“I Am Jewish”

On what being Jewish means now to people my age in many circumstances:

Well said.

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Happy First Day of Chanukah

I love Chanukah – not because of the presents, but because of the reason the holiday exists. It’s nice to believe in miracles. And it brings people together and makes us happy. We can always use more of that. Chag Sameach!

Hanukkah in Santa Monica

One of my professors shared this with me and it is really too good not to share with other people:

Maccabeats do the “Good Life”

I’m a big fan of some of the recent Jewish music parody groups, The Maccabeats being one of them. Now they have released a parody of OneRepublic‘s Good Life – and it is very good, and meaningful.

Here is the original song:

Rosh HaShanah Reflections From My Synagogue

The video below includes a few Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) thoughts from my Rabbi, Rabbi Mordecai Miller, at BSKI:

Rosh HaShanah Rock Anthem

This is way too good not to share!

Almost Rosh HaShanah

In about two weeks it will be the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah.  Here is a video to start getting in the mood:

The Thin Jew Line – What is an Eruv Exactly?

What is an eruv?  It’s a part of Jewish law that even many Jews do not understand.  A little over a month ago, Jon Stewart did a clip about them that is hilarious!  Definitely worth watching and sharing.  I saw this during Passover, but didn’t have a chance to share it until now.  Take a look:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wyatt Cenac breaks God’s rules without causing controversy by wearing an eruv hat. Airdate – 03/23/11

Farewell Debbie Friedman

I like many of Debbie Friedman’s songs.  They were a major part of my camp days and still are prevalent at Hillel.

Debbie Friedman, Jewish songwriter and performer, dies

(JTA) — Debbie Friedman, a popular singer and songwriter who is widely credited with reinvigorating synagogue music, has died.

Friedman died Sunday after being hospitalized in Southern California for several days with pneumonia. She was in her late 50s.

“Debbie influenced and enriched contemporary Jewish music in a profound way,” read a statement published Sunday on the website of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Her music crossed generational and denominational lines and carved a powerful legacy of authentic Jewish spirituality into our daily lives.”

Friedman brought a more folksy, sing-along style to American congregations. In 2007 she was appointed to the faculty of the Reform movement’s cantorial school in a sign that her style had gained mainstream acceptance.

She is best known for her composition “Mi Shebeirach,” a prayer for healing that is sung in many North American congregations.

Friedman released more than 20 albums and performed in sold-out concerts around the world at synagogues, churches, schools and prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall. She received dozens of awards and was lauded by critics worldwide.

“Debbie Friedman was an extraordinary treasure of our movement and an individual of great influence,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Twenty-five years ago, North American Jews had forgotten how to sing. Debbie reminded us how to sing, she taught us how to sing. She gave us the vehicles that enabled us to sing. Then she impacted our youth and our camps and, ultimately, from there she impacted our synagogues.

“What happens in the synagogues of Reform Judaism today — the voices of song — are in large measure due to the insight, brilliance and influence of Debbie Friedman.”

Unetanneh Tokef

One of my favorite poems of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is the Unetanneh Tokef, which includes the ever powerful “On Rosh HaShanah it is inscribed and on Yom Kippur it is sealed” – driving home the point that what we do now really does matter.  Read the words below and reflect on their awesome meaning.  I am hoping only for the best.

בְּראשׁ הַשָּׁנָה יִכָּתֵבוּן וּבְיום צום כִּפּוּר יֵחָתֵמוּן כַּמָּה יַעַבְרוּן וְכַמָּה יִבָּרֵאוּן מִי יִחְיֶה וּמִי יָמוּת. מִי בְקִצּו וּמִי לא בְקִצּו מִי בַמַּיִם. וּמִי בָאֵשׁ מִי בַחֶרֶב. וּמִי בַחַיָּה מִי בָרָעָב. וּמִי בַצָּמָא מִי בָרַעַשׁ. וּמִי בַמַּגֵּפָה מִי בַחֲנִיקָה וּמִי בַסְּקִילָה מִי יָנוּחַ וּמִי יָנוּעַ מִי יִשָּׁקֵט וּמִי יִטָּרֵף מִי יִשָּׁלֵו. וּמִי יִתְיַסָּר מִי יֵעָנִי. וּמִי יֵעָשֵׁר מִי יִשָּׁפֵל. וּמִי יָרוּם וּתְשׁוּבָה וּתְפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה מַעֲבִירִין אֶת רעַ הַגְּזֵרָה

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed and on Yom Kippur it is sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be born into it; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But repentance, prayer, and good deeds can remove the severity of the Decree!”

Gemar Chatimah Tovah!  May we all be sealed in the Book of Life for good!  Have an easy fast!