewish commemoration for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, what would it be? Who would be the audience? What would you […]

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Why Baal Teshuvas Need to Make Art

Baal teshuvas think that because they’re new to the world of yiddishkeit that their words dont’ matter. Or they’re afraid that they’ll say something wrong, something that will turn people away from Judaism or condemn their family so their kids will get a horrible education. Baal teshuvas are so afraid, so afraid to mess up […]

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A Blessed Simcha…And Life Goes On

Well. It’s over. The Torah portion was chanted, the bagels were snarfed, the chairs were raised. For the blessing of a boy becoming a man, tears were shed. For the joy of a family surrounded by loved ones, hugs and handshakes and happiness abounded. The nachas I am shepping cannot be contained. I have much […]

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The Crime of Wearing a Tallit

Empathy is never easy. As a man, I confess that I have struggled to be empathetic to the cause of the Women of the Wall (Nashot HaKotel). This group of women has been coming to the Kotel Hama’arivi (Western Wall) in the Old City of Jerusalem for close to a quarter century to pray in […]

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Avi Steinberg thinks Philip Roth gave Talmudic Advice to Julian Tepper

Steinberg describes a literary storm between Elizabeth Gilbert and Roth wherein Gilbert defends writing as a happy profession, contrary to Roth who allegedly did the following to Tepper: Julian Tepper published a piece describing an encounter with Roth at an Upper West Side deli. Waiting on his hero’s table, Tepper tremulously presented Roth with “Balls,” […]

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Role of the 21st Century Rabbi

A recent editorial in The Forward demonstrates how much the American rabbinate has changed in the 21st century. The economy has made it difficult for many rabbis to find good jobs; and for them to keep good jobs when the synagogue or organization falls on tough financial times. A reduction in the number of congregations […]

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Where Are You? Searching for our Social Justice Role Models

This piece was inspired by a “Jews and the Civil Rights Movement” webinar coordinated by AVODAH as part of the AVODAH Alumni network’s distance learning program through which alumni gain content and skills that help them develop as Jewish social justice leaders.  In 2009 I attended a workshop focused on Anti-Racist organizing for white folks. […]

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The Pitputim Blog Makes us a Wonderful Post

Thanks go out to the wonderful blog Pitputim for the promotions for our publications by Reuven Brauner et. al.. They said: I am pleased to inform you that several new ETC publications by Reuven Brauner are NOW available on Rabbi Tzvee Zahavy’s wonderful Torah resource site http://www.halakhah.com (http://halakhah.com/index.html). Newly uploaded are: 1. An updated and revised edition […]

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When Do We Become ‘Women?’

When do you become a woman? As in, someone that your friend or colleague actually refers to as a “woman.” It is is certainly not after your Bat Mitzvah (will get back to that later), nor is it when you graduate from high school, or even college. Today, the age of a woman who most […]

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Dear Mannis: You Forgot to Apologize to Everyone Who Has Had a Traumatic Diarrhea Experience!

I found it pretty insensitive of Manis Friedman to compare such a traumatic event such as being sexually abused t diarrhea, but the more I thought about it,the more offended I became. Surely, there are people who have suffered through very traumatic experiences with diarrhea and surely he would apologize to those folks who have […]

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Israel’s The Voice: When Religion Goes Too Far

I always try to be careful to not criticize other’s religious convictions, the way in which they interpret and practice religious law, or the decisions they make about what they cannot do based on their religious practice. I did, however, find it upsetting that a 17-year-old young woman in Israel was suspended from her school […]

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Fathers Needed: Lebron James at the White House

This past week the world champion Miami Heat made their visit to the White House. These tend to be ceremonial and trite, a tribute to the team’s “perseverance” and “toughness” and a celebration of their success. Of course, a few predictable jokes are thrown in along the way. Toward the end of his speech, President […]

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The Final Countdown…

Here we go into the last Shabbos before what has become known around these parts as “The Big B.M.” Yes, total blasphemy to mix the sacred with the scatalogical, but the Yenta family has always met overwhelming circumstances with poopy humor. Sue us. I love this painting by Yemen-born, Boca Raton-based Chaim Parchi because it […]

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You Have the Power to be Happy! (and Other Feel Good Things)

