JBuzz Features October 8, 2014: Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) Guide for the Perplexed, 2014

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Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) Guide for the Perplexed, 2014

Source: Algemeiner, 10-8-14

Sukkot starts on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, the construction of the Holy Tabernacle, and the 40 year wandering in the Sinai Desert. Sukkot (סכות), and the Sukkah (סכה), which is a Jewish ritual hut, are named after the first stop of The Exodus – Sukkota  (סכותה)….READ MORE

JBuzz Features October 3, 2014: Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2014‏

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Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2014‏

Source: Jewish Press, 10-3-14

Yom Kippur commemorates God’s forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf and God’s covenant with the Jewish people….READ MORE

JBuzz Features September 22, 2014: Rosh HaShanah Guide for the Perplexed, 2014 (5775)

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Rosh HaShanah Guide for the Perplexed, 2014 (5775)

Source: The Jewish Press, 9-22-14

Rosh Hashanah is a universal, stock-taking, renewal and hopeful holiday, celebrated on the 6th day of The Creation, which produced the first human being, Adam….READ MORE

JBuzz Features September 19, 2014: Great Quotes on the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

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Great Quotes on the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

Source: Algemeiner, 9-19-14

Sundown on Wednesday, September 24, marks Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and millions of Jews around the world will congregate for the beginning of the High Holy Days….READ MORE

JBuzz Features September 1, 2014: ABC’s of Elul

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ABC’s of Elul

Source: The Jewish Press, 9-1-14

Elul – the month preceding Rosh Hashanah – begins a period of intensive introspection, of clarifying life’s goals, and of coming closer to God….READ MORE

JBuzz Features August 20, 2014: The ‘Mainstreaming’ Of Jewish Studies

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The ‘Mainstreaming’ Of Jewish Studies

Source: The Jewish Week, 8-20-14

Houston – Administrators at Texas Christian University, an institution in Forth W orth affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination, needed some advice last year on starting a Jewish studies program, which is now in the planning stages….READ MORE

JBuzz Features May 4, 2014: Who Gets to Define Jewish Studies?

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Who Gets to Define Jewish Studies?

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, 5-4-14

While a great deal of Aaron Hughes’s “Jewish Studies Is Too Jewish” (The Chronicle Review, March 28) is spurious and objectionable, we will restrict our comments to his cheap shots at the Jewish Review of Books….READ MORE

JBuzz Features April 14, 2014: Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?

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Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?

Source: Haaretz, 4-14-14

Contemporary Jews read the Haggadah every Passover, during the Seder feast. But the book they ritualistically read now would be unrecognizable to ancient Jews….READ MORE

 

JBuzz Features April 13, 2014: Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2014

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Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2014

Source: The Jewish Press, 4-13-14

Passover – the role model of faith, education, morality, responsibility and governance driven liberty – interacts with Shavou’ot/Pentecost – the role model of morality…READ MORE

JBuzz Features April 9, 2014: 7 Coolest Haggadahs for Your Passover Seder

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7 Coolest Haggadahs for Your Passover Seder

Source: Jewish Daily Forward, 4-9-14

This 14th century Haggadah is the earliest known Ashkenazi attempt to artistically depict the story of Passover. It’s a pretty creative retelling of the story, mainly because the people depicted in the story have the heads of animals….READ MORE

 

 

JBuzz Features April 4, 2014: All The 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need

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All The 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need

Source: Jewish Daily Forward, 4-4-14

Likewise, the “Ultimate Digital Haggadah,” released too late for our Haggadah roundup last year, is an exquisite visual presentation (with accompanying narration)…READ MORE

JBuzz Features January 26, 2014: Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times

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Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times

Source: New York Times, 1-26-14

The book “And Every Single One Was Someone” — meant as a kind of coffee-table monument or conversation starter — consists of the single word “Jew,” printed six million times….READ MORE

JBuzz Features November 27, 2013: Eight ways to celebrate Thanksgivukkah

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Eight ways to celebrate Thanksgivukkah

Source: CNN (blog), 11-27-13

Break out the menurkeys and sweet potato latkes, people, it’s time to celebrate Thanksgivukkah, a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. A calendrical quirk brings the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving together this Thursday for the first time since 1888….READ MORE

JBuzz Features November 26, 2013: Calendar makes new holiday: Thanksgivukkah

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Calendar makes new holiday: Thanksgivukkah

It’s time to carve the turkey. . . and light the menorah. It’s Thanksgivukkah! An extremely rare convergence this year of Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah has created a holiday frenzy….READ MORE

JBuzz Features November 27, 2013: Thanksgivukkah, a modern holiday foretold in scripture

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Thanksgivukkah, a modern holiday foretold in scripture

Source: Haaretz (blog), 11-27-13

Thanksgivukkah is a brand-new word, but its origins stretch back to antiquity. So as the once-in-a-lifetime holiday draws near, let us follow the etymological trail of its name from the dawn of civilization to the 21st century − in reverse….READ MORE

JBuzz Features September 18, 2013: 10 things you probably don’t know about Sukkot

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10 things you probably don’t know about Sukkot

Source: Haaretz, 9-18-13

Some of the traditions and customs of this holiday, such as sleeping under the stars for a whole week, may seem strange enough to the onlooker, but these 10 things you probably don’t know will make it seem even stranger….READ MORE

JBuzz Features September 13, 2013: Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2013

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Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2013

Source: Algemeiner, 9-13-13

1.  Yom Kippur commemorates God’s forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf…

2.  Yom Kippur is a day of forgiveness only for sins committed against God….

3.  Yom Kippur’s focus on seeking forgiveness highlights humility….

4.  Yom Kippur is a Happy Jewish Holiday….

5. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎)….

