Religious Life

Judith and the Hanukkah Story

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You have probably heard of Judah and the Maccabees, but what about Judith?  At one time, the story of Judith—a young widow who slew the Assyrian general and led the Israelites to victory—was considered an important part of the Hanukkah narrative.

The scary subtext of "rethinking egalitarianism"

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Last week in the Forward, Jay Michaelson writes about the need to rethink egalitarianism.  Egalitarian synagogues, he says, tend to be egalitarian in only one way: everyone is equally bored.  (“Egalitarian” in American Jewish life has historically referred to prayer services where men and women can both participate fully and take on leadership roles.)  He talks about friends who attend Orthodox prayer services because they find more meaning in the service, and about how attempts at inclusiveness and egalitarianism often translate

Who Scribed Your Torah?

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Soferet

Every Shabbat, Jews all over the world go to synagogue, pray, kibbitz, and, of course, read from the Torah. And while there is plenty of debate among and within the Jewish movements about who wrote the words of the Pentateuch, there is no question that the words got on the parchment thanks to the master skill of the sofer.

A Year Later

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Julie Seltzer

Last year, b’etzem hayom hazeh, on this self-same day, As It Is Written: Project 304,805 opened

Another important event in my life happened on this day as well: sixty-one years ago, on October 8th, 1949, my mother, z”l, was born.

While this convergence may seem a mere interesting coincidence, there is precedent in our tradition for the notion that related events occur on the same date

Comparative Religion Isn't Just for Academics

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An interesting article popped up on the side of The New York Times recently--an article about the lack of knowledge among Americans about religion, including about their own. The article discussed the fact that on average, Americans were only able to correctly answer 50% of the questions on a recent survey by the Pew Research Center on the teachings and history of major world religions.

The Jewish Press Must Not Kowtow to Religious Homophobia

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On October 4, the New Jersey Jewish Standard published an apology for printing a same-sex wedding announcement. In that apology, the paper’s editor, Rebecca Boroson, made it clear that the decision to stop running same-sex wedding announcements, and the apology, was in response to pressure from the so-called "traditional/Orthodox" Jewish community. Thanks to the internet, the outrage felt at this editorial decision was felt across the nation.

TLC's Sister Wives: A Closer Look

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Sister Wives

I returned home from my cousin’s wedding Sunday night, happy and exhausted with barely enough energy to flop onto the couch and turn on the TV. That is how I found myself watching the two new episodes of TLC’s Sister Wives, a reality TV show about a modern polygamous family.

Kavanah

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Tallit by Beth Surdut

I am, among many defining facets, a woman and a maker of tallit. A few days ago, I was gathering materials to write about the choices we make--to pray, to wear a beautiful prayer shawl, to leyn from the Torah, to actively weave ritual into our busy lives.

"You're doing it wrong": Finding my voice on Simchat Torah

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At twelve (or sometimes thirteen), a Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah means daughter of the commandments, which, for a religious girl, means taking on the obligations and traditions of the Jewish religion. The Bat Mitzvah celebration and ceremony is a relatively new invention, as compared to an equivalent ritual for boys, but it is important and beautiful nonetheless. After my Bat Mitzvah, I was eager to participate at my synagogue as much as I could.

Will America's Next Top Model Be Modern Orthodox?

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America's Next Top Model - Cycle 15

There has been a lot of talk lately in the Jewish community about a particular contestant on the CW’s reality hit America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). Esther Petrack, an 18-year-old, self-identified Modern Orthodox Jew, is an aspiring model on the show. When asked by Tyra Banks, the show’s host, whether or not she observed Shabbat, Esther said yes and proceeded to explain all that that entailed. But Tyra fired back that contestants on ANTM work on every day of the week. Would Esther be prepared to break the Sabbath in pursuit of her modeling dreams? “Yes, I would do it,” Esther replied.

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