Jewish Recipes : 24JEWISH Alerts Section jewish Recipes for PURIM Please Ask the Rabbi about Kashrut


Perfect Purim Hamantaschen Baked In Israel


The Jewish Press’ Malkah Fleisher travels to Herby’s Bakeshop in Beit El, Israel to learn the secrets of making the perfect Hamantaschen for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Join Malkah and Leah Bat Tzion Fleisher, and Herby Dan for mixing, shaping, filling, and fun!

Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

Rav Saadia Gaon



Second lecture of the series ‘Neglected Yet Unforgettable’ – Seven Images in the Shadow of the Alhambra Decree
by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz).

Musique de Shabbat


Shabbat Musique shabbat shalom

Musique de Shabbat 2


“Almonds and Wine” brings a Yiddish folk song to life, as the animated journey of a young bride and groom from Eastern Europe to North America is set to rollicking klezmer music. Fleeing the threat of war, the couple arrive in Canada, establish a new life together and hand down their traditions to the generations that follow. This film is set to a classic Yiddish folk song, “Di Mame iz Gegangen in Mark Arayn”. Produced, directed and animated by Arnie Lipsey.

Back at Pearlstone

Back at Pearlstone

Posted: 02 Feb 2014 12:35 PM PST

The last time I was at Pearlstone, I was still a rabbinic student, and I was here for two weeks of ALEPH rabbinic program intensive study. It was my first rabbinic school residency as a mom, and our son was less than a year old — which meant that first Ethan (for a few days before he went to TED Global and gave the TED talk which led to Rewire), and then my mother, stayed with me and took care of the baby while I was in class.

Then Now

Then, and now. What a difference 3.5 years makes.

I had some extraordinary experiences here. It was here that I wrote the mother psalm which begins “Don’t chew on your mama’s tefillin,” which to this day is one of my favorite poems in Waiting to Unfold! And it was here that I first got the chance to introduce my mom to my rabbinic school community and vice versa — a nice prelude to my entire mishpachaattending my rabbinic smicha the following winter.

Last time I came to Pearlstone, we drove down, encumbered by all of the gear required for a two-week trip with a baby: pack-n-play, quilts, stuffed animals, you name it. (And then had to purchase one item we hadn’t thought of — with no bathtub in the room, we resorted to giving baths in an inflatable rubber duckie which Ethan found at a local store.) Last time, I had to ensure that our preferred brand of baby food had the right hechsher to enter the dining hall.

This morning I watched cartoons and played board games with our son, ate a delicious breakfast cooked by my spouse, and then traveled solo to Albany, on my flight, and through the Baltimore airport where I met up with three otherRabbis Without Borders. Together we drove to Pearlstone. And in about half an hour, this year’s RWB Alumni Retreat will begin.

I’m looking really forward to a few days of learning, (re)connecting, strengthening friendships, and being lovingly challenged to think outside of my usual boxes. It feels a little bit strange to be here without the loved ones who surrounded me last time I was here. But I’m really excited to see members of my RWB fellows cohort, and to meet rabbis from the previous cohorts who I have until now only known online. I’m really grateful to be part of this hevre(community of friends.)

What we give to make space for God: thoughts on Terumah

Posted: 02 Feb 2014 04:00 AM PST

UrlHere’s the short d’var Torah I offered yesterday at my shul for parashat Terumah. (Cross-posted to my From the Rabbi blog.)

This Torah portion contains one of my favorite verses in Torah, a verse I choose to preach on every year: “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I might dwell within them.” We build the sanctuary not so that God can dwell in it — no matter how beautiful its design or furnishings — but so God can dwell in us.

And yet, the beautiful design and furnishings seem to be important. Because the Torah spends a lot of time talking about them.

For some weeks to come, we’ll continue hearing about the wood and the hammered gold, the supple leathers, the fabrics woven in the most precious of colors, all donated as gifts from those whose hearts so moved them.

What this says to me is: it’s important that we give freely, offering up to God things which are precious to us. We’re not building the Shekhinah (the indwelling Presence of God) a secondhand home out of scrap. In order to prepare our hearts for that Presence, we have to give something that matters to us.

The children of Israel gave their most precious items freely in order to build a place for the Shekhinah — in order to open up space for the Shekhinah in their hearts. What would we give, if we were similarly called?

Would we build a home for the Shekhinah out of iPads and Droid phones? Out of expensive clothes and shoes? What would be most meaningful for you to offer? What would make space in your heart for the unfolding of something new?

This morning, each of you is giving ninety minutes of your life to be in community together, to sing and pray together, to try to make a minyan together for those who grieve. Maybe the most precious offering we can give today is our time.

Ninety minutes for Shabbat services. Or half an hour for Torah study. Or five minutes before bed to say the bedtime Shema and look back over the day, to connect with God before sleep. Or fifteen minutes of daily morning prayer — or of simply sitting and cultivating gratitude for the gifts in your life.

You might wonder, what does God need with these minutes we offer up? But you might as well ask: what does God need with hammered gold and acacia wood? We open our hearts through the practice of giving. When we give, we let God in.

We read this morning about the poles which allowed the Israelites to carry the ark together. We receive the same call: to shoulder the burdens of holy community together. As our spiritual ancestors came together to build and carry the mishkan and the ark of the covenant, so we come together to build and carry our community.

“Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I might dwell within them.”

What if we made a mishkan, a dwelling-place for the Shekhinah, out of our attention — our intention — our collaboration — our time? How might holiness dwell within us, then?

Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

Yossi Klein Halevi at JCC Greenwich


Author Yossi Klein Halevi sits with Linda Scherzer (Former Mid East Correspondent, CNN) to discuss his National Jewish Book Award Winning novel ‘Like Dreamers’. Sponsored by the JCC Greenwich and Jewish Week.

