As we approach the Days of Awe, our annual exercise in self scrutiny and stock-taking can be a daunting task. Rather than highlight a single ethical dilemma this week, I offer here some suggestions, some “ethics-ercises,” as it were, to assist you on this journey.
I’ve been covering Jewish education for almost 15 years and have interviewed countless people telling me about the myriad challenges (not to mention the financial investment required) of maintaining and passing on our illustrious Jewish traditions.
For interfaith families alone, there is an entire cottage industry of websites like this and this brimming with suggestions, resources, how-to’s and so on for learning about and transmitting our aforementioned traditions.
Other than the man whose mistress showed up to greet him but not his wife (ouch!), there seems to be no component of the story of the rescued Chilean miners that is not magical, if not miraculous. It is a beautiful example of the triumph of the human spirit, and of the refusal to fail, to paraphrase the oft quoted phrase of the NASA flight director for Apollo 13.
In the early evening of September 16, the day before Yom Kippur, my neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, here in the city of New York, was hit by a tornado. No one could remember the last time that had happened, but no one who experienced it this time around- myself very much included- will ever forget it. It was a terrifying experience, and it wreaked extensive damage. Most homes, including my own, had roof damage from falling trees, cars were sliced in half by them, power and cable lines were downed (some still are), and in general, it caused great distress.
On the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, a time of reflection and renewal, I often find myself fantasizing about bagels and orange juice. By late morning, my thoughts turning ever more frequently to coffee, my temples throbbing from caffeine withdrawal, my belly gnawing from hunger, I begin to snarl. As my stomach growls, so do I. By noon on Yom Kippur, I’m often a cranky mess, anxious and irritable with my husband and children, angry at myself for my shortcomings of spirit.
I sat waiting for her on a bench on a traffic island situated between the northbound and southbound lanes of Broadway, about a block away from the Upper West Side mikveh. Wearing my Shabbat clothes, with a yarmulke on my head, I felt self-conscious, acutely aware of the questions I would ask if I saw someone like me, openly Orthodox, sitting and watching the traffic at the onset of Shabbat when I should have been in shul davening.
Glimmers of hope amid loss of nusach tradition and cantorial positions.
Special To The Jewish Week
Like musical Johnny Appleseeds, Cantors Bernard Beer and Sherwood Goffin have spent the last two years traveling the Modern Orthodox countryside — from the Five Towns of Long Island to Bergen County to Highland Park, N.J., and beyond — trying to replant the seeds of an art form that is fast disappearing from American synagogues.
So, I've decided to fork over the money and become a full-fledged synagogue member -- which means, among other things, my family and I have a place to go for the holidays. Will fill you in on the details in my next post.
For those of you who are still what Jewish insiders refer to in troubled voices as "The Unaffiliated," (usually in the same worried tone as they say "The Intermarried") there are lots of options if you want to go to High Holiday services next week.