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On Being Jewish

A Blessed Curse
I had hopes and expectations for everything. Then came the curse, the curse that was a blessing
Confessions of a Fundamentalist
Yes, I was a rationalist. Yes, I believed in evolution and the A scroll and the J scroll and all that stuff anthropologists said about the Bible. But this was too much
Where the Roads Meet
My parents used to tell me not to wave my hands while speaking and not to talk in a singsong. When I asked why, they said that it made me look like a Jew
Kaddish at Fenway
We were doing our thing, what we were suppposed to, and no one felt like we were out of place.
The Bris
Why can't they just allow us our little strip of land and leave us alone?
A Special Wedding
Looking at the radiant bride, the thought crossed my mind that this magical person very nearly did not come to be...
My Ethical Will
As I write this, I am sitting on my Jerusalem balcony, looking through a tracery of pine trees at the view along Rehov Ruppin...
Put On Your Yarmulke
To laugh in the face of fear can be a powerful statement of defiance
Late Luggage
"It's a numbers game. Why waste your time with a Jew who is married out? There are so many more Jews that are traditional and with both halves Jewish, that you can work with!"
For Her Child's Future
Precious as Jewish education is, they'd just enrolled their children in the local public school. The cost was just too great, and in the economic crunch, sacrifices had to be made.
 A Side of Grandfather that I Never Knew
On the morning after Kristallnacht, a surprise phone call warned him not to leave his house and definitely not to go to synagogue. But he wasn't going to let the Nazis stop him from going to his synagogue....
Why a Nice Suburban Torontonian Joined the Israeli Army
I still remember arriving the first day. I'd just received my uniform and put it on. After collecting my equipment, I received my M-16; I turned to the commander leading me through all of this and asked, "What do I do with this?"
Conversations on a Park Bench
The Jew Who Wanted his Child to be Jewish
They have a son, they told us, and he's going out with non-Jewish girls. They're terrified he'll marry out. Have we any solutions? Yup, just like that, standing in front of the Bonsai exhibit, in fifty words or less they sought the solution to keeping their son within the nationhood of Jews.
My Sweet, Alone Passover
The decision seemed like a no-brainer, but I didn't go with my brain on this one. I went with my gut. If I was truly to "put Judaism first," I needed to be with my mother; I needed to honor her. For the first time in my life, I made all the seder preparations and drove to Philadelphia, shank bone in tow...
The Shabbat Experiment
Without really even noticing, Shabbat settled in and the vibe of our whole house shifted. It was a quietude that was defined by the fact that we knew it would last, even for only a day. All the pressure was gone...
Become a Leader
Passover Leadership and Responsibility
Up until now, the Staff Sergeant had been dealing with us directly for over 18 hours a day. Now, things were changing. Tonight we were voting, by secret ballot, for our “leader” – the person who would represent us to the brass, the upper echelons of the military...
Golda didn't know what to say until finally she blurted out in Yiddish, "adank aich far bleiben yidden". Her words spread through the throng like wildfire, and she felt her limp words were a poor mockery of prophetic incantation. "Thank you," she had told them, "for remaining Jews"…
Our Last Sukkah?
Every year, we would tell the story of how we first met each other inside a sukkah in Jerusalem, and how the sukkah slowly transformed into a wedding canopy...
Keeping the Focus on Unity
This unity is found in the soul—the spark of G‑d inside each person. If this unity were apparent, we would not have free choice, and there would be no purpose in our existence...
A Lost Luria
On her back, hidden deep inside a sling, the baby boy slept on, blissfully unaware of the cruel world into which he had been born.
The Rebbe’s advice on maintaining a good relationship with your parents and in-laws
A chassidic son-in-law who aspired to be a shliach (emissary) of the Rebbe was something they had never planned for their daughter.
The Doctor's Prison
I was driving to the hospital this morning and I saw something I’d never seen before: “Three Chabad young men were walking on the side of the highway.
The Arizal's Souls
Hundreds of years after his passing, in wondrous ways, this holy man is still leading people toward Jewish connectedness.
My Journey from Kuwaiti Arab to Jerusalemite Jew
It was only yesterday that I wore a white dish-dasha, and now I sport a kipah.
This is the new Jewish community of Russia. The small core of Jews that held steadfast to tradition during the Communist era has either passed on or emigrated abroad. Today, young people fill the synagogues alongside the nouveau riche.
When Almost No One Showed Up…
“It’s just me,” she said sheepishly. “Will you still stay?”
The minute she saw her mother, Anna pounced on her with the question: "Tell me, are we Jews?"
My Grandfather’s Shema, Even in the Barracks of Auschwitz
I know why I am here. Why I became the woman that I am. How I was guided to this incredible life. It was my grandfather’s Shema.
In a Ward on a Hill
On an overcast morning one Fourth of July, sullen clouds hinting to the imminent fall of rain, I came to a Forensic Psychiatric Ward in Northern Connecticut.