Jewish Film Festival sparks culture dialogue

The Brown Daily Herald – Brown’s first Jewish Film Festival, complete with three award-winning movies, food and a forum for cultural, spiritual and academic discussion hits 
Mixed Media And Mothers At LABA

The Jewish Week (blog) – LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture housed at the Y, is an artists’ fellowship and incubator offering residents 14 classes in Jewish text in a 
Paula Siegel, San Diego Democratic activist, dies

San Diego Jewish World – SAN DIEGO –Paula Siegel, who brought a Jewishpassion for tikkun olam to Democratic party politics in California, died at 4 a.m. Wednesday, 
Pozez lecturer: Judaism thrives on the pursuit of happiness

Jewish Post – Jewish thinkers focus on happiness as the quality of life as a whole, not a few moments in the  In Jewish culture there’s a strong intellectual bias.
Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman

The Jewish Voice – In Sherman’s comedic world, Jews and Jewish culture are ubiquitous, but in an open and endearing way that defangs the tradition¬ally anti-Semitic 
Mandelbaum Family Lecture Series Continues Feb. 5

Coronado Eagle and Journal – The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture’s Mandelbaum Family Lecture Series, in Coronado, continues its season with Professor June Cummins, 
Jewish Theater Devastated by Romanian Snowstorm

Arutz Sheva – The State Jewish Theatre of Bucharest, Yiddish cultural site in Europe, is damaged extensively by snowstorm. By AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff.
With Light, Moshe Safdie Builds a Global Architectural Legacy

The Jewish Voice – Moshe Safdie at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.  The Skirball is “becoming increasingly social, not just Jewish,” said Safdie, who worked 

Bikel plays ‘Jewgrass’

The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A. – Although I know it will disappoint some readers to learn that “A Jewgrass Revival,” at American Jewish University on Feb. 1, will not be a presentation 

Following the breath as it comes and goes

Following the breath as it comes and goesPosted: 31 Jan 2014 06:34 AM PST

Oie_deep_breathThere’s something poignant about leading meditation on a morning which will contain a funeral. Following our breath as it comes and goes, knowing that soon we will turn our attention to someone whose breath no longer enlivens.

In Genesis 2 we read that God formed the first human being out of earth and breathed into its nostrils נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat chayyim), the breath of life. In modern parlance the Hebrew נֶשַׁמַה (neshamah) is usually translated as “soul.”

Every morning we pray  אלהי נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא (Elohai neshama she-natata bi, tehora hee) — “My God, the soul which You have placed within me is pure! You created it, you formed it, you breathed it into me, and you will take it from me in a time beyond time…”

My friend Rabbi Arthur Waskow teaches that every breath is a prayer, because with every breath we pronounce the ineffable Name of God.

What is it that enlivens us? It isn’t merely breathing, in this age of ventilators which can keep the lungs moving after brain activity has ceased. But without breath, there is no life.

When that enlivening breath is gone, a person’s body is no longer that person as we knew them. It remains holy because it once held a soul, but it becomes almost a figurine, a likeness of the person we once knew.

After life, we return our bodies to the adamah, the earth, from which Torah teaches the first earthling was made. The body returns to the earth; the soul-breath returns to the Source from which it came.

I opened and closed this morning’s meditation with a practice which I learned from my friend and colleague Rabbi Chava Bahle. The first breath together: a reminder that I am mortal. The second breath together: a reminder that those around me are mortal. The third breath together: a reminder that because of those first two truths, this moment is incomparably precious.

This moment is incomparably precious.

A poem for Rosh Chodesh Adar א

A poem for Rosh Chodesh Adar אPosted: 01 Feb 2014 04:00 AM PST


The first Adar takes its name
from the letter who tells no tales.

Contains “little Purim”
which is just like big Purim

except we don’t read the megillah
or send gift baskets

we just cultivate joy.
The first Adar’s mitzvot are invisible.

The first Adar conceals its holiness
like a veiled Torah scroll.

It’s like the cosmos compressed
into the silent first letter

of the first word
of the first commandment.

Like the queen whose name means hidden,
who keeps her Judaism close to the vest.

Like the Holy One, never mentioned
in our bawdy passion play

but gleaming all over the story
for we who have eyes to see.

Happy Rosh Chodesh / new month!

It’s new moon; we’ve entered into Adar א, the first of this year’s two months of Adar. (Why two months of Adar? In seven out of every nineteen years, we get a “leap year,” which on the Jewish calendar means we get a whole extra month; that way, our calendar remains in synch both with the cycles of the sun and the cycles of the moon. Adar is the month which gets doubled during leap years.)

Here’s a bit more about Adar 1 (2011).

And here’s a post about Purim Katan (2011), referenced in the second couplet of this poem.

The final three couplets hint at the Megillah of Esther, the scroll which we read on Purim during Adar ב / Adar 2.


Whose Life is More Valuable?

by Sara Yoheved Rigler
Society considers some lives more valuable than others. Judaism disagrees.

Mincha at the Super Bowl

by Lonnie Ostrow
The most unlikely minyan of all.

Because I Said I Would

by Sara Debbie Gutfreund
The power of a promise.

Six Million Jews

by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Can the Holocaust be told using just one word: Jew?

IDF Saving Syrian Lives

An inside look into the Israeli field hospital that is saving Syrian lives.

Editor’s Pick:

Does God Care about the Super Bowl?

by Rabbi Joshua Hess
Doesn’t He have more important things to be worried about?

Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi says the Pope resigned to join Judaism!!!


Rabbi Mizrachi – Pope Benedict XVI Resigned Because He Realized Christianity Was A Lie…

The Jewish New Media Landscape- NTC 2011


At the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online held an affinity Group Meting-The Tribe. Adam Simon, of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation gave a session on The Jewish New Media Landscape

יאנינה, יוון – חלק 4: יאנינה Greece, Part …..


