Reflection on the Civil Rights Trip: Personal Highlights

When I was a kid and drove with my father from our hometown of Lowell, Mass to the orthodontist in Boston, we would go through the streets of Cambridge. I would notice the rather decrepit looking triple deckers, the small apartment buildings, the dirty streets – and the dark faces. I remember questioning my father and asking why people had to live that way. Continue reading

Noah and the Ark

And we begin again. A good book is worth rereading as we do the Torah every year. This past Shabbat, we began the annual cycle of reading about the world’s most dysfunctional family.

Is there any emotion or problem that the first family and its descendants didn’t face in the course of many generations: jealousy, fratricide, cheating, lying, murder, rape, impersonating , broken hearts, lust, infertility, lack of confidence? God may have been the world’s first therapist. Continue reading


Family lore has it that Grandpa Julius, my father’s father, was the only man in the shtetl of Skidel with a gun and that he was spirited out of town in a coffin because ”they” were after him. It’s hard to believe that this man of few words, whom I never heard raise his voice, might have had violence in this past.

Or Did Grandpa Sam, a small, quiet, white haired man with impeccable handwriting really know the Talmud so well that if you stuck a pin through a word, he would know the word on the other side of the page?

What do these family stories have to do with the High Holidays coming up? Continue reading

The Jewish Catalog Turns Fifty

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to The Jewish Catalog,. How old are you now?

This year The Jewish Catalog: a do-it-yourself kit reached the venerable age of fifty — right smack in middle age.  When most of us reach that age, we show signs that we have arrived: some gray at our temples, a few wrinkles, maybe even a desire for a midday nap. But a fifty-year-old is hardly over the hill these days and may look forward to some of his or her best years. Continue reading

New CAJE is coming

New CAJE is coming to Montclair State for the 2nd time. There are no animals but there is a plethora of stimulating educational sessions from Sunday, July 15 through Wednesday, July 19.

What is New CAJE? The website calls New CAJE ”the premier professional development conference for Jewish educators. Each year 400+ educators gather for four days of learning, entertainment, prayer, and networking opportunities.” Check out the sessions on the website: Continue reading

Musical Legacy

Some say that along with jazz the most important contribution the United States has made to the musical world is in musical theater.

With the recent  death of Sheldon Harnick at age 99, the creators (many of whom were Jews) of classic American musicals like Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and South Pacific are gone. But they leave a legacy of hundreds of works that have entertained generations. Almost daily one of these classic shows is being performed somewhere in the world by a school or a theater group.

Continue reading