Yearly Archives: 2015

My left foot (A cautionary tale of Dr. Google) 4

I was wrestling myself into a pair of brown opaque tights when I noticed the lump. It wasn’t terribly large. But to me, it looked huge, perched on the front arch of my ankle when I pointed my toe. If I stood flat-footed, it disappeared, receding between two tendons, hidden from sight. I finished dressing […]

Recalling Pearl Harbor with Chanukah light

Today is the first day of Chanukah, which celebrates the rededication of the Temple after a three-year revolt by the Maccabees against the Syrian Hellenists. It commemorates a military victory, of one tiny army over the might of the Greeks, one in which the Jewish people overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. But today, we also commemorate […]

It’s all in your head. Or on it. 1

“Upset us. It’s good for our health.” That’s what Ann responded after I’d asked whether I needed to wear a head covering in her shul for her daughter Gavriella’s bat mitzvah. Ann and her husband, James, belong to the Bayit, a very progressive but nonetheless Orthodox congregation in Riverdale, founded by the activist rabbi, Avi […]

Voyage of the damned

His name was Aylan Kurdi. He was three years old. He died when the boat carrying his family from Turkey to Greece capsized, filled with refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Aylan’s mother and five-year-old brother died, too. His lifeless body, dressed in a red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on the Turkish shore, buffeted by waves. […]

The donor prayer

One of my favorite parts of the weekly Shabbat service follows the Torah and haftarah readings where we bless the congregation. After reciting one prayer asking for “the blessings of heaven,” kindness, compassion, long life, ample sustenance, health and healthy children, we move on to what I fondly think of as “the donor prayer.” Siddur […]

An El Dorado education

  Is protesting the East Ramapo School Board a Jewish cause? Andrew Mandel jokes that he grew up attending the “Cadillac schools” of the East Ramapo Central School District. By that, he means Fleetwood and El Dorado elementary schools — two institutions that either by happenstance or design bear the names signature vehicles produced by […]

Answering the call: When rabbis serve our troops

I recently spoke about JWB Jewish Chaplains Council and the work that it does as a program of JCC Association, where I work, at New City Jewish Center. I’ve adapted the text from the Shabbat d’var, which took place on Saturday, May 23, 2015, two days before yizkor for Shavuot coincided with our Memorial Day.  […]

To stand idly by 1

“Never again,” is the resounding legacy of the Shoah. Never again will Jews allow themselves to be victims to such catastrophic destruction. Never again is why we have the state of Israel. And while Zionism as a movement predated the Holocaust by many decades, and Jews had been making their way to the holy land […]

The cobblestones of history 1

The cobblestones of Toledo are smooth. Over centuries, feet and weather have worn away the jagged edges, vestiges of the picks that hewed the rock from the quarry. They are difficult to negotiate, slippery and rounded, lining the narrow roads and alleys that wind through this Spanish city, built high on a hill, bordered by […]