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Sabbath & Holidays

Noah: Tower of Power
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

What's wrong with the Tower of Babel? At first glance, the famous story that closes out this week's reading seems pretty straightforward. The men of Babel build a tower to Heaven.
The End of the Torah The End of the Torah
Monday, October 17, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Torah begins with a bang—the Big Bang, the creation of the universe. But it ends with a whimper, albeit a whimper concealed by a very loud noise of another kind. Let me explain.
All These Vows All These Vows
Friday, October 7, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

No one knows for sure how Kol Nidrei originated. It is by far the best-known Yom Kippur prayer, but in fact it is neither a prayer nor actually recited on Yom Kippur. Rabbis have never liked it.
Jonah and the Music of Yom Kippur Jonah and the Music of Yom Kippur
Thursday, October 6, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Leviticus 10 tells us that Aaron's sons Nadav and Avihu died for bringing "strange fire" before the Lord in the wilderness. As a result of their deaths, according to Leviticus 16, God instructed Moses to ordain an annual Day of Atonement.
Pay to Pray? Pay to Pray?
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 by Jack Wertheimer | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the middle decades of the 20th century they were called "mushroom synagogues." They popped up in the waning days of summer to provide High Holiday services, then disappeared at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. Today, "mushroom synagogues" are once again in vogue—but with a critical difference.
Ha’azinu: Moses’s Other Song
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

It's one of the least-sung songs in the Bible. Known as the "Song of Moses," or shirat ha'azinu among traditional Jews, the poem that takes up almost the entirety of this week's Torah reading is twice as long as Moses's better-known Song of the Sea.
Nitzavim-Vayeilekh: The Song of Torah
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

"Now, write for yourselves this song [shirah]; teach it to the Children of Israel and place it in their mouths . . . " (31:19) These are the directions Moses gave to the priests and elders, in whose care he entrusted the song, with instructions to read it to the entire community of Israel on the occasion of their gathering in the Temple on the festival of Sukkot.
Rosh Hashanah with the Chief Rabbi Rosh Hashanah with the Chief Rabbi
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Ten years ago, the first day of Rosh Hashanah—the two-day Jewish New Year—fell on September 18. That was one week after September 11, 2001, when almost 3,000 people were killed by Muslim terrorists. On that Rosh Hashanah, rabbis did not lack for sermon topics.
Ki Tavo: The Fear of God
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

by Michael Carasik This week’s portion, though it begins with encouragement and promise, contains one of the grimmest passages in the Bible.  The Israelites learn that keeping the commandments and following the path prescribed for them by God will lead to comprehensive blessing.
Ki Teitzei: Defending Human Dignity
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

From beginning to end, this week's reading offers a catalog of value-laden statements about how the ancient Israelites were to become a good people.
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Editors' Picks
There's a Key in My Challah Jeffrey Saks, Torah Musings. On the origin of the post-Passover tradition known as "shliss challah."      
Passover without Jews Diane Cole, Wall Street Journal. Not only are more and more non-Jews seated at seder tables, but an increasing number of churches have been offering their own versions of the ritual—with their own messages.
The History of Horseradish Arthur Schaffer, Gesher. Tracing the ritual use of horseradish at the seder, a botanist finds that it parallels the travels and migrations of the Jewish people. (PDF, 1981)
Why is This Sabbath Different from All Other Sabbaths? Balashon. Some theories on why the Sabbath before Passover is referred to as "The Great Sabbath."
The Grape for Millions Yoni Appelbaum, Atlantic. Cheap, abundant, and local, the Concord grape proved useful to Jewish immigrants in America seeking an alternative to raisin wine.
Who Knows Four? Mordechai I. Twersky, Jerusalem Post. Bar Ilan University unveils four rare Haggadahs, from Italy, India, Germany, and London. (Video)
Was the Last Supper a Seder? Michael Pitkowsky, Menachem Mendel. Repeated by many and rarely doubted, a claim about Jesus' last meal may well be incorrect.
Matzah's Rise Gil Marks, Jewish Food. The evolution of unleavened bread in the age of automated baking.
Making a Hash of the Haggadah Michael Medved, Commentary. The impulse to revise and update the prescribed Passover service remains unquenchable, yielding results that range from the odd to the preposterous.
The Last Folio Stephanie Butnick, Tablet. On a trip to interview Holocaust survivors, a photographer uncovered prayer books untouched since the deportation of Slovakia's Jews to concentration camps. (With slideshow)