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The Ugly Duckling was Wrong

May 22, 2019, by

A few years ago, my family moved into a new home. It had pretty much everything we wanted and a few extras to boot. My wife took up gardening, much to her delight. The only thing she didn’t particularly love was the tree in the front yard. This is one weird-looking tree. It’s droopy, twisted,

A Word of Thanks

May 21, 2019, by

The following was transcribed from the Jewish Action Reader, Volume I The synagogue was crowded, I had bought no seat.  The usher sent me upstairs with scant ceremony to a tiny hot balcony, perhaps first designed as a choir loft. It was crowded too, but I managed to wedge myself into a corner of a

Book Review: Roots & Rituals by Mitchell First

May 15, 2019, by

Roots & Rituals: Insights into Hebrew, Holidays and History Mitchell First Kodesh Press I can’t speak for you but this book was 100% up my alley, focusing as it does on linguistics/etymology and history/archaeology, each of which is a subject of interest to me. If any of these – especially the language aspect – is

Words Matter

May 14, 2019, by

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who will say “It’s 12:37” and those who will round the time to 12:40 or even to 12:30. Often, the latter approach is fine. In many contexts, a few minutes – three, or even seven – won’t make a big difference. But I could never

Here is How To Leave Your MARK on the World

May 9, 2019, by

Whether he was your server or not, at some point during your meal at Butcher Block, Mark was likely to stop by your table to say hi, share a story, or just check in to make sure you didn’t need anything. “Mark with a k” he would say the first time he introduced himself to

Love and Hate for Our Fellow Jews

May 8, 2019, by

One of the most famous teachings in Pirkei Avot is Hillel’s admonition (1:12) to “be of the students of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace.” Sometimes we remember that’s not the end of the statement, and include “loving people” in our quotation – but I’m not sure how often we remember the end, “and bringing

Overcoming Religious Embarrassment By Just Being Wrong

May 7, 2019, by

A colleague recently heard someone pronounce a religious term differently from the way that she had always pronounced it. This made her concerned that perhaps she had always said it wrong. When such a thing happens, the ramification is that a person becomes retroactively self-conscious. “Have I been saying it wrong? For how long? Who

Poway Strong: Saying Goodbye to Lori Gilbert Kaye

May 2, 2019, by

There was an overwhelming feeling of strength and resolve among the sea of people approaching the Chabad of Poway on Monday afternoon. People of all faiths and backgrounds traveled from near and far to show support and pay their respects to Lori Gilbert Kaye. Close to 1,000 family, friends, and community leaders came to honor

Pride and Fear as a Jew in America, 2019

May 1, 2019, by

My first memory of being out and about as recognizably Jewish, different from those around me, is from my early days in day camp. The camp was run by the Jewish Community Center but the clientele was diverse, and I was very conscious of being the only kid – or some years, one of very