Category: Judaica

“Just Jewish” — the texts, the tribe, the being. (With a bit of random spirituality mixed in.)

And On, And On

I NEVER MET THEM. BUT I know them. The eleven Jews murdered yesterday as they worshiped at the Tree of Life Congregation near Pittsburgh could be found in any synagogue, including my own: the former congregational president, the lay leader,…

365 Names of God: King

KING A translation of the Hebrew word “melech” (מלך), this Name has fallen out of favor in Liberal Judaism circles due to two factors: 1) It’s male-gendered, and thus anthro/patriomorphic (and conceptually inaccurate); and 2) as people who live in…

365 Names: Tao

TAO Coined in the Tao Teh Ching by Chinese sage Lao Tzu c. 7th century BCE, this Name is best known from the book’s opening line, “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.” (In other words,…

Midrash Noach

DESPITE THE ALLURING INTRICACIES OF Mosaic law of the past few months, it’s nice to be once again studying the Torah’s classic origin tales. This week we see a sea change (literally) in the way humans relate to their world…

365 Names: Providence

PROVIDENCE literally means “that which/one Who provides.” It’s a comfortable and comforting image: G?d as Supplier of Necessities. For some reason, it pops up a lot in 18th- and 19th-Century literature and life, including as a proper name. Perhaps it’s…

First Graf: The Jewish Catalog

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE COUNTER-CULTURAL agents of the 1960s (re)discovered their Yiddishkeit (Jewishness)? A trio of them (and many others) produced the now-classic The Jewish Catalog: a do-it-yourself kit. As the subtitle implies, the book is chock-full of homemade ways…

“Tzom B’kavanna!”

A TRADITIONAL PRE-YOM KIPPUR ADMONITION is “tzom kal (have an easy fast)” But as a friend in an online forum once pointed out, “easy” misses the point. A proper Yom Kippur fast should be difficult; examining your past year’s mistakes…

Chosenness as Motivator

ONE OF THE MORE CONTROVERSIAL aspects of traditional Judaism is the idea that “Jews are the Chosen People.” Some (both Jew and non-Jew) take this to mean “superior” in some way (I’m looking at you, Grandma), and use it as…

Happy 5779!

MAY YOU HAVE A SWEET, joyous, happy and rewarding New Year! And may your resolutions not prove too daunting; on reflection, may you not bog down in a swamp of self-recrimination. As the Talmud says, “All beginnings are difficult.” And…