A mishnah in Pirkei avos famously asks who is a rich, strong, and wise person.  But the mishna’s cryptic. It doesn’t answer by telling you who the wisest or strongest or richest person is. It tells you a fact about the x___ person. Who is smart? Someone who learns from all people. Who is rich? […]

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The Rabba Revolution Continues

Three years ago this month, Rabba Sara Hurwitz made history in the Jewish world by becoming the first publicly ordained female rabbi in the Orthodox community. Since then, the 35-year-old mother of three has been working as Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, an institution dedicated to training women Orthodox clergy, as well as working as Rabba […]

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How Not to Do Out of Town Dating

Only once in my life did a girl fly in to meet me, it didn’t go well. She didn’t know anyone in NY and didn’t really have anything to do, besides see me. The  biggest mistake of the whole venture was that we spoke on the phone for a longer time than should’ve been. Talking […]

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The Power of the Bat Mitzvah

When I was brought on board at the Lev LaLev Fund in May 2011, I was asked if I could run the bat mitzvah project program. I thought, sure, how hard could it be? I was once a bat mitzvah girl too after all. Yet, a year later, as I was writing about the 15th anniversary […]

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Off The Derech Community writes Halachic Guidelines

In the early 90′s when the Kids At Risk movement began it wasn’t anything to get too excited over, basically a bunch of yeshiva kids with ADHD who would roam from yeshiva to yeshiva until they hit the end of the line  at Rudinsky, Hamilton, Rochester or Adelphi. When they were done with school, they […]

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Redefine Success, Submit to Passion

It’s January 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Things are going well. My children have settled easily into the school year in second grade and pre-K. Becker Impact started a challenging and particularly meaningful new project. Then, as part of that project, I interviewed a charismatic young lawyer who mentioned what first year associates now earn at […]

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Shmiras Einayim is Frum Masochism

The Rabbi gave a men’s only shiur on shmiras einayim last week (guarding your eyes – for the frum illiterate) and I decided to go through with character building and try it out. Once in a while I find myself trying not to look at scantily clad ladies for the challenge of it, I didn’t […]

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Are Legumes Kosher for Passover for Ashkenazic Jews?

From Haaretz - the “legume revolution” has begun and many are saying that yes, legumes are kosher for Passover for Ashkenazi Jews, under certain circumstances. We find this debate and discussion to be a caricature and burlesque of the meaningful human, social and philosophical purposes of religious theology, law and custom. Efrat rabbi tilts against […]

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The Name May Change but the Belief Stays the Same

Not surprisingly, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade kicked up a great deal of dust. In early January, Planned Parenthood announced that it will abandon the term “pro-choice to describe people who believe abortion should be every woman’s right; on January 25th, tens of thousands of  activists gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. for the annual […]

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Roman Vishniac Photographs Exhibit at the International Center of Photography

The portrait selections in the exhibit are just one part of a larger collection. The catalog describes the portraits this way: Portrait Studio and Nightclubs, New York Upon arriving in New York in 1941, Vishniac turned to photography to support his family, opening a portrait studio on the Upper West Side. Always resourceful, he mined […]

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How I Came to My Table

I was seated at one of those grand, heavy, deep brown mahogany tables in a beautiful room with two walls of windows. To my left, sat my mother, visiting for a few days from Los Angeles. Then to my right, and all the way around the table sat 10 classmates and my professor. We were […]

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Is the Internet or TV Worse for your Neshama?

The Internet may be one of the first things that the Geolim can’t control, the Asifa and their constant banter about the evils that befall us on the Internet remind me of the Haskalah. Television on the other hand was easily banned, for no one could come up with the excuse that they needed it […]

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German Tech Company Hires Asperger’s Syndrome Workers

For many the 1988 movie Rain Man was their first introduction to autism. Twenty-five years later and not only is autism a household term, but most people know someone who has been diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum. Today, fans of the primetime TV show Parenthood have watched the young Max Braverman (played by […]

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Jewish Identity: A Round-Trip Journey

A life-long discomfort with institutionalized Judaism is hard to shed once you reach the mid-life years. Sure, it’s great to keep an open mind, but there’s also the sense of not wanting to waste time on pursuits unlikely to enrich one’s life. Some of us narrow our options as we get older in a bargain […]

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