Life & Religion

The Story of Purim

A long time ago in a galaxy not too far away, the Persians would have gotten away if it weren’t for princess Esther… The Germans weren’t the first to try and exterminate the Jews. A long time ago in a galaxy not too far away, the Persians would have gotten away with it too if […]

Arbors and Hope

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat is the Jewish Arbor Day in the land of Israel.  This year the holiday begins at sundown on Friday, February 10, and lasts through Saturday, February 11.  Celebrate like those in Israel with a Seder.  It is customary to eat figs, raisins, dates, almonds, olives, bokser-carob and pomegranates and […]

Balance and Hope

On one side of the freeway, the deep charcoal gray clouds signal the ominous deluge of much-needed rain that will nourish the ultra-dry terrain in Southern California. On the other side of the freeway, the sun sparkles against the tall glass buildings in an eerie juxtaposition of light and darkness. Both the sun and the […]

Hanukkah in America

In the 21st century, Hanukkah is celebrated by more Jews than any holiday other than Passover. Both are performed at least one night a year by almost 90 percent of American Jews, more than the number who observed Hanukkah in the 1930s. The sociological reason is surely related the competition with a commercialized, publicly observed […]

In the Moment

Breathe in the fragrance of round challah and honey cake. Experience the newness of the synagogue décor and the clothing. Hear the shofar and heed its call. The High Holy Days are a treat for the senses, but they are so much more. They give us a chance to shut out our daily lives and […]

Interest and Introspection

More than 100 people bounded through the doors of University Synagogue to hear Marc Michael Epstein entertain us with his vast Jewish knowledge. This particular discussion took us on a trip through Jewish history and the dispersal of the lost tribes. Where did they go? Are those claiming to be our descendants really the lost […]

Yom HaShoah Remembered

Hitler and his vast number of supporters so strongly believed in their goal that they kept scrupulous records. They were like scientists keeping journals on every step of an experiment, so that their studies could be duplicated, even maybe earning them a Nobel Prize. Hitler, Goebbels, Rommel and Mengele have left behind signed testaments to […]

Remembering the Departed

Judaic tradition puts a unique perspective on those we have lost and ways to remember them for many lifetimes. Kaddish is said during Shiva week and the anniversary of their passing and Yizkor, which we recite on Yom Kippur as well as Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. These three latter festivals are ones when our ancient […]

All In The Sukkah

Five days after fasting from Yom Kippur, arguably the holiest day of the year, Sukkot begins. However, immediately after the fast—like, take-a-drink-of-water-and-a-big-bite-of-bread-cuz-there-just-ain’t-no-time kind of “immediately”—building the sukkah is a mitzvah. And I know how you’re such a mitzvah boy or girl, aren’t ya? Here’s the deal—building a sukkah is for the kiddies, it’s just like […]