6. Three holidays – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (Tabernacles) – are celebrated during the Jewish month of Tishrei…

7.  The first human being, Adam, was created on the first day of Tishrei…

8.  Yom Kippur and the Jubilee highlight liberty and the subordination to God….

9.  The Hebrew word Kippur כיפור  (atonement/repentance) is a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporet כפורת….

10. Yom Kippur calls for repentance – Teshuvah, תשובה in Hebrew….

11.  The Hebrew spelling of ”fast” (צם/צום) – abstinence from food – reflects the substance of Yom Kippur….

12.  The prayer of Veedooi -וידוי  (confession/reaffirmation in Hebrew) is recited ten times during Yom Kippur….

13.  A Memorial Candle, commemorating one’s parent(s), is lit during Yom Kippur….

14.  The Scroll of Jonas is read on Yom Kippur….

15.  A long sound of the Shofar (תקיעה גדולה) concludes Yom Kippur….READ MORE

JBuzz Features September 11, 2013: 10 things you probably don’t know about Yom Kippur

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10 things you probably don’t know about Yom Kippur

Source: Haaretz, 9-11-13

Gottlieb_Jews_Praying_in_the_Synagogue_on_Yom_Kippur

 ‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur,’ by Maurycy Gottlieb, 1878. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

You may go to synagogue every Yom Kippur and have fasted religiously since you were knee-high to a Torah scroll, but do you really know the history of this holiest of days?…READ MORE

JBuzz Musings August 19, 2013: Mediation fails in conflict over Touro Synagogue, celebrates 250th anniversary

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Mediation fails in conflict over Touro Synagogue, celebrates 250th anniversary (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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Facade of Touro Synagogue (tourosynagogue.org)
The oldest synagogue in the United States, Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island celebrated the building’s 250th anniversary on Aug, 18, 2013. Earlier in the week, after eight months of negotiations America’s two oldest Jewish congregations….READ MORE

81913_Touro_Synagogue_Exterior

JBuzz Features July 11, 2013: The Hero of Tisha B’Av?

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The Hero of Tisha BAv?

Source: The Jewish Press, 7-11-13

In this season of the Three Weeks, as we approach Tisha B’Av, perhaps it is worth re-examining the story told in the Gemara and the version found in the Midrash, and particularly the role of Rabbi Zechariah ben Avkulos….READ MORE

JBuzz Features July 9, 2013: How Tisha b’Av Turns Into A Holiday

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How Tisha bAv Turns Into A Holiday

Source: The Jewish Week, 7-9-13

We give credence and added strength to Zechariah’s prophecy by changing and lightening the foreboding character of Tisha b’Av (the ninth day of the 10th month), rising from our shiva stools (we must sit on the ground on Tisha b’Av) at mid-day….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 26, 2013: Naomi Schaefer Riley: Why do Jews intermarry, and who’d marry a Jew anyway?

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Why do Jews intermarry, and who’d marry a Jew anyway?

In her new book, Naomi Schaefer Riley takes a look at why so many in the American Jewish community are marrying out of the faith.

Jewish wedding

Jewish wedding Photo: Thinkstock
Over the past half century, intermarriage has become increasingly common in the United States among all religions – but among Jews at the highest rate.

Why that is the case is one of the questions Naomi Schaefer Riley probes in her new book, “‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America” (Oxford University Press).

One of the main reasons, Riley finds, is that the older people get, the more likely they are to intermarry….READ MORE

JBuzz Features November 1, 2012: Leonard Saxe: Birthright Israels Effect Still Strong Years After Trip

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Birthright’s Effect Still Strong Years After Trip

Source: Jewish Week, 11-1-12

Latest study, which tracks alums from six to 11 years out, finds impact on life choices and outlook

Indeed, a new report from Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies — the third in an ongoing longitudinal study comparing young American Jews who participated in the free Israel trip to those who did not — finds that six to 11 years later, the experience continues to affect life choices and outlooks.

Among the findings of the study based on interviews with almost 2,000 people, Birthright alumni — when compared to those who applied for but did not end up taking a Birthright trip between 2001-06 — are:

  • 45 percent more likely to be married to someone Jewish, whether by birth or conversion (however, only 35 percent are married so far);
  • 42 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel;
  • 23 percent more likely to view raising future children as Jews as “very important”;
  • 22 percent more likely to indicate that they are at least “somewhat confident” in explaining the current situation in Israel.

