In 2010, I gave a sermon about the complexities Jewish Americans face each year on October 31st. After my sermon, I was approached by two different congregants. The first applauded me for being the first rabbi to get up and say that the celebration of Halloween by Jews was wrong, though I said no such thing. The second hugged me because she had been battling this dilemma for quite some time and now was happy her rabbi had permitted her kids to go trick or treating. Again, I made no such claim. At that point, it was clear to me that Halloween is an issue for Jewish Americans. I realized the need for some deeper research into Halloween, its history, and how Judaism should approach this common secular practice.
This year I was lucky enough to attend and present at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Centennial Conference. It was truly an amazing experience and a Yasher Koach to all those who put it together. On the heels of the craziness (and some would say depression) of the Pew Research survey, I experienced a room full of over 1,200 participants excited to learn, over a hundred teenagers welcoming in the conference by singing with Jewish pride, and an authentic reflection of 100 years of the USCJ and the future of Conservative Judaism.
We all mourn in different ways and for all different types of people. Our tradition does not limit our ability to mourn, rather encourages us all to find ways to deal with death, how we need to deal with death. And for each of us and with each loss, we do not need an agenda or reason to cry. We should not need to explain ourselves. Mourning is as controllable as the death itself and all are deserving of the time to heal.
In 1980 a group of baseball enthusiasts met at a New York City restaurant called La Rotisserie. They created a game wherein they could “draft” Major League Baseball players onto imaginary teams, which would compete against each other using the players’ real-life game stats. This is widely regarded as the birth of fantasy sports as we know it. Today, fantasy sports is played by upwards of 32 million people in the U.S. and Canada and accounts for $3-4 billion in economic activity per year. While fantasy leagues exist for almost all major and semi-major sports, fantasy football has become easily the most popular. Temple of Aaron’s Rabbi Jeremy Fine interviewed a fantasy sports pioneer on personal sports site TheGreatRabbino.com. Below is his interview.
n 1965 a story formulated that for many Jews is on par with biblical magic. The story states that on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar (to most Jews anyway), the greatest baseball pitcher of all-time, Sandy Koufax, put religion before baseball and sat out the first game of the World Series. Most Jews, baseball fans or people with access to the Internet have heard this story. Jewish religious school teachers always teach this story in their classrooms this time of year. But this article is not about whether Koufax pitched or did not pitch, we have an answer to that; the question is if Koufax was not on the mound on October 6th 1965, then where was he?
Sage Rosenfels, the fifth greatest Jewish quarterback of all time, has retired after 11 seasons.
While the ranks of Jewish basketball players continues to grow at both the high school and college level, the NBA bubble seems to have burst.
That moment when you realize how much The Lion King can teach you about Torah.
“Jump” into this Pop Parsha about what hip-hop duo Kris Kross can teach us about the Torah.
Local Jew Ron Garber on Michigan basketball, J Street, and ice cream.