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Fantasy forest scene

When I began writing my debut novel, Silent Hall, my only purpose was to tell a good fantasy story, set in a world that interested me. It was not, as it might seem when reading the finished product, to tell an allegory of Jewish trauma and resilience. In fact, I had long resisted any suggestion that I ought to write Jewish stories as opposed to “classic” fantasy. In college, my faculty advisors had practically begged me to bring my Jewish background into my writing, but I refused. I found Jewish content too...

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Marchers in a Pride Parade carrying  a Union for Reform Judaism banner

In the early 1980s, I was a camper in the UAHC Camp Swig Hevrah unit. In addition to the usual fun camp activities, this particular unit at camp focused on social justice. Our theme that summer was Soviet Jewry, and during our three weeks, we learned the ins and outs of the issues, heard stories about Soviet Jews, and explored what we could do to make a difference. During the last few days of the session, we traveled to San Francisco to march in solidarity with Soviet Jews, equipped with “Save Soviet Jewry” banners and T-shirts, ready to perform, sing, and make our voices heard.

I...

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Overhead view of hollandaise sauce and whisk in a pot

It’s often difficult to be funny in print, but reading the opening of Peter Gethers’ newest book, My Mother’s Kitchen: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and the Meaning of Life, I found myself suppressing hysterical laughter in the quiet car of an evening rush-hour train. I can’t begin to imagine how his unselfconscious, authentic, and remarkably familiar persona would make me laugh in person. It’s fitting, I think, that last week – just before Mother’s Day – I finished My Mother’s Kitchen – this time alone at...

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Blond woman from the 1980s with big hair and a colorful sweater with her arms crossed toward the camera

It’s common knowledge at this point that we’re living in the Golden Age of Television, but did you know that we’re also living in the Golden Age of Jewish Mothers on Television? With shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Transparent, and The Goldbergs, we have more Jewish moms to watch on TV than ever before. While we celebrate the moms we love this Mother’s Day, let’s also celebrate the moms we love to watch.

Beverly Goldberg, The Goldbergs

Beverly Goldberg is everybody’s favorite “smother.” Her wit and strength are unstoppable, and...

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Rows of hand-knit yarmulkes with Stars of David on them

As Jews, we put our hearts, souls, and minds into the rituals and customs our tradition values. It’s important that we know the origins of these traditions, how they evolved over time, and what they look like today. Only then can we make informed choices about what meaning, if any, they have for us today.

One such custom, wearing a yarmulke (kippah), is not mandated by Jewish law, but rather is a widespread custom that, for some, is practiced in the same way as traditions that are dictated by Jewish law. The Talmud includes references to wearing a head covering and there are...

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