Rabbis I Read: Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin

Image: The words Martini Judaism in large brackets. It’s the logo for the column below.

There are a few rabbis I read whenever they publish something new. Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is one of those rabbis.

In addition to being the senior rabbi for Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida, he writes a column for Religion News Service titled: Martini Judaism: for those who want to be shaken and stirred. Just as the title suggests, it’s an informal approach to Jewish topics in the news. What isn’t so obvious from the title is that he brings scholarship and heart to every topic he covers.  Some recent examples:

Was Trump Right about Jerusalem?

Can Reform Judaism Reform Itself?

Meghan Markle is not Jewish. Big Deal.

How Neil Gillman Taught Me Judaism 101

The Secret Jewish History of Alice’s Restaurant

See what I mean? Some might say, “He’s all over the place” but I find that he’s good for my Jewish soul. Torah is everywhere, and it applies to everything in Jewish life. Rabbi Salkin helps me make those connections.

I will also admit he has inspired more than one blog post here!

Rabbi Salkin is also the author of Putting God on the Guest List: How to Reclaim The Spiritual Meaning of Your Child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah (Jewish Lights Publishing). His new book, The JPS Bnai Mitzvah Torah Commentary, was published in Spring, 2017.

Enjoy, in these closing days of 2017. You read it here: Torah is everywhere.

She’s Tinkering Again!

Car Repair. Photo by davidpheat/Pixabay.

Yes, I’m tinkering with the blog again. I wanted links that stood out more clearly. I wanted a format that would work better with Google AdSense. I wanted something fresh and new.

So you may see things shifting around on your page. I’m not done. If something bothers you, speak up. If you like something, speak up. I’m listening, but not necessarily taking orders.

I have begun allowing ads on the blog in the hopes of defraying some of the cost of this blog. While it is possible to run it on a shoestring, after seven years of shoestringing I thought I’d give the ads a try. Again, listening for feedback here!

AND: Ask the rabbi something! Topics, topics, I need topics! What did you see at synagogue that seemed mysterious, weird, or wrong? What did someone tell you “All Jews Do” and you just wondered? What tchotchke [trinket] do you have around the house that belonged to your grandmother and it has Hebrew letters on it and you don’t know what it is?


Chart Toppers of 2016

Image: “2016” in a dark hand against a background of amber lights. Geralt/Pixabay.

I like taking stock of things, and year’s-end is a good time to do it.

Many people sought out the blog from search engines, looking for answers to particular questions. They were, in fact, the bulk of the readers.

The ten articles accessed most often in 2016:

Most of these are “oldies but goodies” from previous years that answer basic questions. That’s fine with me: the original purpose of this blog was to support my Intro students and others on the outskirts of the Jewish world with basic information in plain English.

The top five new articles in 2016:

Last year the top new articles came from reader questions. In 2016 they came from current events, large and small.

Here is the data from 2016 in CoffeeShopRabbi Land:

The last post of 2016 was my 286th post of the year, down from 327 posts last year.

There have been 157,985 visits in 2016, up from 121, 794 visitors to this blog in 2015.

There were 226,465 page views in total, up from 190,063 page views.

There were 1,385 comments, down from 1,868 last year.

My reading of this:  I met my goal of working a little smarter to reach a few more people. On the other hand, some of you were quieter. Any ideas why?

Here’s to a good year of writing and reading ahead!



You Don’t Mess with the Laughter

!מענטש טראַכט, גאָט לאַכט

That is, Menscht tracht, Gott lacht:  “Man plans, God laughs.”  It’s the Yiddish version of Murphy’s Law.  It’s been on my mind this weekend.

My plan to “blog the Omer” took a left turn on Thursday evening, when I posted a commentary on You Don’t Mess with the Zohan to my Jewish Film blog.  I said I thought it was racist garbage, and I suggested other films that do a better job of mining the humor in Arab-Jewish tensions.

Someone had a rather strong reaction to my take on the film.  Instead of leaving a comment, he or she chose to hack my account and mess up a bunch of the links on the blog, so that all links from 2009 films led to the Zohan entry.  What I can’t figure is whether they liked or hated the comment, since if they hated it, why lead everyone to it?  And if they liked it, why not just comment?

On the other hand, someone is reading the film commentaries!  I’m delighted.  If someone out in Internet-land is a little less comfortable about movies that take cheap racist shots, I am doing my job.

Whatever the details, all my blogging time has gone to fixing those darn links, and dreaming up a password that will be harder to crack.  I have continued to count the omer, but am only today back to blogging.

I am absolutely certain that God is laughing.

P.S. to the Link Switcher, if you are reading this:  Leave me a comment, either here or better yet, on the Jewish Film blog, and tell me what you were trying to tell me with the links.  Loved it? Hated it? Let’s argue!  It’s more fun and less work, I promise.