חלק 4 של מצגת הסיכום של משלחת התיעוד ליאנינה, יוון (2006) במסגרת פרוייקט “מסע אל המורשת היהודית” – יאנינה
Documentation of the Jewish Community in Greece – the community in Ioanina




W tym roku obchodzimy 25-lecie Wolnej Polski. Gazeta Wyborcza ogłosiła plebiscyt na osobę i wydarzenie, które wywarły wpływ na nasze miasto po 1989 roku. FKŻ dostał nominację w kategorii wydarzenie i teraz wszystko jest w Waszych rękach! Do 3 lutego możecie jeszcze głosować – albo przez stronę Gazety, albo za pomocą kuponów drukowanych w Wyborczej.

Więcej informacji o plebiscycie w GW >>>

Oddaj głos w Plebiscycie 25-lecia / zagłosuj na FKŻ! >>>





Zapraszamy do Cheder Cafe – na nową, zimowo-wiosenną serię wydarzeń. W ciągu tych trzech miesięcy będziemy obchodzili 5. urodziny Chederu, będziemy świętowali Purim, piekli hamantasze i chałki, uczyli się jidysz i kaligrafii hebrajskiej, poznawali żydowską medycynę ludową i krawiectwo, smakowali różne odmiany kawy z findżana… A wszystko to zacznie się 6 lutego prezentacją Janusza Makucha pt. Klezmer is Dead!  Zapraszamy!

Szczegółowy program Chederu na luty, marzec i kwiecień 2014 >>>


24. Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej | 24th Jewish Culture Festival
27.06 – 06.07.2014




This year we are celebrating 25th anniversary of the first free elections in our country, marking the fall of communism. Gazeta Wyborcza, the largest Polish daily, organized a plebiscite for its readers to choose event and person who were especially significant for the city and its citizens within those past 25 years of democracy. Our Festival got nominated as one of the 25 events– now this is your turn to vote for the Festival (until February 3rd). Below you can find a link to the website, where you can vote – it is all in Polish unfortunately, but here you can find step-by-step instruction how to vote.


Vote for the Festival >>>



(February – April, 2014)


After short break we invite you to join new series of cultural and educational events in Cheder Cafe. Between February and April we will keep you busy in many different ways: we will celebrate 5th birthday of the Cheder Cafe, we will celebrate Purim, we will bake challa and hamantashen, learn Yiddish and also Hebrew calligraphy, will learn about the Jewish natural medicine and … tailoring! And everything will start on February 6th with the presentation by Festival’s Director Janusz Makuch under the title: Klezmer is Dead!  We are waiting for you in Cheder Cafe!

More information on Cheder’s website >>>


Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland – the largest of its kind, very hip and oldschool at the same time – invites you to Kazimierz – the Jewish heart of Krakow – to experience what is best in contemporary Jewish culture from Israel and Diaspora! Video made by ElektroMoon, music provided by Josh Dolgin aka DJ Socalled. Thank you!

10 Ways to Tackle Your Challenges

by Yaakov Weiland
How to embrace and overcome your challenges.

Video: The Super Bowl: Game Time

by Rabbi Tzvi Sytner
It’s not enough to just show up. Inspiration takes work.

Video: Enforcing a Modesty Code

by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon
Can privately-owned stores dictate how we dress in their store?

If Only Syndrome

by Emuna Braverman
The surefire way to unhappiness.

Lousy Teacher

by Lauren Roth
I hate one of my teachers. What should I do?

The Architecture of Holiness

by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Why precision matters in spirituality.

Retail Price: $70   Sale Price: $49.00
This stunning hand crafted work of art will…

Way #14: Written Instructions For Living

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg
Torah is not an arcane text of the ancient world. It is the essence of Judaism, which is the essence of ourselves.


German-Jewish cultural heritage in China | DW.DE
DW presents a look at the development of German-Jewish cultural heritage in China.
Jewish Film Festival sparks culture dialogue
The Brown Daily Herald
Brown’s first Jewish Film Festival, complete with three award-winning movies, food and a forum for cultural, spiritual and academic discussion hits theaters near you — the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts and Wilson Hall — next week.
See all stories on this topic »
Breakthrough Jew – Ben Schwartz
Shalom Life
Hot, hip, and heady, the next wave of Jewish artists and influencers has already arrived. This is Breakthrough Jew, your weekly showcase of those on the verge of discovery and ready to be a regular figure in pop culture; setting trends, redefining 
See all stories on this topic »
Mixed Media And Mothers At LABA
The Jewish Week (blog)
LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture housed at the Y, is an artists’ fellowship and incubator offering residents 14 classes in Jewish text in a non-religious setting. This year’s theme is “Mother as Creator/Destroyer.” This past weekend, the LABA 
See all stories on this topic »
Knesset visits Auschwitz
Intermountain Jewish News
The experience last year at Cracow’s annual Jewish Culture Festival prompted Daniels, a 28-year-old Israeli and Holocaust educator, to organize the largest-ever Knesset delegation to Auschwitz. Nearly half the Israeli parliament was in Poland Monday, Jan.
See all stories on this topic »
Bucharest’s Jewish Theater damaged by snow
One of the few living remains of the once vibrant Yiddish culture in Eastern Europe, the State Jewish theater, opened in 1940, is located in the center of Bucharest, near Piata Unirii. The area district was once home to more than 300,000 Jews before 
See all stories on this topic »
Pozez lecturer: Judaism thrives on the pursuit of happiness
Jewish Post
In Jewish culture there’s a strong intellectual bias. We must revive a commitment to learning for its own sake.” Key questions about the meaning of life and what it means to be a full human being require an interdisciplinary approach that includes 
See all stories on this topic »
Leah Vincent, Deborah Feldman, and Our Cultural Fascination With Orthodox 
Upon hearing the book described in its press materials as “a young woman’s promiscuous and self-destructive spiral after being cast out of her ultra-Orthodox Jewishfamily” and compared to Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation and Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, 
See all stories on this topic »


Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

חוזרים לארץ ישראל עכשיו – Yiddish Aliyah

Camp Simcha Wavin’ Flags performance in Times Square


Check them out at and
Camp Simcha, a camp for children with cancer, goes nuts in Times Square. The official Camp Simcha Wavin’ Flags music video is almost ready. The campers and staff are hard at work on the finished product. Stay tuned. 🙂

Camp Simcha Wavin’ Flags performance in Times Square, Part 2

Chai Lifeline Making Life Better


Chai Lifeline helps Children and Families facing Serious Illness.
Call DMJ Digital Media 212 874 573 to produce a short film for your organziation

Ronnie Jolles’ ‘My Judaism Unlocked’
San Francisco Chronicle
‘My Judaism Unlocked’: Ronnie Jolles’ new series of paintings with paper, created specifically for the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, recalls her Jewish upbringing and life. “I’m tapping into different elements of Judaism and Jewish culture 
See all stories on this topic »
Germany to Boost Efforts to Return Looted Art to Owners
Arutz Sheva
Germany will boost funding for efforts to return Nazi-looted art to their rightful owners and may invite Jewish representatives to join a mediation body, the government said Wednesday, according to a report by the AFP news agency. Funding for 
See all stories on this topic »
BRAVE MISS WORLD & More Set for San Diego Jewish Film Festival
Broadway World
The 24th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival, presented by the San Diego Center forJewish Culture at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, will open February 6-16, 2014. Sponsored by Leichtag Foundation.
See all stories on this topic »
A Short History of Jews and Obscenity
Jewish Daily Forward
 Is Gone: The angry refusal of Jewish figures like Bruce to accept the. Getty Images. Lenny Bruce Is Gone: The angry refusal of Jewish figures like Bruce to accept the terms the over-culture demanded was as Jewish in character as Henry Roth’s 
See all stories on this topic »
Jewish Theater Devastated by Romanian Snowstorm
Arutz Sheva
The State Jewish Theatre is one of the few living remains of the once vibrant Yiddishculture in Eastern Europe. Located in the centre of Bucharest, in a district that was home to more than 300,000 Jews before the Holocaust and the Communist 
See all stories on this topic »
Mandelbaum Family Lecture Series Continues Feb. 5
Coronado Eagle and Journal
The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture’s Mandelbaum Family Lecture Series, in Coronado, continues its season with Professor June Cummins, SDSU. Her lecture titled, “Lifting the Lamp: The Hidden Jewish Women Behind American Identity” will take place 
See all stories on this topic »
Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
The Jewish Voice
In Sherman’s comedic world, Jews and Jewish culture are ubiquitous, but in an open and endearing way that defangs the tradition¬ally anti-Semitic view of a world manipulated by sinister, conspiratorial Jews lurking in the shadows. Shermanland is 
See all stories on this topic »
Israeli flags fly at Auschwitz visit
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix
The experience last year at Krakow’s annual Jewish Culture Festival prompted Daniels, a 28-year-old Israeli and Holocaust educator, to organize the largest-ever Knesset delegation to Auschwitz. Nearly half the Israeli parliament was in Poland on Jan.
See all stories on this topic »

Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

Phyllis Karp: My Jewish Home Story

Phyllis moved to the Jewish Home about two years ago. Living alone in a small apartment, with no means of transportation, her move to the Home was one of the best decisions she ever made. Between the friends she’s made, the artistic talents she’s pursued, and the security she has knowing the senior services she needs is right here, Phyllis is healthier and happier than she has been in years.

Jewish Mothers — What’s New?


Who better to give excellent advice than a Jewish mother? Answer: a Jewish grandmother!
For Mother’s Day, we asked residents at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for their wisdom about life, love, happiness, success, and — of course — food.

Happy Mother’s Day!…

Confessions of a Jewish Mother: How My Son Ruined My Life!

Read a book excerpt about Selma! —…

Awakening Joy Course and Book Preview:

Jokes from Jewish Home Residents – Chickens


Kosher butcher shops tend to close just before sundown on Friday nights, in preparation for the Sabbath. Los Angeles Jewish Home resident Joe Weinbaum, 91, tells the one about a customer’s visit just before closing time.…

VOICES: The Rebbe and the Scientist: Looking for Life on Mars
The Rebbe and the Scientist: Looking for Life on Mars
Shevat 27, 5774 · January 28, 2014
Dr. Velvl Greene

In 1960, I began working for NASA as part of the Planetary Quarantine Division, which was then charged with trying to find life on Mars. The Rebbe was very, very interested in the work I was doing. When we first met, he asked me if I knew what the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th-century founder of the chassidic movement, meant when he spoke of divine providence.

I said that I did. The principle of divine providence which the Baal Shem Tov taught is that nothing a Jew sees and hears is random. Rather, it is all designed by Heaven to bring you closer to Torah and to G‑d. There is nothing wasted.

And the Rebbe said, “If this is true for everybody, how much more true is it for a person who is exploring the stratosphere, or searching for life on Mars, or working in a medical laboratory dealing with diseases, or traveling all over the world and meeting so many people.”

“Nothing a Jew sees and hears is random . . . certainly when searching for life on Mars”

He went on, “You must have a wealth of stories and anecdotes and events and impressions—each one of which demonstrates divine providence. You should keep a journal of these stories and events, and then try to analyze them to see what is the lesson you can learn from these things. And if you can’t figure it out by yourself, then bring them to me and I’ll help you.”

