Picking Up Pigskin

The Jewish dietary laws prohibit Jews from eating any food products derived from animals that do not have both split hooves and chew their cud. It is a not uncommon assumption that Jews…

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Four Cups of Wine

Like almost all festival meals, the Passover seder begins with Kiddush, the sanctification of the day. On Passover, however, the first cup of wine is followed by three more mandatory…

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Writers in a Terrible Place

“The Day of the Imprisoned Writer” (November 15th) was established by PEN International to recognize and provide support for writers who use their skills to fight political repression.…

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Fast of the Firstborns

There has always been a lot of pressure on firstborn children, as they were often expected to care for the family property or business in order to ensure stability within the community.…

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A Historical Overview of Jews in Morocco

Jews have lived in Morocco for thousands of years. Jewish nomadic tribes integrated into all aspects of Moroccan life even before the Mohammedan conquest of Morocco, which occurred in the…

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Paschal Lamb – A Unique Commandment

While most Jews have attended a Passover seder, no Jew in the last 1,900 plus years has tasted a Paschal lamb ("Korban Pesach"), the animal offering associated with Passover that shares…

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The Bird of Thanks

On Thanksgiving day, it is customary in the United States to eat a turkey dinner. The Hebrew word for turkey is “tar’negol hodu,” literally, an “Indian Rooster.” It came by this name…

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The Great Shabbat

The Shabbat immediately preceding Passover is known as Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat. It is best known for being the Shabbat on which the rabbi of the community (or another…

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OMG! Passover Is Coming

The intensive physical and emotional preparations for Passover come from one seemingly simple commandment: "Seven days you will eat only matzah, but on the first day you shall have put…

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Foreign Fruit?

 elxeneize / Via bigstockphoto.com In two days time, the Jewish people will celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat, which is often referred to as the Jewish New Year of trees.…

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A Woman of Chemistry

If you or someone you love has ever been treated for leukemia, lupus or gout (or a host of other ailments) then you quite likely owe a debt of gratitude to Gertrude Elion (1918-1999), who…

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Chanukah – What’s the Mitzvah

Here's a quiz:What is the primary mitzvah of Chanukah?a) Eating latkes (potato pancakes)b) Giving Chanukah gifts or gelt (money)c) Publicizing the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 daysd)…

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Giving Gifts

"One who is diligent in lighting Chanukah candles will have children who are scholars" (Talmud Shabbat 23b).The desire for scholarly children was actually one of the motivations…

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The Babylonian Talmud Completed

Around the year 200 C.E., Rabbi Judah Ha’Nasi (Judah the Prince) completed editing his great work of Jewish law, the Mishnah. Although Jewish tradition, for close to 1,500 years, forbade…

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Neilah: The Final Serevice

While one may make requests of God or atone for transgressions at any time of the year, the first ten days of Tishrei (from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur) are considered particularly…

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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which is famous for its month-long resistance struggle in April/May of 1943, actually began with an initial uprising on January 18, 1943, which corresponded…

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For The Sin We Committed

One of the main steps in the process of teshuva (repentance) is confessing one’s sins and verbalizing one’s errors. In so doing, a person admits committing a sin, not so much to…

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Seek Out The Positive

An ethical dilemma: A close friend confides in you that he/she recently purchased an expensive, one-of-a-kind, non-returnable item. When he/she shows it to you, you are immediately aware…

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Symbolic Foods

Since Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment, it is customary to eat simanim,* foods with symbolic meanings that invoke God's blessing. We also recite a short prayer before eating them.…

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The Jewish History of the Cyclone Roller Coaster

Coney Island’s reputation as a vacation destination began in the early 1800s, when New Yorkers would head to the beaches. Following the Civil War, Coney Island became a true recreation…

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Thoughts for the Heart

February has been designated American Heart Month. For many years, heart disease was considered to be a mostly male affliction. In order to compensate for, and correct, that…

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Preparing for the Torah

Shortly after the Israelites encamped at the base of Mount Sinai, they agreed to accept the Torah and do all that God had commanded. And so, God declared that He would bring Himself, in…

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When Adar Begins

The month of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar year, begins this Friday evening, February 12th (Rosh Chodesh is two days, but Adar begins on Friday night). The Talmud…

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A Different Set of Loaves

There are several well-known connections between the holiday of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. The most obvious of these is that the celebration of Shavuot is dependent on the count…

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Just a Half Shekel

This Shabbat is Parashat Shekalim (shekels, the Biblical monetary units). The Torah portion that speaks of Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16) is read, as the Maftir portion after the regular…

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Seeking Gold

 This week’s confluence of the Olympic Games and Valentine’s Day means many more people than usual will probably have gold on their minds. While gold is not the most expensive…

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The Sabbath of Remembering

This Shabbat is Shabbat Parashat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembering. The Torah portion that is read as the Maftir (additional) portion, after the conclusion of the regular weekly Torah…

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Come My Beloved

The Talmud (Shabbat 116a) describes how the sages would greet Shabbat: “Rabbi Chaninah would wrap himself in his cloak and say: ‘Come, let us go and greet the Shabbat Queen.’ Rabbi…

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But Mom, You Promised

Parenting is no easy task. From a very early age, children demand and seek gifts and concessions from their parents. And, particularly in our overly-materialistic society, children want a…

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Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman – The Jewish Connection

Name the first talking animated film. The answer most people usually offer is Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willy (1928). In actuality, however, the first talking cartoons were produced by…

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