Special Holiday Issues

L.A. Jewish Soul

Simon Rutberg’s collection of Jewish music — reflects his eclectic musical background.

Special To The Jewish Week

It looks ridiculously easy. You pull together a dozen or so of your favorite recordings, put them on a CD and release them to an adoring public. But it took Simon Rutberg a dozen years to bring to fruition a lifelong dream, a compilation album that showcases his favorite Jewish and Yiddish classics, sung by an unlikely group of pop, rock and classical artists.

Happily for Simon, the album, “Jewish Soul: The Heart and Soul of Jewish Music” is ready for Chanukah.

Simon Rutberg with Jackie Wilson in the early ‘60s, right. The “Jewish Soul” cover.

This Year, Ditch The Frying Pan

The other miracle of olive oil.

Editorial Assistant

On Chanukah we celebrate the miracle of olive oil — instead of lasting just one night, according to tradition, it managed to stay lit for eight whole days. Today, our culinary celebrations often bypass the miraculous olive oil, and go straight for doughnuts deep-fried in vegetable shortening, and latkes browned in canola oil.

This Chanukah, enjoy a healthier and more flavorful dinner by ditching the frying pan and letting the pure flavors of the olive oil shine through in your food — with some help from two kosher food experts: Ronnie Fein and Gil Marks.

Bartenura olive oil, left, is imported from Italy. Kvuzat Yavneh comes from the Israeli kibbutz of the same name.

For A Funky, And Fair Trade, Chanukah

Cool and stylish gifts for the Festival of Lights.

Special To The Jewish Week

Like the holiday of Chanukah itself, some of the best gifts have great stories behind them. Here are some suggestions of gifts that have tales of hope, gifts that advance good works and help illuminate the world, creating miracles.


Caffeinated Goodwill

Grounds for celebration: Dean Cycon’s “Sculpt your own cup” coffee blends offer beans from 13 countries.

Sparks Of Life: Chanukah 5771

Cool gifts, healthy olive oil, and more.

Staff Writer

Cool gifts, healthy olive oil, and more.

Jhonson Augustin’s tree of life, combine art and spirituality.

The Road Back Home

Modern and classic works offer roadmaps
for the path of spiritual return.

Special to The Jewish Week

Finding a theme for the newest YouTube video of the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP), “Soul Bigger,” should have been easy — the topic was Rosh HaShanah/Yom Kippur. But when the first version of the lyrics came out, we questioned whether the repeating motif of repentance sounded too much like a church revival meeting. However, we realized that teshuvah (repentance in Hebrew) is one of the most beautiful and spiritual concepts in Judaism, far more so than any fire-and-brimstone idea that the word “repent” may conjure up.

A Holocaust survivor discusses every human’s power of choice in this book about repentance.

Teshuvah, In Three Acts

A rabbi reflects on the struggle to restore wholeness
in the lives of three congregants.

Special to The Jewish Week

It is ironic that so many Jews engage in active religious Jewish life primarily around the High Holy Days, a time of year with a set of rituals that call for such intense engagement. Many of us go to High Holy Days services because we are on autopilot — that is what we are expected to do as Jews at this time of the year. But the goal of these Days of Awe is to jolt us out of the automatic and to pay attention: to bring a greater mindfulness to our actions.

The Jacob Javits Center on the West Side of Manhattan.

Healing At The Seashore

For one ex-cancer patient,
studies in the sun kept a promise to God.

Special to The Jewish Week

During my medical school training in Tel Aviv, I used to grab my books, head to the beach, and study in the sun. While my fellow colleagues locked themselves up in the library or their bedrooms, I chose to study outdoors.

In remission from leukemia, a medical student embraces nature, taking her books to the sunny, sandy beach of Tel Aviv.

Choosing Soul Over Mind

Praying on Rosh HaShanah poses a challenge to a devoted Jew for whom god is not on a throne.

Special to The Jewish Week

I am not a learned Jew. I am neither “religious” nor secular. I grew up in a religious household, and studied for a short time in a Jerusalem seminary. And though I eventually decided Orthodox Judaism was not a good fit for me, I did not entirely abandon Judaism either.

The author will be in synagogue on Rosh HaShanah, “using the prayers others are saying as the backdrop to my own meditation.”

Grappling With Prayer

A new crop of books offers insights
into making a spiritual connection.

Staff Writer

Although Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are familiar times for most Jews, the machzor, or High Holy Days prayer book, is terra incognita. The Hebrew words, even when rendered into English or any other language, present a barrier: the pray-ers don’t know the prayers.

For a Jewish community that largely has embraced the precept of tzedakah, or giving charity, and respects the concept of teshuvah, or making spiritual amends this time of year, tefillah is largely unknown territory.

Rabbi Mike Comins’ “Making Prayer Real” contains contributions from nearly 50 rabbis and thinkers across the religious spectrum.

Reflections on the Days of Awe 2010

Essays and books on the themes of the High Holy Days: Tefillah, Teshuvah and Tzedakah

Illustration by Mark Podwal
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