2014 Hanukkah Giveaway!!!

Happy Hanukkah! I am giving away three Mod Dot Dreidels from one of my favorite artists – Jonathan Adler.

For a chance to win, enter below.

Winners will be randomly selected. Limit one entry per person.

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God Goes Hollywood in Exodus: Gods and Kings

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Spoiler alert: Morgan Freeman does not play God in Exodus: Gods and Kings.  And this is only one of the many courageous risks that director Ridley Scott took in bringing the story of Moses to life in the just released movie. Instead of trying to depict the literal text of the Bible as we saw in the 10 Commandments with Charlton Heston, Ridley Scott does midrash - Hollywood style.

For those of you that have read the Bible and for those of you that have it in your ibooks queue, what you may not know is that it does not read like Gone Girl. There are a lot of gaps, duplications and conflicting stories in the ancient text. Since the 2nd century AD rabbis have added Midrash – commentaries, stories and interpretations – to try and fill in the gaps and make sense of these teachings. These midrashim have become essential to the body of work known as the Jewish tradition because they bring the stories to life and make them applicable to our modern lives.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is Midrash in the year 2014. The movie was clearly trying to answer some of the unanswered questions of the Moses story:

  • What was the relationship between the brothers in the palace growing up? Were they competitive or were they close?   
  • How did Moses talk to God? Was he delusional? Did he have visions? Did he see angels?
  • How did the Red Sea part? Was it truly miraculous, or was it just low tide that day?

I am not a movie critic so I did not evaluate Exodus: Gods and Kings […]

Wisdom 2 Go – Part 2: Words Matter

Wisdom 2 Go – Part 1: The Value of Hello

How I Screwed Up Halloween

I have screwed up royally with Halloween in our home. 

As a rabbi I am very clear that Halloween is a pagan holiday that was adopted by the Christians. As Jews we are not supposed to celebrate non-Jewish holidays.  Yet I am embarrassed to say that all four of my children have loved to dress up, trick or treat and organize their candy at the end of the night.

I can give you all the rationalizations.  As a child Halloween was the one of the only holidays that my parents did not argue.  Our nanny sews their costumes by hand, (yes by hand!).  It is a “national” holiday, not a religious one. Who really wants to take candy away from their babies?

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And all of them are true, but they are just excuses. Before I had children I imagined a Jewish home so filled with the spirit and practice of the Jewish holidays that they would not even think about all the other ones. And my husband and I built that Jewish home.  We celebrate Shabbat every week. We rent a 14 foot screen to watch movies all night in our sukkah. We light over 40 menorahs to publicize that miracle. We go all out on Purim. And my kids love every minute of it. Even so they still asked about all the other ones. And while none of the others were even on the table, Halloween slowly slipped into our lives.

As a parent I regret this.

Don’t get me wrong this error alone will not put them in therapy for the next 20 years; other mistakes along with this one will do that. But as they are getting older, they too are […]