Judaism

Ancient Jewish Computers

In perfecting Judaism’s complex, lunisolar calendar, the Rabbis likely relied on advanced mathematics.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Passover, the Bible tells us (Exodus 34:18), is Hag Hamatzot (Holiday of The Matzot) whose time is Mo’ed HaAviv, a spring festival, that begins on the 15th day of Nisan, on the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox (“Tekufat HaShana”), following the Passover sacrifice on the 14th.

It’s an unusually precise specification. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley is ripe, that being the test for the onset of spring.

DAVID FRIEDMAN, Numbers, 2011, 	acrylic and ink on paper 11”x 14.”

Saving The Dates

Elisheva Carlebach rediscovers the lost art of ‘sifrei evronot,’ Jewish calendar booklets.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Tucked into a corner of the Columbia University campus at the end of a long hallway, Elisheva Carlebach’s book-lined office is as quiet and serene as a library. But as soon as she begins to speak about her new book, “Palaces of Time” (Harvard), we’re transported to a world where few things are fixed or organized — not even the concept of time.

Sefer evronot, 1717. Cincinnati, Klau Library, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

And The Seasons They Go ‘Round And ‘Round

Seeking a coherent life with the holiday cycle as our compass.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

When I was a child, the Jewish holidays burst upon my days with no discernible pattern or connection. In St. Louis, as a young girl, I am a Megillah, parading around United Hebrew Temple, my skinny 9-year-old self sandwiched between two yellow poster boards with “The Story of Queen Esther” glued and glittered on the front. And then, some weeks later, returning home from services with my mom and my sister — dad was at work — we ate our Passover feast: crunchy sheaves of matzah slathered with cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly.

TANYA FREDMAN, Midbar (Desert), 2010, oil and fabric on canvas, 30” x 30”.

Let Us Eat Cake

There’s only one biblical birthday bash.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Sunday, Oct. 28 was Bess’s first birthday. The festivities began two weeks earlier with a collective party for my local moms’ group’s entire brood — Bess won our first annual crawling race by a mile! — and culminated with an immediate-family-only party featuring homemade frosted pomegranate layer cake. (Rimona, Bess’s middle and Hebrew name, is the feminized form of rimon, or pomegranate.)

Text Context April 2011

How do we measure the moments, the hours, the days, months, seasons and years of our lives? In this issue on the calendar -- which heralds the beginning of spring and the arrival of Pesach -- we explore how cycles of Jewish time are marked and experienced
04/04/2011 - 20:00
Text Context April 2011

Taking Japan Personally

04/04/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

My friend’s jaw dropped in disbelief. “You’re going back? What?! Why?”

She turned to her new husband, her eyes twinkling, her voice teasing. “Japan is Elicia’s Israel,” she said. By which she meant, Japan is Elicia’s homeland. By which she meant: how absurd.

Elicia Brown

Sober Responses To My Column On Drinking

It seems my column this week hit a raw nerve in describing how some Jewish groups are using alcohol and partying as outreach tools to attract young people.

On the first day I've already received several dozen emails, in addition to online Comments, ranging from kudos for "telling like it is," to strong critiques for exaggerating, if not outright fabricating tales of overindulgence at organizational events.

The Future's So Bright: Are Reform Rabbis Ready for the 21st Century?

03/31/2011 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Hundreds of Reform Rabbis traveled to New Orleans… sounds like the start of a joke, yes? This past week marked the 122nd Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis - the CCAR - and, yes, this year's convention was held in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Rabbi Marci N. Bellows

With the RA in Las Vegas: Beyond the Punchlines

03/31/2011 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

On Sunday through Thursday of this week, hundreds of my colleagues in the Rabbinical Assembly and I gathered at our international convention, held this year in Las Vegas.  The Rabbinical Assembly is the professional organization of Conservative rabbis around the world.  In addition to my work as the rabbi of The Forest Hills Jewish Center, I currently serve as the RA's Vice-President, and am slated to assume the Presidency in another year.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Is it Cruel to Force Dogs to Keep Passover?

03/30/2011 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Q - I've heard that pets are supposed to keep Passover. I'm fairly traditional regarding Passover and just got a dog. Isn't it cruel to force an innocent animal to change its entire diet for a whole week? It's hard enough for humans!

A- As the proud owner of two adorable standard poodles, one of whom is extremely neurotic, I can sympathize with you.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
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