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Sabbath & Holidays

Among the Mourners of Zion Among the Mourners of Zion
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

We are a nation of mourners this month, collectively observing the Jewish rituals of grief in memory of . . . well, something or other. The occasion for mourning is the Omer, which began on Saturday night; the reason for mourning is more mysterious.
Not Everything is Illuminated Not Everything is Illuminated
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 by Ben Greenfield | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Judaism is famously infatuated with text; and the New American Haggadah, with contemporary authors Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander listed as editor and translator, respectively, is the latest in a long line of love letters by Jews to their object of adoration.
Vayikra: Beginning in the Middle
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 by Torah Talk with Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

Torah Talk with Michael Carasik Who reads what when? This week we're beginning to read the book of Leviticus.  But in the podcast we'll look at a rabbi who walked into a synagogue and found the reading beginning in a surprising place—and we'll see what light that sheds on the tradition of reading the Torah.  (Click here for source sheet.) Download | Duration: 00:10:38
Vayakhel-Pekudei: Symbols and Sabbaths
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

The construction and inauguration of the mishkan (tabernacle) that we have been following for the past month comes to an end, along with the Book of Exodus, in this week's double portion. Curiously, it is enveloped by references and allusions to Shabbat at its outset and at its close.
Hitting the Jackpot Hitting the Jackpot
Thursday, March 8, 2012 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Who doesn't like Purim? Besides the costumes and candy, the story itself has all the politics, sex, and violence of a juicy HBO series. In case you missed it: "Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted to destroy the Jews, and had cast a pur—that is, a lottery—with intent to crush and exterminate them."
Ki Tissa: Those Shining Horns
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

At the very end of this week's portion, Moses descends from Mount Sinai with the replacement set of the two tablets of the Law. As the Torah puts it, "Moses knew not that the skin of his face karan while He talked with him" (Exodus 34:29).
T’tzaveh: Clothes Make the Man
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

This week's portion opens with the manufacture of the priestly vestments. When their manufacture is complete, God instructs Moses to dress Aaron and his sons in the vestments, anoint them, "fill their hands" and sanctify them to serve (28:41). Rashi (1040–1105) explains: "Every instance of 'filling the hands' signifies initiation."
T’rumah: Furnishing God’s House
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

Suppose you had super powers. Suppose you could appear anywhere on earth instantaneously. Suppose you could paralyze the leader of the world's most powerful nation so that he was helpless to act while you launched disaster after disaster against his country and its people. Suppose you could take 600,000 enslaved men—not to mention women and children—out of that leader's nation, and rescue them from slavery in a single day.
Redefining Religious Activity Redefining Religious Activity
Friday, February 17, 2012 by Meir Soloveichik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In August of 1790, Moses Seixas, a leading member of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, composed a letter to then President George Washington, who was visiting Newport. In his letter, Seixas gave voice to his people's love of America and its liberties.
Mishpatim: Love, Freedom, and the Law
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

And now, a little bit of law. Nestled between the two mega-memes of the Revelation at Sinai and the construction of the Tabernacle, we find a weekly reading that starts with "these are the statutes (mishpatim) that you will place before them." It goes on to provide us with the basics of the Torah's civil and criminal laws.
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Editors' Picks
Singing “Their” Tunes Shlomo Brody, Jerusalem Post. On the halakhic permissibility of, among other things, non-Jewish rituals and music in Jewish worship.
“The Stamp of My Jewish Existence” Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Born August 18, 1910, Herman Berlinski was a prolific composer of sacred music whose masterworks include a complete setting of the (Reform) Friday-evening service. (With audio and video.)
Right of Reply Joseph J. Siev, Huffington Post. On the heated response of a prominent Reconstructionist rabbi to my article concerning the present condition of his movement.
Missing Ingredient Gil Student, Torah Musings. If Jewish theology is whatever Jews happen to be thinking about religion, then it is idiosyncratic and meaningless; so how should it be defined?
Heart to Heart Hart Levine, Jewish Week. An undergraduate Jewish "insider" who devised a means of bringing Jewish "outsiders" in has seen his model adopted at eighteen college campuses.
The Gift of Rest Michael Medved, Washington Times. In an enchanting new book, Senator Joseph Lieberman argues that the purpose of the Sabbath is not "to recharge our batteries so we can work harder but to recharge our souls so we can live better."    
Bound by Basketball Michael Vitez, Philadelphia Inquirer. On the close relationship between an aspiring Modern Orthodox rabbi and an NBA rookie.
On the Ninth of Av Frank Talmage, Commentary. In Catalonia, Spain, once the scene of centuries of Jewish hopes and achievement, a student of Jewish history is beset by a torrent of emotions.
The Self-Centered Life Gil Student, Torah Musings. Why observe the Torah's commandments? Because, says an Orthodox rabbi channeling Oprah, they make you feel good about yourself.
“Friendship Jew” Jenna Weissman Joselit, New Republic. On the perils of cross-cultural exchange as experienced by a Jewish Peace Corps volunteer in Guiyang, China.