Hashkafic Awareness 101

Your השקפה - hashkafa is your level of observance/philosophy towards your Jewish practice.This has been seriously highlighted (highlit?) in my life lately. Really ever since I came to Jerusalem. Being on a path to increased observance for almost 12 years, there have been subtle changes to my hashkafa and some less subtle ones.Subtle - realizing all the sudden one day that I am not as comfortable as I have been in the past singing or dancing in front of men.Not subtle - dressing modestly, e … [Read more...]

A journey to matter… a hike to BE

I am on a journey.We know the journey never ends. At least that is what all the stories and moshuls* and cliche's tell us. It's not the destination, it's the journey.Every step along the way provides new cognizance, illumination, and often times erudition of ideas.I have lived 30 long years. Nothing in my life was given or taken in halves. When life was really mamish** good, it was good and when it was bad... it was mamish bad. And דווקא (davka***), I always came out the other end, even … [Read more...]

You Shall Live in Booths

Sukkot in Jerusalem is really a sight to be seen. There are sukkahs on top of sukkahs. Every restaurant has one on the street (why? because men especially must eat all their food in a sukkah, if that is your minhag [tradition] and if a restaurant wants to be open during sukkot, they have to have a sukkah for these guys) and walking home at night, you see these beautiful booths lit up on every street.As soon as Yom Kippur is over, it is tradition to start building your sukkah. Some people just … [Read more...]

Yom Kippur in Israel

All of the holidays in Israel are somewhat of a surreal experience. This is especially the case for any of us who come from towns, cities, or places where we aren't surrounded by Jews constantly. If you live in Crown Heights or Boro Park or Williamsburg or even the Pico/Robertson area in LA... you are surrounded by Jews. You don't feel like a minority but in Vero Beach, Florida or Broomfield, Colorado... you would be hard pressed to find someone "like" you. And so has been my existence. Judaism … [Read more...]

Childish Memory

Prior to coming back to Jerusalem this summer, I had a very fuzzy but definitive picture of Jerusalem in my mind. It was built upon memories from the mind of 16 year old me. From the time I came to Jerusalem for the fall semester of my junior year of high school... 13 years ago.There were landmarks in my mind... Ben Yehuda street, Hebrew Union College/Beit Shmuel, King David street, the YMCA, Jabotinsky street, Independence Park... along with less well known locales. The shouk on the corner … [Read more...]

We have to walk?! Where?

Here's something you need to know about Jerusalem. Other than people park/drive on the sidewalks so be careful.It's actually a smallish town. And public transportation and the shops close down for the sabbath. For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, here is a crash course. On the sabbath, otherwise known as Shabbat or Shabbis or Shabbos, G-d gave us some prohibitions. Since G-d rested on the 7th day, so are we supposed to. This irons out to 39 types of work that a … [Read more...]

Teaching the value of Tikkun Olam – Thanks Dad!

I remember as a kid joining my father as we delivered Passover food packages to the elderly Jews on the lower east side of Manhattan.The program was through project Ezra which, incidentally, was formed before I was born yet it still was very exciting to be a part of. The apartments that we visited were a far cry from the posh lofts that inhabit much of today’s Lower East side but the looks on the faces of the elderly Jews that we delivered packages to was payment enough for our j … [Read more...]

Modest is Hottest?

There is a catch phrase which for awhile I loved, but now sits unwell with me:  "modest is hottest."  Well, if it is hottest, doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of being modest? Doesn't acknowledging it on that level take away some of the inherent subtlety of modesty, in the grand scheme of things?Tzniut, the Hebrew word for modesty tends to be most commonly translated about modesty in reference to clothing.  I think defining it down on this level does an injustice to tzniut and people w … [Read more...]

Why do we learn all night on Shavuot?

There is an ages old tradition of staying up all night to learn Torah and Jewish values the night of Shavuot - the holiday which commemorates the receiving of the Torah.  The most commonly shared reason for doing this is so that we can be up and excited to receive the Torah.  Well, I have to be honest - after staying up all night learning, I am so tired - I don't want to even stay at services long enough to hear the Torah read, let alone to be excited for it.  However, every year I feel the co … [Read more...]


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