Sukkot 5777: Building it is Better than Being Inside

Sunday was a day of frenzied construction for my friends and me on a farm in upstate NY. Thirty-two of us were gathering to celebrate the first days of Sukkot together, but that meant intense activity among the early arrivals to build and decorate our Sukkah. Ours is a rustic project—no metal, plastic or even…

Sukkot 5777: Do You Wear Tefillin on Hol HaMo’ed?

  Given the great quantity and complexity of halakhot leading up to the festivals of Pesah and Sukkot, we seldom focus on the question of whether to wear Tefillin during the middle days of hol hamo’ed until it is actually upon us. The observant Jewish community is literally all over the map on this subject,…

Yom Kippur 5777: Open the Gates of Mercy

לשנה הבאה בירושלים Next year in Jerusalem! This enthusiastic declaration concludes the most important home ritual in Judaism, the Passover Seder. After hours filled with scripture, songs and symbolic foods designed to reenact the passage from slavery to freedom, we end with the prayer that next year we will celebrate in Jerusalem. The same declaration…

Rosh HaShanah 5777 Day 2: We Have Sacrificed Nothing

“You have sacrificed nothing, and no one!” This powerful statement came from Khizr Khan, a patriotic American immigrant from Pakistan who reveres the US Constitution, and who with his wife stood up in a national forum as grieving parents whose 27-year old son Captain Humayun Khan was killed in action in Iraq defending his unit….

Rosh Hashanah 5777 Day 1: Practicing Judaism

  When I was a kid we had a set of toys from my father that was pretty special, because my dad was pretty special, and still is. As a physician who trained in the sixties, he had one of those old-time doctor’s bags at home and he let us play with the tools. There…