Text Context

In The Shadow Of Destruction

The Talmud as an expression of dogged Jewish optimism.

Special To The Jewish Week
10/04/2011

One of the best-known and most cherished stories in rabbinic literature is set in the shadow of a destroyed Jerusalem:

Talmud. Tractate Makkot. Sulzbach, 1760. Courtesy  of  Klau Library, Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religi

The Jewish Happiness Project

Much of ‘positive psychology’ has its roots in Judaism.

Special To The Jewish Week
10/04/2011

Tal Ben-Shahar wasn’t always an authority on happiness. As Israel’s youngest squash champion, he derived no lasting happiness from his athletic feats or fame. Later, he was no happier as a student of philosophy and psychology at Harvard. Then he discovered a newly emerging field. Unlike traditional psychology, it did not dwell on neurosis, depression or anxiety, but stressed mental wellness over mental illness.

Siona Benjamin Finding Home # 52: A New Clear Sky, 2001, gouache on paper, 20" x 26"

Editor’s Note

Book Critic
10/04/2011

I can’t look at our cover photograph without smiling. I wonder where these people are now; their expressions of joyful anticipation stay with me.
As the Days of Awe, the High Holy Days, approach, I like to think that these are also days of optimism, as we are reminded of our resiliency. I admire those who manage to be optimists all year round. When I asked my late friend Ellen Kahn, one of the most optimistic people I’ve encountered, about how she stayed so positive, she said that she worked hard at it.

TAL SHOCHAT. Tamar #3 (Date Palm), 2011, C-Print, 60 x 40.25 inches, edition of 6. Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York.

Text Context September 2011

Glass half-empty or half-full? This month, as the New Year begins, we take a look at the optimistic side of life, from many Jewish perspectives.

10/04/2011
Text Context September 2011

Journal Watch

08/23/2011

From a psychological perspective, loss is one of the most common dynamics in human life — everyone experiences it — but psychologists are at a loss to define it. We can easily describe loss — the feeling of emptiness when something dear to us is taken away. And mourning, an important mechanism, is the process by which we try to overcome the feelings of loss.

Among Rocks and Stones

On a northern Atlantic shore, I discovered how to mourn—and honor—my brother.

08/23/2011

 The first thing that happened the morning after my brother Eric killed himself was my sister and I told our father. It was early in the morning, so we let ourselves into the house where our father had been living alone since our mother died five years earlier. He sat on the edge of the bed, confused and half asleep. He said, “That stupid idiot.”

Naomi Leshem Untitled for M #3 (Way to Beyond), 2003, Chromogenic print, 47.25" x  47.25", Edition of 5. Courtesy Andrea Meislin

A Daughter’s Kaddish

No matter how familiar you are with death, it’s impossible to be prepared for the loss of your mother.

08/23/2011

Death is the subject I deal with daily as the executive director of the Hebrew Free Burial Association, in New York. HFBA arranges approximately 350 burials a year, and at least twice a month I am in one cemetery or another as part of my job. But my work didn’t inure me against the profound sadness I felt when my mother, Dorothy Koplow, Chaya Doboh bat Meir v’Breindl, died in the summer of 2010, at the age of 90.

Naomi Leshem Nitsan, 2007, Chromo- genic print. 47.25" x 47.25", Edition of  5. Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York.

Dying To Get Into The Paper

Obituaries and what they tell us about the dead and about journalism today.

08/23/2011

The first murder in the Bible comes in Genesis 4 with the rivalry between Cain and Abel. “And it came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him,” we are told.

But the first obituary in the Bible comes in the next chapter, when the text notes that Adam died. Genesis 5 begins, “This is the record of Adam’s line,” and what follows is a brief review of his life, ending in “All the days that Adam lived came to 930 years; then he died.”

MICHAEL DATIKASH  They Lost their Father, 1994.

Picking Up the Pieces

For many of Madoff’s victims, the financial loss continues to trigger aftershocks.

08/23/2011

When Richard Shapiro discovered that his entire pension plan, along with millions of dollars he had saved over the years, was wiped out at the hands of Bernard Madoff, he fell into a deep depression.

“I basically didn’t leave my bedroom for weeks,” says the 58-year-old who was then a semi-retired real estate developer. “I went into complete emotional shock. I was fear-struck that I was going to be bankrupt and lose my home. I was in a state of panic.”

NOA SHAY, Broken Teapot Courtesy of Artspace Gallery, Jerusalem.

Inside The Tahara Room

Preparing a body for burial can be a surprisingly moving and uplifting experience.

08/23/2011

When the Ark was to set out, Moses would say: Advance, O God! May Your enemies be scattered and may Your foes flee before you…– Numbers 10:35

Funeral procession. Lublin, Poland 1948.Courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives.
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