The Best Jewish Holiday

Rabbi Bradley Artson
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by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
posted on September 20, 2021
After two days of Rosh Ha-Shanah and a day of fasting on Yom Kippur, you would think that Jews would be exhausted.  Enough Judaism, already! Yet at precisely that time, the calendar of Judaism presents a dazzling array of festivals--Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabbah, Sh'mini Atzeret, and Simhat Torah.  For more than a week, we continue to celebrate one holiday after another, each with its own set of rituals, songs, and customs. Read more...

The Ability and Responsibility to Change

Headshot of Elliot Dorff
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by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD
posted on September 13, 2021
A few weeks ago, I was part of a rabbinic court (beit din) for someone who was converting to Judaism.  In his essay to describe his journey to Judaism, he mentioned that he had grown up as a Protestant Christian.  During the conversation, I mentioned that the High Holy Days were coming and asked him what he thought their meaning was.  He rightfully said that they were a very serious time when we are prompted to evaluate what we have done in the past year, seek forgiveness from anyone we have wronged, and plan ways to improve our relationships with others and with God during the yea Read more...

Today the World was Birthed

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on September 6, 2021
On what day was the world created? The answer is not as obvious as we might like to think. We are told in Exodus 12:2 that Nissan is the first month. And yet we also refer to the first of Tishrei as Rosh haShanah, the beginning of the year. Read more...

Labor Day: An Unexpected Jewish Holiday

Photo of Rabbi Ben Richards
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by Rabbi Ben Richards
posted on September 3, 2021
My friend and I used to play a game we called “what secular date is the Jewish holiday on this year.” A holiday would be mentioned and we’d each take our guesses. Purim, Passover, Shavuot, etc. What a surprise it was to me when my friend mentioned Labor Day. “Labor Day?! That’s not a Jewish holiday.” I protested. “Of course it is!” my friend responded. “It’s probably the most Jewish holiday there is! Maybe the one most worth celebrating.” Read more...

Sacred Play-Acting

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
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by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on July 15, 2021
Like a number of Conservative Jews, I first learned the “script” of Tisha B’Av at summer camp (in my case, Ramah Poconos). After a pre-fast meal and as the sun began to set, we filed into the Beit Am Gadol (meaning, fairly literally: the Large Communal Space). At the front, by the stage which usually hosted camp plays, a choir of staff, and perhaps campers from older groups, sang mournful Hebrew songs as everyone gathered. The lights in the room were turned down, and instead the vast, hanger-like space was lit with candles. Read more...