When the Complexities of Life Converge with Jewish Tradition


 One of the best-known blessings Orthodox Jews recite every day is the blessing, “Thank you God for not making me a woman.”

The recent transformation on the cover of Vanity Fair’s 22-page cover story featuring Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, raises a number of fascinating questions pertaining to Halacha as well as Jewish ethics.

To begin with, persons wishing to undergo transsexual surgery are a minority—in fact one per million men and even less with ...

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Rabbi Israel Drazin’s Review of Torah from Alexandria on Leviticus


An excellent introduction to an ancient philosopher

By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2015

Philo (about 20 BCE to about 50 CE) of Alexandria, Egypt, is one of Judaism’s great philosophers. The noted scholar Harry Wolfson wrote in his book Philo that Philo was the first Jewish philosopher who “contributed anything new” to Jewish-Greek philosophy. Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel offers readers a good introduction to this famous thought-provoking philosopher ...

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Holocaust Book Review for Children: A Walk With Esther



Deb Bowen and Cassie Brown, A Walk With Esther – Contact the  Jewish Federation of Quad Cities to order:

Publisher: Never Forget Publishing 2015

Many years ago, while I was serving a congregation in Rock Island, IL, I was privileged to work with a number of Jewish and Christian professionals in designing one of the country’s best attended Yom HaShoah programs in the nation. Every year, we would bring a Holocaust survivor to share ...

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Symbolism of the Breastplate Stones


Note: I wrote this back in 1988 and it probably needs a new revision. But for those who find such topics interesting, here it is for your enjoyment.

Q.  What were the types of stones used in Aaron’s breastplate? What were the reasons a particular stone represented a particular tribe?

A. Ibn Ezra in his commentary to Exodus 28, noted that we really have no way to positively identifying the stones that were set ...

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Rediscovering the Meaning of Yahrzeit

One of the most important but also neglected customs of the year is when we observe the Yahrzeit of a loved one.  It occurs with such frequency that we often will forget about the date altogether because we may have forgotten the Hebrew calendar date.

According to R. Solomon Freehoff, this circumstance is the principle reason why he thinks a secular date of death may be used lest the actual day of Yahrzeit ...

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