My War Story: A New Torah for Sderot

August 21, 2014, by

This summer has been incredibly difficult for our brothers and sisters in Israel. Instead of vacationing with their families or making memories at day camps, most Israeli children have spent the sunny days hiding in bomb shelters and learning more than their fair share about the Iron Dome missile defense system. Instead of jumpstarting their

Ask Aviva: Housemate for a Husband

August 20, 2014, by

Dear Aviva, I grew up as part of a large, happy, healthy family and for some reason grew up very needy. My husband is not the gushy type and when he attempted to compliment me the first few times I brushed off the compliments. Since our first year of marriage, I can count the amount

Changing the Face of Women’s Jewish Education on Campus: JLIC Queens College Launches Full-Fledged Midrasha

August 18, 2014, by

When Rabbi Robby and Shoshana Charnoff arrived at Queens College two years ago as the inaugural Torah Educators of the Orthodox Union’s Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program at Queens, they emphasized their goal of “transforming a commuter campus into a Queens College Jewish Community.” The Charnoffs serve as Torah educators, role models

Is Leisure Kosher?

August 18, 2014, by

The Jewish attitude to leisure is complex and reveals a fundamental divide over religion. The New York Times recently reported that a Chasidic camp had ceased sports activities. If taken at face value, the article implies that Judaism, or at least the Satmar version, forbids any leisure activity. Is this an accurate depiction of Jewish

Lone Soldier Parents: A Balance of Pride and Fear

August 14, 2014, by

While the current ceasefire brings the battle between Israel and Hamas to another tenuous halt, 6,000 miles away, American parents of IDF “lone soldiers” continue to hold their breath. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, of the approximately 5,000 lone soldiers serving in the IDF, close to half are American boys. 40 percent of these

Eikev: With All Your Hearts and All Your Souls

August 13, 2014, by

All over the world, every day, as they have for millennia, Jews recite the three chapters of the Shema. The first chapter is found in Parashat VaEtchanan, last week’s Torah reading. The second chapter is found in this week’s Parasha, Ekev. At first glance, there seems to be quite a bit of repetition between the

Three Questions to Ask Your Local Atheist

August 13, 2014, by

Imagine you are standing in an orchard filled with orange trees in full blossom. The branches are heavy with ripe, succulent oranges stretching out as far as the eye can see. The grower explains that a mere ten years ago, it was a barren field. Over time, he planted the rows and rows of seeds,

Let’s Talk About Depression and Mental Health

August 12, 2014, by

This article originally appeared on It’s time we had a conversation about mental health. Two weeks ago, I lost a dear friend to a toxic combination of severe mental illness and crushing addiction, two very dangerous conditions that compound their severity exponentially. Yesterday the world lost a genius who battled severe depression and addiction

Yad B’Yad 2014: Inclusion and Friendship Know No Borders

August 12, 2014, by

In one week, the staff of Yachad was able to accomplish what normally takes months of planning. When recent events in Israel rerouted summer plans to the West Coast for 190 Yad B’Yad participants, the message was loud and clear that inclusion and friendship know no borders. Hebrew for “hand in hand,” Yad B’Yad (YBY)

Where is Hashem?

August 7, 2014, by

Reprinted with permission from Imagine you are seated in an ornate concert hall. The upholstery is stately, the ambiance thick. Suddenly, the house lights dim. The stage is dark. Slowly, the curtains lift, and a train of smartly dressed musicians take their places behind the eighty-one instruments arranged on the stage. On cue, the

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