While one of the founding principles of the United States of America is freedom of religion, any historian would agree that in the early days this was often more principle than practice. Mordecai Manuel Noah, a lawyer, politician, journalist, diplomat and playwright (and a few other things) who was born shortly before the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, firmly believed that his government would uphold this principle.
As a kid, I always knew where to be for the high holidays. I would be in my seat in synagogue, with an occasional respite for “bathroom” breaks that devolved into 20 minute games of freeze tag. I know, lying to my parents is wrong. But it gave me something for which to repent.
“The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1:7)
The idea of “fearing God” carries with it overtones of fire and brimstone, a puritanical flavor that seems foreign to our 21st century mentality. With humanity (especially Western society) feeling secure in its understanding of the universe, most people no longer fear the so-called “wrath of God.”
September looms and children all over have either just begun school or will be starting shortly. Judaism has always been a culture focused on learning. The Torah commands parents to teach their children, but since many parents are not capable of fulfilling the role of teacher, schools have become a necessity. Baba Batra 21a discuss extensively our Sages’ views on education.
Great food, free booze and an evening of dancing – how could anyone ask for a better Saturday night out? From the perfectly manicured flowers right down to the martini bar, nothing can change your mind, not even the endless supply of little cocktail wieners wrapped in flakes of crispy dough awaiting your arrival. It’s a party most people prefer not to miss, but you are dreading it.
To the Jewish community and general population at large, the Maharal of Prague is the revered, mystical medieval rabbi who created the Golem to protect the Jews in the Prague ghetto. But the Maharal’s true contribution to Jewish life has little to do with the legend of the Golem.
Recently, there was a bit of a scuffle regarding our President and a corned beef sandwich with, dare I say it- mayo! The classic Jewish amalgamation of corned beef and mustard on Rye was violated in a most sacrilegious way, oy vey! Don’t you know, Mr. President, that when someone orders a corned beef sandwich with mayonnaise, somewhere a Jew dies?
“Children of Israel,” an often used title for the Jewish people, is a name defined by the familial relationship of the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. This familial relationship (which even DNA studies have confirmed) plays a strong role in both Jewish identity and Jewish life in general. For instance, one of the common forms of addressing God in Jewish prayer is “Eh’loh’haynu vay’lo’hay avotaynu,” our God and God of our ancestors.
“My son likes to tell everyone, ‘that JDate sure knows what it is doing!’ I like to say that you have brought new meaning to the word ‘compatibility!’”
The story of the Golem of Prague is one of the best-known, fantastic and romantic Eastern European tales. It has been retold in both prose and play-form and is perpetuated in the oral tradition that one generation passes to the next.