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The Flag of Israel
The Flag of Israel

The Israeli flag was specifically designed with stripes to recall the image of a tallit - the Jewish prayer shawl. Its top and bottom blue stripes are reminiscent of the sky and the sea. While some tallits (tallitot) have blue stripes, others have black or white or a veritable rainbow of colors. We need to ask: Why the stripes, and is there any significance to the colors?

Spiced Honey Locust, Anyone?
Spiced Honey Locust, Anyone?

Jewish law prohibits the consumption of insects, referring to them as sheratzim, that which swarm. One might think that this dietary restriction is easy, as most people do not generally have a desire to eat ants or spiders or flies. In fact, traditional Jews are extremely careful to avoid consuming insects and make certain to wash and check their produce to remove small bugs that may feed upon it.

Isaiah 66 and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Isaiah 66 and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

Inevitably, the holidays, weekly celebrations (Shabbat) and monthly celebrations (Rosh Chodesh) of the Jewish calendar sometimes overlap.

It’s Just A Little Bit
It’s Just A Little Bit

Years ago, a popular ad for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups showed a person with a bar of chocolate accidentally plunging the chocolate into someone else’s open peanut butter container. The result turned out to be the delicious Reese’s Peanut Butter c…

Frankfurt on the Hudson
Frankfurt on the Hudson

Rabbi Joseph Breuer (1882 – 1980) was 57 years old when he and his family arrived in New York City from Europe. It was 1939, and the grandson of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch immediately set about rebuilding the German Jewish community in New York City.

How Pharaoh Forgot
How Pharaoh Forgot

The Pharaoh of the Exodus was a cold-hearted man whose fear of losing power to the growing minority of the Israelites led him to enslave them.

Duties of the Heart
Duties of the Heart

The concept of “being spiritual” is often assumed to be a fairly recent one, resulting, perhaps, from the enlightenment’s deconstruction of organized religion.  The idea of spirituality – how to create, live and grow in a relationship with t…

The Truth About Gefilte Fish
The Truth About Gefilte Fish

There is a little known secret that, hidden in what was once the Russian Pale of Settlement (basically Belarus and Eastern Poland), there is a deep, fresh water lake stocked with the unique fish called gefilte… Just kidding. But it is true that gefil…

Presuming Innocence
Presuming Innocence

“Innocent until proven guilty” is one of the great American judicial principles. That important concept, however, could very well have been composed by someone who had studied a bit of Talmud. In tractate Shabbat, 97a, Reish Lakish is quoted as saying:…

Maimonides
Maimonides

The proliferation of buildings and organizations that bear the name Maimonides, the patrinom of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (also known as the RaMBaM), attests to the incredible impact this one man had on Jewish life. Without a doubt, Maimonides was a man of rare genius who excelled as a scholar, community rabbi, doctor and philosopher.

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