The Blessing on Trees

April 10, 2012
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the blessing on trees

Jews are a little obsessed with blessings. We’ve already told you about some weird ones, such as the blessing to say upon seeing strange-looking animals, and also some new and surprising blessings, like the blessing for donating blood. One particular blessing–cited in the Talmud (Berakhot 43b)–is the blessing recited over flowering fruit trees. It’s meant to be recited once…

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A Boy-Band Full of Rabbis

April 9, 2012
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a boy band full of rabbis

Is Judaism ready for a boy-band invasion? The five young men in the R&B group Shtar (literally, “document”) all went to rabbinical school together in Israel. Between classes and study groups, they shared an affinity for pop and R&B melodies–a common affliction for teens and college students, but considerably rarer within the walls…

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The Weirdest Passover Ever

April 6, 2012
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the weirdest passover ever I

Here are a few of our favorite Passover-related oddities. I Can’t Believe It’s Kosher for Passover Passover can be a culinary nightmare. This year, the Nosher blog asked chefs from all over–from vegans to the chef of the Prime Grill (as well as a pastry chef!)–to share their favorite Passover…

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Mushroom Synagogues

April 5, 2012
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mushroom

Fake rabbis? For-profit synagogues? Big-box High Holiday services? So-called “mushroom synagogues” became fashionable in the United States in the late 1920s. They were often for-profit enterprises that popped up during the Rosh Hashanah season. Managed by private entrepreneurs, they undercut existing synagogue prices for High Holiday tickets. Often, they were led by a person who had some sort of knowledgeable…

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Samson, Meet Delilah

April 4, 2012
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samson meets delilah

A new online comic takes its inspiration from a biblical adventure. Sam is a neighborhood guy hanging out at the bake shop, about to snatch the last cupcake. He’s challenged by a beautiful girl, Lilah, who’s also after that last cupcake. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to take the last one?” she teases. When the…

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The Poetry of Leaving Egypt

April 3, 2012
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maggid

At the center of Passover is the seder. And at the center of the seder is a story: Maggid, just one of 14 steps to the seder, but the one that takes up the majority of the seder’s time. It’s either the most boring part, or the most exciting, depending on the teller…and depending on the story. …

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The Gospel of Jewish Services

April 2, 2012
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the gospel of jewish services

Many synagogues are asking the question: How do we get new members through the door? One New York City congregation is offering an interesting, new incentive to come. Romemu, a community that “seeks to integrate mind, body, and spirit,” has put together a new CD of five performances by their 15-member house band. The…

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Who Hid the Chametz?

March 29, 2012
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who hid the chametz

In the weeks before Passover begins, the search for chametz can be all-consuming. Some people get intense with their spring cleaning–de-crumbing kitchen furniture with toothpicks, shaking out every book in the house for breadcrumbs. While this might not sound like fun, there’s a game inspired by the practice that is. Chametz: The Search Is On is a…

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Passover in Ethiopia

March 28, 2012
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passover in ethiopia

Now this is what it means to be free. In 1977, the Israeli government began airlifting the entire community of Ethiopian Jews, who were facing starvation and governmental anti-Semitism. The exodus officially ended in 1991, when nearly all the Beta Israel, as they’re known, were relocated to Israel. The new Journey to Freedom Haggadah, a haggadah that “celebrates…

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Jews and Muslims Vs. Nazis

March 26, 2012
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free-men

In 1942, a young man named Younes is caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s a French black market runner who’s shuttling goods in German-occupied France. When he’s caught and discovered by the puppet government, Younes is given a choice: He can go to jail, or he can spy on the Arab resistance…

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Aliens in the Bible?

March 23, 2012
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aliens in the bible

The earliest writings of Merkavah mysticism date back to the second century C.E. The word Merkavah literally means “chariot,” and this mystical study is named after the surreal vision at the beginning of the biblical Book of Ezekiel, in which “the heavens were opened,” and “four winged creatures…like burning coals of fire” emerged, surrounding a heavenly chariot. Some have speculated…

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Hard to Hear

March 22, 2012
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hard to hear

“Being the hearing child of deaf parents,” says stand-up comic Moshe Kasher in his new memoir, Kasher in the Rye, “is a membership card to a very elite club. To other deaf people, we aren’t ‘hearing.’ We’re family.” Kasher’s parents, both deaf, met one year at the Deaf Olympics (yes, there is such a thing).…

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