Judaism

Everything you need to know about Judaism and being Jewish: the weekly Torah portion, Jewish holidays, Jewish rituals and more.

Shavuot: A holiday about more than just cheesecake - opinion

Even though there are no real ritualistic demands, it has some uncommon customs, including tikkun leil Shavuot, an all-night vigil of Torah study.

Shavuot: The voice of God in the revelation on Sinai

The revelation at Mount Sinai of the Torah remains a mystery as to what exactly happened and what exactly was heard.

Second Nurture: Learning lessons on adoption from Ruth

What better place than a strong, loving, community like synagogues for a young person who needs a family?

By SUSAN SILVERMAN
13/05/2021

Conversion conundrum: The fight over symbolism, the neglect of the problem

Ever since some one million immigrants came to Israel from former Soviet countries, a battle has been waged over conversion.

How the Chief Rabbinate has become an engine of schism, wrath and shame

Modern-Orthodox rabbis hope to use the current political crisis to retrieve the Rabbinate from ultra-Orthodoxy’s tutelage.

Shavuot - Celebrating the giving of the Torah and the harvest festival

The festival of the giving of the Torah demands that we prepare ourselves, that we spend the night immersed in learning.

By YOAV ENDE
13/05/2021

The Book of Ruth: The tale of King David's ancestry is a taste of perfection

Long before science fiction contemplated revisiting and revising events of former years, the Bible did so, in the Book of Ruth.

By BENJAMIN SEGAL
13/05/2021

Meron tragedy throws up questions of faith

And the most pervasive question of all: Why did God allow this to happen?

Vogue magazine

Vogue highlights Orthodox women in campaign against get refusal

The fact that such a big publication brought up the matter of gets reveals the importance of the issue & the deepness of the imbalance power between men and women on that matter.

Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in his office

Ohr Torah Stone launches pre-Shavuot learnathon named after Rabbi Riskin

In addition to marking Riskin's birthday, the learnathon also comes ahead of the Shavuot holiday, when it is customary for Jews to stay up all night studying Torah.

Is preemptive warfare allowed in Jewish law?

Getting these decisions right can be the difference between triumph and travail.

By SHLOMO BRODY
06/05/2021

Parashat Behar-Behukotai: The power of ‘if’

The more we explore “if” the more lightning we find in the word.

06/05/2021

Parashat Behar-Behukotai: An answer of once in a half-century

In the agricultural context in which the Torah was received, land was the main source of income, and owning a lot of land was a source of wealth.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
06/05/2021

Where did the Red Sea split? Diagnosing biblical geography’s meaning

The answer can be found in Places in the Parasha – Biblical Geography and its Meaning, a fascinating book by Prof. Yoel Elitzur.

Graphic of Jewish woman. Photo obtained via JTA.

Take it from a fat rabbi: Nobody needs your dieting advice

Anyone who has been even a little bit fat for more than five minutes in our fatphobic culture is already deeply familiar with the sense that they don’t fit in.

By RABBI MINNA BROMBERG/JTA
05/05/2021
Lag Ba'omer

Lag Ba'omer tragedy: Why do Jews gather at Mt. Meron for bonfires?

Every year, tens of thousands of Jews from all backgrounds arrive at Mt. Meron to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'omer, but why is this particular mountain so significant?

Lag Baomer bonfire

Lag Ba'omer is all the rage in Israel — here’s how to celebrate it

While you may have never heard of this holiday, Lag Ba'omer is popular and widely beloved in Israel — and it’s time we Americans learned to enjoy it, too

By RABBI ROBYN FRISCH/JTA
29/04/2021

Why is Jerusalem the most important city for the Jewish people?

In Jerusalem, I see the fulfillment of 2,800-year-old prophecies. It is a place where the fabric between the spiritual and the material is so thin that it elevates everything.

By AHARON E. WEXLER
29/04/2021
A 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible,was unveiled at the Museum of the Bible on November 8, 2019.

Parashat Emor: Finding a place in time

The omer is a period of mourning but is also agriculturally significant.

29/04/2021

Parashat Emor: The counting of the Omer

From the festival of matzah to the festival of hametz

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
29/04/2021

Lag Ba’omer: Counting the omer with meaning

As we approach Lag Ba’omer, let us race along capturing the “wins” and insert them into our daily activities.