I followed his advice. And today I have a journal with hundreds and hundreds of stories and events, and I plan, some day, to disseminate these stories to as many people as possible.

Back then—this was the early 1970s—when word got around that I was working with NASA and looking for life on Mars, some religious Jews would rebuke me. They said, “You mustn’t do that. You mustn’t work in the space biology program or the exobiology program, because it goes contrary to Torah. You shouldn’t be doing this kind of work.” Since at this point I had already begun my journey to Jewish practice, their words caused me concern—was I doing something wrong? I didn’t know what to make of these statements. Rabbi Feller suggested that the next time I would meet with the Rebbe, I should ask the Rebbe if that was in fact true.

“You should look for life on Mars, and you should keep looking for life on Mars”

The Rebbe didn’t respond right away. He thought for a while, and then he said this:

“You should look for life on Mars, and you should keep looking for life on Mars. If you don’t find it, then keep looking elsewhere, and do not stop looking, because to sit here in this world and say there is no life elsewhere is to put a limit around what G‑d can do. And nobody can do that!”

And then he asked me if it would be possible for him to read some of my reports to NASA, and he was careful to add, “if they are not classified.”

I told him that there were many unclassified documents that I could send him, but I asked, “Why should the Rebbe want to read this? I mean, most of it is preliminary—we haven’t been to Mars yet. We’re just doing experiments to plan for the Martian trip, and what we’re doing is just normal bacteriology; it’s not very exciting . . .”

He said, “Let me decide that.”

So I promised him that I would do it, but several months went by, and I didn’t send him anything. The next time I was in New York and stopped at Chabad headquarters for afternoon prayers, the Rebbe noticed me and called me over. He said, “You promised me something!”

The Rebbe noticed me and called me over. He said, “You promised me something!”

“What did I forget?”

“You promised me the reports.”

“Well, I thought the Rebbe is so busy . . .”

“Don’t have pity on me. Send the reports.”

I went home and assembled a pile of unclassified documents—three or four thick folders—and I sent them all to the Rebbe. Most of this material described what we thought the Martian environment might be like, based on information from flybys. This was work from before the first landing on Mars, which would not take place until July 1976. In those early days, we were trying to develop a sampling device that could test the dust on Mars for the presence of living microbes. We were speculating what types of microbes might be there, so we could provide the proper nutrients to grow them when we got there.

It was straight laboratory work—I had a big group of microbiologists working for me, generating mounds and mounds of reports which we would send to NASA. But, until we actually landed on Mars and took samples, everything we were doing was speculation.

“In the first place you say that these bacteria would grow there, and in the second you say that they wouldn’t”

At the next audience I had with the Rebbe, he said to me, “There is something I’d like to bring up. Obviously it’s because I don’t understand your work, but it seems to me that there is a disagreement between something you wrote in one place about bacteria on Mars and what you wrote in another report several years later that describes the same experiment.” And he named the volume. “In the first place you say that these bacteria would grow there, and in the second you say that they wouldn’t.”

I told him that I couldn’t remember what he was referring to, but that I would look it up. And when I went home I dug out these dusty reports and read them, and of course he was right. There was a discrepancy.

When I came to the Rebbe the next time, which was a year later, I told him, “With regard to the discrepancy, the Rebbe was right—what I said here I didn’t say there, simply because I made a typographical mistake. And I’m going to correct it.”

“I don’t like contradictions in science”

He said, “Thank you. You make me feel better. I don’t like contradictions in science. But if the difference between what you said here and there is because you made a simple mistake—well, that makes me feel better.”

After that, every time I saw him he asked me for more reports. And, one time, I answered him in a flippant way. I said, “They say that the Rebbe has ruach ha-kodesh, divine vision. If that is true, why is the Rebbe asking me for a report? Doesn’t he know what is going on?”

If any chassidim had been in the room, they would have slapped me. But the Rebbe just smiled and said, “Vos men zogt, zol men zuggen—what they say, let them say. From you, I want a report.”

Printable Version

Print   |   Post A Comment   |   Read Online   |   
By Velvl Greene    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

The late Dr. Velvl Greene, a bacteriologist and professor emeritus at Ben-Gurion University as well as director of the Lord Jacobovits Center for Jewish Medical Ethics in Be’er Sheva, Israel, also worked for NASA’s Planetary Quarantine Division, which was charged with trying to find life on Mars. He was interviewed in his home in Be’er Sheva in April 2008.

Finding meaning

Finding meaningPosted: 28 Jan 2014 05:46 AM PST

BIG-DIPPERAt OHALAH, I learn about The December Project, a collaboration between author Sara Davidson and Reb Zalman in which they speak honestly and candidly about aging, death and dying, and the afterlife. I promptly pre-order a copy.

Upon my return home, a woman seeks me out with burning questions about Jewish beliefs around death and dying, burial practices, the afterlife. We have a long conversation in my office and agree to meet again.

Within days of that meeting, a man seeks me out to talk about illness, end-of-life issues, creating programs to help adult children speak (and listen) clearly to the wishes of their aging parents. We, too, agree to meet again.

The human mind seeks to make meaning. Give us a handful of stars in the night sky, and our brains sketch them into the shape of a constellation. Give me three disconnected encounters with questions of aging, dying, and what comes after, and my mind wants to turn them into a pattern.

Does it “mean something” that this theme keeps cropping up in my January?

Maybe this is just a reminder that this is a need which people have, these are conversations which people both fear and crave. Maybe it’s just a happy coincidence that I learned about a new resource to share, just before I met someone with whom I wanted to share it. These are disconnected events; they have nothing to do with each other.

And maybe the people who brought these questions into my life this month are messengers whose presence is meant to awaken and attune me to these questions. That’s what angels are, in the early parts of Torah: messengers sent by God. They look like ordinary people, but they bring awareness of something that someone needs to know or learn.

