Tag Archives: Judaism

Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury Review

In the Jewish faith, Psalm 137 has the following lines:

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget [her cunning]/ If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

The new six part CNN miniseries, Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury premiered last night. Over the course of the six episodes Sundays, the program tells the story of the city of Jerusalem via six key battles that changed the fate of the city and the region. Combining re-enactments with interviews with historians and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, the viewer is given a 360 degree picture of it’s past, it’s present, and perhaps, a glimpse of its future.

The first episode focused on the glory days of King Saul, King David, and the downfall of ancient Israel after the death of King Solomon. I enjoyed the first episode. If nothing else, it proved that humanity has not changed one bit. Externally, the world may look different, but inside, it is the same as it ever was. It is also, I think a pathway to understanding what has come before us so we can create a better world for future generations.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury airs on CNN on Sunday night at 10PM.

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Filed under History, International News, Television, TV Review, World News

My Unorthodox Life Review

Walking away from the family we were raised in and the world that we have known our entire lives is not easy. In the world of Orthodox Judaism, the term is called “off the derech“.

The new Netflix reality show, My Unorthodox Life, follows the life of former Orthodox Jew and businesswoman Julia Haart. Living in New York City with her second husband and three of her four children, the viewer is introduced to the tug of war between Haart’s previous life in Monsey and her current day to day life.

After watching a few episodes, I can understand why some Orthodox Jewish women are annoyed by how their community is portrayed, I think the viewer has to take into account that this is Haart’s perspective. I like the mental health aspect of the series, addressing how many women in conservative or fundamentalist may feel trapped by the constraints of their gender and the rules of their gender. I also liked how positively Judaism is portrayed. Though Haart is no longer Orthodox, she is still Jewish and not afraid to be open about it. It is educational without hitting the audience over the head.

It has the gloss of a Bravo reality show, but it is slightly less trashy and not as much of a brain drain as other programs in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

My Unorthodox Life is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Netflix, New York City, Television, TV Review

The Vandalization of Those Synagogues in NYC Will Not Change My Faith

Hate is akin to an insidious disease. It takes over you, changing everything about your world and how you see it.

Over the weekend, four different synagogues were vandalized in the Bronx in New York City.

Whomever these people are, if they think that this act will scare me into changing my faith, they have another thing coming. I could go on, but I am going to let two wise men speak instead. Their truths are more powerful than anything I could ever write.

Pin by Cheryl Harris-dowling on Inspirational quotes | Yoda quotes, Fear  leads to anger, Fear quotes

Though I am sure that the justice system will do it’s job, it may not be enough to change the perspective of the perpetrators. I say, drop them in Auschwitz for a night. Let the spirits of those who were murdered teach the ultimate lesson.

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Israel!

Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, otherwise known as Israeli Independence Day.

Though no country is perfect, I find it astonishing that in a little less than three-quarters of a century, she has become a vibrant, thriving democracy. Out of the desert and the memory of a thousand generations in exile, a modern country has risen. Through blood, sweat, tears, and the belief in a higher power, she has become the vision that has kept Judaism alive.

It was prophesized in the Book of Ezekiel via Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones that a modern day Israel would arise.

In his vision, the prophet sees himself standing in the valley full of dry human bones. He is commanded to carry a prophecy. Before him, the bones connect into human figures; then the bones become covered with tendon tissues, flesh, and skin. Then God reveals the bones to the prophet as the People of Israel in exile and commands the Prophet to carry another prophecy in order to revitalize these human figures, to resurrect them, and to bring them to the Land of Israel.

Happy Birthday Israel, may you live to see another 73 years and many more after that.

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Opening Israel to non-Orthodox Converts Should Have Happened Long Ago

There are some religions in which converting new members is written into the doctrine. But Judaism is different. While we welcome new members of the faith with open arms, we do not seek out possible new converts.

In Israel, the Law of Return has been written into the cultural and legal system for 70+ years. But not everyone agrees with the specifics of the law. According to traditional Judaism, a Jewish person is defined by the faith of their mother. If the mother is Jewish, either by birth or conversation, the child is Jewish. But if the father is Jewish, but the mother is of another faith (or no faith), the child is not Jewish.

Earlier this month, the High Court finally recognized that Reform and Conservative conversions carry as much weight as Orthodox conversions. This hopefully also extends to the marriage ceremony. Civil marriages do not exist in Israel. The only marriages that are recognized are those performed by Orthodox rabbis. More than a few couples have left the country to get married.

This change is fifteen years in the making and frankly, should have happened a long time go. It shouldn’t matter how one converted. It should only matter that they are as committed to the Jewish faith as those who were born into it.