By DAVID GEFFEN
29/04/2021

1st ever woman spiritual leader of Orthodox synagogue appointed in Israel

Until now, Orthodox synagogues in Israel have only appointed women to serve in positions of spiritual leadership alongside male rabbis, never by themselves.

Lag Ba'omer: Counting the days

The 33rd day has a special significance. Until then it is not permitted during the sefirah to cut the hair, wear new clothes, attend public entertainment or to get married.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys dance around a bonfire as they celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'Ome

Government ministries urge smaller, alternative Lag Ba'omer celebrations

The Environmental Protection Ministry suggested unifying bonfires with other social groups - without making the actual bonfire larger - to drastically cut pollution without sacrificing tradition.

Conservative rabbis to review ethics code over abuse, gender inequity

The RA will be working to update ethics codes with Sacred Spaces, an organization that works with Jewish communities to address sexual abuse and power abuse.

Tanna Devei Eliyahu: The divine, legal determination

What was the initial trigger for an unprecedented hassidic commentary on an aggadic work?

By LEVI COOPER
22/04/2021

Parashat Aharei Mot-Kedoshim: Forgiveness and self-love

If you are not to hold a grudge, what ought one to do?

22/04/2021
Bronze bull idol unearthed at the archaeological site of Olympia

Parashat Aharei Mot-Kedoshim: Respect vs. power

The commandment that envelops this parasha throughout is “You shall be holy!”

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
22/04/2021

Dance of the Omer: How to improve your life by counting the Omer

“Each day has a teaching and exercise to help ground the teaching and propel one along the path of transformation and growth. It is a very experiential book."

By Rivkah Lambert Adler
15/04/2021

How is the status of women tied to time-bound mitzvot?

The distinction between time-bound and non-time-bound mitzvot appears only when distinguishing the differences between men and women.

By NECHAMA GOLDMAN BARASH
15/04/2021

Parashat Tazria-Metzora: The school of solitude

Coming off a pandemic, when so many have been isolated, we might be inclined to view all isolation as punitive.

15/04/2021
LEPROSY, PLATE LXX from Prince Albert Morrow, 1889

Parashat Tazria-Metzora: Self-esteem and conceit

From the stories in the Torah of people with leprosy, we can infer what the social impairment is that leads to this impurity: gossip, slandering the name of someone else.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
15/04/2021

Being Jewish Today: Presenting a vision of Judaism for our time

Affiliation today is primary for today’s Jews, and as a result, they struggle with issues of identity.

By DAVID ROYTENBERG
15/04/2021

Can psychedelic drugs be healing? This Jewish rabbi thinks so

Dreaming of a world in which the trauma of the Jewish past can be healed through psychedelic experiences, where chemically assisted mystical encounters are a normative part of Jewish spirituality.

By DAVID A.M. WILENSKY/JTA
14/04/2021

Rabbinate reneges on recognition of foreign rabbinical courts - exclusive

After publishing a list in 2018 of Orthodox rabbinical courts in the Diaspora recognized for performing conversions and divorce, the Chief Rabbinate will again scrutinize all such processes.

Passovers of growing emancipation - opinion

The continuous emancipation of the Jewish nation can be viewed through examining a series of “first” Passovers.

08/04/2021

Parshat Shmini: The honey and the sting

The deeper lesson of the Torah’s teaching is not that one must have tragedy at the very moment of triumph, but that everything contains its opposite.

08/04/2021
kashrut kosher

Parshat Shmini: Purity of the soul, restraint and humility

Kashrut is a significant part of Jewish identity. The basic principle of kashrut is that what a person puts into his body affects not only his physical health but the purity of his soul as well.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
08/04/2021

Seven processes of Smart Tzedakah that you can do

We believe that an approach to strategic giving can be modeled similarly to the approach many use to set up an investment portfolio.

By BENJI LEVY , MICHAEL BLOCH
03/04/2021

Yad Vashem marks 80 years since the onset of mass annihilation

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem and Tzohar invite the public to take part in the “Generations Light the Way” project by lighting memorial candles in memory of the six million.

By PENINA HOROWITZ
02/04/2021
Learn Yiddish on Duolingo.

A bagel and a shmear: New Yiddish course comes to Duolingo, plus free nosh

The course, which has taken five years to develop, launches on Tuesday, April 6.

Jewish law: May parents waive children’s obligation to mourn for them?

Can a parent request a child not to recite kaddish for them?

By SHLOMO BRODY
01/04/2021

Passover: Looking back and moving on

Passover asks us to confront evil in the world and consider how to combat it.