Both of those can be true at the same time. Anyone I meet can be a messenger if I’m open to finding a deeper message in our encounter. What looks like happenstance to you might look like a holy encounter to me (or: what I experience as happenstance on one day might feel to me like a holy encounter on another day.) Neither of those interpretations has to trump the other.

The stars of the Big Dipper take on a shape because we see the shape in them. So do moments in a life. Connections and coincidences flare brightly because we notice them and draw lines to connect them.

What meaning will I make from the shape which is coalescing here?

PARENTING: My Week Without a Cell Phone
My Week Without a Cell Phone
Shevat 27, 5774 · January 28, 2014

Today is Day Six without a phone.

Besides for feeling slightly isolated, it’s not too bad.

I’ve been doing things that I know I would not be doing if my phone was sitting next to me, shiny screen beckoning.

Like waltzing to music in my living room with my delighted nine-month-old as my dancing partner, her tiny hand encased in mine as she giggles at this new game.

Like realizing that it is only one o’clock and I have already accomplished what usually takes me until three!

Like thinking about writing this article and actually sitting down to write it . . .

According to CNN, on average, people check their phones 34 times a day, sometimes with only a 10-minute break between checks. The Huffington

Besides for feeling slightly isolated, it’s not too bad

Post relates that 73% of Americans would feel panicked if they lost their phone, while 14% admitted that they would feel “desperate.”

Honestly, when my phone died while I was out last Tuesday, I definitely felt the faint flutter of panic. And when I came home, placed it into the charger, and returned an hour later to a blank screen, I would say there was an element of desperation as I stabbed violently at the home button and power button (to no avail).

On Tuesday night I went to an event with my husband. There was no picture-taking of the food, ourselves, or anything else. In fact, no one besides for the people who saw us there even knew we went.

Wonder of wonders.

That night I tried every imaginable way to resurrect my phone, including switching the charging cable, the charging port, even the charging room. I even left it in rice overnight (although it had been nowhere near water).

The next morning, I admired my reflection in the black screen and searched deep within its depths for a trace of my beloved apps. The only thing I saw were my eyes, round and fearful.

We decided to involve the expert: the fix-it man. He figured the issue was either the battery or the charging port, and replaced my battery to see what would happen. I had a working phone! I rushed to catch up on WhatsApps, texts and Instagram news. I was secretly pleased to see the amount of social-media notifications I had missed, but the pleased feeling disintegrated fast, almost as quickly as the new battery ran out. I was left pensive and thoughtful, even as we discussed giving the phone back to the magic maker the following day.

And when Thursday lifted its sleepy head and my baby woke me up with her coos and babbling in her crib, soon after the sun had made its hazy appearance in a pink-tinged sky, I marveled at my unhurried morning cuddles with her, at my slow and pointed morning routine, at my casual saunter to the bathroom to wash up.

I was not rushing to check anything, to update myself, to see what I had “missed.” I was not reaching out blindly for a cold, hard object that “connects” me but leaves me with no real connection. I was focused and living for the “now,” and the only thing I rushed to do was to get back to my bed, where my baby was lying on her back and holding her feet to her mouth while singing in her baby voice. I flopped down on the bed next to her, and watched her eyes light up and a joyful laugh rise from her belly.

I didn’t give my phone in that day.

I didn’t give it in the next day either.

On Sunday night, my husband went around to the fix-it man’s apartment and handed him my phone.

Tonight, I will get my phone back. It’s going to be funny having it again, hearing the “ding” of a new e‑mail or the “whoosh” of a new message. I have this crazy, insane, almost shouldn’t-be-said-aloud thought that maybe, maybe, I don’t want my phone back after all . . .

It is dawning on me that perhaps my methods of “connection” are not really that great. After all, think about the way we connect to G‑d. There

Maybe, maybe, I don’t want my phone back after all . . .

is no phone line, no Facebook page, no following Him on Twitter. No texting or messaging, and certainly no photos of Him to “like” on Instagram.

G‑d is reachable through a deeper form of connection: prayer. Prayer is not an instant process; it takes time to meditate and consider our relationship with G‑d, without other distractions. First, we praise and acknowledge G‑d as our Creator. Then we ask for what we need and want, realizing that only He is able to provide it. And finally, we thank Him for what He does in our lives. Through this three-step process of prayer we create a bond that is felt, not seen.

No wonder relationships today are at an all-time low. We don’t talk anymore. We don’t converse and have meaningful discussions with people face-to-face, gauging their reactions and physically interacting with them. Our relationships are based on screens and cyberspace and apps! How is a deeper connection supposed to develop?

Maybe it’s time we applied our connection with G‑d to our relationships with those around us who are near and dear. Maybe it’s time that we really started to think about our friends and family and how much we appreciate their being a part of our lives, rather than just “friending” them.

My phone will be back in about six hours, shiny screen beckoning. Perhaps I will shut it off for two or three hours a day, so that I will be forced to connect in other, more meaningful ways with those around me.

I hear my baby moving around in her crib, and I have a husband to make dinner for.

Please excuse me while I go connect with the people I love.

Print   |   Post A Comment   |   Read Online   |   
By Blumie Abend    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Blumie Abend is a wife and mother currently living in Crown Heights. She has a passion for writing and currently works as a freelance writer.


Jonathan Pollard & America

by David Suissa
Pollard should have been released years ago because discrimination and unfairness are anti-American ideas.

3 Things I Wish I Knew when I was Dating

by Aleeza Ben Shalom
I would have appreciated a heads-up on a few things. What wisdom do you have to share?

Soul Control, Part 2: Getting Approval

by Dr. David Lieberman
The more self-esteem, the less ego.

