Say No To Sukkot Weight Gain

Rosh Hashanah has its shofar, apples and honey. Yom Kippur has its tefillot (prayers) and fasting. Chanukah has its menorah and draidel. Pesach has its Seders. Shavuot has its Torah. Sukkot, except for several symbols, is really about the joy of eating in the sukkah and enjoying the friends and family you have invited. This… Read More

At Sukkot, Turning Oy Into The Season Of Joy

In open opposition to Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which tells us on Sukkot “there is nothing new under the sun,” I decided to build a solar sukkah this fall. To energize my plan, I went to the 99 Cent Store to buy some solar yard lights to adapt for use on the roof. However, while driving home… Read More

Fish Farming

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When Ellen Perlman heard about aquaponics through a chance meeting, it perked up the environmentalist in her. “I am very interested in saving the planet and sustainability,” she said. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be farming fish.” After taking a course in Florida taught by James Rakocy, the father of modern aquaponics, Perlman… Read More

At Yom Kippur, A Heads-Up On Chest Thumping

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On Yom Kippur, when we beat our chests during the confession, maybe we should be knocking instead on our heads. After all, isn’t that where all the trouble starts? On this most physically demanding of Jewish days, Jewish tradition has us beat the heart side of our chests, as if to say this is the… Read More

What Is Jewish Unity?

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This year, the Torah portions Nitzavim and Vayelech were read together on Aug. 30. However, Nitzavim is considered to be related to Rosh Hashanah and Vayelech to Yom Kippur. Both parshiot have similar messages — they speak about Jewish unity. According to Torah commentators, on Rosh Hashanah (in Nitzavim), the Jewish unity referred to is… Read More

One Big Conversation

“We are One,” say the United Jewish Appeal campaign signs. A friend and colleague remarks, “Really? Isn’t it God that is ‘One’?” So I wonder, is there a connection between the oneness of God and achdut Yisrael, the unity of the Jewish people? Evidence of our disunity abounds; achdut Yisrael is apparently not descriptive. We… Read More

Prescription Or Description?

A visit to a doctor may turn out with two kinds of statements: descriptions and prescriptions. The medical description is a diagnosis. The prescription might entail following a course of treatment or, for so many of us, being told simply to watch what we eat and exercise more. In a medical setting, we generally find… Read More

From Strength To Strength

Conservative Judaism has always prided itself on being a big tent. There are inherent challenges that go along with this approach, as sometimes trying to be everything to everybody diminishes one’s ability to take a particular stance or to define a specific vision. And yet, our movement’s commitment to the greater klal Yisrael is both… Read More

The Challenge of Being One

There are approximately 14 million Jews in this world, among whom about one million consider themselves Chasidic. The Chasidim are separated into 30 different sects, or dynasties. Three of the most significant dynasties — Satmer, Bobov and Vizhnitz — are split in half. Each one is divided within a family, whose leaders are either brothers… Read More

Uncompromised Commitment

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To grasp the Orthodox perspective on Jewish unity requires an appreciation of two fundamental Orthodox beliefs, one of which challenges our religious unity, the other of which strengthens our national unity. 1. “I believe with a complete belief in the divinity and the immutability of the Torah.” This is a fundamental religious assumption of Orthodox… Read More