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Was the Joke About Israel on SNL Satire or Anti-Semitic?

Satire is a beautiful thing. But it can also cross the line.

During the Weekend Update portion of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, anchor Michael Che made a joke about Israel. To say that it did not go over well is an understatement.

The question I have to ask, is it satire or antisemitism?

I get that it was a joke. Weekend Update is not your serious local weeknight news. It is supposed to be funny and perhaps bordering on not exactly being 100% politically correct.

That being said, I can’t help but agree that it did have a slightly anti-Semitic undertone. My people have been persecuted and murdered because of the lies that have been told about us.

Unlike other countries (ahem, United States) on which the the rollout of the vaccine programs have been unnecessarily complicated or messy, the Israeli government got their shit together. As of February 4th, US News & World Report put out a story that all Israelis over the age of sixteen were able to get the vaccine. The important word in this headline is all. There was no mention of any specific group that was either pushed to the head of the line or denied access because of their religious or cultural background.

I’ve been a fan of SNL for more than twenty years, this program is usually the highlight of my weekend. I can usually laugh at anything. But this joke, I cannot and will never be able to laugh at.

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Filed under International News, Television, World News

Two Years Cannot Dull the Pain of the Pittsburgh Shooting

One of my favorite quotes from Star Wars the following:

“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Those were murdered that day (Z”l) because they were Jews.

Unlike the America that my parents and grandparents were born into, my early years were free of antisemitism. I lived in multi-cultural world that respected everyone, regardless of labels or ancestry.

October 27th, 2018 changed all that. It was a slap in the face, a cold reminder that antisemitism is still alive and well in the United States. It has been said that time heals all wounds. But time can never take away the pain of that day.

But even with the heartbreak, there is still hope.

Our people and our faith has been threatened countless time over the millennia. But we are still here and we will always be here.

While we carry on as we always have, the memory of those killed that day will live on forever, in spite of the heartache that comes with that loss.

May their memories be a blessing.

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Don’t be a Freier, Vote for Joe Biden

P.T. Barnum is supposed to have once said for following:

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

In Yiddish, the term for sucker is freier. On Thursday, an article in The Jerusalem Post stated that those who believe you know who (especially those of the Jewish faith) are suckers.

I couldn’t agree more with the article. We need a President who sees beyond himself and his needs. We need a President who is compassionate, open and is willing to make tough decisions. We need a President who genuinely believes in reaching across the aisle to those of the opposing party.

That man is Joe Biden.

#BidenHarris2020

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Flashback Friday: L’Chayim (1979-Present)

Issues of religion and politics require a cool head and the ability to direct the conversation in a way that does not cause strife.

In 1979, L’Chayim made it’s debut as a radio talk show on WMCA, a local New York City radio station. Hosted by Rabbi Mark S. Golub, the topics discussed on the program are those of importance to the Jewish community. Back in 1990, the program switched from radio to television and presently airs on The Jewish Channel.

It goes without saying that it a very niche program with a specific audience. I’ve seen a few episodes of this show. It is one of the programs that I will watch while flipping through the channels on a weekend afternoon. While it is fine to watch while killing time, L’Chayim is not one of the programs that I would label as “must see TV”.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood Book Review

In a perfect world, we would be able to make our own choices and still be loved by our families. But that is not always the case.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood, a memoir by Leah Vincent was published in 2015. Born and raised in the Yeshivish Jewish community in Pittsburgh, her world as a child was bound by a long list of rules of do’s and don’ts. Everything changed at sixteen when her letters to a young man were discovered.

Retribution was swift and cold. Forced to become an outcast to her family, she moved to New York City, where she faced a secular world that was far from the ultra-religious world she knew. As a result, she embarked on a series of sexual and semi-romantic relationships that all ended in disaster. Complicating these “relationships” was her still fierce adherence to the Judaism she was raised in.

This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Her journey at times is both difficult and universal. Most, if not all of us, go through changes when we are in our teens and early 20’s. But, we do so within the loving bosom of our families. Ms. Vincent had to go through those changes on her own.

I was stuck by several things while reading this book. The first is that the double standard is one hundred times more powerful in the Yeshivish community than it is in the secular world. The second is that she is a survivor who found her backbone. It would have been easy to crawl back to her parents on hands and knees, begging for forgiveness. But she didn’t. The third and most powerful thing is that the reader does not have to be Jewish to understand or relate to her story. If I was a betting woman, I would wager that there are many from all faiths who for any number of reasons, have walked away from the ultra-religious communities they were raised in.

I absolutely recommend it.

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