Haven’t We Been Afflicted Enough This Year?

This year, I’ve noticed a trend on social media: people mentioning that we shouldn’t have to afflict ourselves this year on Yom Kippur because we’ve been afflicted so much by recent events. According to this thinking, if the point of fasting and abstaining from a variety of physical comforts is to purge our sins, maybe […]

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How to Make a Radical Break with the Last Year this Rosh Hashanah

A number of friends have mentioned that they are dreading Rosh Hashanah. Their general sense of overwhelm has made preparing for the holiday—spiritually or physically—exhausting. Looking back at this past year depresses them. Cynicism leads them to expect 5781 will be worse than 5780. It doesn’t help that due to the novel coronavirus, a lot […]

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How A Felled Tree Reminded Me to Let Go

My eight-year-old glances out the front window during Shabbos lunch and does a double-take. “Ima! What’s Mr. Smith doing?” For the last seven years, our home has looked out on our neighbors’ four lollipop-shaped ficus trees. They add a certain flair, a bit of joie de vivre to the neighborhood. Hearing our neighbor start up […]

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How My Reform Grandmother Inspired Me To Become An Orthodox Jew

Mother’s Day is here, and I’m already preparing for an emotional rollercoaster. This year, the holiday arrives the day after one of my children’s bar mitzvahs, and it’ll be his first time wearing tefillin with a blessing. But it’ll also be our first Mother’s Day without my maternal grandmother, Frances, who died just before Passover […]

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A Tisha B’Av of Joy?

Tisha B’Av – the ninth day of the month of Av – is usually the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting and mourning the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, among other tragedies. But last year, our family’s Tisha B’Av was far from solemn. Late in June, my husband, Daniel, received […]

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