Yom Kippur Without Fasting

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Each sect of Judaism has its own way of observing the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, but there is at least one custom observed across the board: fasting. As members of the Baltimore Jewish community spend the day in synagogue with empty stomachs beginning the night of Oct. 3, some observing the holiday won’t… Read More

Count Your Blessings

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Based on a verse in the Book of Deuteronomy, the Talmud declares that a Jew should recite 100 blessings a day to adhere to God’s ways and to serve Him. Fortunately, reciting the blessings for prayer and meals, each three times a day, easily achieves the required number. But it becomes a challenge if meals… 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

Yom Kippur Resource List

First Fast – Cohen, Barbara Sneakers to Shul – Cohen, Floreva The Magic of Kol Nidre: A Yom Kippur Story – Siegel, Bruce List of Jewish Holiday Resources Available at the Aaron H. Leibtag Resource Center of the Center for Jewish Education 5800 Park Heights Avenue (410) 578-6943