01/04/2021
Exodus from Egypt (Edward Poynter)

Passover: Miracles & effort: A perfect combination

The historic event we mark on this day is the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
01/04/2021

Passover: The Haggadah's messages for coronavirus

The search for hametz is paralleled by the search for COVID-19. Without the search where would we be?

By DAVID GEFFEN
01/04/2021

The importance of kiddush for a Holocaust survivor - reflection

Tears blurred my own eyes as I looked at the person who had endured for so long, and now chanted these holy words with such feeling, in our sukkah, so many years later.

By RIV HECHT
01/04/2021

Israel Prize winner Prof. Yair Zakovitch: Bible values remain relevant

‘Someone who wants to think needs to know how to read, and the best training for this is reading the Tanach’

By CARMIT SAPIR VITZ
01/04/2021

The history of ancient Jewish texts and the stories they tell

From St. Petersburg manuscripts to the Washington Haggadah.

Emerging from COVID-19: Jewish quotes on a return to normalcy

"From sorrow into joy... from darkness into great light."

Ex-NBA star and Orthodox convert Amar'e Stoudemire celebrates Passover

“I mean, there’s so many d’var Torahs you can do for Pesach, bro,” he said. He recited the story of Moses and said how he could never see himself as being capable of doing what the Biblical hero did.

How has COVID changed the practice of sitting shiva?

'In Jerusalem' spoke to individuals who lost a family member this past year, as well as to two mental health professionals to find out more about how COVID has changed the practice of sitting shiva.

By Rivkah Lambert Adler
01/04/2021

Israeli Embassy to UAE hosts its first-ever Passover Seder

Jewish participants explained the significance of the texts in the Haggadah and the attendees “celebrated together to find what we have in common.”

Yellow basmati rice

Passover: Is kitniyot on wane, does it presage a unified Jewish custom?

Perhaps because of the pushback against the custom, observance of it has actually waned significantly.

Thousands gather at Western Wall for Birkat Kohanim

The event was spread across two days this year to allow as many people as possible to attend despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Passover: Could the Haggadah reveal the meaning of life?

New Passover book showcases ‘profound and actionable’ lessons from the Seder

Passover Haggadah tells the story of the Exodus with Marvel superheroes

The Superhero Haggadah is interspersed with essays, divrei Torah, humorous MCU spins on various songs sung during the Seder and questions-and-answers sections.

28/03/2021

2,500-year-old golden Torah seized in Turkey from suspect's car - Watch

The ancient artifact was simply wrapped in a plastic bag wedged in the pockets of a nearly otherwise empty cloth bag in the trunk of a car.

28/03/2021

Why do we eat matzah on Passover?

Liberation from slavery underlies our basic Jewish values

27/03/2021
Planet Earth globe

Coronavirus and Passover: Four Questions during a pandemic

Our oral tradition is founded upon the Socratic method of “questions and answers” lobbied between study partners or chavrutot. On Seder night, questions are particularly pivotal; multiple irregularities are introduced into the Seder to prompt questions.

By MOSHE TARAGIN
27/03/2021

Passover: On the Seder

I would like to share some ideas I have collected and developed over the years, and perhaps they can bring something new to your ancient Seder.

By AHARON E. WEXLER
25/03/2021

Parashat Tzav: Two kinds of forever

Tamid can mean both “forever” and “regularly.” In that double significance is part of the secret of Jewish survival.

25/03/2021
Exodus from Egypt (Edward Poynter)

Passover - Parashat Tzav: The liberation journey continues

Once a year, we do not suffice with mentioning the Exodus from Egypt, but retell the story of our nation’s genesis in detail.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
25/03/2021

Passover: The story of 2 Haggadahs, one that survived, one for survivors

Let me tell you the story about one exceedingly famous Haggadah and the other one a metaphor for our own time.

By STUART GELLER
25/03/2021
RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL presents a Judaism and World Peace award to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

'I have a dream': Jews and African Americans celebrate freedom together

"It was Dr. King who took the Hebrew Bible and made it a modern liberation manifesto, thereby demonstrating to the Jewish community, the contemporary power of Jewish prophecy and values."

By HADASSAH BRENNER
24/03/2021

Healing seders, nurturing unity

This year, as most Israelis enjoy mask-less, unsocially distanced but doubly vaccinated Seders, we still need this message. Our election do-over picked at social and political scabs.

