'Tis the Season


Chanukah falls around the same time as Christmas, leading many people to believe the holidays are of equal religious significance.

However, unlike Christmas, Chanukkah is more a celebration of revolution, and is not considered a very important religious holiday.

Happy Hanukkah!

Congregation Segregation


This week leaders in the Jewish Conservative movement voted to approve the ordination of gays and lesbians and same-sex commitment ceremonies.

"The mekhitza is a divider between men and women in a synagogue. Sometimes it is simply a physical separation between the two sexes, such as a room divider or curtain. Sometimes the women's section is in a balcony."

"The reason for a mekhitza is to provide the men with a greater opportunity to focus on their prayers, rather than on the attractive women in the room."

Homosexual orientation is not a sin in Judaism, but homosexual acts are. Male-male sex is forbidden by the Torah. Lesbian sex is not prohibited by the Torah, but is generally considered prohibited as "licentiousness."

The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews
Trembling Before G-d
Nu? Yenta
OrthoGays.com
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

Bus ta' Move


Many Jews celebrate Thanksgiving because it is widely regarded as an American holiday, with little or no roots in Christianity.

But some folks maintain that Thanksgiving is rooted in the history of the Pilgrims, also known as Christian "Separatists".

The Jewish Exponent


In Parsha Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18), Sarah dies at the age of 127.

127 is, of course, 27-1, a Mersenne prime.

No BSG

Battlestar Galactica, my favorite show, airs on SciFi Channel Friday nights at 11pm. Fortunately it reruns the following Monday night, or I'd be frakked.

Covered


There is no Jewish law that commands us to wear a kippah, or any head covering. It is purely tradition.

The Talmud explains that we cover our head to remind us of G-d, who is the Higher Authority "above us".

But I know plenty of fellows who wear a yarmulke just to score ass.

Tear the Roof Off the Sukkah


Sukkot is the last of the pilgrimage festivals, a joyous holiday that marks the Season of our Rejoicing.

Sukkah means booth. According to Jewish law, a sukkah must have at least two and a half walls (preferably four), and a roof that is made of vegetation, with enough openings to provide a view of the sky and stars.

Besides Shabot on Sukkot, there are plenty other webcomics that break the fourth wall.

Bread and Water


On Rosh Hashanah, it is traditional to "cast off" (tashlikh) our sins from the previous year by throwing bread into a body of flowing water, preferably one inhabited by fish.

Too lazy to get to a natural body of flowing water? Cast off your sins online at Tashlich.com!

Gefilte fish is a traditional meal, popular during Jewish holidays, that many would say is an acquired taste.

Anniversary


Today marks the five year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

A gift of wood is traditional for a fifth year wedding anniversary.

For America, the gift is freedom.

Reaching New Heights


It's a JDate fact: women lie about their weight, and men lie about their height. At 5'6", folks have advised me to tack on an extra inch in my profile, because that will turn me up in more search results, a virtual foot in the door. Personally, I'd rather inch my way in with accurate stats.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, "Personality goes a long way."

Home Safe

After three weeks in Israel, with a week's worth of Israel-Lebanon conflict overlap, I returned to Brooklyn safe and sound on July 19, 2006.

Peace-Fire


Today, Monday, August 14, 2006, a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah took effect promptly at 8am.

In the last few hours before the cease-fire, both sides really unloaded on each other.

Pigeonholy


The Kotel, or Western Wall in Jerusalem, is the last standing remnant of the Second Temple, dating back to the year 515 BCE.

When I was at the Kotel, I actually did witness a pigeon crapping on a Hasidic fellow davening up close to the wall, leaving a long white streak down his kippah and black coat. The man simply looked up and went back to his prayers.

Some people say you'll have good luck when a bird craps on you. Others believe this is just something one says to feel better about being defecated on by an animal.

Allahu Akbar is an Arabic term meaning "God is Great".

Taking Action

Israeli–Lebanese action continues with mounting military and civilian casualties on both sides. It also just happened to coincide with my first trip to Israel.

Stretch of Peace

July 2006 was my first trip to Israel. It just happened to coincide with the Hezbollah missile attacks from Lebanon. There hadn't been much action between Israel and Lebanon since 2000.

Right Hand Man

Tefillin are two boxes containing scrolls of Torah passages and black, leather straps attached to them. They are laid on the left arm (right arm if you are left handed) as an essential part of morning prayer services.

What's the Haredi?


Haredi (or Charedi) Judaism, sometimes called "ultra-Orthodox", is considered the most theologically conservative form of Orthodox Judaism.

Haredim only go on a date, or shidduch, to find a potential spouse.

Modern Orthodox Jews have been known to go on dates with extramarital goals in mind.

Lag B'ummer


Lag Ba'Omer is a holiday with many explanations for celebration. One excuse to celebrate is that it commemorates the day the plague ended that killed Rabbi Akiva's students.

