That awkward moment…

Over the years, my colleagues and I are constantly asked the question, "Why did you become a cantor?" The best response I ever heard was "So I could have awkward conversations with the person sitting next to me on the plane." It's something that I never envisioned, but whenever I'm a guest at an event, ...

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Jewish Mythbusters

We need a Snopes for Jewish life. You know, some kind of site where people can enter "facts" that they know about Judaism to see if they're true. (Maybe we could call it Shnapps.) While we're waiting for such a site to get launched, I'm happy to provide this installment of Jewish Mythbusters--persistent Jewish urban ...

You Will Be Assimilated, Part Deux

During this winter holiday period, it seems to me that we Jews are not the only ones at risk of assimilation and losing our distinct rituals. Our non-Jewish friends are experiencing something like this as well. It seems that Christians have almost completely adopted a uniquely Jewish tradition, which threatens their own observance of Christmas. ...

You Will Be Assimilated

Some of our most well known and beloved holidays are filled with irony. Purim, a violent, Machiavelian, Tarantino-esque story of attempted genocide has become transformed into a fun dress-up holiday for little kids. Passover, the festival which celebrates our people's liberation, has become the most back-breaking, labor-intensive period of the year. And now Chanukah. The ...

Time to Face the Music

Put down the dreidl, stop eating the latkes, and take a break from giving gifts. It's time for a much more profound and significant Chanukah tradition: Chanukah music on Sirius XM. This year you can find it on Channel 77. I have no idea who runs that channel over there and decides what music to ...

Yes, Virginia, there is a Chanukah.

Generations of Hebrew school kids have been bombarded with the repeated message: "Chanukah is not the Jewish Christmas." True--in fact, Christmas is more like the Christian Chanukah since it came afterwards. Here's what both holidays have in common: They both occur sometime near the Winter Solstice. They both involve lots of lights. They both have ...

Deconstructing Bar Mitzvah

This week's Torah portion marks the 38th anniversary of my bar mitzvah. (Go ahead, I'll give you moment to do that in your head). What struck me is how much and how little things have changed in that period of time. On the one hand, synagogue life couldn't be more different. The Conservative Movement has ...

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