Nearly 30 percent of participants have returned to Israel on subsequent trips, with 2 percent currently living there. And 25 percent are married to other Birthright alumni, although few met their spouse on the trip itself. (Seven percent of the control group is married to Birthright alumni.)

“As the Birthright population has gotten older, as they’ve moved away from the program, the effects are as strong, or even stronger, than they were,” Leonard Saxe, the director of the Cohen Center and its Steinhardt Social Research Institute, told The Jewish Week. To be sure, this is not the first Cohen Center report touting the impact of the 13-year-old initiative, which boasts 200,000 North American alumni and whose mega-philanthropist founders — Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt — have helped finance the research…READ MORE

The study is available at Brandeis University

 

JBuzz Features May 25, 2012: Shavuot Holiday Guide 2012

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Shavuot

Source: GoIsrael.com

A fundamentally agricultural holiday, Shavuot commemorates the custom of bringing offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks.

About Shavuot

Shavuot, the Holiday of Weeks, is one of the three pilgrimage holidays, along with Pesach and Sukkot. These are the holidays on which the whole Jewish people would come to Jerusal in ancient times, when the Holy Temple was there, and would offer animal and grain sacrifices.

Shavuot is observed at the end of the counting of the Omer: the counting of seven weeks (actually 50 days) from the first day of Pesach. At the beginning of the counting, Jews would bring an Omer (Biblical measure) of grain from the first barley harvest to the Holy Temple, and at the end would bring an Omer of grain from the first wheat harvest. The seven weeks in the counting of the Omer are what give the holiday its name.

A fundamentally agricultural holiday, Shavuot is also called the Harvest Holiday and the First Fruits (Bikkurim) Holiday, commemorating the custom of bringing offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks. This agricultural aspect of the holiday was retained even after the destruction of the Holy Temple: among the symbols of the holiday are the seven species with which the Land of Israel is blessed – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Shavuot is also the holiday of the Giving of the Torah. According to tradition it was on this day that the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai.

During the period when most of the Jewish people was in the Diaspora and could not celebrate Shavuot as an agricultural holiday, the religious traditions took precedence. With the renewal of Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel, the new farmers (mainly in the kibbutz and moshav cooperative farming communities) reinstated the agricultural aspect as the main focus of the holiday, and a rich and colorful tradition developed around ceremonies commemorating the bringing of Bikkurim.

Shavuot is also connected to the Biblical Book of Ruth, which relates the story of Ruth the Moabite, who joined the Jewish people and who is the ancestor of King David. This story is connected with Shavuot as it takes place during the wheat harvest, around the time of Shavuot.

There is also a connection between the Davidic royal dynasty and the holiday of the giving of the Torah. According to tradition, David was born and died on Shavuot. The story of Ruth emphasizes the fact that every person can join the Jewish people and accept the Torah, even if he is from another nation, even an enemy nation.

Holiday Customs

Shavuot night prayers – One custom connected with tradition is that the Torah was given on Shavuot: thus on the night of the holiday, it is customary to learn Torah all night long at the synagogue in order to prepare oneself for receiving the Torah, just as a bride prepares herself to receive her groom. The texts that are studied vary from one community to another, but usually include passages from the Torah, the Mishna and the Zohar.
The reading of the Book of Ruth – On Shavuot day the Book of Ruth is read in synagogue and the reading is accompanied by various liturgical songs connected with the precepts in the Torah.
Eating dairy products – This is a relatively recent tradition, whose origin is unclear. Many Israelis who are not specifically religious have adopted this custom and hold fancy meals based on the many dairy products available in Israel.

JBuzz Feature May 20, 2012: Was Christopher Columbus secretly a Jew?

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Was Columbus secretly a Jew?

Source: CNN, 5-20-12
Christopher Columbus bids farewell to his son Diego at Palos, Spain, before embarking on his first voyage on August 3, 1492.
Christopher Columbus bids farewell to his son Diego at Palos, Spain, before embarking on his first voyage on August 3, 1492.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sunday marks the 508th anniversary of the death of Christopher Columbus
  • Charles Garcia: Columbus was a Marrano, or a Jew who feigned to be a Catholic
  • He says that during Columbus’ lifetime, Jews became the target of religious persecution
  • Garcia: Columbus’ voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for Jews

Today marks the 508th anniversary of the death of Christopher Columbus….

Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.

Columbus, who was known in Spain as Cristóbal Colón and didn’t speak Italian, signed his last will and testament on May 19, 1506, and made five curious — and revealing — provisions….

The evidence seem to bear out a far more complicated picture of the man for whom our nation now celebrates a national holiday and has named its capital.

As we witness bloodshed the world over in the name of religious freedom, it is valuable to take another look at the man who sailed the seas in search of such freedoms — landing in a place that would eventually come to hold such an ideal at its very core….READ MORE