Jewish Culture and Customs

Judaism vs Jewishness

He could have been a poster boy for a Jewish magazine. Reared in an observant home, he had celebrated bar mitzvah at age 13. He graduated from Hebrew school at the age of 18, and it was clear he had a firm grasp of Jewish history and culture as well as…

Giving and Receiving the Blessing

Do you remember the old TV program Star Trek? In that series, the expression “Live long and prosper” became a familiar utterance. It was used by First Officer Spock as a greeting and a farewell to special people visiting the starship…

Try It—You’ll Like!

For many of us, food is an emotional experience. The sights and aromas of various food items evoke wide-ranging passions, both positive and negative. It is not uncommon to observe grimaces and other contortions as people view…

Baptism or Mikveh

“Steve, I can’t do it, I just can’t do it. I know all about the plans we’ve made, but this is not going to happen. I’m Jewish; this would be too much for my family.” The voice on the other end of the phone was quivering with emotion. This was not…

Politics And Politicians

From the time of Israel’s inception as a modern state 51 years ago, the United States has been its consistent and loyal friend. In our country, many issues seem to be based on political affiliation. The treatment of Israel has not been one…

“I Was Born a Jew, and I Will Die a Jew.”

There are many religions in the world. While some seem to overlap and even share common beliefs and practices, most have distinctive characteristics that mark them out or set them apart. Many have unique, identifiable practices, including…

The Joy of Hanukkah

Potato latkes, sufganiyot (Hebrew for jelly donuts), special songs, special food, and special times with family and friends are all part of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, a festival that commemorates the Jewish victory over…

Who Killed Jesus?

Picture this: A Jewish family spending quality time decorating a Christmas tree. Does this sound odd to you? When I was 17, I was invited to a Christmas tree decorating party at the home of a Jewish acquaintance. Confusion would best describe my initial reaction…