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Life

Pittsburgh Reflections

November 9, 2018, by

“Love Thy Neighbor: No Exceptions.” I first encountered these five simple words, printed in white block letters against a bright blue background and plastered on both windows of an otherwise nondescript gas station in Pittsburgh. It was immediately clear that everyone in the community – Jewish and non-Jewish, young and old, religious and secular –

Some Rays of Light on a Very Dark Day

November 7, 2018, by

Soon after we learned of the terrible massacre of eleven Jews over a week ago on Shabbat Parashat Vayera, October 27, 2018, I was requested by Allen Fagin, the Executive Vice President and Chief Professional Officer of the Orthodox Union, to represent the OU in Pittsburgh, the city where this tragedy occurred. I was asked

Justin Bieber’s Burrito: Much Ado About Nothing

November 7, 2018, by

It was the biggest non-story of our time: ostensibly, music superstar Justin Bieber was seen on the street eating a burrito. But rather than eating it from the end like a hot dog, as a normal person would, he was eating it from the center like an ear of corn. This is something that would

Beyond Labels

November 7, 2018, by

One of my children was recently introduced to the terms “introvert” and “extrovert.” I am both grateful and kind of annoyed with the person who introduced them into this child’s lexicon. (Yes, I am awkwardly avoiding gendered pronouns, to protect the privacy of the child in question. I might have to resort to he/she.) On

Between Last Shabbat and Next

October 31, 2018, by

I write these words midway between two Shabbatot. Several days ago, Parashat Vayera, on the 18th day of the month of Cheshvan, a vicious anti-Semite entered the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He carried four weapons with him, including an assault rifle. He shouted, “All Jews must die!”

The Blame Game

October 31, 2018, by

One of my favorite days as a high school teacher was the one on which I asked my 9th graders who was to blame for the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Their answers filled the board in a complicated array of overlapping arguments, stretching even my extensive collection of colored dry-erase markers

The Most Undervalued Prayer in the Entire Liturgy

October 29, 2018, by

Following surgery, I had occasion to write about my newfound appreciation for the bracha of asher yatzar, which one recites after using the restroom, an activity that most of us take for granted. Pursuant to that, in part 1 of this article, I wrote about some more blessings and prayers that may be underappreciated, specifically,

Underappreciated

October 22, 2018, by

A while back, I wrote an article about how I learned the hard way to appreciate the bracha of asher yatzar, commonly undervalued as “the bracha on going to the bathroom.” At that time, I teased, “Asher yatzar may not be the only bracha we take for granted (remind me to tell you about shehakol

Balancing the Books (or, I Love Starbucks)

October 15, 2018, by

I love Starbucks. I can’t get enough of it. I have it maybe twice a week and, if the budget would bear it, I’d probably have it twice a day. And a few months ago, when people were losing their minds over which drinks were “recommended” and “not recommended” from a kashrus standpoint, my roasted-bean