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Oketz: An Israeli Sting Operation

May 24, 2018, by

An Israeli elementary school comes alive at night, when most are sound asleep. The sounds of people running, of dogs barking and of loud thuds can be heard. Flashlights cast eerie shadows on the playground walls. The source of all of the activity is the transpiring of a training session for the elite IDF canine

Shavuos is Over; Begin Again Now!

May 23, 2018, by

Hashem gave us a present; do you know what it was? A few days ago, we celebrated having received the Torah, the greatest gift a tired, long enslaved but recently freed nation could hope to receive. And it was a truly momentous occasion, and we recreate elements of that occasion each year on Shavuos: by

Yanny vs. Laurel, You vs. Me

May 23, 2018, by

Last week, the Interwebs were thrown into a minor tizzy thanks to an audio clip that said “Laurel.” Or perhaps it said “Yanny.” People couldn’t quite seem to agree. This made people flash back to a dress that is so famous it has come to be known simply as “the dress.” You know the one:

Ruth: Follow the Leader?

May 16, 2018, by

Every year on Shavuot, we read the story of Rut. Every year, there’s another shiur about Rut. Every year, I was frustrated by my own inability to connect with all the accolades, wondering why everyone else seemed perfectly comfortable with Rut as a heroine and role model and why no one else seemed to notice

United as Two

May 16, 2018, by

They were as different politically as two people could be.   They both came to shul each week, Stuart dressed in a dapper suit and bowtie, Andrew, in casual clothes. Stuart was robust and full of energy and opinions, which he liked to share in person and on Facebook with the most irreverent, colorful language,

Getting Old Stinks (But It Beats the Alternative)

May 15, 2018, by

I did not take turning 40 well. (This was * koff koff * years ago.) I tried the old Jack Benny trick of remaining perpetually 39 but you can only get away with that for 10 or 12 years before people start to get suspicious. I even proposed a brilliant bit of logic as to

Cured for a Day

May 10, 2018, by

Elazar vacillated between staring at me and awkwardly looking away.  Something was up but I wasn’t in the right mindset to think too much about it.  After all, I was still very much in shock. After starting to tell me a few times and then stopping himself, Elazar finally said what was on his mind, “You

Help Make 10,000 Shidduchim

May 9, 2018, by

On Chol Hamoed Pesach, April 4th, newly engaged couple Yisroel Levin and Elisheva Kaplan were killed in a fiery car crash on the 878 highway beside Kennedy International airport in New York. How does one cope with such a tragedy when a parent is so excited about their child about to embark on a new

Why I Write to Half-Empty Pews

May 9, 2018, by

When we moved to Charleston, we knew we were looking at a very different community than the large community of Houston, which we had just left (and certainly from the very large communities of the Five Towns and Skokie, where we came from). Among the many differences was that Jews in Charleston often do not

Pathways of Sefer Vayikra

May 8, 2018, by

Like many people, I think, I long had this idea that much of the book of Vayikra is boring. I mean, of course, none of G-d’s words could possibly be boring – but yeah, boring. Complicated, dry and, without the Beit Hamikdash, largely (though of course not wholly) irrelevant. Also gross, for those of us

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