2014 in review

December 30, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Havdalah as a Light to the Community

December 30, 2014

rabbiadar:

As beautiful a study as I’ve ever seen of Havdalah! I am reposting it on Coffee Shop Rabbi as a vision of what’s possible.

Originally posted on Hardcore Mesorah:

Reflections and Lessons from the Havdalah Circle of Boyle Heights

As Shabbat comes to an end, I always make my way back towards the town and people I love. Towards the arches which over the years have become know as my station and post. And leaning against the metal arches of the bridge, high upon the Los Angeles Sixth Street Viaduct, I bask in the final and lingering rays of the Sabbath’s sun. And then I wait. Wait for the sun to set. I wait, for my buddies to count the stars and declare that it’s time. “One… two… three stars… it’s time!”

And then out from my ubiquitous bag I take these items. A Hebrew prayerbook, a dried etrog and clove bundle as a DIY “spice-box,” a kiddush cup and a multi-braided havdalah candle.

Havdalah has always been one of my favorite Jewish traditions. And over the years…

View original 4,731 more words


Most Read Posts of 2014

December 25, 2014

This has been a very active year for this blog. Activity here as more than doubled since last year, and I thank you for your readership.

These are the ten most frequently read posts on this blog among the posts I wrote this year:

How to Succeed at Congregational Life: Ten Tips

What to Wear to a Jewish Funeral

What to Wear to Synagogue?

Blogging While Black: Yeah, It’s a Thing

Conversion Manifesto

Prayer for the Opening of Baseball Season

“Blood Moons” and the Meaning of Prophecy

A More Meaningful Chanukah

Never Say This when You Welcome a Visitor!

Thinking of Conversion to Judaism? 5 Things to Do

The five most read posts of all time (well, the five calendar years this blog has been online):

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Etiquette for Beginners

10 Tips for Attending a Jewish Funeral

What’s “Yasher Koach?”

Choosing Synagogue Membership

How to Succeed at Congregational Life: Ten Tips

Rabbi and Dog

The Blogger and her Helper

The goal of this blog has been basic information for newcomers and others who may feel awkward in Jewish community. There’s a tremendous amount of information available in books and on the internet, but sometimes it’s too much all at once. I hope that by offering topics in small bites they have been more manageable.

Mixed in with those “basic info” articles are posts about growing Jewish identity and about living a meaningful Jewish life. I am not interested in Judaism as an exercise in historical reinactment. The prospect of Judaism that gives meaning and purpose to real 21st century lives is much more exciting to me.

So here are my questions for you: Which posts have been most helpful or interesting to you? What would you like to read about in 2015? Is there a topic about which you’ve heard “enough already!?”

I wish you a happy secular New Year of growth and bloom!


Exodus: Gods and Kings

December 21, 2014

Originally posted on Rabbi at the Movies:

ExodusRidley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is yet another Hollywood take on the Exodus story. Previous movie tellings include The Ten Commandments (1923), Moses the Lawgiver (1974), The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Ten Commandments (2007), and the most famous movie by that name, The Ten Commandments (1956) with Charlton Heston. Exodus: Gods and Kings has received mixed and negative reviews from critics.

It’s a boring movie with spectacular special effects. I am not sure what more to say than that – if you don’t know the story, go read the Book of Exodus.

Commentary

If you have read Exodus, you know that this film departs from the Torah in some significant ways.  Unlike The Prince of Egypt or the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments, the writers did not seek their extra material in Jewish midrashic literature. This film focuses on an imagining of the relationship of Moses and Ramses II…

View original 337 more words


Hanukah – A Major Battleground for the Heart and Soul of the Jewish People

December 18, 2014

rabbiadar:

Hanukkah is a high stakes holiday: not minor at all.

Originally posted on Rabbi John Rosove's Blog:

Last week I was invited to speak at Campbell Hall, a large private school in Studio City, Los Angeles, before two hundred and fifty 7th and 8th grade students about the story of Hanukah.

I began by saying that without the success of the Maccabean Revolt in 165 BCE, there would be no Judaism, no Christianity and no Islam today. I then reviewed the traditional story of Hanukah as it comes down to us through Jewish tradition, telling about the heroic battle of the Maccabean family against the Greeks, the Greek desecration of the Temple Mount, the miracle of the oil lasting eight days instead of one, the lighting of the Hanukiah, latkes, and dreidls, and then I said, “Truth to tell, this isn’t the history of this holiday at all. Most of that is story-telling. The real history is far more interesting and important for us today, Jews and…

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How to Chanukah and an awful lot of Music!

December 11, 2014

rabbiadar:

Torahbuzz at Temple Beth El in North Carolina has posted a wonderful piece on Chanukah music and how-to. Enjoy!

Originally posted on torahbuzz:

A friend of ours is getting ready to light Chanukah candles for the first time this year (two friends, actually, but only one is local). Since I’m in the business of guiding people through their Jewish journeys, it’s an extra privilege to help someone a friend to find the tools and learn the skills to lead a Jewish life. So, the very first thing I did was look to my calendar for when I could invite our Charlotte friend over to join us in lighting the Chanukah candles.

Alas, it seems that my family of four will only be together in our home for one night of all eight nights of Chanukah! And that one night is the SEVENTH night, which is not a great night to help someone kick off the holiday for the first time. While we negotiate our complicated schedules, I thought it would be best to…

View original 770 more words


What, You Mean I Have A Real Disease???

November 9, 2014

rabbiadar:

Bipolar Disorder is a physical illness: this blog post from “Bipolar for Life” will lead you to an article in Psychiatric Times that documents it. Bipolar is as “real” as Type 1 Diabetes, and those who suffer from it don’t deserve jokes or shunning, they deserve compassion and decent treatment.

Originally posted on Bipolar For Life:

Holy mackerel, Bullwinkle, there’s actually physical evidence that our brains are different from the neurotypicals!   Yes indeedy, bloggie friends, the picture is not a pretty one, but hey, we knew that already.

The link to the article in Psychiatric Times is below.  If you have trouble with it, let me know in the comments and I’ll copy-paste it in its entirety.

Unfortunately the only way to qualify for this test is to have a post-mortem.  So there’s plenty of time to kick up our heels and enjoy being Bipolar, Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective, or any or all of the above!

Feel free to print this out, and if anybody gives you any shit about “Just snap out of it,” shove it up their, uh, nose.  We have a Real Physical Disease.

Isn’t that great?

Explains a lot, anyway.

Bipolar Disorder Shares Pathophysiologic Features with Schizophrenia | Psychiatric Times.

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