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Sabbath & Holidays

A Two-Day Weekend in Israel? A Two-Day Weekend in Israel?
Friday, July 8, 2011 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

With July 4th behind them, Americans can look forward to closing out the summer season with Labor Day on September 5th. All told, they will enjoy ten national holidays. And, of course, they have the leisure of weekends.
Hukkat: Moses’ Mistake
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

This week's reading contains an apparently straightforward episode that is in fact one of the most mysterious in the Bible. When the Israelites find themselves without water, they become quarrelsome. Moses is commanded by God to "speak to the rock and let it produce its water" (Numbers 20:8).
Korah: The Morning After
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

It is one of the most famous stories in the book of Numbers, yet we often miss the story behind the story. For it turns out that the rebellion of Korah, which features prominently in this week's reading, is really just a frontispiece for a far more interesting drama playing out in the background.
B’haalot’kha: Spiritual Authority in Judaism
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

Is anything touchier in Judaism than the issue of authority?  This week's Torah reading addresses the question of authority head on—and through the person of Moses himself. The answers are unlikely to please either Orthodoxy or Reform Judaism.
The Forgotten Festival The Forgotten Festival
Monday, June 6, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The holiday of Shavuot, which begins this year on Tuesday evening, is the orphan among Jewish holidays; it is the forgotten festival. Let me count the ways.
The Life of Prayer The Life of Prayer
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Prayer has never been easy, as the Psalmist well knew: "For there is no word on my tongue; You, O Lord, know them all" (139: 4). And even if there are words on the tongue, the results can be distressingly uncertain, or worse: "My God, I call out by day and You do not answer; by night, there is no respite for me" (22:2). It hasn’t gotten easier since then.
Mimouna! Mimouna!
Friday, May 13, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

What did two million Israelis do when Passover ended this year? As in previous years, they celebrated Mimouna, a Moroccan Jewish holiday that is popularly observed by picnicking, barbecueing, and consuming moufletas (sweet North African pancakes). And what is Mimouna all about? No one really knows.
B’har: Liberty and the Jubilee
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

This week's reading, though little more than a single chapter, deals with two separate topics: first, the sabbatical year; second, the obligations of family members to a relative in economic distress. What links them is a focus, unusual for the Torah, on macroeconomics.
Emor: Judaism, the Temple, and the Royal Wedding
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

Many Jews today suffer from BCD: Biblical Cognitive Dissonance. The Bible, they feel, should be mostly about morality, accompanied by some nice stories to keep the kids interested and, if one is religiously observant, by a smattering of arbitrary, cut-and-dried laws for regulating one's daily life.
Passover & the Repudiation of Idolatry Passover & the Repudiation of Idolatry
Friday, April 15, 2011 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Asking questions is a trademark of the Passover seder. Prior to it, we can ask another question—this one having to do with a passage in the Haggadah about the second of the four sons.
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Editors' Picks
Hidden Jews on the Mesa YouTube. In the American Southwest, many Hispanics are learning of their Jewish DNA though genetic testing. (Video)
Daven Fred MacDowell, On the Main Line. Some theories on the origin of a common Jewish synonym for "pray."
Close to the Jews Adam Ferziger, Jerusalem Post. The steep rise in intermarriage has prompted some Conservative leaders and synagogues to introduce a hybrid category of Jewishly affiliated non-Jews. (Interview by Shmuel Rosner.)
Absent without Leave Scott Perlo, Huffington Post. While not yet nearing extinction, the religious American male is definitely an endangered species, in Judaism and elsewhere. Why? And what can be done?
Minyan 2.0 Margot Lurie, Jewish Review of Books. Can independent prayer groups help solve the "crisis of meaning" in American Judaism?
The Soul that You Have Given Me Rowna Sutin, YouTube. A setting by the late Debbie Friedman (1951-2011) of a morning prayer.  
Slow Food Elizabeth Alpern, The Jew and the Carrot. This Shabbat, ring in the new with the old—ancient cholent recipes from Italy, Iraq, and around the globe.
Shabbat Upgrade Shoshana Chen, Ynet. A "kosher lamp" is only one of a series of mass-marketed technological innovations for Sabbath-observant homes.
E-Shabbat? Uri Friedman, Atlantic. How are observant Jews, who refrain from the use of electricity on the Sabbath, responding to the decline of the print book and the rise of electronic readers?
Hanukkah in the Gulag Natan Sharansky, Tablet. A makeshift hanukkiah and a prisoner's resourcefulness miraculously overcome a camp commander's obduracy. From the author's post-liberation memoir Fear No Evil (1986).