In 1966, when I was in 7th grade, I was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter (O-S) disease, a ligament inflammation characterized by a painful bump below the knee that worsens with activity. Unknown at the time was that the condition causes no physical damage or impairment and goes away on its own in a year or two.
Back then, though, tagged with a strange, foreign-sounding disease, I and others with assorted physical limitations attended what was known as “ortho gym” in lieu of regular gym class.
Perhaps because of this experience – or maybe because I was a Jewish kid in an...Read More
We Jews have never been much into beads. Although we may have used them and similar objects at times for counting or marking time, we generally have stayed away from them as a ritual object for prayer. Nonetheless, some people may see parallels between beads, used for religious or spiritual purposes in Africa as long ago as 10,000 B.C.E., and the tallit (Jewish prayer shawl), whose design specifications are detailed in Numbers and Deuteronomy, texts written more than 8,000 years later. While some see similarities, I see differences.
On a tallit, the prescribed tassels, knots and...Read More
In his recent blog post, “The Avengers: Building on a Jewish Comic Book Legacy,” Arie Kaplan, uses the new movie, Avengers: Infinity War, to remind us that almost all the creators – writers and illustrators – of Marvel Comics’ Avengers and Superman and his DC Comics’ Justice League of America cohorts, and the beyond-our-wildest-imagination worlds that they defended, were Jewish. It turns out that this is also an excellent time for a reminder that it was a real life Jewish superhero who almost single-handedly built the city and state where these movies, featuring fantastical characters and...Read More
The start of another baseball season reminds me that, as an almost-11-year-old Jewish boy in Southern California in 1965, I thought only one thing when I heard the word “hero”: Sandy Koufax.
Of course, biblical heroes, including Moses and Samson, still held some sheen as did others who were revered and whose accomplishments were celebrated in our staunchly liberal and Zionist household: Adlai Stevenson, the two-time Democratic nominee for president; Golda Meir, Israel’s then-minister of foreign affairs; and Albert Einstein and Al Jolson, each a larger-than-life figure.
In an earlier essay, I described how the practice of Musar has become for me a gesher (bridge) between what had been, for most of my life and in most ways, two separate worlds: one Jewish, the other not.
Upon further reflection, I now see how the concept of “dualism” – two contrasted, sometimes cooperative and sometimes opposed, things or persons – is pervasive in Judaism generally and in my personal experience. Until leaving home for college, I lived in a house with one set of dishes for milchig (Yiddish for “dairy”) and another for fleishig (Yiddish for “meat”). I spent half my...Read More
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