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Festivals


The First War of National Liberation The First War of National Liberation
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

This is the 2,179th anniversary of the world's first war of national liberation. There have been many since. To a surprising extent, such wars have followed the pattern first established by the Maccabees. They, like later heads of independence movements, were leaders of a people conquered and occupied by a great empire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Freedom Tales Freedom Tales
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

An enslaved people, brutalized, voiceless except for groans and cries, comes into possession of a voice of their own: no wonder the tale itself sometimes seems to embody the whole meaning of the Exodus.
Manger’s M’gilah, and Ours Manger’s M’gilah, and Ours
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Part of the strangeness of the biblical book of Esther lies, oddly, in its very familiarity. It takes place in a world where God hardly figures, where prophecy is but a memory, where lust, vanity, and arrogance call the tunes, and where flat-out redemption is too much to hope for.
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Editors' Picks
The Belated Contender Adam Kirsch, Tablet. It's more than a little revealing that Nathan Englander's stories of identity and belief seem shallow and garish, while his story of Jewish politics feels challenging and true.
Go Ahead, Buy that Train Set Dennis Prager, Jewish Journal. A holiday season defense of material pleasures.
Hanukkah (from "Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays") Charles Reznikoff, Poems of Charles Reznikoff. Go swiftly in your chariot, my fellow Jew,you who are blessed with horses;and I will follow as best I can afoot,bringing with me perhaps a word or two.Speak your learned and witty discoursesand I will utter my word or two— not by might not by powerbut by Your Spirit, Lord.
Why Joshua? Meir Soloveichik, Jewish Ideas Daily. What is truly celebrated on Simhat Torah: the fact that the Torah has been completed, or that its reading begins again? The choice of the day's Haftarah, and the history of that choice, offer a clue. (PDF, 2010)
Absolute Citron Miriam Krule, Tablet. "It's easier to grow 2,000 acres of oranges or lemons than to grow one acre of etrogs," says California citrus farmer John Kirkpatrick, the only large-scale grower of the fruit in the U.S. 
Shaken, Not Stirred David Rosenberg, Media Line. In developing innovative storage techniques for lulavim (palm fronds), Israel's technological prowess went head-to-head against an Egyptian embargo, and won.  
Myrtle, Date Palm, Willow, Citron Arthur Schaffer, Tradition. What do the "four species" of Sukkot signify? A botanist finds an agricultural interpretation that would have been readily available to an ancient Israelite farmer. (PDF, 1982)
Be Joyful Yehudah Mirsky, Jewish Ideas Daily. "And you will rejoice," the Bible commands with regard to Sukkot. But can even God summon up joy on demand? (2010)
Repentance, Prayer, and Tzedakah David Golinkin, Schechter Institute. A history and analysis of U'netaneh Tokef.
At the Bar of Justice Eliezer Segal, Jewish Star. In envisioning the great annual "day of judgment," the ancient rabbis and poets invoked legal and military images drawn from Greek and Roman life.