23/03/2021

Parashat Vayikra: New understandings of ancient practices

With this particular book of the Bible, its focus on the sacrificial system becomes a stumbling block for many trying to derive meaning from its text.

THE ‘CORONA’ Haggadah by the Association for Children at Risk-The Center for Autism Treatment and Re

Plagues, games and more: Passover gifts for a year unlike any other

Some will find such gifts to be not in the best possible taste, but if you take them with a grain of salt – or maybe salted water – they could be fun.

Passover: Virtual Seder platform rolls out upgrades ahead of 2021 holiday

Synagogues, congregations and communal groups can now host Seders with up to 1,000 participant screens.

Hand, mouth or mind

There are ways to convey God's blessing even without touching.

By LEVI COOPER
21/03/2021

These restaurants around the US offer Passover meal delivery

With menus ranging from brisket and matzah ball soup to chraime and chicken tagine, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We’ve rounded up the best of them below.

By RACHEL RINGLER/JTA
20/03/2021

Major rise in demand for Shmurah Matzah amid Passover - survey

The alleged cause of the rise in demand for Shmurah Matzah was due to a campaign initiated by Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Passover: The world of the Haggadah, from Saint Petersburg to Sarajevo

The lecture, Hebrew Manuscripts Treasures in the Saint Petersburg, and other collections with a focus on the Passover Haggadah will take place on Tuesday, March 16 at 8 p.m.

Seeking: Nice Jewish shul (online services only need apply)

Married, midlife, Ashkenazi soulful Jewish female seeking spiritual community to join for online interaction. No in-person meetings. Serious virtual connections only, please.

By LISA J. WISE
18/03/2021
A 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible,was unveiled at the Museum of the Bible on November 8, 2019.

Parashat Vayikra: ‘But I didn’t mean it!’

Four reasons, two medieval and two modern, that will help us understand something deep about the Torah and our tradition.

18/03/2021

Parashat Vayikra: Standing before God

By offering a sacrifice, a person expresses the maximum nullification he can feel: giving life to God.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
18/03/2021

The haredi-Christian tragedy and the idol worship of Talmud Torah

Nothing is holier than life itself, not even when we combine all the divinely-given commandments.

As part of Beit Avi Chai's online offerings, Israeli journalist Romy Neumark, center, narrates a ser

Passover: Jerusalem cultural center launches online offerings for Passover

The leadup to Passover will be particularly intense, with virtual lectures, cooking classes, musical performances and podcasts on offer. All the content is free, and much of it available in English.

By LARRY LUXNER/JTA
17/03/2021

This rabbi has seen the future, and it sounds like Clubhouse

“Clubhouse provides a frictionless, inclusive and low barrier environment in which one can explore their Jewish identity in both meaningful and deeply personal ways."

By RABBI WENDY PEIN/JTA
16/03/2021

Crave can’t save their bacon as rabbinate declares word non-kosher

Popular Jerusalem eatery offers kosher cured, smoked ‘lamb bacon’ in its rabbinate licensed restaurant but Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar orders restaurant to change the term

A Holocaust survivor shows the number that was tattooed on his arm in a Nazi concentration camp duri

Leo Rechter, 93, fought for destitute Holocaust survivors

Rechter told legislators that the voices of thousands of Holocaust survivors across the country were too often absent from the organizations responsible for assisting them.

By PENNY SCHWARTZ/ JTA
13/03/2021

Fighting up a wall for the pluralistic Kotel Agreement

RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS: Five years after first being approved, then, the Kotel Agreement remains suspended but not forgotten.

We talk about the four sons but what about the four daughters?

Women were actively part of the miracle of the Exodus, so where are they in the Hagaddah?

By NECHAMA GOLDMAN BARASH
11/03/2021
THE MISHKAN tent. (Wikimedia Commons)

Parashat Vayakhel – Pekudei: Supplying the stairs

Reading this week’s Torah portion reveals several different staircases connecting the Mishkan and Shabbat.

11/03/2021
‘MOSES WITH the Ten Commandments,’ Philippe de Champaigne, 1648: Why not read them every day?

Parashat Vayakhel – Pekudei: Who produces our medicine?

We notice a phrase that is repeated often while the Torah describes the execution of the directions: “As the Lord commanded Moses.” This phrase is repeated no fewer than 19 times.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
11/03/2021

Ashira's song and the issue of IDF converts to Judaism

“It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.” – The Bee Gees, 1967

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