The Reform Shuckle

September 27, 2012
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reform-shuckle

Book reviews are found in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals. But what about prayer book reviews? Who can you go to for a good siddur review? Writer and editor David A.M. Wilensky answered that question with his blog, the Reform Shuckle. Here, Wilensky posted lengthy reviews of any siddur or Mahzor (High Holiday prayer…

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Purim and Yom Kippur

September 25, 2012
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Purim

In the World to Come, says the Zohar, the Jewish people will only celebrate two holidays–Purim and Yom Kippur. In fact the Zohar, refers to Yom Kippur as Yom Ki-Purim; literally, “a day like Purim,” even though you might not think the days have much in common. The two days seem to be exact opposites. One is a…

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The Jewish Dictators Who Invented Punk Rock

September 24, 2012
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the-dictators

1977 was the year punk rock — lead by its (mostly) Jewish standard bearers, the Ramones — exploded out of New York’s Lower East Side. But a full year before the Ramones urged us to “eat Kosher salami,” another group was bragging that they “knocked ‘em dead in Dallas…they didn’t know…

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The Kugel That Was Really a Rebbe

September 21, 2012
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kugel-rebbe

Having problems in your marriage? Blame the potato kugel! It may seem farfetched, but in Michael Wex’s short story “The Kugel Story,” Mrs. Yoshke Furmanovsky cries bitter tears because her husband no longer desires her. Mr. Furmanovsky explains that once he’s eaten his wife’s delicious potato kugel on Friday night, he’s so…

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The Rabbi’s Court

September 20, 2012
By
Samuel-buchler

If you have a legal problem, you can bring it to the People’s Court. If you have a Jewish legal problem, you can bring it to the Beit Din, a Jewish court of arbitration that rules on everything from Jewish divorce, to dowries and business disputes. In 1933 Rabbi Samuel Buchler wrote a book about…

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Solar Energy and Biblical Law

September 19, 2012
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solar-fields

According to the biblical law of pe’ah, when a farmer harvests his land he must leave the corners of his field for the poor (Leviticus 19). And what about solar fields? A solar field (pictured, right) transforms the sun’s rays into electricity–producing a renewable form of energy. In Israel, the Arava Power…

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The Sports Night Seder

September 14, 2012
By
Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin has, arguably, defined the cadence and tone of television and film more than any other screenwriter working today. From The West Wing to 2010’s Oscar-magnet The Social Network, Sorkin writes stories that are smart, funny, and often, unapologetically Jewish– perhaps none more so than in the second season of Sports Night. Officially titled…

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Does Jewish = Neurotic?

September 13, 2012
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Brilliant-novel

“My wife is right: I’m not as Jewish as I advertise,” writes Yuvi Zalkow, the author and subject of the new book  A Brilliant Novel in the Works. It’s a strange statement coming from someone who, in the first pages of the book, spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince…

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Hasid or Hipster

September 12, 2012
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hasid-or-hipster

Hasidic men and women are usually pretty easy to spot—they are known for wearing a particular uniform: black suit with a white shirt, big black hat, beards and long sidecurls for men, and covered hair, long skirts, and long sleeved shirts for women. But these days, some of those same styles are popular among a very different crowd:…

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Mushkie Goes to Kathmandu

September 11, 2012
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mushkie

A pretty, bewigged girl in a long-sleeve button-down shirt could hardly look more out of place wandering amid a group of chanting Buddhist monks or through the hustle and bustle of a Far East Marketplace. But you’ll find this and more on the new Israeli sitcom Kathmandu, which depicts the everyday life of a fictional Chabad…

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Rashi’s Mermaids

September 10, 2012
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shutterstock_3646031

“There are marine animals,” writes Rashi, an 11th century Bible commentator, “half of whose bodies are of human form, and half in the form of a fish.” So begins the curious debate over whether medieval Torah scholars—including Rashi–believed in the existence of mermaids. According to Rabbi Natan Slifkin’s book, Sacred Monsters, Rashi’s belief in…

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Open with a Joke

September 7, 2012
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open-joke

It’s a common rule of public speaking: Tell a joke, and you loosen up the crowd. This idea isn’t a recent one–it can actually be found in the Talmud. “Before he began his lesson to the scholars,” says the Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 30b), “Rabba used to say a joking word, and the scholars were…

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