Video: Becoming a Levi

by Mrs. Lori Palatnik
The Jewish people need teachers with passion. What are you waiting for?

Going Citrus

by Elizabeth Kurtz
Grapefruits, oranges and lemons, oh my! Recipes that celebrate wonderful, fresh, and zesty citrus flavors.

Spotlight on Israeli culture

Canadian Jewish News (blog) – Ten leading Toronto cultural organizations are joining forces for Spotlight on  Participating organizations are Dancemakers, Harold Green Jewish 
Upcoming highlights of the SD Jewish Film Festival
San Diego Jewish World
SAN DIEGO (Press Release) – The 24th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival, presented by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus, will open February 6-16, 2014. Sponsored by 
See all stories on this topic »
Nearly half the Israeli parliament marks Holocaust remembrance day at Auschwitz
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
OSWIECIM, Poland (JTA) — Watching thousands of Poles dance to Klezmer music just 50 miles from the Auschwitz death camp, Johnny Daniels could feel an ambitious plan taking shape. The experience last year at Krakow’s annual Jewish Culture Festival 
See all stories on this topic »
‘The Monuments Men’ Shows How America Saved Paintings While Letting Jews 
Tablet Magazine
Shortly after the Bermuda meetings ended, the New York Times published an editorial titled “Europe’s Imperiled Art.” The newspaper, which showed little interest in the fate of Europe’s imperiled Jews, urged strong government action to rescue “cultural 
See all stories on this topic »
Shalom, Paraguay: A Jewish Culture Guide
Shalom Life
World cities, provincial towns, and even the most unassuming of suburbs are infused with Jewish history and culture, some of which is waiting to be discovered. For the pious follower, the curious traveler, or the intrepid adventurer, we’ll unearth the 
See all stories on this topic »
RIP, Pete Seeger
The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, in the first of what surely will be many Jewish remembrances to come forth in the coming days, recalled when Seeger offered to perform at the first Tikkun conference in 1988. “Seeger understood that the kind of Judaism we espoused 
See all stories on this topic »
Memories of Cuba: Trip Explored a Vibrant History, Culture
Boulder Jewish News
In 1959, when Castro came to power, there were 15,000 Jews in Cuba enjoying a comfortable life free of anti-Semitism. After Castro began confiscating private businesses and residences, a mass migration began, leaving only 1,500 Jews behind. It is that 
See all stories on this topic »
Watch: Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream Super Bowl ad
The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A.
Forget the debate over whether or not it’s okay to represent a company with a factory in the West Bank, or whether or not Oxfam should ditch her, though. That’s all just fluff. The real controversy, it turns out, stems from four words the Jewish 
See all stories on this topic »

Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

Noah Days ימי נח


הסיפור בקליפ הזה לקוח משירו הנפלא של שייקה לוי מהגשש החיוור. הוא העביר את שנות נעוריו בקיבוצים עין הים וגבעת ברנר. התמונות לקוחות מהאתר של קיבוץ גבעת ברנר

בתמונה שלפני האחרונה בקליפ רואים את שייקה בקטיף בפרדס
ישראל חוגגת 60 לעצמאות
צפייה מהנה

Kama Mazal כמה מזל


Another music video clip of Israel from the old days. Great song by Pablo Rosenberg. Enjoy !
מבוסס על השיר כמה מזל של פבלו רוזנברג עם תמונות מהארכיון של סטיבן שפילברג
הנוסעים באוטבוס הם עולים חדשים שהסוכנות העלתה לעיר דימונה
ישראל חוגגת 60 לעצמאותה
צפייה מהנה

Two prayers for b’nei mitzvah

Two prayers for b’nei mitzvah

Posted: 27 Jan 2014 04:00 AM PST

Siddur_photo_cover-150x150Maybe because I’m anticipating (and preparing for) a family celebration of bar mitzvah this spring, I’ve been on the look-out for poems and prayers for that lifecycle moment. At theOHALAH conference, I picked up a display copy of a new siddur which one of my colleagues had brought to show off.  The siddur was Siddur Sha’ar Zahav, a new prayerbook created bySha’ar Zahav, an LGBTQ Jewish community in San Francisco. And I happened to open it to a page which contained two poems / prayers for b’nei mitzvah, exactly the kind of thing I’d been looking for.

I liked the readings so much that I got online and ordered myself a copy of the siddur right then and there. And here they are:

To A Bar / Bat Mitzvah

I want to tell you a secret, kid.
Although we say today you are an adult,
because the calendar page has turned,
because your age now has two digits,
because you have studied and prayed
and read and written and worried and hoped
to prepare for this, your big day,
your childhood will continue forever in you,
its questions, fears, wonders, dreams, magic.
Though you take on the stature of adulthood,
its responsibilities, powers, doubts, alleged wisdom,
you will always be a child deep inside,
wandering, seeking, finding, losing, finding, loving.

– Jacqui Shine

Remembering the Bar / Bat Mitzvah Problem

Today I am a man.
Today I am a woman.
Today I am mortified.
Bad enough to be growing into this body, but a public celebration of the fact?
Maybe all b’nei mitzvah struggle with identity, rules, clothes, traditions, expectations.
But can anyone see who I am, hidden by make-up, or by a crew cut and tie?

Years and years later, I can say:
Today I am who I am.
Surely Adonai understands that.

– Ray Bernstein

I suspect that the second reading would speak more to the adults in attendance (who remember the slings and arrows of adolescence, as it were) than to the b’nei mitzvah kid. But it really moves me. And I can imagine parents, or an adult in the family, reading the first one aloud as part of the service, or as part of a toast at the kiddush afterwards, or something along those lines.

