You Will Inscribe Them Upon the Doorposts of your Pueblo

cactus mezuzahA bajillion years ago my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Phoenix, AZ bought me a beautiful mezuzah when I became bar-mitzvah. While they couldn’t make the ceremony, they sent that as well as an Artscroll chumash (the 5 books and selections from the prophets with translation and commentary). These were among the most memorable and thoughtful gifts I received. The chumash, beautiful in itself, had a lovely personal note which makes me think of them everytime I pick it up (whether or not I subscribe to all of the translations and commentary in artscroll, an Orthodox publisher, is another post and not the point). The mezuzah, as you can see, was equally beautiful, ceramic, and had a cactus on it. My cousins have always lived in Arizona and the cactus was the perfect touch. How could I not think of them when I looked at it? (more…)

Taking on Tradition

What do you do when you suddenly realize you’re the leadership body of all that is Jewish in your family? The family looks to you for decision making, taking a lead on practice and celebration, and generally waits for you to make a move when it comes to holidays. That’s pressure, right?

It didn’t happen overnight. What was sudden was the realization that the initiative now needs to come from me. I can’t sit around waiting for holiday celebration to just happen. For the past few years, I’ve been the resident mashgiach (kosher food supervisor) to my mother and sister. As I write this, my sister texts me about whether or not she can eat particular foods this Passover. Holiday dinners are often catered to my own practices, not the practices of the host (I have conflicting feelings about this but ultimately feel honored and cared for). Three years ago I was living in a somewhat oversized apartment in Brooklyn (and paying through the nose for it, don’t kid yourself). It simply made sense to use the space for a Passover Seder, so along with a friend and former colleague, we put something together. (more…)

two lasagnas by flickr user maggiejane

AlefNEXT Guest Blog: “Italian-Jewish for the Holidays”

The following is a cross-post of a guest blog I had the privilege of writing for AlefNEXT. The original post can be found here.

Via the about page:

Q. What is Alef? A. Alef: The NEXT Conversation, is a web-zine which explores Jewish identity. From memoirs on “Why I Eat What I Eat” to a soul-searching narrative on serving jury duty during the High Holidays, to a travel piece on a Passover Seder in Ghana, Alef showcases the diversity of Jewish identity through stories, pictures, poems, music, and more. Alef is published by Birthright Israel NEXT.

My blog entry was part of a series of what it means to be Jewish and growing up in an interfaith family during the holiday season. One of the other blogs that I really enjoyed was “Kosher For Christmas,” it’s a great read. Those looking to contribute to this blog should read this.