Lag Ba'Omer falls on the thirty-third day in the counting of the omer: Lag comes from the Hebrew alphanumeric equivalent of 33; Omer is the grain offering.

I am almost certain this is why we celebrate by drinking as much pure grain alcohol as possible.

Zeros and Ones


It is a foundation of the Jewish faith, and other monotheist religions, to believe that God is One and that He is a most perfect and absolute Unity.

On the Internet, God is many things.

The Torah has been translated into many languages, but never into binary, as far as I know ... unless you count the Universal Science Based on the Ultimate Energy.

Sleeping Shabbos


Shabbos is best spent studying Torah. However, most shomer Shabbat folks I know spend the better part of Saturday studying the backs of their eyelids.

According to the Orthodox Union, extra sleep is also considered appropriate and desirable on Shabbat, in line with the principle of "Shayna b'Shabbat Taanug," "(Extra) Sleep on Shabbat is considered a Delight!"

Constipesach


Matzah is the unleavened "Bread of Affliction" that we eat during Passover.

Originally titled "Flour Power", thanks for "Constipesach", Meryl!

Chametza-metz


Biur chametz is the mitzvah of cleaning your house of all chometz, including bread, grain products and other non-OUP items, before Passover. It is customary to spend many days cleaning every nook and cranny of your home, to ensure that there is no trace of chametz left behind. Any chametz that is found must be sold or burned. Or you could donate your chametz, but that isn't nearly as fun.

Bangitout's Top Ten Signs You've Hired a Lame Pesach Housecleaner

Jews on First


Shomer Negiah: Shomer - one who keeps (observes), Negiah - [the laws of] touching.

Supposedly the Torah forbids even the most casual endearing contact, such as shaking hands, between unmarried members of the opposite sex because one thing can lead to another, and before you know it, all kinds of things are shaking.

I think shomer negiah confirms the existence of G-d, because no man would have made this a law.

Chicken Feed


The deadly avian flu virus has spread to Israel. As a precautionary measure, it is necessary to kill all the livestock that could be infected. And destroying half a million birds is not a poultry sum. The birds will be killed by drinking poisoned water, not chicken soup.

I am reminded of an old joke:
Moments before a famous Shakespearean actor was to perform Hamlet to a packed house in New York, he dropped dead. The house manager solemnly went onstage and announced, "We are sorry to bring you this news, but our performance tonight has been canceled due to the untimely demise of our featured performer."  
From the back of the theater a voice cried out, "Give him some chicken soup!"  
Startled, the stage manager cleared his throat and replied, "I apologize if in my grief I have not made my solemn message clear. The man is deceased."  
Once again, but more emphatically the voice rang out, "Give him some chicken soup!"  
Having had about enough, the manager bellowed back, "Sir, the man is dead. Giving him chicken soup couldn''t possibly help." 
To which the voice replied, "It couldn't hurt!" 

Widower


Jdate lists the following relationship status choices: Single, Divorced, Separated, and Widowed. It seems that most young adults on the site seem to shy away from meeting widows. If you ask me, "Separated" sounds like it would be more trouble.

Killing your wife is prohibited by modern law, though the Torah prescribes it as fitting punishment for adultery. In fact, it is one of the 613 mitzvot (see 74).

On the Right Track


Daf Yomi is the daily regimen of studying the Talmud, one page at a time. With 2,711 pages in the Talmud, it takes about 7 and a half years to complete. The practice, started in 1923, is now in its 12th cycle, which will end with Niddah in the year 2012 (5772).

Nowdays you can get the entire series of Talmudic lectures preinstalled on your iPod.

Party Shuffle makes your iPod playlists more fun!

Muzzle Him


There is currently a Muslim uprising fueled by political cartoons printed in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

"Rubenesque" is just one of several euphemisms—including "Zaftig", "Voluptuous", "Stocky", "Soft", "Proportional", "Portly", "Husky", "Cuddly", "Large/Broad Build", and "A Few Extra Pounds"—JDate lists so that we may gracefully describe ourselves as "fat".

One Man's Trash


Separating your trash into milchig and fleishig bins is by no means required by the laws of kashrut. In fact, I cannot think of an instance where this would make any sense. Yet I have heard tales of Super Jews who actually do this.

BangItOut.com's The Daily Bang lists this practice as one of 60 ways to appear frum & intellectual.

The Difference is Black and White


There are more than 90,000 Beta Israel, Ethiopian Jews, in Israel.

In 1984, 6,500 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel. In 1991, over 14,000 more Ethiopian Jews were airlifted. There may be a few left, although according to the Embassy of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Stockholm official web site religion profile, there aren't.

Does anyone know how to say, "Ess, ess, mein kind" in Amharic?

Water, water everywhere

There is a rumor going around that JDate.com is primarily used for hooking up. Go ahead, ask anyone.