If (like me) you collect siddurim, this one is really worth owning. It’s a beautiful object, a beautiful book, satisfying to hold. It’s well-designed and very readable. It treads a nice balance between traditional and innovative. And in addition to fine renderings of all of the prayers one would expect from any good siddur, it also contains prayers and liturgies which aren’t in the average Jewish prayerbook — blessings for discovering one’s sexual orientation, prayers forTransgender Day of Remembrance, and so on. The book isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the price. I know I’ll be turning and returning to it often.

WEEKLY STORY: Check Out My Room
Check Out My Room
Shevat 26, 5774 · January 27, 2014

A prominent rabbi of Newton, Massachusetts, attended a housewarming party at a large, beautiful home in his wealthy suburb of Boston.

Guests oohed and ahhed, checking out every unusual piece of furniture, every exotic light fixture, every imported piece of handcrafted art, the thick azure carpets, the golden hand-carved door handles both inside and outside, and on and on and on.

During the course of the evening, the homeowners related to their guests that they had paid the highest fee for their interior decorator, but it was worth every penny. The results were astonishing. Every decision, down to the last window treatment, was just impeccable. They could not have been more pleased.

“This,” they declared, in contrast to how most people thought a home should be furnished, “is interior decorating.”

About an hour passed, and the elderly mother of the hostess, who lived with her daughter and son-in-law, asked her rabbi friend to come upstairs and take a look at her room.

Having left the posh living room and dining room of this large, magnificently appointed and lavish home, the elderly woman opened the door of her upstairs bedroom and pointed her finger toward the windowsill. When the rabbi looked, he was astounded at what he saw.

The woman did not point, as the daughter did, to any of the furniture or decorations of the room. She pointed only to the windowsill, toward a row of charity boxes, pushkes, one for every worthwhile cause imaginable. There were boxes for hospitals, yeshivot (religious schools), orphanages, battered women’s shelters, homes for children who were blind or deaf, funds for the handicapped—you name it! One for every single Jewish institution she could find that distributed charity boxes for people to drop coins in and return when full.

Before modern methods of fundraising took hold, these small charity boxes “decorated” kitchen windows in every traditional Jewish home. “Now, Rabbi,” said the elderly woman, gazing proudly at her windowsill filled with charity boxes—“this is interior decorating!”

Print   |   Post A Comment   |   Read Online   |   
By Dov Peretz Elkins    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Excerpted from Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008).

COMMENT: Three Chambers
Three Chambers
Shevat 26, 5774 · January 27, 2014

Imagine a house with three rooms.

In one room you wheel and deal, build and demolish, eat and sleep, work and play. This is the largest room in your house.

In the second room you pray and meditate, study and contemplate. Here you have heart-to-heart talks with your spouse, your children and your closest friends.

The third, which is the smallest and innermost room, is where you go to be alone with yourself.

Your life is this three-chambered house. Because you are three selves: your material self, which participates in and interacts with the material world; the spiritual you, which relates to the ideas, feelings and altruistic yearnings in yourself and others; and your ultimate self, the “I” that comprises, and (therefore) transcends, both matter and spirit.

The bulk of your time is spent in the first chamber, for there resides the bulk of your life. You treasure your hours in the second chamber, few and occasional as they are, for in these you recognize a higher quality and more refined mode of being. Rarely do you enter the third chamber, consumed as you are with the press of the material and the call of the spiritual; perhaps you visit there one day a year, or a single moment in your lifetime. But there it ever is, your absolute center—that which enables you to construct doorways and windows between the other two chambers; that which makes each of them, and both together, yourself.

G‑d, too, has such a three-roomed home. He dwells in our world, making Himself available to His creations on these three levels.

He decreed a multitude of mitzvot, physical acts which He deemed inroads to His essence. He said: When you give this coin to charity, when you wind these tefillinon your arm, when you eat this matzah on Passover, your are actualizing My will, bonding with My very self.

He also said: Here are My thoughts, engraved in stone and inscribed on parchment. These are the adjectives by which I have allowed Myself to be called, these are the words with which I can be addressed, these are the feelings in which I have invested Myself to parallel yours. Study My Torah, pray to Me with the formulae composed by My prophets, and you shall enter the chamber where My spiritual self dwells and commune with Me.

He also said: There is an innermost point of meeting with Me—I Myself as I transcend both the physical and spiritual channels of connection I have entered. Very rarely will you encounter Me thus. Perhaps once a year on Yom Kippur, when you divest yourself entirely of your bodily self. Perhaps once a year on Purim, when you surrender knowledge and feeling to be known and sensed by Me. Perhaps once in a lifetime, in an act of extreme self-sacrifice for My sake. But there I am. And from there I radiate My essence to the two other chambers; from there derives your ability to navigate them both, and to pass from one to the other and back again.

When the children of Israel camped in the desert, G‑d commanded them to build a model of His home on earth. The Mishkan (Tabernacle) they constructed was comprised of three domains: the courtyard, the Holy, and the Holy of Holies.

In the courtyard stood the laver at which those entering the Tabernacle washed their hands and feet; there animals were slaughtered, offered on the outer altar, and eaten by the priests. This was the most “physical” of the Mishkan’s domains, where the resources of the material world were processed and incorporated into man’s service of G‑d.

The Holy housed the golden menorah in which seven flames burned, fueled by the purest olive oil; the golden table and its showbread; and the inner altar for burning incense. This was the spiritual arena, the “mind” and “heart” of the Mishkan.

The Holy of Holies was the smallest, innermost chamber, where space and anti-space coexisted, and into which only the high priest entered, and only on the holiest day of the year. This was the soul of the divine abode.

We built that first prototype following detailed instructions which Moses received at Sinai. When the last pillar, tapestry and partition had been fixed in its place, G‑d made His presence dwell in the Tabernacle—empowering us to replicate its three domains in the three chambers of our lives.

Print   |   Post A Comment   |   Read Online   |   
By Yanki Tauber    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.